Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away — unknown
A little bit of heaven shimmered to my left as we rounded a corner. Where vibrant colours, and unforgiving trees playfully grow taunting the dry, and arid climate. Unlike the west coast the hills in these mountains are frequently scorched as summer heat waves often put Lytton as the hottest spot in Canada. Surrounded by pine forests, steep grassy hills give way to rockier paths and flowing single track. Welcome to the trails near Lytton, BC, a town where the mighty Fraser and Thompson Rivers converge, nestled below far from our reaches during my ride with my good friend Jon Mutiger.
I use this quote from Neil Armstrong because it perfectly described how I felt seeing the world open up in front of me – ‘I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.’
The most challenging trail was a very long and steep, grassy, sandy hill about 50 metres from the car that promised to flip you backwards as the front end of the bike kept popping up. I blew it at the 1/4 mark and decided to turn around to restart the climb. My bike gathered (lots of) speed with my rear wheel locked up fishtailing unable to get my foot off my rear brake pedal. A few hairy moments later I was staring upwards at the hill again, I gave the bike more gas and was determined to climb taking breaks where the terrain leveled off a bit to catch my breath and let my arms relax. The hill is shy of one kilometre. Jon told me if I wanted to reach the good stuff I had to tackle this climb. Topped out in 3rd gear I pinned it and was determined to reach the top. I did not want my day to end within the first 5 minutes of our ride.
Two Gas Gas trials bike equipped with a front mount Hebo 1.1 litre auxiliary fuel tank gave us more than our share of fun in addition to being quiet and with next to little or no environmental impact.
Jon Mutiger on his 2011 Gas Gas 280 TXT Pro carefully riding along one of the many ridgelines.
Jon watering the dry, arid desert-like conditions…again.
I stupidly pull up the front end on a sketchy path with a steep drop on the right. And by stupid I mean this lovingly as my wheelie skills are not to be desired. Photo by Jon Mutiger.
Topped out at 2702 metres (6800 feet) my 2007 Gas Gas 200 TXT Pro faltered a bit as the carb had not been adjusted for such heights. Jon swapped out the Dellorto carb on his gasser for a Keihin carb. He needed a new reed block and throttle cable – the bike ran beautifully at all altitudes. The road ended here when the snow became too deep and soft to ride through and a clap of thunder and rain shattered the silence.
Jon’s backpack carried food, water, a VHF radio, toilet paper, tools and a 5 litre jerry can. My orange Lowepro camera backpack carried water, a few energy bars, camera equipment, a rain jacket, extra gloves, spare levers and a shifter. Because civilisation is so far, and cell phones have no signals riders need to be self-sufficient and equipped with appropriate safety equipment.
Despite a fake left hip Jon can still bust out no-footers.
We opted not to stay in this fine establishment but would have welcomed it should an emergency have occurred. It also doubles as a primo party place judging from the empty beer, vodka coolers, and shell casings we found lying around.
As always a huge thank you to the hard working clubs that maintain the trails for our safety and enjoyment. The members of The West Coast Dirt Riders (
www.westcoastdirtriders.com) are doing an excellent job. They currently maintain over 300 km of trails in the Laluwissin Creek area near Lytton. They are a small club and they take great pride in the trails they have created and maintained for years. The club also holds a popular national off-road XC race called the Monkey Wrench 100. This year there is a double header which includes a HS the day before the XC race on June 28 & 29.
By the end of the day total travelling distance was approximately 60 km. We both started with 2 full tanks and 2 full auxiliary tanks. We topped up the bikes mid-way through our ride and probably had an extra 10 km or less of gas time left. The sights and the sheer vastness of the area are mind-boggling. The single track is fast and flowy while the technical hill climbs can hang-up an expert rider. I admit to not wanting to stop to take photos as I was having too much fun riding. A superb day with lots of arm-pumping action and a healthy dose of adrenaline but one that deserves to wait for a perfect blue-bird day for the vistas alone. I cannot wait for my next ride there.