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The North Shore Triple Crown – They say that its not easy.

The North Shore Triple Crown – They say that its not easy.

It all starts with a whisper – a sown seed if you will – “Lets do the Triple Crown”.  A year ago I was like a hard tarmac or dry, parched desert that any seed of a Triple Crown suggestion would be met with flock of hungry pigeons.  No f’in way!  But its 2012 and things haven’t gone my way since my May injury.  An oasis in the desert sprouted a fountain of exuberance and it grew to a f ‘ yeah!  This trip gave me a purpose to train just a little harder, motivated to ride on the road again and start attacking the hills.  My friends thought I was nuts – “Are you crazy” was often in the conversation.

We set off on the first ferry to beat the 30 deg C heat  and to get much of the climbing done by noon.  We rode along Marine Drive and because the day was a Sunday (on a long weekend), we basically had the road to ourselves for a good 4 hours.  The first climb is considered by most as the steepest and is the HC (outside category) of the Shore.  Mt Seymour started steep and not a grade relief in sight.  The horseflies were flying around us and I was wondering how can they fly that fast….oh, get it now.  Its an odd thing about the perceived effort scale, you can be feeling great about yourself and strong, but could be going painfully slow. No wonder the horseflies found us easy pickings.

Top of the Mt Seymour Climb – 1040m elevation

We did feel strong and had lots of energy as we passed many riders and our conversation was at the same quick tempo.  One hour and 3 minutes passed by quickly.  A quick snap shot of the sign and down the hill we went.

Now linking the three mountains was not very well planned by the city so trying to get from A to B to C took some local knowledge, directions from passers-by and consulting the Iphone oracle. A quick jaunt up Lillooet Road past the Cap University and Cemetary to the Mt Seymour Demo Forest.  We crossed the river on Rice Lake Road and then up Dempsey and Braemar (for that mini one two punch), Montroyale and then the climb to Grouse.

Getting to Grouse was a bit uneventful, but steep.  The heat started to pick up and the tourist traffic was very busy.    Not much to say here.  Climb 2 done and down to the dam and into British Properties we go.

At the parking lot of Grouse Mountain

So you’ve probably guess that in an effort to stay away from traffic, we were avoiding the ridiculous expectation of riding down to sea level and then back up.  Sorry this is a Sunshine Coast style Triple Crown ride.  Getting to Cypress via neighborhoods was not a easy feat as  all the hills we took kept going up.  So suck it to all the Triple Crown Purists.  We finally made it to a road that I thought was connected and when we finally got to within 100m of Cypress Road, we had this  massive excavation to overcome.  We could see the cars whizzing up the hill, we were so close.  We had two choices; lose 200m elevation and ride down to upper levels or hike and bike ourselves on the other side of the fenceline through brambles, swordfern and salmonberry (in road bike shoes).  Thank god Tan is a mountain biker cause choice number 2 was the only choice in my mind after 95km in and I know I wasn’t thinking straight.  15min later we were back on pavement enjoying the view.

So much of riding is a mental game and with 30 deg weather and probably a lot warmer on the pavement, the perceived effort scale was peaking for me.  The last 5km was brutal – long stretches of pavement exposed to the sun played in my head and such a wall that I couldn’t bare looking up.  It was a dig hard, dig deep moment for me, and I just wanted the hill to be done.  If it wasn’t for Tan’s encouragement I’m certain that I would have turned around.  45min later my reprieve came with a gentle grade to the pub at the top of Cypress Bowl.  Number 3 done!!!!!

The final climb – Cypress – that’s 9003m elevation by the way 😉

A quick hydrating moment of dumping a full cold water bottle my head was my gift to myself of a job well down.  A fellow rider had a temperature gauge on his bike – 38 deg C….Yikes!

Downhill back to ferry and celebrating at the Troller Pub wasn’t far ahead.  We finish the Triple Crown – “Are you crazy!” Yes…yes I am.