Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Snowdust - Thanksgiving mountain biking in the wild west

This weekend was Canadian thanksgiving, and just like last year we went to Chris' place near Winthrop. Winthrop is like something out of a cowboy movie... I keep expecting to see tumbleweed blow down the main street. We got 3 rides in 3 days: a "warm-up" 4 hour ride up and down to Cutthroat Pass, an 8 hour monster ride on the Angel's Staircase loop, and a "warm down" spin around the singletrack of Sun Mountain. Fantastic.

So... after the usual epic drive to Winthrop, having a beer, and falling asleep in the car... we met up with Chris and Kathleen and went back to sleep again. Bright (definitely) and early (not so much) on Saturday we headed west again to ride up to Cutthroat Pass. It was -6 degrees. Chilly. We climbed up through the forest on dusty singletrack, toes and fingers freezing. It was strange being in intense sunshine, with bone-dry dusty trails, but so cold! We took in the view... and made a quick exit back down the fantastic trail to the car.

Lina switching back on the climb to Cutthroat Pass

Lina and Megan climbing to the Pass

Saturday night we had a pre-Thanksgiving feast of salmon, chicken, veggies, and Angie's dubious "Tofurkey". I thought is was ok... though the other's weren't so sure. It did squeak when you bit it. Strange.

Sunday was to be our big ride. Two years ago (before we knew Chris) Tracy, Paul, Jacek, Suzanne, and I rode up Foggydew Creek to the Angel's Staircase. It was one of the worst climbs I have ever done on a bike, followed by one of the best descents. I was keen to get back up there. With some tips from the bike shop we headed out on a true circular route, going up the way we came down last time and then down the other side. No surprise that climbing to 8000 feet got a bit chilly... though the sun kept us warm when we were in the open. I've never ridden through alternating patches of dust and snow on the same trail. Everything was so dry, either scorched from the summer sun, or frozen. All our water kept freezing too, so it was pretty chilly.

Lina in the snowdust


The last climb had us hiking up a scree slope to avoid a stand-off between a huge group of horses and some motocross bikes, we were glad to be able to bypass that whole situation. Near the final summit I managed to eject myself down a very steep rocky slope, slide to a halt and watch my bike sail overhead. It went a long way... but came to rest in some trees. After checking all my limbs still moved I hiked down, pulled my bike out of the tree, and scrambled back up. A close call, but everything survived! Then came the descent. Wow. A little different to last time, but with a bit of everything. Steep, steep, technical rocky stuff... rooty, dusty stuff, and fast, fast, fast twisty forest singletrack.

Jacek descending the Angel's Staircase

Megan on a switchback

Paul and Angie made a swift exit to get back to Vancouver and catch a 'plane while the rest of us dug into Thanksgiving dinner. YUM.

There was a whole lot of photography going on, so there will be more photos, and even video.
Thank you for a great weekend Chris! My photos are here. Paul's are here. Jacek's photos are here.