I sit quietly trying to think about how to write this story of our Canada 150 adventure. My legs still sore from the events of yesterday, and my body still trying to piece itself together from being shattered from the 92km and 7:58 ride to travel from Earls Cove to Gibsons, BC. Best to go back to the idea that I posted as an event on Facebook in early March of this year – I then invited my many MTB friends. It read:
Canada is turning 150 years old and we are celebrating it by mountain biking the BCBR course from Earls Cove to Langdale all in one day! I was trying to find a route that was 150km but alas the coast isn’t that long. Book early and its free. Space is limited to a truck load of my most dearest friends to enjoy this suffer-fest. Expect 100+km of trails – 3000m of climbing and about 10 hours on the trail. Maybe I can convince someone drive us to Earls Cove in the early morning and we ride back. Pick people up on the way up. This is a self supported adventure so bring food, bars and water. We’ll bring the fun!
The idea was simple – ride the famous king and queen stages of the BC Bike Race (days 3 and 4) in one day. Now, I’ve marshalled many BCBR stages over the years and enough to see the back half of those riders finishing just one of those stages a complete shell of the person before the race stage began. Shattered! But these are trails that we ride almost every day so surely we could ride both stages in one day… Right?
I got instant feedback from the crazy variety – “what the? 100km on a mountain bike in one day – you’re crazy!” To – “100km on a mountain bike? Count me in!!” I have to say, the mountain bikers are dear friends and bonafide crazy and they were in!!
July 1 rolled around early, with a cool crisp in the air. Sue volunteered her day to the cause driving my truck around to provide food, support and ordering pizza. We arrived at the start around 6:30am at the SunCoaster trailhead near Egmont on the top of Sechelt Pennisula.
The first part of the ride was a gradual climb up to Klein Lake, then climbing up past Sakinaw and Ruby Lakes
After stopping at an amazing viewpoint, we headed down a quick double-track. The last cross ditch was particularly rocky – within 100m past the ditch – 3 riders pulled over with 4 flat tires. I had to break out the patch kit to mend a pinch flat which such a repair is dubious at best. Oh no – we may be dropping riders soon I thought!
The climb from Ruby was something else – and delightful at the same time for those who enjoy climbing. The ride to this point is the SunCoaster Trail which links roads, trails and hydro road together to form a route to Homesite Creek. Notable trails were Highway to Hell and AC/DC Canyon. The views are amazing!
Cougar and Old Pole Road are also notable trails with its handbuild BCBR inspired connections. I have to say that although there was a significant amount of old roads, there were class A singletrack connections that I appreciate the efforts of Rod and his gang to build for BCBR and leaving legacy trails for us to enjoy. Next stop along the way was at Lone Owl Lake – home of a single owl hermit and about 1/4 of the journey done.
Past Homesite creek, mountain bikers have spent many hours over the years developing the trail network around Halfmoon Bay and West Sechelt, and so familiar trails started to appeared. Cabin Fever, Deliverance, Beaver Pond and the Matrix trails brought us to our lunch spot at Bricker Cidery (Time was about 1pm).
At Brickers, it was so tempting to stop right there and have a few ciders, but all of us knew that another 4-5 hours of riding still stood between us and the finished. Off we went, but with new blood to add new energy and stoke including Lupin, Lucy and Nick. The worst part of this ride for me was the heat coupled with the steep logging road. Exposed to the sun, I was in the basement and forcing myself to drink lots of water. Most of my friends know me well enough that if I’m not smiling or laughing, I’m hurting and go into survival mode. Oh, I’ll drift into a state of consciousness to smile or wave, but that long road up to the Blazing Saddles was killer! Walk, ride slowly, walk some more – I convinced myself that it’ll be over soon. The group took lots of breaks a lot this stretch probably seeing me as the effort gauge and to make it their mission to guide me home!
Once on Blazing Saddles, it was more up Eldorado to the crux point of the ride. The remaining route I chose beforehand was ambitious to say the least (up Rip Nipple, Witches Brew, Wagon trail, Guys, Hwy 103 to Hwy 102) and I knew that I didn’t have it in me to ride this or even to stay with the group. Secretly, I was plotting an exit strategy and an easier way to Gibsons. Yes, I had a myriad of choices – call Sue for the sag wagon, ride down to the highway or ride the logging road to Seven, 454 and on to Reid Road. The group was ahead at the Crux point planning the next trail routes. Glen says “Let the Captain decide” – I told them to carry on with the planned route and I was going to sneak off on my own route, completing bailing on them… They weren’t going to support that move so I suggested a route, and we chose the logging road to Seven with a few stops on the way. The changed route was actually a good choice and it got us to trails that most have not ridden for a long time, increasing the stoke of the group. I also seemed to get a little recovery too; probably powered by “horse to the barn” energy!
We rolled into Armours Beach around 7:30pm and jumped into the ocean for quick swim. Then grabbed a beer at Gibsons Tapworks for more backslapping and hugs. It was the hardest ride I’ve ever done. Most of the group was talking about next year and doing it with more people. Do it again? Are you crazy???? Okay I’m in!
This ride could not have been possible without Sue. Her generous support and giving up her time manning the aid stations during her Canada Day. She even picked up Pizza and tubes for the group!!! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!