Ooooh ride no. 50 – a big, slick, ridiculous Loonie/Toonie ride! ^Not the weather we had for the Toonie this week!!!
Right, so the Loonie kicked my arse royally. It was long slog, with alot of mud, roots, and cursing. The route was part of the epic Comfortably Numb trail, as well as the new ‘re-route’ of the Green Lake Loop – so I was excited to try it out. I think the re-route is called Jeff’s Trail – but methinks that has been there a while and I just didn’t know about it. The race also incorporated the brand-spanking-new section of the Sea-to-Sky trail.
The weather has been dreadful for the last week – unseasonably cold and stupidly rainy (it’s like I’m still in Britain!). Thursday rolled around though, and the rain let up to just a drizzle by the afternoon. The weather, and I presume the starting line (at Wedgemont parking lot), put off a lot of potential riders, and there was probably somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50 folks there.
There were two courses held – not sure if this is a new feature to the Loonies or if it was just because of the trail conditions/ difficultly of the trail ahead – but there was an ‘easy’ and an ‘epic’ route. I definitely couldn’t have the first Loonie I’ve been raced in three years to be an ‘easy’ one, so my pride got in the way of the reality (of the long, difficult route, shite conditions, slightly dulled skills from riding in the UK for the last three years, etc etc) and I headed off to join the ‘epic’ start line.
Thankfully though, I had my mate Christina there to suffer with me! It was her influence that got my arse in gear and to the start line, truth be told, and also drove us halfway to Wedgemont in her massive-Canadian-truck. Christina is the type of lady who is up for anything, no matter how potentially insane it sounds, so it was a good person to have with me on this particular Loonie.
^the would-be view from the trail, if it wasn’t shrouded in cloud as it was at the race.
So, we begin. The climb on logging road separated the weak from the strong as it was haaaard core. Steep and loose, the logging road was absolutely saturated from the week of rain (read: pure mud). The kind of mud that just sucks the power from your legs as you try in vain to keep up with all those spinning effortlessly in front of you. Oh man.
The rest of the race was a balance between slipping on roots and rocks, getting out of folks way, catching up to other folks and passing them, and then zooming down epic singletrack and rad doubletrack with a big fat smile on my face. The lichen-covered forest, the big trees, the threat of bears just around the corner, the thick scent of pine – mmmm, all so very West Coast, all so very Canadian. It was fabulous 🙂 . I definitely didn’t break any ‘personal bests’ on this race, but it reminded me of why I love the Loonies so much – the community (and knowing all your mates are going) really motivates you to get out, even in less-than-ideal conditions. Also, they challenge you – and the more often you go, the better and faster you will get. But most importantly – they are a hell of a lot of fun. The fun of just being out riding, the epic courses chosen as the sponsors try to ‘out-do’ each other, the apres drinks and dinner, riding with your mates (and making lots of new ones) – it’s just a right good laugh.
Speaking of mates – Christina rocked it out completely at the race and was really good at both the slick uphill and sketchy downhill sections (so pretty much all of it!). As pour moi, the confidence I gained on my bike since being here, I feel may have been massively bruised now … damn. I kind of wish I went to the Loonie last week cause I would have felt like a superstar compared to this weeks trails (ie bone dry Lost Lake trails versus piss wet through Comfortably Numb trails), but what can you do. It’s all good training in the end, right? 🙂
^The Apres at Riverside
Although the ride kicked my ass tonight, it made me really miss WORCA, the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association, and the world-renown bike culture that is so unique to Whistler. I know it isn’t fair to compare the likes of the ‘mountain biking mecca’ to my little English home in the Lake District… but I still find myself wondering, why can’t the English cycling scene be more like this?!
The sense of community, the support for trails, the amazing ability of the riders, the progressive views on biking, the all-out enthusiasm to just get out and ride — Whistler is in a league of it’s own when it comes to mountain biking.
^ knackered bunny, en route back to the Athlete’s Village.
If those of you reading are living and riding in Whistler right now – don’t take it for granted. It’s a unique and special place that is one of best places to be a mountain biker. Yes, it can be a bit a of a circus sometimes (or all the time), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And also, if you’re reading this and are a rider in Whistler – go join WORCA, get on some trail maintenance days, and introduce your friends to riding in this beautiful part of the world.