Friday, October 5, 2012

Awesome.

Last post was about the Seven Summits trail.  This kid makes me ashamed of my own descending.  This kid also makes me wish you could bottle up the triumph of a 5-year old and just take a hit of it once in a while.

The first minute or two of the video is great, but there are other great moments about the 4 minute mark and the 7 minute mark, but if you only have a moment, just watch the first part.  Pure triumph!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Seven Summits

A couple of weekends ago, a hearty group of experienced mountain bikers decided to go tackle the Seven Summits Trail out of Rossland, BC.  They agreed to take me along.



If you aren't familiar with the Seven Summits trail, you can join me in my two-weeks ago ignorance.  Living in Spokane, it is shameful that any serious mountain biker wouldn't know about this trail.  My excuse is that I am clearly not a serious mountain biker.  It is one of the 50 "epic" rides on the IMBA list (http://www.imba.com/epics/seven-summits-trail-epic).  If you go to this link, a couple of things jump out at you.  First, the picture and description make it obvious that this is a unique opportunity,
 Adventurous mountain bikers will find the epic they’re looking for on the Seven Summits trail in Rossland BC. This point-to-point trail provides over 35 kilometers (22 miles) of technical single-track, with beautiful mountain vistas, challenging (but 100% rideable) climbs and flowing descents. The sinewy trail follows ridgelines, affording views of the Columbia River Valley and the Southern Selkirk and Monashee Mountains.  
Second, you may or may not notice this line a bit further down the page,  
Difficulty: Advanced. Sustained technical single-track makes the trail most suitable for skilled and fit riders, but determined intermediates can also have a great day.

And that, my dear friends, perfectly sums up our ride, except that I didn't have a "great" day.  Our group was made up of four skilled and fit riders and one determined intermediate.  Of course, being the determined intermediate made me the one who was most wasted after the initial long climb, the slowest one up every hill, the slowest one down every grade and the one that everyone kept looking at with the pity usually reserved for a forlorn, scruffy dog standing by the road near a house, but not "at" the house, so you can't tell how much assistance may be needed.

To show you just how do-able this ride is from Spokane, you should know that one of our party, TC, dropped off his parents at the airport for their early flight before meeting everyone to pack up cars and bikes and that still left plenty of time for the easy drive to Rossland, checking in, the shuttle to the trailhead, doing the ride (even with me slowing everyone) and then one of our guys, BH, hopped in the car and drove home, arriving in time for getting together with friends.  It makes it surprising that everyone who rides mountain bikes in Spokane hasn't done this a dozen times, except that we have a fair amount of nice riding right out our front doors, I guess.

To finish the overall flavor of the trip, we did stay in a decent and very inexpensive hotel, the Rossland Hotel, which is the first thing you come to as you get into town.  It is also located at the intersection for the dump-off road back to town if you skip the last 5 km add-on called Dewdney Backside, so it is conveniently located and did I mention inexpensive?  We had a great meal post-ride at the Flying Steamshovel and a similarly great breakfast the next morning at the Alpine Grind.  But what about the ride, you ask?  Let me tell you about the hot tub at the hotel . . .

TC, our travel guide and former pro downhiller, arranged for us to get a shuttle from the hotel parking lot to the trailhead, which is located a few steep miles up the Nancy Green pass.  The trail starts out briefly through some singletrack and then starts uphill.



Then it keeps going uphill.  Then it goes uphill some more.


All in all, you end up climbing for the first nearly five miles and go from about 5,200 ft to 7.200 ft.  It felt like it was double that, but probably not for the fit guys.  Anyway, it is mostly rideable, but there are a seemingly relentless number of steep pitches - one after the other after another after another after another after another after another - well, you get the idea.



From there, the next mile involves another summit, but not much climbing as you travel along ridgelines.  The next 3 1/2 miles look mostly downhill on Garmin/Strava, although that isn't my recollection, but again, my exhaustion and hypoxia may have impacted my recollections that day.  This is the section with the most amazing views and ridges.




After that, there are another four miles of up and down as you make your way around mostly south along, over and around a series of summits.  Looking at it on Strava, it looks pretty straight, but as you do it, you end up with many views from one side and then the opposite side of a few of the mountain tops around you.




Finally, there are another four miles of downhill (mostly) riding that brings you to the end of the Seven Summits Trail and dumps you onto a gravel road.  From there, if you are knackered and beat to shit, you can take a left turn and ride 7 - 7.5 miles back into town on the road.  It is downhill except for a mile long grade near the end, and then it dumped me out literally across the street from our hotel.  The alternative, taken by the heartier group, is to ride down Dewdney Backside, which is another 3-3.5 miles and takes you to the highway below Rossland and where the shuttle picked up that crew.  Dewdney is described as "Difficult" and "long, fast and remote."  The report was that it was steep and a bit gnarly.  I don't feel bad in the slightest that I missed it.   

The Seven Summits trail, as noted, is an "advanced" trail and there are some rock fields, some steep drop-offs to the left or right of the trail, a few small drops on the trail, and lots of rocks, roots and various things to go over, around or, as I did it, through.  I was riding a borrowed carbon, 29" hardtail, which would usually be my bike of choice (THANKS TC!), but this was definitely a dual-suspension trail.  I doubt that I would have gone much faster downhill that particular day, but the dualie guys were grinning more than either of us with hardtails.


So, that was the excursion.  All in all, a great trip.  Other than that suffering part that lasted most of Saturday.

When can we do it again?