Arriving a week early for the big race, I knew I had to check out the West Coast riding scene. So my friend Cruddick took me to a few different places in Vancouver to show me what's its all about to ride around here.
We started off at the trails around Simon Fraser University. I would soon find the theme of the day is to ride up a fire road then be rewarded with a long exciting down, much like riding the cross country trails at Fortune (except harder!). The climb at SFU was forgiving at first with some easy, rooty single track up the hill, but then finished with a steady climb up the gravel fire road. The reward was a not quite downhill style trail with big wide turns with a couple of drops and rocky sections thrown in. I think I rode this trail okay on my Moonracer, which wasn't really an ideal bike for the day to say the least.
After SFU, we headed over to the North Shore to some more downhilly riding which would put my XC race bike to the test. I was happy to see one other weight weenie (Rocky Element) during the day but most of my time was spent looking at bikes with twice the travel of mine and probably weight too. This caused me some trepidation to say the least.
We went to Mount Fromme which is the less popular mountain on the shore. Not for lack of fun riding, but because you had to ride up, not shuttle as the fire road was closed to vehicles.
Up the fire road we went until we reached Floppy Bunny. Now you're probably all initally thinking, oh that sounds so innocent...that's probably a good choice for Tanya. Not me. I was being a bit of a pessimist when I thought how usually the most innocent trail names are often the worst.
My fears were for naught though. Floppy bunny was fairly tame with ride arounds for all the jumps and drops. My little bike and I did just fine on this newly renovated (by the well organized NSMBA) super fun trail.
Time to climb back up. Next up is Bobsled. The name says it all. Swoopy and flowy trail at the top finished with some rickety-looking but stable bridges and ramps. Okay, I'm really starting to get into this.
After doing the two fairly tame trails, Cruddick decides I may be able to handle the trails at the top. This means a couple of things. We have to climb for a long way. And the trails are going to get harder.
Breaking all the rules of my taper (reduce volume, keep up the intensity), we slowly climb up to the top of the seven switch backs. I should be ending my ride now as we've already been riding for a couple of hours between the two locations but instead decide to make the ride an epic all day affair.
We reach the top after 45 minutes of climbing. Because Cruddick has an almost-appropriate North Shore bike (as a displaced east coaster, he bought a mini-big bike so he can use it for XC when he eventually goes back home), he's got 10 lbs on my steed so I offer to take it up about halfway up the climb. Wow! what a difference those pounds make and I'm even more impressed by his climbing ability as he does this all the time and at a fairly good pace.
We finally reach the top and start Seventh Secret (read the description of this link - first line: "This trail is not easy"). Cruddick suggests I'm going to do just fine but this is a black diamond on the North Shore and its downhill riding. Oh yeah, and I'm riding a wee bike. All this adds up to not so much riding. This is a beautiful trail with rock armouring and tight switch backs, big drops and lots of wood bridges and ramps. I walked more on this trail then I rode. But that's okay! It was neat to see what Shore riding is all about and to watch Cruddick do all the crazy jumps and drops with relative ease.
Fortunatly after Seventh Secret, the down is not done. Next up was Crinkum Crankum which was hard and I walked a lot here too. But then we hit a few trails which were labeled XC and I found my lost mojo and stayed more on my bike then not. We rode Floppy Bunny on the way down again which now seemed easy and my confidence was back. Last part of the down was appropriately named Natural High, which is designed to be show-case trail for North Shore riding. This well maintained trail was a great way to finish the day as there was lots of cool stunts and jumps for Cruddick with easier ride-arounds for me. What a great day of riding. Thanks Cruddick!