Monday, June 17, 2013

Are you sitting comfortably?

Ever since I came to Vancouver there has been an ever-growing list of things that I would like to do around here. Some of these things fall lower down the list, because although I want to do them they don't sound like they're going to be very much fun. I remember years ago we extended the "fun classification system" beyond "type 2" to types 3 and 4... though the particulars escape me. According to this, everything I heard about the Comfortably Numb trail in Whistler put it in a "type >1" fun category. It promised a really long, strenuous climb, followed by a nasty descent on loose rock through a frisbee-golf course. Not the most appealing prospect.

Advancing a few years, I finally got around to riding Comfortably Numb yesterday. The prelude to this was a distinctly "Type 1" Saturday ride with Kaleb on Cypress Mountain which involved plenty of heroic feats and narrowly-avoided catastrophe... all the ingredients of a rewarding mountain bike ride.  On Sunday at the crack of 1pm, after sleeping in, forgetting my shirt, nearly running out of gas, stopping for samosas, then and riding in the wrong direction out of the parking lot and getting directions from some dudes driving a van with "Riverview retirement village - Seniors having fun!" written on the side, Lina and I embarked on what the sign told us was a four to seven hour epic trail.

Let's start the myth-busting here. The climb isn't that bad... in fact not all of it is even uphill. It's certainly all ride-able if you're game for it. It would be fair to mention that I was riding my giant-wheeled cross country horse, which probably helped with that. We passed through some superbly green forest, over viewpoints, and were accompanied by intermittent sunshine and thunder (which was unnerving). After three hours or so of foresty-fun we arrived at the downhill.

A clown-bike in the woods
Now I like me a good downhill, and the main reason it took me seven years to get around to riding this trail was the thought that all that suffering climbing up (which in reality was quite nice) would be rewarded by a ditch full of scree to slide down while we got pelted with frisbees. The downhill is certainly not a golden ribbon of smooth undulous (that's a word I just invented) trail, but it was no ditch. There were lots of interesting little rock slabs, and the rough parts were really not so bad. I did manage to pinch-flat my front tire, but ride it out into the undergrowth. Attempting to fix this revealed the axle on my front wheel to be stuck in the fork. A few minutes of stamping on my bike and banging it with sticks and a rock, we were off again.

Not a frisbee-strewn ditch.
We suddenly exited the forest right next to a frisbee golf "hole", but the frisbee-golfers turned out to be fairly tame and even pointed us in the right direction. We escaped from the Lost Lake trail system and rolled (mostly) downhill back to the car. The whole ordeal took about four hours by the time we got back to the car and we numbed the pain with burgers and fries in Whistler, while it started pouring with rain outside. This kind of cruel suffering, I don't mind putting myself through.