A blue sky, warm temps, killer trails and snow capped mountains! Awesome. What through me for a loop though was the steepness of the trails from minute one onwards. Guess I’m used to a smooth, gentle rise in elevation. BC single tracks, in general, are pretty tough and I admit that the narrow paths, steep granite walls, and slick roots made my heart patter more than once. My years as a downhill racer led me to race more than once on BC trails so you would think I would be used to the difficulty. I have come to accept that I am green. My skills on a trials bike is negotiable and my friend Jon has now rated me as a beginner. After todays ride I accept that I am a newbie.
The technical – a 12.4 km ride, with over 800 metres of climbing in 4.5 hours (break time, photo time) and approximately 2 litres of fuel used. The start, as mentioned, clearly took me by surprise as the rapid narrow ascent became gnarlier and greasier as rocks and roots jutted in all directions. While you are visualising this throw in about 10 tight switchbacks into the mix. I surprised myself being able to keep up with Jon and Steve. I dabbed my foot on a slippery rock and that threw me off and I landed hard on my right hip. No problem. Pick up the bike and keep going. If I stop it’ll be that much harder to get going again so … ‘don’t stop’ became my mantra.
Eventually the trail straightened and a sea of lush green moss welcomed us into the higher levels. Only a few deciduous trees remained while big cedars and Douglas Firs (I think…I’m not really a botanist) lined the forest standing tall and majestic. The trail continued upwards but relaxed a bit in the steepness until faced with a few monstrous rock walls slick from moisture and drizzled with moss. I realised then I should pay heed to the kind words given to me by Jon before the start of the ride – he calmly and clearly stated for me not to be afraid to ask for assistance. Looking up at my first obstacle it didn’t take long to first laugh at the thought that I would even consider attempting this and finally, cave in and loudly cry ‘help’!
Now before I paint a picture of myself as some unskilled damsel I would like to say that I have matured and grown during my last two rides in BC on my trials bike. Clearly, it was evident that at times I was not going to clean some sections. And in an attempt to keep both myself, my bike and my friends happy I accepted the help and let the guys ride my bike up on some of the (as I found out) intermediate to advanced climbs. Afterall, we were riding a single black diamond downhill trail backwards so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad asking for help once in a while. Besides…riding is way more fun than falling and fixing myself and my bike.
As I lay in bed that night I had some time to reflect upon my first two rides in BC on a trials bike and realised that there are 10 Cardinal Rules for Riding in BC. Along with my own thoughts, words of wisdom from both Jon and Steve led me to the following:
1. Be prepared – for me that means bring zip ties so when I loop my bike I don’t have to rely on friends to put my fender back on.
2. Tire Pressure – they are pretty much flat right now and grip is much better.
3. Back to the basics – clutch control, balance, body position need to be well rehearsed.
4. Commitment – Give ‘er!! is appropriate at times. Whatever the case…follow through and don’t back off.
5. Whoa! – and sometimes we need to stop and look before we ‘give ‘er’ as steep drops and giant boulders are the norm.
6. Feet on the pegs – self explanatory. If you must dabble at least keep on foot on for traction.
7. Plan a route – that means plan your route of attack before actually trying it.
8. Plan an escape route – just like the above plan an escape route should you not attain your goal and decide when and how to fall should the need arise.
9. Breathe – do not underestimate this Cardinal Rule.
… and the top cardinal rule …
10. Ask for help – there is no shame asking for help over an obstacle.
I cannot thank both Jon and Steve for their assistance. Without them I would have missed out on an incredible ride. I have learned a lot and plan to continue learning. One day I will tackle that monstrous granite wall…but maybe when it’s a bit drier. For now I am a beginner and loving where it takes me.