After only two night shifts making bagels last week, on Thursday Alex & I were back riding up to Jewell Pass & then down the other side to climb up Barrier. This time we were riding with James & visiting Australian friends of Megan & Alex - Rich & Kylie. They had just been riding at Whistler for a couple of weeks & had hired XC bikes from the Nordic Center for this ride as their DH bikes weren't really suitable for all the pedalling. Being mid-week there were very few people on the trail - I don't think we saw any until we were more than half-way around. Even with Alex flatting (for once it wasn't me) shortly after the Jewell Pass descent we were making reasonable time. The middle-ring grind up Prairie View was a bit more difficult this time as we had also climbed up Jewell Pass, but I made it well in front of the rest of the group. Stopping briefly to refuel & look at the view (it's never been quite as good as the first clear day that we went up there), we headed up the last push/hike-a-bike to the lookout & then hit the nice rooty downhill section. With lots of stops we made it around in three hours & forty minutes - a good twenty minutes faster than the first & only other time Alex & I have down the same loop.
I'm settling in to my baking role now. While I haven't had any absolute disasters, I'm yet to have a perfect shift - so there is still room for improvement. Because I only had two shifts baking last week, there were a few nights to try something else new - temping serving banquets. One was two nights at the rather cheesy dinner show - 'Oh, Canada eh?' and the other a large banquet at the Radisson. On Saturday morning the TransRockies rolled in to town to finish a week & 600 km-long event. It's quite the multi-day epic event & from some of the trails that I was familiar with it must have been a hard, but rewarding week - the mud may have had something to do with that. Alex, Megan & I watched some of the riders finish at the line, then wandered up the street a bit to sip a chocolate chai on the Bagel Co patio. Alex & I managed to fit in a G8 loop - I was feeling decidedly slow & worn out from all the recent activity. The gig at the Radisson that night turned out to be the ceremony & prize-giving banquet for the TransRockies - it was pretty neat to be in the same rooom as 500-odd mountainbikers & supporters. One of my tables had the only two Kiwis in the event & their wives (to do the whole event you have to ride in pairs - that is my understanding anyway), so it kind of fun to hear some strong South Island Kiwi accents.
It was just Alex & I riding on Sunday, so we decided to do a loop in K-Country (as that doesn't require a big car shuttle or a long ride on gravel roads). We headed to the Elbow River parking lot to do the Little Elbow - Big Elbow loop. I see now that this is where the TransRockies stayed on the second to last night. We had a 45 km loop planned, mostly fire road - the two guide books we had recommended riding it in opposite directions. We opted for anti-clockwise as that made the climbs more gentle, the descent steeper & the singletrack down (mostly). The start of the route was a little ambiguous in my mind, so we crossed the river on the bridge & then after a little confusion headed upstream on a muddy & boggy in patches (damn horses) path. We then had to ford the (cold, but not too chilly) river & then found ourselves on a fire road with a lot more traffic on it. It was a gorgeous morning & it seemed a fair chunk of Calgary was out here - there was a wide range of bikes & riding levels on display. The riding was pretty easy up the hill, so there was ample opportunity to look at the views.
I was glad for the little detour we took at the start, as it was a lot more interesting than the twenty kilometres of fireroad. Eventually, we passed everyone there was to pass on the trail & reached the top of Elbow Pass, looking out towards Mt Tombstone (which doesn't look like one - but there may be one up there or maybe a change of perspective brings the tombstone-ness in to view).
Sick of the mosquitoes, we hit the really steep downhill on the fire road - the road condition deteriorated here & it was a lot of funny blasting down dodging the rocks. Making a left turn we got close to the Big Elbow River & finally hit some singletrack - which was a lot of fun. Mostly it was fast, but every so often there would be a big dip or a sudden appearance of rocks & loose gravel. Also, the vistas were starting to get nice & scenic.
That last one is Mt Forgetmenot, & by this stage the trail had flattened out & we were blasting down in the big ring. In a different twist to a familiar story - I flatted near the end. However, it was my front wheel this time & that is unusual; I wasn't going particularly fast & then all of a sudden had no steering & rode through a big puddle & got splashed well before stopping. As we were so close to the car & I knew that it's very difficult to get the Nevegal off the front rim, I decided to walk/carry my bike out. This did mean that I would either have to walk up stream a bit to the bridge or ford the river - I got wet again carrying my bike across. A rush back to town to meet some mates I met working in Banff - they were coming to Canmore for me to show them the DH trails around.
While I was rushing around eating lunch & trying to replace my tube (it took twenty minutes to get the damn tyre off), I found that a small leak around the base of the valve stem (it was an old tube) - that explains why I pinch flatted, I'd lost just enough air pressure to increase the risk of a puncture. Dale & Adam had somehow managed to cram two big rigs in the back of a three-door Laser, so realising that that wasn't really viable as a shuttling option I quickly arranged the kind loan of the Outback. Adam & Dale loved both Riders of Rohan & the Reclaimer (not the coal or PC type); I was tempted to ride, but was a little tired from the early forty-six kilometres & they were having so much fun I didn't have the heart to get in there. Plus, I didn't want to have a big stack in my tired state. With a bit of luck, I'll be able to get over to Banff soon & go for a ride with them on their local trails (seems a bit funny saying that, as Banff is only twenty minutes' drive away - but I just don't go there that much now that I'm not working there).
6 hours ago