I want to ride my bicycle ~ I want to ride my bike ~ I want to ride my bicycle ~ I want to ride it where I like
~ Queen, Bicycle Race, Fat Bottomed Girls

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kootenay Trip - 2009

I originally published this post back in 2009 and have recently been thinking about this trip and looking through all the old photos. I thought some of you may enjoy a little read...all these trails are covered in snow right now, but when the snow melts...I say we should head up and hit them up again, they are so much fun.

NSMB.com and Wade Simmons are putting on a contest, all you have to do is post up your most memorable/favourite ride/adventure of 2009. So I used my company's time wisely and wrote a book on my vacation this year...thought some of you may find it interesting. Hope you enjoy.
After a few years of trying to make it up and ride the Kootenays I figured this year was the one, after some nerve wracking bike issues (Thanks to the guys at Banshee and Lorien at Sooke Mountain Cycles for helping me out in a time of need). Last year three weeks before I was due to head out...I broke my last frame(not a Banshee)...and had to cancel the trip, so I was not going to let that happen this year. I was leaving on Sunday and went to pick the bike up on Saturday...with beer in hand...and a huge grin on my face...lets do this!

All my other riding buddies were not able to go this year so I put a call out on NSMB and lo and behold CraigH said he can go...now I have never met Craig, and was a bit nervous as I have seen some of the photo’s of his adventures in the past...and thought he was just going to drop me like a bad habit, but I needed someone to ride with and Craig has ridden up there before so having some experience on the trip was great.

Now, a little about me...I am a 36 year old clyde (230lbs after losing 30lbs) who is usually the tail of every group ride...I am not fast or skilled but I love to ride and have fun with friends. I started riding in Oregon about 20 years ago, but have been in BC longer than I can remember, and rarely if ever get off of the rock we call Vancouver Island, I was an alpine singletrack virgin, and very nervous about popping my cherry...lol.

I get up to Nakusp a few weeks early to spend some time with my family and relax, my first real vacation in YEARS and then met Craig at the beginning of the third week. Now the original plan was to use my  family’s place as a base camp and then head out from there as we saw fit...but after a change of plans we decided to just drive up to Revelstoke. By this time it was getting dark...so night number one putting up the tent in the dark, what I didn’t know is we were camped right next to the railroad tracks...thats quite a wake up call, lol. We decided to pack up camp early and head on out to the trailhead, after I thought I had fixed some mechanical issues with my bike...as it turns out picking your brand new frame up and heading out for a road trip without riding it can be problematic...now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Craig riding the butter smooth keystone Basin Trail

Day one was Keystone Basin, I have heard amazing things about this trail and they are all true. I cannot remember the last time my tires got to fly down such buff amazing singletrack. Being from the island the altitude was taking its toll and I have been up here for two weeks already...Craig who just drove up from Vancouver the day before was feeling it even more, thank god because it slowed him down to more my pace...lol. The fat guy on the heavy AM bike needs all the help he can get...hah. As this was my first time riding alpine singletrack I was in awe of my surroundings...nothing like this on the island, every turn brought new amazing views, most of the time I was riding with my mouth agape...mostly to try and catch my breath...but also because I was just amazed by the beauty. On the way back I noticed the issue I thought was fixed earlier...was still there, now the rush was on to get back into town before the shop closes, we just made it into Skookum Cycles right before closing and they said they would be able to fix it and I could pick it up in the morning, yessss...thank you Skookum!

Day two brings a nice wakeup at the edge of the lake, what a beautiful morning, after running back into town to pick up my bike and some breakfast at the local bakery we headed up to ride Sale Mountain/Martha Creek. Here we ran into a little problem...my old little rusty Honda would not make it all the way up the mountain, so what was to be an awesome start in the alpine shuttle that ended up at our campground turned out to be half of a shuttle and then pain.

Not a bad view eh?
I would go do this again if we had two decent off road vehicles, as the road gets a bit rough at the top. A good clearance 2 wheel drive can probably make it, but a low to the ground 85 accord with some overheating issues, not so much...lol. The trail is a lot of fun, rougher than Keystone, a lot of rocks roots and steeps, great fun. We ran into the trail crew (a group of ex forestry workers that the province was paying to build and maintain trail...pretty awesome) and they said they just finished a reroute and said we should give it a try, only the 2nd group to ride it...gotta love fresh trail. This part was more XC and a little flatter, but after that we went back onto the main trail and it got steep again....and then spit us out on the road about halfway up the mountain. Now, since we were a shuttle vehicle down we decided we would just ride back up from here...and it was hot out. Now, this is where Craig shines, in the climbing...and this is where I do not shine or climb...lol. While the extra girth helps me hurdle my way down trails...it tends to just anchor me on the way up, so Craig waits for me once in a while and then I can feel it coming on, the dreaded bonk, noooOOOooo...I am so close to the top, I just wanted to make it up. So I stop in a shady spot and tell Craig to just go on without me. He heads up to grab the van while I sit there sucking wind, drinking water and eating power bars...trying to get up the power to climb the rest of the way...no way I want to let this mountain defeat me. A few minutes later I clip in and start pedaling away...just as I get to the top I see Craig hopping into the van to come pick me up...YES...I made it. I gotta say beer never tasted so good.

The View on the ride back up to the Van

We decided to stay the night and head out in the morning; I was tired of putting up camp in the dark. So the next morning we decided to head down to New Denver to sample the goods. New Denver is a cool little place with an interesting history and some fun trails. We got there early and set up camp, another campsite right on the edge of the lake...gotta love it. After setting up camp we rode over to the local shop and chatted with Rob, super cool guy with a beard that is just awesome.

Day Three we took it easy and just shuttled up and rode some of the local trails and hit the Galena Trail back into town...a nice way to end a ride and the tram over the river was fun.

Day Four we decided to hit the Wakefeild trail...this trail is true singletrack with some scary exposure; I was spending too much time making sure my front wheel stayed on the dirt to enjoy the scenery. This one is a LONG downhill that ends in Silverton (the next town down from New Denver) so you will need a shuttle, Rob will shuttle you for a modest fee and that will save you a ton of time in vehicle retrieval...it takes a while to get back up to the top. This trail is a must ride I say...just a lot of fun and if you get there during wildflower season you will be treated to amazing colours as well. On the way up to get Craigs van, my car just decided it did not want to climb anymore and overheated, I got this car for free...so I was pushing it hard on this trip and it was showing...lol. So Craig volunteered to ride up the 2nd half of the mountain back to the van...thanks Craig, you ROCK!

The Author Playing around on Wakefield Trail

After we got the vehicles we decided to pack up camp and hit the next destination. I originally wanted to hit Nelson then head down to Rossland, but we decided to head straight to Rossland to make sure we were ready for the big ride...7 Summits.

On the way there we stopped in Trail and had the best Mexican food I have had since moving to Canada...who would have thunk it eh...great Mexican food in Trail...haha. Anyway if you are in the area go to Mazatlan and enjoy the food...it’s GREAT.

We got into Rossland a bit late and I got to set up camp in the dark again...I am getting pretty pro at it by now, but this is the last time I have to set up camp on this trip, hell yeah! Also I should note...I forgot to pack my nice new air mattress I bought for this trip, so I was sleeping on a pad made of a spare blanket I found in the back of my car. So after doing more riding than I have done in years I was not sleeping all that well, but god I was having fun. I may have rolled around all night but once I woke up my body was stoked to ride, I was LOVING all the new trails and exploring new areas.

Craig riding Oasis in Rossland/Trail

Rossland is a very cool little town, not only that but the trail system is great for a town this size. Never have I ridden such a nicely signed trail system.

Day Five we hit up lower oasis as the top was closed, this trail is just wide open ripping...a lot of fun, but we got to the bottom and we were both still wanting more trail, so we go back and get the car to head over to the other side of down to ride the top part of Whisky and then head over to Crown Point...now that’s a fun flowy trail, and you gotta earn getting there too so it’s in good shape. That night we ate like kings to get our bodies ready for the big ride tomorrow...I was nervous.

I have had 7 Summits in my sights for years now, but knew that my fitness was just not there. After losing 30lbs I was feeling pretty good, still not fast by means but WAY better than I was. I was still very nervous that I would have to bail out, and I did NOT want to do that, go all this way and not ride the whole thing, I don’t think so, I was going to ride it no matter what.

That night we did our bike check and made sure everything was top notch...got our bags packed and made sure to get to bed early, as we wanted to hit the trailhead first thing in the morning. You know when you are nervous about something...and you just can’t get to sleep, well that didn’t happen...I was TIRED. After a great night of sleep I woke up nice and early and headed to the showers...thank god for the showers...lol.

CraigH slaying 7 summits, not a bad view eh?
At the start of Day six we headed to go grab a nice breakfast as soon as the place opened and had a GREAT breaky, gotta make sure the tank is full before a ride like this. After that we headed to the trailhead.  I gotta say the first part of the 7 Summits trail has to be one of the most beautiful I have ever ridden. It’s fairly new trail and REALLY well built, I was loving it...but was feeling pretty slow, my legs were already feeling the elevation and the 5 days of riding prior were not helping either, but I was enjoying the ride.

One of my favourite things on this ride was all the berries lining the trails, SO GOOD and helped me keep my energy up for what felt like climbs that never ended. Now the trail does not look long on paper, but holy crap even the downhills have uphills, the trail is not easy by any means, but it’s so fun and worth all of the pain. The views are amazing and the feeling of accomplishment when you finish it is just awesome. During the ride we had, sun, cloud, rain and then it warmed up as we were got closer to the end. We finished up with a rip down the Dewdney trail.Nothing like a FAST DH rip after 8 hours of saddle time, and just one minute from the car...I flat, the first one of the trip. Got a little zesty in a rocky section of the trail and after a quick flat repair I meet Craig at the bottom and laid down in the grass next to the Van. What an amazing finish to an amazing week, I had my alpine cherry popped and rode more XC than I have for YEARS, met a few riding goals and made a new friend in the process. So far this has been the best MTB trip I have ever been on...let’s hope that 2010 follows that trend.

If you look closely you can see CraigH between the trees


  1. Nice post. I'm moving out to Victoria this spring...maybe I'll see you around on the trails.

    Safe riding,


  2. Wow - the photos are amazing!! Can't wait to ride the Kootenays with you!