Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunshine Coast Bikepacking Trip

After a full summer of biking and camping, I had a chance to head out for my first solo bikepacking trip of the season. Asking really nicely my wife's permission, off to the Sunshine coast I went for what turned out to be a fun overnight trip.

I always like the ferry, especially when I take it with my bike. It feels like I'm heading to a far away land. Ok, the ferry ride is only 45 minutes, but still, it feels like it :). I seem to always meet cool people when I'm on the bike for some reason; not sure why. This time I met a para-glider heading the same way for a flight somewhere on the coast. Talking to him for most of the trip and exchanging adventure plans, we realized that we knew some of the same people!  Funny how it's such a small world...

Once on the other side, I rode an easy 30 km on the road to Porpoise bay campground but first stopped in Sechelt to buy food for that evening. Once at the campground, I set up my tent, and since it was still fairly early, I went for a walk around the park. I had been there in July with my family. It made me nostalgic for them, but only for a quick minute.

The next morning I was up a bit late, since I had such a good sleep I couldn't get out of the tent, I was just too comfortable. Finally, I got my lazy ass out of bed, made breakfast, packed up and headed for the hills. As usual in BC, the start of a ride is always a grind up; to the heavens I went...

It was hot that day and most of the climb was exposed, so needless to say, I was sweating. It was a fairly mellow pace, with the hardest part being avoiding the bear crap all over the place. Those bears eat a LOT of blackberries! I'm sure they where craving for meat... luckily I never saw one!

The Sunshine coast has a lot of trails that go in every direction, so it's easy to get lost or miss a trail head. You need to bring your A-game for navigation here. It's easy to take the wrong turn, but just remember if you're lost, just head south and you'll hit the road eventually - hopefully...

The trails are pretty typical for BC south coast, but one section that was really cool was a car graveyard I stumbled onto. I didn't expect that! It was kind of cool weaving through trees and old cars at the same time. First time I've done that.

The point of this trip was really to test my bikepacking gear on real trails, and it was a good opportunity to test it out in preparation for next year's big epics. I was surprised how well my Revelate bags held up to the task. I can honestly say that in most sections of trail I could hardly tell they were there. The only time I wished I didn't have them was on steeps. Those where pretty sketchy, I just couldn't  get back far enough and had a few close calls.

Now it was back to Langdale to catch the ferry home after riding solo in the hills for over 5 hours from Porpoise bay, all in the bush. How cool is that?! Way more fun than taking the road that's for sure. If any of you ever want to hook up or need a guide, I'm always keen. Hopefully I still have time for one more big ride before the season is over. That's if work doesn't get in the way...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Seven Summits

Finally posting something of mine for a change. It's been a very busy summer - lots of camping with friends and family, and of course, lots of riding. The highlight ride was Seven Summits in the Kootenay's, in August, on a family camping trip. If you've never been to the Kootenay's, you're missing out; it's such a beautiful place.

Base camp was Christina lake campground. It was the perfect spot for a family trip and not too far from the trail. The campground has everything you need: warm lake with private beach access, trails for the kids to explore, and it's not too far from amenities. I didn't feel too badly leaving the wife with the kids for the day. There was a lot to do.
PinkBike rip off...
We started the ride a bit late in the morning as we sorted things out at the camp site. The weather looked good with a bit of overcast, seemed like the perfect day; not to hot and not to cold. I can see, that on a hot day the climb could be fairly difficult but on that day it was perfect.

We dropped one car off in Rossland then drove to the trail head. The trail head is well signed and hard to miss, so finding the trail is dead easy. Finally there, we where heading up for the first part of the trail - all uphill to the highest point. An hour later and we reached the top. From there, it's flowy alpine single track until you are back in the forest an other hour or so later.

Navigation is as simple as it gets. The trail is well marked, making it virtually impossible to get lost. The hardest part of the ride is keeping your eyes on the trail. You're always looking at the view thinking the trail is easy. But be warned, as easy as the trail looks, it's easy to get taken out by a rock or loose corner. A few times I had close calls, and the drops on the sides of the trail in some sections are STEEP!

The last third of the trail is super fun. Keep that in mind and don't burn out, as you want to keep some energy for the last downhill section back to your car. The downhill is long! I can't remember exactly how long (at least 30min) but let's put it this way, my arms and hands where hurting! What an ending, small pops/jumps, fast corners, etc. As I said, super fun, I just didn't what it to end.

After 6 hrs of absolute awesomeness, it was over. We headed to the nearest pub for the mandatory beers, and excitedly exchanged our thoughts on the ride. I'll be back, that's for sure. The proximity to a good family campground make it an easy choice. Maybe I'll see some of you out there??

Thursday, September 6, 2012