Sunday, July 31, 2011


After a couple of weeks concerted effort, the apartment is looking very empty and all the things I've been putting off fixing for the past 3 years are in working order. This will be a lesson to me to get around to doing these things earlier next time so I can enjoy things like working power sockets for myself...

All of the packing and fixing rush was a build up to me heading south with Conor on a bicycle-infused adventure. Our destination is Ashland Oregon, where we will be attaneding the United Bicycle Institute's course fo bicycle frame TIG welding. To say this has been a long time coming would be about right. I first wrote for the course details 5 years ago and it has taken me this long, but we are on our way. Knowing very well that the journey is often more important than the destination, we left a lttle early and have been enjoying some barely-organized adventures along the way. Our first stop was with Chris and Kathleen in Olympia for a great evening and welcome bed for the night followed by a fantastic ride in the Capitol State Forest with Chris. The fast flowing singletrack there is the perfect contrast to our local trails (and Conor's birthplace as a mountain biker), the North Shore. Swooping through the red dirt and enjoying some long-awaited sunshine I felt like a housebound catepillar emerging from its cocoon as a butterfly... with wheels, or something.

Traffic through Portland sucks at rush-hour, and Friday night in late July is a dumb time to be looking for a campsite in Oregon. Despite these things, we found a place to stay for the night between Eugene and Bend and prepared ourselves for a shuttle-assisted ride down the McKenzie River Trail. This trail was 40km of mostly downhill singletrack, passing through lava fields, past waterfalls, and the bluest lake I have ever seen. The water looked like ice, and wasn't much warmer at about 5 degrees. We jumped in, and quickly jumped out again. Having been very hot we were totally refreshed in about 3 seconds. The rest of the trail was a mix of fast, swooping singletrack with occasional small climbs or a few technical sections. Despite having mostly ridden downhill, 4 hours of riding is still 4 hours of riding, so Conor and I were were ready for some further refreshment at the end of the trail. We jumped in the resevor to cool off and then sat in the sun outside a cafe. I love it when aplan comes together.

An Irishman as tall as a tree... in some trees.

Bizarre lava-rock with asphalt singletrack. Madness.

Waterfalls and forest of greenest green

A lake of bluest blue

Yes... it was really, really blue

...and really cold!
Today we arrived in Ashland and had a poke around the town which will be our home for the next 2 weeks. There's good coffee, a brewpub, bike trails from the town, and we're staying in a TeePee. I think it's going to be fun!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Everything counts (in larger amounts)

If something's worth doing, it's worth doing until your bottom really hurts. I doubt this is true, but it seems to have been the theme of our trip to Whitehorse. Whether it was driving, mountain biking, or paddling... bottom endurance was tested to the maximum at all times. After 3 days of epic driving, some sleeping in the car, and a million insects squashed on the windshield we reached the oasis of Whitehorse. After an evening run along the river and then last call at a pub in town we walked home in the sunshine at midnight. I love summer in the north.

Back in 2007 Paul and I made the trip up to Whitehorse to ride the 24 Hours of Light in a team of four. Ever since then I've wanted to come back as I'm pretty convinced this is the best mountain bike race ever. Of course doing something that you loved for a second time is a risky business as how can it ever be as good as the first time? I needn't have worried... as 24 Hours of Light 2011 is now the best bike race I have ever done. Probably. Highlights for me were the course ending each lap with a 10-minute downhill filled with perfect corners and tings to jump off. Riding this at 3am as fast as I could with a bunch of friendly locals "whooping it up" behind me was a special moment. Lina and I even got in the local newspaper due to our efforts (and what we were about to do next). Lee Carruthers took some great photos, including this one of me, which I like and here we are winning some fine swag.

We were lucky enough to make some new friends in Whitehorse (via a Vancouver connection) who were excellent to us and helped us recover after the rigors of the race. I really can't thank David and Colleen enough (plus various human friends and also feline friends Sushi and Magic). We'll be visiting back north again...

The main event of our trip was to live out Lina's ambition to be the first to stand-up-paddleboard down the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson. This trip is over 700km long, which really is a long way. Even when you're on a river that's flowing at over 10km/h... it's still a long way. I had my fair share of "I want to go home, or at least get out of this kayak" moments, but Lina's drive to finish the trip kept us going. As the gear-mule I was paddling a portly plastic sea kayak which took the "fun" right out of "functional", but got me down the river safely and kept me warm when the weather turned nasty. I even managed to persuade Lina to take it easy at times, though usually only when she was battling with the wind. On reflection it was an amazing way to visit a beautiful part of the world, to camp on inaccessible islands, and see first nations and the gold-rush history of the river.

Our trip on the river also attracted the attention of the Whitehorse Star's sports editor Jonathan, who was a little short on sleep having covered the 24 hour bike race and then the Yukon River Quest back to back. The summer schedule of fun is unrelenting with 24 hours of daylight to play with. Here's the article about our time on the river. My head will surely explode from all this fame.

We've also put together a video of our trip on the river as it seemed like the sort of thing that needed to be documented somehow. One day I will get some fancy video editing software so I can make a more sophisticated job of things, but for now... the world gets this:

Yukon River SUP Expedition 2011 from Andrew Dye on Vimeo.

Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak
Kialoa SUP Paddles
Mountain Equipment Co-Op
Icebreaker Merino Clothing
Starboard SUP
Trident Sports
Ryders Sunglasses
Werner Paddles