Monday, July 18, 2011

Tall trees in Vancouver

Like other enthusiasts, every trip is a reason to ride somewhere new. Weddings, cottages, whatever there will be a window of opportunity. And now that Westjet only charges $22 per trip for your bike, it opens some possibilities. All you need is a bike box under 62 inches. Mine was 66 and they let it slide on the way there but got me on the way back. Nonetheless, $100 for 170km ride is a fair price. Family away, ride every day.

First up was a proper mountain climb. The North Shore Mountains are just 8km from where I was based near Commercial Dr. Mountains 8km away: I guess that’s how you become a good climber. So off to Mt Seymour, across the perilous Three Narrows bridge, a narrow steel cage that soars and sways above the narrows below.

I have only climbed 4 mountains in my life so in my brief window of comparison I can say Mt Seymour is 13 km at 6.9% but is not incredibly hard. Its an engineered highway so there are only 3 or 4 switchbacks and no sustained crazy pitches that put you over the edge. Long pleasant stretches at a reasonable gradient.

That said, 13km is an honest 13m, no flats, no false flats, no breaks, just stretches of 5-6% with the periodic ramp of 8-9% to put the sting in your legs. Desperately hungover the night after a wedding is no way to start but I took it easy on the first 3-4 km and felt surprisingly good. 5-6km tempted me to push it, but thankfully I didn’t because km 7-9 were steeper and felt like the stations of the cross.

But after the midway point, the magic mountains take effect, gravity lets go and as you reach the top that second wind comes and the speed goes up. There was even the odd standing climb. The North Shore mountains aren’t huge, but they’re rocky, they have snow on top in June (lots, 10 foot base maybe!) and people are skiing in shorts on a 25 degree day.You then realize what BC has that you do not but you enjoy it and don’t mourn it because after you leave the sky seals up again and its a grey tomb for another 6 months of drizzle.

The descent is long straight stretches on good asphalt so there is as much speed (and braking) as you want. The road back to Vancouver on Mt Seymour Blvd is perfect: pristine asphalt, huge rollers that mostly go down and a nice ample bike lane.

I did feel slightly bad riding a road bike in one of the meccas of mountain biking, but I just would have hurt myself.

I don’t miss the ever present dread of being in Mr Grizzly’s neighborhood. Plenty of warnings for 'Aggressive Grizzly in area'

Next up was a ride with Tall Tree Alumni, Ariel. We aimed to meet up for something easy, the classic Vancouver loop around UBC.

Point Grey, UBC Point with Marine Drive to Horseshoe Bay in the background

But Vancouver rides are never easy, a simple ride down a city street and there is an 20% hill or a big 500 meter ramp. Its hilly everywhere in the city. We met in the south of town and rode down to UBC. Nice spacious boulevards lookouts, easy riding. Ariel showed me all the places he ambushes local roadies and unleashes his EI earned strength. 80km for me, 100km for Ariel. A coffee on the beach, a sunny BC day with a Sunday gravel regular. I think we take for granted the friendly sight of a matching shirt so I bet that was nice for him. One of the more disheveled residents commented on our lovely matching shirts and asked who had the bigger unit. It seemed like a good opportunity for a ‘soup kitchen’ but I didn’t know if Ariel was cool with it so I let it pass.

And there he is full flight on one of the many urban cycling arteries, kid is looking good, staying strong, we’ll miss him at D2R2. But we’ll ride again!

I had big plans to try out the new bike lane on the Sea to Sky highway and a ride along Marine Dr up to Lions Bay but 2 good rides and long nights left me a little spent so it was a couple laps around Stanley park up to Prospect point. A great little climb and you can’t miss out on the seawall.

Float planes, mountains and ocean, yup its a nice town.

That’s it.


Anonymous said...

The best ride ever is starting from downtown van then hitting up a ride to Horseshoe bay then coming back on the trans canada.

nothing beats that ride, the views, and the speed...
esp coming back into town.


if vancouver wasn't so damn expensive... I'd move in a heartbeat.

housing market there is way way overinflated....

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't be a proper soup kitchen without Ariel tossing the salad.