Monday, June 21, 2010

Sun Country

We've been having a bit of trouble with summer here in Vancouver. Like an old lawnmower, it was dragged out of the garage at the first sign of spring and dusted off. After a few attempts it got going... choked, and died. We've cleaned the plugs and pulled all the grass out of the air filter, but it just won't keep running. I don't think I can stretch that analogy any further... but you get the idea.

So, we traded in Vancouver for a place with better weather this weekend. Like an electric lawnmower (I knew I could get some more out of the lawnmower thing), the Okanagan seems to just work. The weather forecast was so bad for this weekend some of the cafes closed "due to weather" before the weather even arrived... but undeterred, the sun shone, the air was hot, the lake was cold, and the trails were flowing.

First order of the day was for Lina to race in a sport that is poised to take over the world (possibly). Stand-up Paddleboard racing looks to the casual observer (me) like a cross between a mass miracle of water-walking and rush hour in Venice. I have had a go myself and it is fun, though I think I would ideally like some waves under my board. Kalamalka Lake and the Kalavida Surf Shop in Vernon hosted the inaugural Kalamalka Classic SUP race meeting. Saturday's race was a quick dash around and through the Oyama ismuth with a portage. Kala and I took care of some bike-maintenance while Lina managed to come back from a fairly terrible start to win the race!

Want to know what a SUP race looks like? Now you know.

...and this is how you win a SUP race.

With pushing back the frontiers of sport taken care of... we went off to eat a pizza and go for a ride on the Kal Lake Park trails, thanks to our trail map from Sun Country Cycle in Vernon.  We followed the suggested XC loop on the map and were treated to sunshine, meadows, and even dust on the trails. Oh Vancouver summer... where art thou?

Lina on "Acrophobia"

In the evening we headed back to Oyama and Gatzke's Farm Market, for a great dinner, some cider, a game of boules (bocce in Canadian), and to see Lina collect her prize paddle. We also got a huge haul of stickers and a pink trucker-hat. Winner.

Too early on Sunday morning we headed back to Oyama (again) for Lina to start her "real" race all the way to Vernon. That's a really long way... I think 20km. We met up with Irish friend Conor and "the Savages", missed Lina's race start... but saw the 3 girls paddle off for Vernon, followed shortly by the guys. Kala, Conor, and I got a great ride back at Kal Lake Park with some nasty hot climbing, some great views, and some ripping descents.  We even got to cool off in the lake half way around.

An Irishman in the Okanagan

Kala on the Lookout Trail

All re-united on the beach in Vernon, we found that Lina had got her second victory of the weekend and could still move her arms... so we celebrated with lunch in the pub before heading back to moist Vancouver.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ultra-concentrated Joy

Now available in bottles.

This weekend I went to Winthrop... a place I have had some great rides the past few years. This time I was with Alex, Malcolm, Vince, Chuck, Ned, and Tom... who I've (mostly) not ridden with before. Same place, but a different time of year and different people. There were certainly more green plants that I am used to seeing in September/October, and it was about 35 degrees warmer than the last time I was biking there.

After a later arrival and necessary sitting around and drinking beer, some sleep, and then an extravagant breakfast... we set out on Saturday to do one side of the Starvation Mountain loop. Would that make it the Starvation Mountain arc? There was some fun creek-crossing to be done and we pedaled up until we hit the snow. En-route I managed what is becoming my signature crash... getting jettisoned off my bike down a precipitous slope while I am riding uphill. This time an overhanging branch caught in my pack, and refused to let go. The tension fired me off the back of my bike and down the hill. I escaped mostly unscathed, but how I ended up down there took some explaining.

Vince running the gauntlet of "bike shoes on the log over icy water"

We were looking forward to riding back down this

Tom demonstrating correct snow-crossing technique

When we reached the end of the singletrack we turned around and rode back down. The descent started muddy and slippery, with deep snow patches to plough through.... then fast and dusty through the burned forest, and finally back on the exposed trail cut into the loose valley side. Fun! The evening progressed from swimming in the lake and making friends with a local dog, cooking too much, eating too much... and finally trying to build a hot air balloon powered by beef fat. The beef-balloon was a sadly a failure, but version 2 will happen one day.

On Sunday we rode the Buck-Mountain loop which had far more cow and wildflowers than I am used to seeing. The place felt alive and looking at the snowy peaks in the distance reminded me of some of our ski touring trip this winter. For now, I am happy to see some sunshine and warm temperatures. Hopefully after the shaky start, summer is here to stay.

Ned's video evidence

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Putting things together

Last weekend I at last got out on a trail maintenance day... in the sunshine no less. It's been ages since I did one of these, and I've missed the satisfaction of hauling rocks around and digging in the mud. This time I went along to the Knee Knacker trail day on Baden Powell. There is even photographic evidence of my bucket handling skills. I'll get to run along our new section of trail when I do the race in July. Maybe we shouldn't have put so many steps in it...

On Sunday we headed out to Port Moody to Leo and Karen's yard-warming party and for a ride. We rode up to the superbly-named "Decapitator", then all the way back down the mountain to the waiting barbecue. The trails out there make me think the North Shore must have been like that when the trails were new, before all the rock-paving was done. It was good to ride some different stuff and to give the new fork on The Orange Bike a trial run. The departure of my old Santa Cruz (post-NIMBY50) and the renovation of The Orange Bike is now finished and it's feeling very sprightly indeed with it's new handlebar, tires, fork, and various bearings. I also bowed to current mountain bike fashions and fitted a Gravity Dropper seatpost that I can remotely activate to spring up and whack me in the groin. Sounds great. Now I just need to finish making my cyclocross/road bike back into something I can ride and I will have an apartment full of working bikes... until I break one again.

Here it is, a picture of my bicycle on the internet.