Time has flown by since I biked in Canada.
Today I revisited my most enjoyable holiday after I got a DVD of photos from Aussie Dean, who had collated all our pictures (see my photos link on the right). It was great to see some different images from the ones I have. I also realised that I should give a little snapshot of what all got up to!
Day 1: Was mostly spent in the van driving from Calgary to our lodge in Fernie but it was a scenic drive to the foothills of the Rockies and we used the 4 hours to get to know one another. We had Dean from Australia, Julian, John and Bo from America, Rick, Brian, Ricus and Christy were from Canada and there was me and Mike from the UK. We had a vast range of riding age and ability so it proved to be a great mix. I got on with Bo right from the start as he had a dumb sense of humour like mine!
We made our lodge in Fernie in the early evening and had a great meal at Brickhouse in the centre of town. Then it was early to bed ready for the first day of riding!
Day 2: Dawned with a perfect blue sky and a glorious sun and this was to be the case for the rest of the week. We started off with a skills session with Johanna who taught us some basic bike control; it was stuff I never knew despite many years of mountain biking!
We then spent the rest of the day riding the glorious trails up and around Fernie with names such as Cemetery Bypass, What’s Up Doc, Eco Terrorist, Kid’s Play, Sidewinder (guess why it is called that?) After lunch we tackled Gorby (uphill), Mega Hurtz, Old Goat, Gorby (downhill) and Sherwoody Forest.
During this time Bo managed to break his axle, Sean (a mate of Eddy and Johanna’s) joined us us and proved he was a fruitcake by doing all the trails on a single speed! We topped off the day with dinner at the Curry Bowl. After a hard first day, we all slept very well.
Day 3: We hit the trails around Fernie again in order to acclimatize quickly. This was because we would be doing some serious climbing later in the week. We did trails such as Phat Bastard, Dembones and then Project 9. It was on the descent down the latter that I went over the handlebars and headfirst into a creek landing on my wrist; this was very painful.
The initial diagnosis and x-rays in Elk Valley Hospital in Fernie suggested a broken wrist. The doctors wanted to cast it but I got a kevlar strap, lots of painkillers and told the doctor I would ride on without one; he understood as he was a mountain biker too!
So that was my day done for and while the others went off to do more stuff after lunch including a skills session, Cemetery Bypass, Slunt and Brokeback.
We dined at Rip & Richards in the evening and I sampled poutine for the first time. Its amazing stuff and if you don’t know what it is; then look it up! It’s not for those of you with heart conditions…
Day 4: I dosed myself up on painkillers and I was ready to ride again! What’s Up Doc, Eco Terrorist, Kid’s Play, Sidewinder, Phat Bastard and Dembones were ridden again and all in glorious sunshine. It certainly made for thirsty work I can tell you. In the evening we ate at Brickhouse again and sampled the great local beer and some tequila and listened to Sean’s weird and wonderful biking stories. It was a shame that Sean wasn’t coming with us to Kimberley the next day as it would have been good to have him on the rest of the trip.
Day 5: We packed up the van, waved goodbye to Fernie and Mike (who had injured his knee; later we learnt it was a fracture!) and headed off to Kimberley. We arrived at our lodge and immediately went riding on the nice local trails such as Sidecut (where Dean crashed) and Romantic Ridge.
We also managed some skills training on jumps (which I am not good at!) and some skinnies. It was good fun all round and we rewarded ourselves with beer and the hot tub followed by a great dinner at the Village Bistro. A good dinner each day was a good reward and the chance to refuel after up to 6 hours of riding each day!
Day 6: We drove from Kimberley to Golden through some stunning scenery and got some good rides on the Kicking Horse trails. It was very hot on this day and I think I sweated more than in my entire life. Fortunately it was a crash free day for all of us (including Bo).
We managed to get a half decent team picture on this day and you can see the gang here on the left: Christy, Ricus, John, Brian, Rick, Dean me and Bo. (Julian was taking the picture). In the evening we ate at eleven22 in Golden where I had the best steak ever.
Then we drove to our lodge called Home in Golden.
It was quite simply, the best place I have ever stayed in; beautiful scenery, peace and quiet andoustanding accommodation. I even got to feed the owner’s horses there.
To be honest I could have stayed here forever but sadly we only had one night. Guess it just means I will have to visit again in the future.
Day 7: The second greatest day of mountain biking I have ever had; surpassed only by the last day.
Sadly, Eddy had suffered a very bad migraine in the morning so we dropped him off at the doctors and this meant that Johanna led us by herself. She did a good job and we made sure we did as we were told!
We rode the wonderfully named Bear Claw, Moonraker, Devil’s slide, Klahowya, Wapiti Ridge, and Windigo Chute. The trails were smooth, dry and very quick and it was just a case of point and shoot; letting the bike follow the curves without the need to brake. It was like being on a bobsleigh run, it felt so easy to ride.
We were high above Canyon Creek for most of the way which made for a slightly scary but exciting ride as we followed the river. One false move and it would have been about 2,000ft of free fall. Now, that would be a crash!
Fortunately, most of us actually rode sensibly that day and escaped with nothing more than great memories.
It was all I could do to stop myself falling off my bike as I was laughing so hard! I did stop and help him out although he was in pain from the thistles too. Bo’s confidence outweighed his ability, but you have to like someone who is always smiling and laughing after each crash, even if he was injured.
I aim to go back and do Moonraker again at some point in my life. I can still picture it even now. We ate at Patrinos in the evening, enjoyed good steak and watched our meal degenerate into a water fight; I won’t say who started it.
The ‘pot of gold’ ride, it was the incredible, amazing, scintillating and stunning Jumping Pound/Cox Hill Ride. Rated in several guidebooks as one of the best rides in the whole of North America, this incredible trail will live on in my dreams for years.
It was a very challenging, switch backing, single track climb up the side of a mountain (a climb of about 3,500ft!) and i have to say that I was shattered by the time I reached the top and I think I am quite fit!
I’m the kind of person who has been made to engage with the natural world and I love it. Personally, I could have stayed up there the whole day but we had to go.
We then did a ridge ride at 2,185 metres (7,210-ft) surrounded by the mountains. We then had another challenging single track climb, then the icing on the cake; 7 kilometres of the most incredibly sweet single track, and almost 930 metres (3,000-ft) of vertical descent.
We took a few hits on the trail as Dean had a rear flat, Ricus had a front flat, Bo used his face as a brake (again) and Brian severed his derailleur and had to freewheel down the ridge!
But we all did this amazing trail and this last day was all that I had hoped it would be; (apart from the very sore arms from descending!)
As I sat, exhausted but elated, in the van heading back to Calgary Airport and the flight home, I knew my Sacred Ride really had been the holiday I had been dreaming of my entire life.