Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Highway 40 South of Hinton

Finally, travelling on-route to the Okanagan I stopped to ride Hwy 40 South of Hinton... awesome pavement and pretty amazing mountain views.

Riding with Hinton-ite Bruce Voelker

On the return trip, bombed behind Bruce 85.9 kph bridging the gap, while Bruce only went 84.5!
Good roads for spring riding! Gotta gather the ERTC folk next year...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Swiss Tour of the Rockies

After Banff Bike Fest, my friend Alex Gisler from Switzerland arrived to Calgary airport Sunday night. Gave just enough time to unload, wash up, repack for 1 week of mountain fun.

Alex is the owner of a Swiss Mountaineer company and wanted to scope the Rockies for future winter tours.

Day 1
Hike on Ha Ling bumping into ERTC Trevor Sorenson on our way down

Hike up East End Rundle Ridge thinking it was a short 2 km jaunt. Ha, it turned into a pleasantly challenging scramble. Even though a thunderstorm came through, I was adamant to get to the peak.

Ventured into Grotto Canyon to see the waterfall. Got lured by the other end of the canyon. Explored the hoodoo cave, and ventured further into the canyon. Long day, so ventured back in search of food.

Day 2
Drove out on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). Many tourists were out, I was now one of them!

Put on the Kahtoolas and ventured onto the Columbia Icefields

With my new exposure to skimo, I was now enticed to come back to explore places I had only heard about to... Parker Ridge, Bow Glacier, Crowfoot Glacier...

At Emerald Lake, scoped potential trails, checked out the Natural Bridge.

Drove out Moraine Lake road, a first for me, as I've only x-c skied 9 km in. I was wowed by the mountain views.

Scoped Fairview trail until halted by boggy waters. Checked out the Hotel and Lake.

Mad dash back via Hwy 1A. Back on Hwy 1, saw an instantly stopped car which meant bear siting.

Day 3
Tour of Banff area starting with a rainy hike/run at the top of Norquay. The rains had begun today. Did the basic touristy things...  Farmer's Market, main street walk about, museum scope, Tunnel Mtn drive...

I was mistaken that the completed renos of Cave & Basin meant the hotspring was open! Yah, we found out otherwise when we arrived with swimsuits, though took the wicked tour of the hotspring origins. Did dip into the Upper Springs.

Day 4 - Thursday Flood Day
Constant rain since previous night. Socked in clouds. Alex and I were determined to head out to K-country no matter what. We had an action-packed day planned.

Miles, our host, was to leave for a westcoast fishing trip early that morning. We heard him return to the house mumbling "creek overflowing" and "road out".

normally a trickle of a creek
Alex & I dressed in full gortex walked to the creek, which was heard loudly from afar. We meant to glance and walk to the café for some food. Hours later, we stood mesmorized by the power of water and witnessing land disappearing every few moments.

Alex holding a local's umbrella so they could take flood photos!
The town had a ghost town feel when we biked to downtown for groceries. We biked back to Exit 86 to check out the local spring.

Massive amount of flowing water in the ditches. I was concerned. A small rise of a hill prevented any flood waters from affecting the spring. It looked same as usual.

what to do when it floods - jam and sing!
Funny that water was sold out in all the stores when this town has their own pristine natural water source!

Day 5
Still raining constant. With all the road closures, now wondering how to get Alex to Calgary for his return flight home.

Later that afternoon, Alex and I rode our mtnbikes to Three Sisters Parkway to assess. Took the bike path which funnelled onto Hwy 1.

My eyes opened to the carnage to the highway and trails, from every single swollen creek. We thought an escape by bike would be possible.

Picnic table on submerged island covered by water 12 hours later
Back at the house, divvied up all of Alex's gear in a huge luggage bag and a backpack. 4:30 a.m. a strong thought awoke me wide-eyed saying "pack your stuff, pack your stuff" so I packed my stuff into the car.

Escape Day
Early next morning, parked at 3 Sisters Parkway Exit. Rode onto the highway carrying over 70 lbs of gear. Happy to have a tailwind.

Surreal to be the only ones on Highway 1. No construction workers at work yet.

Deadgoat Henry picked Alex up at the end of the highway closure, Hwy 40 at the Stoney Casino. Knowing Alex was in good hands, I rode back to Canmore to save my car and gear.

Returning to 3 Sisters Parkway, I asked the traffic control guy when I could leave by car. He glared at me for coming from the closed highway, and said "get in line now". I managed to squeak in one of the first caravans of vehicles - Timing! and thanks to that little voice at 4:30 a.m.!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Banff Bike Fest - Saved by Tunnel Mtn!

Seeing "surprise corner" ahead! - photo Ken Anderson

Prologue - fun, short, scenic, over too soon

Hwy 1A road race - 64 km of avoidance of skittish rider, sprint finish with 500m to go with women coming back to me with a 6th place. Just gotta "go" on that last climb. Highlight seeing tourists walk out of their cars to take close up photos of bears eating foliage.

Time Trial - 21 km loop with super scenery around Lake Minnewanka. This photo depicts my eagerness to be a proficient Time Trialist

Which racer is different?! - photo Ken Anderson

Criterium - short loop 800m, smooth corners, short race. The top GC dogs duked it out. Put in efforts to keep from being lapped

photo Aaron Falkenberg

Tunnel Mountain Circuit Race - best event of the weekend!

Wish the course was longer, and started later (started 7 a.m. at 2C)... 81 km race of 6 loops around Tunnel Mountain... good climbs, wicked twisty descents, with a straight stretch that needed hills.

Good to see Team Red Truck with 5 riders keep the pace high right from the start. They needed to dent into solo rider Kinley Gibson`s GC lead of 52 seconds. Whenever the pace slowed on the climbs, I helped to keep the pace high.

The descent was twisty and fast and manageable without braking though the women still braked (?). Added a scary element to descend behind them with that factor.

There was one short steep grunt hill before the descent. I admit the youthful riders could stomp up it. In the last lap, I felt if we had another 4 loops, I'd be holding my own there. Managed to keep in the top pack finish.

This stage saved the whole Banff Bike Fest from being way less than a training effort weekend. Wish there were three more road races with similar intensity in this Stage Race!

Super fun to room at Zippy dog`s place in Canmore

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Banff Bike Fest - Weather Roulette

Pre-prologue Eve... after the epic flash afternoon hailstorm and minor tornado siting, I spent extra time vacuuming water flowing via the weeping brick wall in my basement suite.

Pre-prologue Day... drove to Calgary to unload a few items, noticed things were damp from the trunk. Discovered a couple of gallons of water travelled with me from Edmonton's prior day's hailstorm via my trunk! Had a chance to toss everything in the dryer and bail out the water.

Got to the prologue in Banff with just enough time to warm-up. The sunshine in Banff helped defrazzle me from that extra unexpected effort.

Prologue... in my warmup, I was asked for "tips". I had forgotten what the stage was like from 2009 when I did it, only knew the profile on paper...  Relatively rolly-flat for 1.0 km, then climbs with a spike at 1.4 to 1.5 finishing at 1.6+ km.

After riding, my "tips" would be... "go HARD"... as hard as you can for the first 1 km", the steep hill always catches by surprise, hence called "surprise corner", AND it caught me again! It will hurt going up the grade no matter what! Love the final 100m descent which seems so Effort-Full!

scooped photo from Christina Smith, fellow racer, on her warm-up ride
In the first km, maybe I wasn't working hard enough as I certainly noticed the amazing scenery!

Weather... Earlier, just after drying out my trunk, it poured rain. Scared me for the race. Actual race weather was sunny, dry and AweSome!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Giver8er a few hours

Even though the forecasts all called for the rains to come, I was hoping different. Pretty amazing that I entered the event knowing those facts. Something about mud riding...

The first 2 hours were pretty nice. A drizzle was happening and all was good. Then the drops got bigger into the 3rd hour. Pretty amazed how the track changed from hard-packed to greasy goopy-ness within half an hour.
Excited for another muddy loop!

Going down one fast steep descent had the bike sliding sideways, so I bailed onto the grass and saved it. Not so much fun when even the open roadie sections were sloggish.

I had new tires on though the mud embedded between the knobs and made them like slick tires. A little concerned the mud wouldn't shed on the descent, though it eventually did.

After 4 loops, I paused for a food break. I was optimistic the rains were done, that within another hour the tracks would be rideable again. I was prepared to spray-wash the bike and head back in. 

Then the down-pour came. Hardcore mtnbikers stated it was dangerous out there. So, race was called early prior to 6 hours. Still a fun race!