BC Epic Rides

10 – 18 August 2013 (Gold Bridge (South Chilcotins), Revelstoke and Rossland, BC) —

We rode the Bike Magazine Trail of the Year this week.  It didn’t even make our top three favorite rides of the week.  It was a good week.

South Chilcotins, BC – Warner Lake Trail

After way too long on the Hurley, we arrived at Tyax Lodge in the middle of nowhere.  It’s a fancy place, but like many places in BC, there are inexpensive camp sites near the lodge (as well at a forest campground down the road).

Tyax lodge
Tyax Wilderness Lodge on Tyaughton Lake, BC

We relaxed on the lake and saw that they ran a float plane shuttle service out of the lodge.   After talking to one of the employees, we signed up to fly stand-by in case they had an opening for us and our bikes.

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Tyax Adventures based on Tyaughton Lake, BC.

Because everything was coming up Millhouse, we scored two cheap seats on Monday’s flight along with the owner of Tyax Adventures who was willing to ride with us back to civilization (the South Chilcotins are pure backcountry — and then some).   The flight was a non-event so the 1961 DeHavilland Beaver (and I) lived to fly another day.

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The exact moment when I could no longer block out how often small planes fall out of the sky.
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Look for bears!
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Our destination for the shuttle: Warner Lake.
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Landing at Warner Lake.
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I was stoked to start riding.  I was super stoked that I was off that bloody plane.

Safely back on terra firma, we unloaded the plane and began the 44 km ride back to our rig.

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Click picture to watch video

The first part of the ride was pure British Colombia “cross-country” — i.e., what the rest of the world calls a goat trail.  Something was lost in translation because I did more hiking while riding BC’s XC trails than I did when, well, hiking.  And, because it had stormed for the prior two days, everything was super slick.  It was a bit of an adventure with the wet roots and rocks, pedal strikes, and deadfall, but finally the trail became a lot more flowy.

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I had a half dozen pedal strikes on this stretch alone.

Yep, we left the wet roots and rocks for some nice flowy scree fields.  Note:  There is no such thing as flowy scree fields.

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It’s called mountain biking not mountain walking, Orozco.

The sky was partly cloudy, which made the humidity bearable.  When the sun came out, the trail became otherworldly.

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I distracted V and two seconds after this photo, she failed to clear the logs and went sideways into the mud.

After a while, we got the hang of the conditions, and got after it.

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V charging.

Around every corner, the views were amazing.

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V focused on the trail, and large boulders next to her; D enjoying the view.

The last two hours were amazing even if we were covered in mud and sweat.

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I swear it’s mud and not the result of all the bear scat we saw with bells in it.

We had numerous creek crossings — V went for an unplanned dip in one — but thankfully the two river crossings had bridges given the height of the river.

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And by river, I mean “Gun Creek.” Seriously, they call that raging thing to my right a creek. It’s August — this isn’t even run-off.

Muddy, exhausted, and super stoked, we arrived back in camp with permagrins and hit the lodge for a fancy dinner (and a couple of bottles of wine).2013-08-12 Warner Lake 122

Revelstoke, BC — Frisby Ridge Trail

From the South Chilcotins, we made our way east to Revelstoke.  We were lucky to make it out of the South Chilcotins given that the storms that had drenched the trails had also caused fires (via lightening strikes) on the route out.  Thankfully, the air based fire containment team got the fire under control before it blocked the road out (or, more importantly, hit the town that was under mandatory evacuation order).*

*  Speaking of fires, the Ketchum/Sun Valley fire in mid-August hit literally every ride we did.  Osberg, Mahoney/Greenhorne, and Fox burned badly and are unrideable for the foreseeable future.

We had visited Revy in the winter but struck out due to warm temps that put the snow level below the village.  This time, the weather was perfect and we decided to hit a new XC trail that had been built specifically for mountain biking — Frisby Ridge.  The trail was amazing — super flowy, buff, with the best views since Crested Butte.  It was so good that we stayed overnight at the trailhead and rode it again the next day — literally the first trail this entire trip that we thought it worthwhile to ride twice.

The trial began by climbing through some small meadows.

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We then hit the forest, and the single track below tree line was as smooth, well built, and flowy as any trail that I’ve been on.  It was unquestionably the most fun that I have had on a bike in a long, long time.

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km after km just like this.
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V rode all the downhill and is still kicking herself for one dab on the uphill. One dab.

Above tree line, the trail was just as flowy and buff but the views changed to an alpine meadow.

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Once we cleared the meadows, we hit the ridgeline and had 360 degree sightlines in every direction.  The views were stunning.

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I know the views are distracting, but look at the condition of that trail!
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If you look closely, you can see the trail going all the way to the farthest point.
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Picture/1000 words. Part I.
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Picture/1000 words. Part II.
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Picture/1000 words. Part III.
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Picture/1000 words. Part IV.
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Picture/1000 words. Part V.   This wasn’t even staged — this was just me waiting for V at the start of the descent.

The descent was fast and awesome:

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Frisby Ridge is stupid good.  If you ride a mountain bike, add it to your “ride before I die” list.  It’s as good as it gets.

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Frisby Ridge is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Seven Summits – Rossland, BC

After two days on Frisby Ridge, we had to hit the road to meet up with friends.  We headed south to Rossland, BC (about two hours north of Spokane).  Our destination was the Seven Summits Trail — Bike Magazine’s 2007 Trail of the Year.  The trail starts with the standard BC climb through forest/roots/rocks before you hit the alpine and amazing views.

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Summit Number 1.

We made great time up the first climb and were feeling chuffed.

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Although not quite as buff as Frisby Ridge, the first sections of the trail climbed well and flowed.

2013-08-17 Seven Summits 010The vast majority of the trail runs along ridge lines (and, umm, past seven summits) so the views were jaw-dropping in every direction.
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Throughout the first couple of hours, the trails would rise and fall around the various summits.

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And fall.
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And charge.
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See id.
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See id. Part Deux.
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Picture/1000 words — i.e. I’ve run out words to describe awesome single track and views.
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V still charging.
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Enjoy this action shot; it’s the last one you’ll see for a while.

Making good time, we caught a group that had started before us, and an English guy in the group said we were done climbing.  This was in line with a local brochure that said the last 10-15 km were all downhill.

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Happy to be done climbing.

They were both full of shit.

The next two hours entailed a lot more up and down over various ridges.

Given Warner Lake and Frisby Ridge (x2), we were already beat and this unexpected up and down did not help matters.  My fatigue led to one of the worst crashes that I’ve had in years as I landed hard on my right side on a bunch of rocks.  Thankfully, I didn’t break anything.

Other than the camera.

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Keeping it easy accessible in my right front pocket was not one of my better ideas.

Hence no pictures of the rest of the ride.

I walked several sections because my confidence was shot, but there’s nothing like some thunder in the high alpine to give you a sense of urgency.  A few flashes got us moving, and we arrived back at the parking lot to see a fast group of four that we had leap-frogged five times (four flats plus a broken chain by the fast crowd allowed us to keep up with them).

They shared their beers, and we all shared our stories.  We all agreed that we were glad to ride the trail, and I know it’s on everyone’s “must ride list” but it’s not a trail that anyone felt like riding twice.  We may not be back to ride the trail any time soon, but we will definitely see those new friends again.  The cold beers in the parking lot helped dull the pain from the crash, and the huge laughs we had sitting with them in the parking lot took the pain away.

Exhausted, we all hit the local Italian place specializing in all-you-can-eat spaghetti.  After a glass of wine, V and I were asleep by 8pm.