The first half of 2012 has seen me in a lot of planes, trains and automobiles.....sometimes going the WRONG WAY, travelling like a madman. From end January to end June I figured I’d been home for about 35 nights. Mostly been travelling for work but also some personal vacation. In either case I try to get on a bike and see where it might take me.
First winter relaxing vacation was with my sis and some friends in Hawaii (Kona to be exact). I only spent part of the time with the group and was otherwise amusing myself with exploratory adventures. I had rented a bike for the whole time as I was about 5 k from my sisters place and 5 k from downtown Kona, but also did a couple of longer rides, getting me up to some killer hills and beautiful beaches.
My trusted (but heavy) steed at the top of a big climb
Tall Tree on an almost deserted hidden gem:
Next up was then Traversee de Charlevoix, now this was a 100 km 6 day backcountry ski trip - however it can be done in a few days on bike (or hiking) in the summer. I’d been wanting to do this for a few years now and finally the opportunity knocked with full fists. I had a very adventurous fit buddy come along for the ride. He ad never b/c skied before and was on a pair of borrowed boards (graciously lent by our very own Hurricane Heino). The first day was a bit rough as we started out at 3:30 pm and planned to skip the first cabin due date limitations. This was a freezing cold (-15) day that had been preceded by a weeks worth of freeze, thaw, rain, rinse and repeat. The first 20 k section is pretty tight and technical and it did not help that the snow was cemented with 10 in deep ski groves from the previous day’s thaw. Needless to say we had to walk the last 10 k....in the dark...arriving at our first (very cold but accommodating) cabin at 9:30.
This was our night 2 cabin...very cozy and beautiful !
The conditions got sunnier and warmer and we were loving it. Day 3 we took some additional backtracks to see more gorgeous scenery and day 4 we took some “shortcut” tracks across a lake which lead to a lot of extra tracks !
Only 17 k to go to the next hut !
Mike’s wide world tour agenda then takes me on my annual sojourn to South and North Carolina, the road biking is fantastic and there is a good chunk of mtn bike within 2 hrs as well. One awesomely flowy and well maintained one with 50+ km only 15 minutes away.
The Blue Ridge parkway:
The descent to Brevard
A lovely waterfall stop on the way down to Brevard
Black mtn descent !
Time to go back to work - which brought me for the first time north of 60...to Yellowknife. This is a great little town and I saw bikes for getting around everywhere. There is not much infrastructure for road or mtn biking - but in the sheild you can kind of make trail as you go. I met a really friendly couple who showed me their cool floating house (well frozen at this point) in the bay off Great Slave Lake. The ice highway had just been closed for the season but the ice was still like 5 ft thick in most places. Now the locals go out skiing and riding on the flat white sheet ! My amiable host (being about my size) offered up her steed so that I could say that I rode on Great Slave Lake.
Me getting used to the ride with their house in the background.
The (ice)road ahead !
A bit of a slushy spot !
I rode to a native community at the tip of the peninsula....sunk at the shoreline where ice disappeared as I tried to cross what looked liked only a small gap of running water ...luckily it was sunny and warm out ! The rest of the ride back was along gravel road then the highway through Giant Mine and into town. What a blast !!
Followed that up with a work trip to the hometown of Winnipeg.....did manage to spend the weekend get out for a ride with a buddy one day to see my old town (and the price tag on my old house which was up for sale....CRAZY) !! No pics as that weekend was mostly a blur filled debaucherous endeavour !
Time for an actual race - Transsylvania Epic. As Tanya had done this race the preceding 2 years and raved about it I figured what the hell.....give it a go.
The first couple days killed me - hot and wet and the slipperiest rocks one can imagine....and LOTS of them ! After day two’s dehydration cramping finish my plan was to go easy and just ride day 3. I went into the single track in the top 20ish again which was all a nice camp fortune style dry rocky downhill for a mile or so. Was riding well and enjoying it and came out onto the ensuing road section with a good group so decided best to stick with them as long as possible. It was another hot hot day but dry this time. This stage was mostly road/roadish with only a few miles of singletrack total. A couple of moderate hills after the first checkpoint (where I stopped for water refill) left me off the back of the group and no legs to catch up.Most of the rest of that day was on my own and I managed to avoid cramping until after the second checkpoint which was located at the top of a HUGE climb at a beautiful overlook….stayed to rest, get my cassette tightened up and refuel for 10 minutes or so. The remaining hills were smaller but took a significant toll in the heat and the cramping occurred again. Got passed by at least 15 people between checkpoint 1 and 2.…but another 25 or so from 2 to the finish…..it was a never-ending day and in addition to the cramps my feet were on fire. Another day feeling wreaked coming in.
Day 4 was a 75 minute drive away in Raystown….this place is gorgeous !! The course is more like Hardwood/Albion….EXTREMELY flowy fast and fun with lots of pumps and berms. No rocks to speak of but sort of red clay/sand dirt that drains well with the rain. It was the most climbing all week at 6500 ft but did not fell like it if you ride it well. We did 2 laps of 30 km each starting with a ½ k road climb into the singletrack. There were 4 big climbs and while I was well ahead of most of the 40+ crowd this day, (I was Loving the course), the previous day’s rain made for a few sections of mud that caused havoc with the drive train and massive chainsuck. Eventually I could no longer really shift, nor even put anything more than moderate torque on the cranks. I ended up having to walk most of the real uphills worrying about breaking a chain. But I had the best time riding this course and smiles were abounding !
Day 6 was one of the most scenic yet. Road a bunch of challenging but fun and doable rocky sections with only one or two small hike-a-bike sections....much more camp fortune’y or KL’y. Spent a bunch of time with a couple of the pro-elite ladies (The Stans No Tubes teams is amazing) and my roomie on the road working together...but eventually (even with my fresh legs) dropped off on the hills. Still was far up enough to ride with other strong riders throughout most of the remainder. Tussy mtn ridge trail is gorgeous and we were lucky enough to be up there before the shit-storming....fantastic views while navigating the bumpy narrow pedal grabbing trail.
The end finished with a NASTY rocky climb after a couple k of road and double track...only 5 minutes behind my roomie tho so was successful. I mugged again for the camera with no hands coming across and promptly slid right off the back of my saddle.....fun times !!
Finally more work took me to the beautiful Yukon Territory and Whitehorse. Had a buddy there that I used to race with in Manitoba and he set me up with a bike for a couple days. Whitehorse is amazing with 200+ km of great singletrack right around town...no wonder some people go there and never come back !!
Jonah dropping off a 50 degree descent for a shortcut to the ridge on the other side !
Next day took me and another buddy from Winnipeg to the Grey Mountain side of town
Did manage to spend some additional time up in Yukon taking in the sights and some superlative hiking opportunities !
First night camp up in Tombstone Park off the Dempster Highway....stunning !!
A beautiful 9 hr hike looking to the Tombstone range.
I’m pretty sure this is the rarely spotted Northwest Honeybadger....
Next episode...the 24 hr epilogue