07 August 2011

Sunshine Coast MTB Trail Challenge day 2

Day 2 of this ride dawned clear and cool so since I tend to wake early I headed down to the beach and took some pictures.

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Quite the contrast to what we were in store for later in the day which was this.

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That's right, adventure racing here we go. Day 1 of this ride it seems was just the warm up.

We started out on some easy trail which then turned to dirt road and soon we were descending down a valley parallel to a river. Every few hundred meters there was a water bar (read: huge ditch) and luckily we were able to ride them all. A couple of times the tandem would high-center as we struggled to clear the mound of dirt on the far side of the ditch but we powered through them and it was actually a good time judging from the laughter right behind me.

At the bottom of the road was the river. Turns out the bridge had been somewhat unstable for ages and so just last summer the Parks Department had decided to remove it. Undaunted, the ride organizer hired some zip-line aficionado to show up and ferry bikes across. We had to climb down one side, our bikes got zipped across while we waded across and then we had to climb up the other side. I gotta say, this was fun to watch and to do. Enjoy.

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Of course once we were reunited with our bike on the other side we were in the freaking jungle! This section of trail had not been cleared much less ridden since the bridge got removed so the brush was HEAVY. I am always amazed by the speed nature reclaims things and this trail was no exception. We were getting slapped by branches, there were overhanging limbs, stuff was grabbing our legs, it was kind of crazy.

After working our way through this wilderness for a while we finally popped out onto dryer terrain and our lunch stop.

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We took a bit of a break here because right out of lunch the road went up. And I mean UP.

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Pictures never do justice to the speed or slope but trust me, this was a grunt with the top being WELL beyond what you can see in this picture. And we made it!

It was here that the route turned into the woods and slowly, almost imperceptibly, the trail got tighter, twistier and narrower until suddenly we were walking the bike. For a while it was super fun. We were cruising through this dark, dense forest on earthy doubletrack with awesome traction and the ups and downs were very manageable. Then came a tight corner. And then a steep uphill. And the the bridges started.

BC/North Shore riding is nothing if not famous for man-made trails and teeter-totters and the like and that's super cool. But a tandem can't ride most of that stuff. The sheer length of the bike prohibits it from negotiating the turns even if you had the skills to balance on the ramps. Bummer. As we hiked more and more and rode less and less I was dying a thousand deaths. Each section of trail looked more spectacular than the last and I SO wanted to ride it all. Needless to say Shelley was not having the best time either. She had signed up for a ride and here we were hiking through the woods in our cycling shoes. It was a bit of a drag to say the least.

We finally got to the top and started descending toward the ferry and still we could not ride.

I'm not sure at what point we finally were able to get back on the bike but it was not soon enough. I didn't have many opportunities to take pictures during this section but here is one example of what we encountered.

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And here I am walking the bike across this same bridge.

Eventually we made it out of the trees and coasted down to the ferry dock where the organizers had decided to give away all the remaining beers. That worked for me.

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While I hydrated Shelley needed a little solo time. And I don't blame her.

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Here is proof that we went through hell; note massive scratch on my right cheek.

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Whew. I would love to do this ride again; on a single. Not on a tandem. It seems interesting to me (probably frustrating to Shelley) that practically every cycling trip or vacation I suggest ends up being this huge ordeal where we struggle arduously and encounter hardship after hardship. It's not my intention… If anyone knows of a nice, tame, scenic tandem trip they would recommend please let me know. We both deserve it.

Here are all the pictures.

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