by Kokanee Redbike rider Sheldon Smart
Someone asked me a little while ago, ‘how far could you ride?’ I said, ‘that depends… are we talking mountain or road bike?’. ‘Road bike, in one day’, they replied. I thought about it, and admitted even tough I’d done a couple 100 mile rides before, I didn’t really know… But suddenly, I was thinking about how to find out.
Distance, or ‘enduro’ cycling can take different forms: road, mountain, fatbike, single-speed, paved, gravel, singletrack, prairies, or mountains, group ride or solo, single-day or multi-day… There are lots of possibilities, so I decided to keep mine simple and planned for a single-day (sunrise to sunset), solo, road bike ride in the mountains, along the Jasper to Lake Louise Icefields Parkway.
I chose this route for a few reasons: A) it’s world famous for it’s epic scenery and cycling friendly roads, B) it’s a point-to-point route that allowed someone like me to literally ride as far as possible, with a few staged exit points, at Lake Louise (235km), Banff (288km) or possibly even to Canmore (312km). C) it serves up some leg torching elevation gain, making it not only possible for me to ride far, but also climb big adding some additional legitimacy of the ride, at least in my mind. With this type of ride and the route picked, all that was left was to pick when, so naturally I chose to do it as close to summer Solstice as I could, taking advantage for the long hours of light here in Alberta.
With all that settled, I still kept coming back to one nagging question – what was it I was doing? Was it a ‘longest ride attempt’? A ‘max distance challenge?’ I wasn’t aware of any term to properly describe it, but I was aware of something called ‘Highlining’, which sometimes refers to walking across a wire, high over a gorge or canyon, but if you’re from around here, it’s more commonly referring to a winter sport when you rip up a nearly vertical steep mountain side on a snowmobile to see who can hit the highest point before stalling out and turning back down. The one who sets track in the snow to the highest point holds the highline. When I thought about that, it seemed to fit. A ‘highline ride’, could be an attempt to ride out and set your own distance highline mark. And what I liked about that even more, was that in the case of the route I’d planned, the Icefields Parkway, I had the opportunity to not only set a new personal distance highline, but also a climbing highline, in the same ride. This was starting to feel like a solid concept – one that I felt quietly inspired by.
With this ‘idea’ rolling around in my head, I still wasn’t 100% committed to it, but I started adding more and more distance to my weekly rides, and planned a rough 3 month ramp-up to get me in the range of a 200km test ride, before I set out on the real thing June 25th. Plans aside, with real life and actual commitments, like family, work and friends, it turned out to be a hard training plan to execute. Though I was racking up lots of 100+km rides, I wasn’t getting close to 200 – in fact, by the week prior to June 25th weekend, the longest ride I’d mustered was 157km with a little over 1500meters of climbing, a far cry from my ideal target training distance. This didn’t instil me with much confidence and I briefly considered postponing. But, for a 40+ year old, husband and father of 2, with a full-time job, and added volunteer obligations, I knew that I couldn’t be too surprised… Adding enduro distance training goals in the mix, was kind of like adding a 4th chainsaw to my juggling act… So after a solid week of taper/rest, I felt pretty good when my family and I checked into Jasper on the Friday, so I could get all my gear laid out and ready to go for my early morning start, ready or not…
3:30am, my Rock Clock alarm went off. I had an hour to wake up, eat, get geared up for rain and 8 degrees, and roll out for my 4:30am start. Big surprise here, was that although the sun isn’t quite up yet at 4:30am, in Edmonton the sky is already light and you can see pretty well – this wasn’t the case in the mountains. Leaving Jasper, the sky was light, but the surrounding mountains and forest were a blackout. Add rain, I couldn’t see much at the start. This made for some interesting first 20km… Not a single car went by, as I followed the beam of my bike light down the highway center-line, buffering myself from whatever wildlife might be hanging out in the roadside darkness.
As the sun came up, and pulled back the curtains, I got my first glimpse of the kinds of views I was going to have throughout the day, including a massive stag elk that crossed the road not far in front of me – but at the same time, the rain picked up along with the headwind, to put a noticeable damper on things. I’m no stranger to riding in bad weather conditions, but wind and rain make you work for it, and when you’re only 2hours into an all-day ride, mentally it cuts a bit deeper…
9:35am, I was 100km in, and 10 mins ahead of schedule as I rolled up to the Columbia Icefields for my first planned major rest stop. My support team, my Dad, wife and kids, were all there waiting. My pace was almost bang-on. But my legs felt pretty gassed for only 100km. The cold morning, the headwind, the rain, and most of all, the killer climb leading up to the Icefields with near 14% grade, took its toll. When I got to the top, never mind a match, I felt like I’d burned the book. So, I fuelled back up quickly, kept the stop shorter than planned, not wanting the weight of fatigue to take hold, and I headed back out 15min ahead of schedule.
Just a few km down the road, uncertainty crept into my mind, like a mosquito into a tent. As a continued to grind my way up hill into the SW headwind, I toyed with my first thoughts of pulling the chute. The next planned stop, at Saskatchewan Crossing, would put me close to 160kms, or 100miles, and very near my existing highline mark of 163km. I figured if I got there, and the weather was still bad, I could just roll out another 10km and call it a day. This thought was a fleeting one; one I didn’t take seriously at that point, but it gave me an odd level of comfort, knowing I had a ‘theoretical’ fall-back position if the wheels fell off. Fortunately, at six hours in, the weather had improved. It was warmer, the sun was peaking down at me through the broken clouds; the rain had stopped long enough that I was nearly dry again, and most important of all, I was finally headed back down hill!
Winds were not on my side, however… Downhills like these should have been white-knuckle rippers! 80+kph screamers that make you question your sanity when that little voice in your head asks you, ‘um, is this safe?’. But, the winds were big enough that those speeds just weren’t in the cards. I hit a max speed of about 60kph, by pedalling… Instead of asking myself, ‘is this safe?’, I was checking to see if my brakes were rubbing? But still, after the climb up to the Icefields, I was happy with any downhill action I could get – and despite the winds, (and my wasted energy cursing the winds), I rolled into Saskatchewan Crossing nearly 40 mins ahead of schedule and my outlook had markedly improved. It was midday, I was dry and I was ‘already’ 153km in. Things were looking up! But, this is the mountains, so 30mins later as I saddled up again, the pendulum had swung right back on me; the rain was back, I was soaked through in no time, I was cursing the wind again, and knew I was soon headed back uphill. Lake Louise waited only 79km ahead, but with Bow Summit between me and it, at that point, Louise felt like it might as well have been on the dark side of moon.
2:00pm, I caught up to my support team at Waterfowl Lake. It wasn’t a planned stop, but I’d been pushing and was still 30min ahead of schedule so I stopped to check in, and grab a fresh water bottle. The last 10km had felt faster; I was feeling better after my lunch at Sask Crossing, and I was even starting to think about the possibility of pushing on past Lake Louise, for Banff. The problem was, when we went to open the hatch to the SUV to get my new bottle, it didn’t open. The remote fob battery was dead… With my family there on the side of the road, locked out of the vehicle, and no cell service in the valley to call for help, I couldn’t continue on to Lake Louise until we figured things out. How quickly things had changed again… Fortunately for us, eventually a Parks Ranger came by, and used his radio to call for AMA roadside assistance, but they needed to come from Banff, so all in, by the time we were all back on the road again, we’d lost three solid hours… Now, it was 5pm, the sun was getting lower in the sky – I was only 170km into the ride, and I still had 60+km and Bow Summit to climb just to make it to Lake Louise! I had some work to do and it didn’t feel like time was on my side.
Bow Summit… is a sustained 40km climb that burns you down, slow and deep. It starts at 1,400m above sea level, and for the first 35km, slowly lifts you like a boat on the tide, up to just over 1750m, before the wave breaks and you’re shot up to nearly 2100m over the next 5km. It’s also the kind of climb that messes with you over and over, tricking you in to thinking you finally see the top, and then just as you approach, it pulls it away around the next corner. It’s a massive push by any measure, but when you’re cresting the 200km mark of your ride, it has the potential to be a plutonium-laced, lactic acid filled wrecking ball. Call it gained experience after the climb up to Icefields, or call it what it really was, simply being too tired to do anything else, but I held an easy pace on this climb, all the way up, focusing on just keeping the legs turning in nice easy circles, so when I got to the top, though I had to stop and put out the lactic acid flames, I knew pretty quickly that somehow, I still had a bit more in the tank. Sitting on top of Bow Summit, looking out across the valley, I felt like things were back on track again, to at least get to Louise.
Climbing Bow Summit, was 100% pure sufferfest pain, but flying back down the other side was pure ‘kid with their first bike’ kind of joy! 45km of sustained and glorious general downward tarmac, from 2100m to Lake Louise at 1550m… Woooosh! Nagging headwind be damned, that section was some of the most incredibly beautiful and enjoyable road riding I’ve ever done.
7:30pm, finally in the town of Lake Louise, and 240km on the odometer, I knew there was no pushing on to Banff. It was another 50km and on some seriously tired legs, I wasn’t sure I’d get there before it started to get to dark. That said, I didn’t want 240 to be the final number, so just for posterity sake, encouraged by my support team, I made the push up the mountain to Chateau Lake Louise, and back down again to get to 250.5km and a solid 3079m of climbing, officially making this my new highline, for both distance and elevation. That felt pretty good.
Reflecting back on the ride now, so many things need to go right to do a long ride like that, from training, to health, to weather, to logistics like food and water, to avoiding mechanicals/flats, not to mention the dreary thought for crashes and injury… When it comes to a highline attempt, fitness is just one factor. So many other things can ‘beat’ you. For me, without that delay at Waterfowl Lake, although I may have had time to push on to Banff, and go for 300km, who knows… In any case, that’s just not the way it went down – my highline ended at 250km. Now starts the planning for the next one, and how to get to 300km, or should it be 330km to make it a nice and pure 200mile double century…?
This weekend brought you to by the words #Zesty, #Savage and #Jazzed
It’s no secret that most of the riding and racing happening in the Redbike crew revolves around XC and cyclocross. Perhaps it’s the natural result of our location in Edmonton, or the influence of our core demographic, but other than a few spells of DH racing by Brent and Mark, the shop hasn’t been stocking kneepads or full face helmets since Dangerous Dan, Wade Simmons and Kris Holm were amazing us on VHS.
However, for those of us who came of age in the early ‘aughts when the Norco VPS & Marzocchi Z1 were king, the current breed of ultra-capable AM* trail bikes give us the chance to actually climb our hills and then get rowdy on the way down. Enduro racing, with its untimed uphill transfers and timed descents, closely emulates a fun group ride with all the pressure of comparing Strava segments afterwards over beers. Brad and Liam had set out to do all the BC Enduro East series this season, and despite a busy schedule, I was determined to get at least once race under my belt this season on my new Devinci Troy. I had ridden Crownest Pass with Brad in May and was looking forward to returning to their amazing trails.
*All Mountain/All Marketing
We arrived Friday afternoon at the Pass Powderkeg Ski lodge, which would be our campground and the base camp for the event. Liam had retrieved his Camper from storage, so the three of us would be sleeping in luxury for the weekend, instead of being crammed into a tent. Soon we were surrounded by trailers, tents and pop up awnings. Across the way was our Devinci rep, Reilly, and next to us was Specialized Ambassador Santiago. Since Saturday was the bootleg bikefest and our chance to pre-ride the course, we cracked open our Redbike team-approved refreshment and socialized with our fellow riders. Pizza was delivered by a smoking Santa Claus in a clapped out dodge neon, and Brad cut down the knobs on his rear tire in the moonlight. The keg did not last the night.
The three of us were feeling a little rough the next morning, so we rolled down to Blairmore for a restorative breakfast at the charming Stone's Throw Cafe. After getting some food into us, we checked out the new Alpenland bike shop where I completed my transition to becoming an #endurbro and bought some suprisingly affordable Spy MX goggles with clear lenses. Then we headed off to scout out the trails in preparation for Sunday. You can view the course on trailforks, but suffice to say it featured 1302m of climbing over 39km, with a big chunk of that being the initial slog up the fire road and then up a series of narrow switchbacks to the summit where stage 1 (Big Bear Down) began. The trail itself was pretty new, and we came across some carnage right away at the first rock roll that had a loose ride around to the left - two riders went down, one bruising her ribs so hard that she had to walk down and get x-rays. Above the treeline, it was steep, loose and chundery with blind rock approaches into suprise soft berms. Then it descended into the woods and transitioned into more of a flow trail. We then hit up the amazing feature filled Sooper Trooper, the drifty and pedally Squirrel Sh!t, the technical School of Rock, and the fast mixed bag that was Whistling post.
Returning to camp, we met up with Santiago and his friends, who had spent the afternoon sitting around drinking beer. When they heard our reports of how gnarly and insane the first stage was, their eyes widened and they piled into their truck to go scope it out while they still had time. We heard a few riders discussing the option try and switch into the short course after pre-riding Big Bear; it was the gnarliest and most challenging stage of the course, and the only one that had me worried about coming off the bike. Because the timed portions are a small percentage of the overall day, seconds count in Enduro, and one starts to calculate the risk-to-reward ratio of certain lines or features - is the potential time saving worth the pentalty if you crash or or go off line? The three of us pretty much agreed that the best bet was to ride in our limits to remember to pedal whenever we had the chance. Brad performed a thorough pre-race clean and tune on our bikes, and then it was off to dinner.
When Brad and I came out here in May, we missed the chance to meet up with Lance Steinke, who had moved to the Area from Edmonton a few years back. This time, however, we were able to meet up for dinner with Lance and his girlfriend Kerri, and were treated to an awesome meal of elk skewers, caesar salad & homemade peanut butter cups. Liam was able to have a desperately needed shower, while Brad and I were happy to remain dirtbags for the weekend. Maybe it's a sign that we're all getting older, but Lance and Kerri produced a foam roller and some myofascial release balls, and soon we were all writhing around on the floor, all groans and grimaces. After the previous night of greasy pizza and way too much beer, our hosts were helping to ensure we'd be in tip top shape for race day. Back in the camper, Brad turned into some kind of nocturnal marsupial, buzzing with race-night excitement, and making multiple trips outside to pee. Liam had an episode where he thought we were rolling away and awoke with a spastic kick to the wall. I was just happy that I had opened a window and that my gut wasn't full of cheese, dough and a couple litres of 8.5% belgian beer.
Foam Roller Party!
Race day arrived and the 30-39 men were the first to depart, so Liam, Santiago and I stuck together for the transition and fire road climb. The weather was a little dicey but it soon became apparent it was going to be a hot, dry day. I billygoated up the switchbacks, stopping a few times to wait and becoming happier with my decision to ride with just a bottle, pump and tube on frame, and multitool and a snack in my pocket. Some of the riders were decked out, long sleeve jerseys over base layers, knee and elbow pads bulging hydration packs and sometimes two helmets. They were roasted alive by the merciless sun on the unshaded transition stages through the cut blocks.
Liam proving you can be beautiful and fast.
My goal was to stay on the bike in Stage 1, and I mostly succeeded. After a wobbly start trying to clip in over some rocks, I survived the rockroll ride around chute and blasted my devinci through some high speed chunder, but soon realized that all the pre-riding yesterday had made the trail even softer. In some sections it was basically silt surfing - I came in hot and blew a couple of the soft berms, but closed the gap and had another rider in sight by the end of the stage. The transition to Stage 2 was only a couple dozen meters, and then it was another extended downhill, blasting over roots, diving into gullies, popping off kickers, and springing out of very corner. By the bottom of those back-to-back descents (nearly 500 meters), my 3 non-braking fingers had turned into gnarled, aching claws. Fortunately, having tagged out, you could recover, regroup and make your way to the next stage at your own pace, stopping at the feed zone for water and snacks. Brad and Reilly from the 20-29 group caught up to us, and we headed up to Squirrel Sh!t. This stage had some uphill segments you needed to anticipate and gave you the chance to raise your dropper and pedal. After the race, Strava revealed I had achieved a PR on Stage 2 and 3, so nothing to complain about there.
There was one more slog back up the mountain to the top of Stage 4: School of Rock. I love this trail - it's fast and open with a high speed rock drop and series of kickers before diving into a labyrinth of trees and rocks (the course tape kept you from playing plinko down the trail). Then you have the option of riding down a sheer rock face into a berm before blasting out the bottom and into a lower treed section with more turns. I was sure this is where I would make up some of the time I lost on Stage 1. But it wasn't to be - I had forgotten to turn left off the starting sprint to my favorite line, and stayed high, missing the rock drop (and chance at photo glory). Slightly rattled, I must have taken an alternate line into the trees, missing another expected feature before being dumped into familiar territory. Nailed the swoopy ladder bridge, ripped down the rock face to the cheers of the crowd, railed the catching berm and then almost came to an dead stop trying to thread between two trees. Ugh. Rode the rest of the stage the best I could but with dampened spirits.
Stage 5 was pretty uneventful, though I made sure to push hard through the end, pedaling over a rocky area and blasting across the coal-gravel road to tap out. Brad, Reilly & Kerri were all there for high fives, smiles and congrats. Liam and Santiago rolled up and we headed out for the 7.5 km back to Pass Powderkeg, including a crushing fireroad climb back to the ski lodge. Then it was time for beers, food, and repeatedly checking the live results made possible by the RFID chips on our wrists. When the dust had settled, Brad was edged off the 20-29 podium into 4th place by 6 seconds 21:36, and in the large 30-39 field Liam had rocketed to 5th, only 5 seconds behind Brad at 21:41. The strategy of 'getting faster at not crashing' was paying off. Your humble author, the Enduro virgin of the group placed 22nd out of 53 with a time of 23:33.
Update: the race recap featuring course and rider photos is up on pinkbike.
Overall, the experience was a blast. The vibe was super friendly and positive, the trails and scenery were fantastic, and it was great to meet up with Lance and Kerri. Enduro gets a bad rap for being too 'Bro', and the three of us hammed it up for laughs, but the truth is that it can be as serious or casual as you want, and the focus is on technical skill and fun, not cardio thresholds and suffering. Also, a big thanks to the United Riders of Crowsnest for building and maintaining such a great trail system. This is definitely a destination that we'll be visiting again!
I always try to participate in at least one new race every year to keep my race season high on the spice level, and I want it to be in a place that I haven’t ridden at all or very often. So, when I looked at the calendar for 2016, The Golden 24 stood out because the only time I rode a bike there was when I dabbled in downhilling and rode Kicking Horse bike park a few times. Now that I am inarguably old, I really wanted to race the xc trails there.
The story goes that when TransRockies reviewed their online survey about the racer’s opinion of Singletrack 6, it was obvious by the responses that people loved the days in Golden. It was positive and significant enough for the big bosses at the TransRockies to look into creating a stand alone race there utilizing the local singletrack trails in town, and I mean right in town. I’ll get to that later, but it was ridiculous how immediate the race course hits a singletrack climb. After sorting out the logistics and picking out an appropriate date, The Golden 24 was set and ready to go. Everyone who have raced the Singletrack 6 immediately signed up because they knew already how good the trails are there; Trevor Pombert, Paul Tichelaar and Peter Knight all signed up and told everyone else to do so too. I generally just follow Trevor’s lead on everything including growing a goatee (which looked amazingly disturbing and was mostly nose hair combed around my mouth), drinking Fruili beer and having a beautiful wife who bikes (I’m still working on that).
The next decision was to decide what category I want to put myself in. Solo 24 hours? Never. 2 person 24 hours? Maybe, if the other racer wants to do like 90% of the laps. Solo 8 hours? I don’t want to bike the same amount of hours as I sleep. 2 person 8 hours? Perfect laziness factor. Now, with whom do I want to do this epic 8-hour race with? I want to have a fun time racing, but my partner would also have to have lots of focus and lots of energy: Blaine Sherman. It’s so obvious. Our team name would have to properly exhibit our exuberance and flamboyancy: The Bear and Geisha Show. Game on everyone, game on.
Rory, Blaine and I were set to leave Edmonton at 4:00pm, but due to an avoidable and irritating technical difficulty with our standby bike rack, we were lucky to get out of town by 5:30pm. A friendship will be irrevocably damaged due to this rack fiasco because my $9000 carbon Vertex ended up bouncing around precariously all the way to Golden, but luckily Wesley Snipes (Yes, that is the Vertex’s name) was unharmed. When we arrived to the race site, we were pleasantly surprised that we can just drive right to our campsite, drop off all the gear, then park the truck close by in a parking lot. No parking pass or shuttling from the highway just to get to the Canmore Nordic Center.
The one thing that was very noticeable about The Golden 24 versus the Canmore was how chill the atmosphere was, but it was still very well run. There was plenty of camping space and you can kinda set up anywhere. We found Paul and Pierre in their massive bear tent so we set up next to them. Nobody from TransRockies came by to patrol the set up or dictate rules and regulations to us. They treated us like normal adults and just told us to clean up after we take everything down after the race. There was a water facet nearby and there were plenty of toilets for everyone to use. Not that it would matter to me since I was only doing the 8-hour race, but there were no shower facilities available. If you are putting on a 24-hour race, as an organizer, you really need have showers so people can clean up and feel human while in the midst of a long tough race. This was their inaugural year so I was expecting some things to be missing or disorganized, but I really hope they bring in some shower trailers next time especially if it’s a muddy race like it was this year.
Now, to get to the race. Like I mention earlier, you hit singletrack almost immediately so to start the race, the organizers had to include a very long (at least to me) LeMans run around a couple of baseball diamonds, then they had to do the lap again on their bikes to spread out the field. It was obvious that Paul and Rory were going to crush the run since Rory was a national level runner and we all know how crazy awesome a triathlete Paul is so that was expected, but still, it amazing to see how far ahead they were to the rest of the pack just half way through the run. But, what was surprising was that this big, bad, 240lbs of churning funk, Blaine Sherman, was at the front of the pack. It was watching a bear running along gazelles; a rare sight indeed.
So now, the top runners where on their bikes heading out to do the LeMans lap again, but it didn’t take long for them to lap the back of the pack runners/walkers so chaos invariably ensued. I’m surprised that no one got run over by a lapping cyclist because sometimes they had to weave through people like an obstacle course. In any case, despite the frenzy of people in the transition area, the racers hit the singletrack climb which was this beautifully machine cut trail that winded up the hill next to the campsites. Once at the top, you traversed across the hill to get a great view of the race site then you hit a fast, smooth, flowy descend back to bottom. Since it was a 24-hours race, you have to link mostly blue runs, but what an amazing variety of blue trails. Fast and smooth bermed runs, techy rooty climbs, rock faces, rock to ladder bridge obstacles, wooden features and a massive half pipe berm downhill run. You really have to hand it to the TransRockies course designer, it was the perfect distance at 14.5 km and it felt that you constantly had to keep your wits about your riding because everything was tricky enough that if you didn’t, you can be off you bike in a split second. That’s exactly what happened to me when I was in a section of fast, flowy but rocky trail when I clipped a rock with my pedal and slide along the side of the mountain. I quickly got up and continued on, but I did get a big rock rash along the left side of my left leg. Like Paul Martin told me before the race, “I can’t believe this course is for a 24-hours race because there’s a lot of places you can crash, especially at night”. There were a couple of people who ended up breaking bones unfortunately, but that’s a part of the sport that we love.
At the end of the 8 hours of racing, Blaine and I managed to pull off a second place in the 2 person 8-hour category. I’ll be honest, we were both very excited getting on the podium because anything can happen during a long mountain bike race and everything has to go well for a good result. Rory and Jaime got 10th with a great effort and Paul and Pierre got second in the 2 person 24-hours race.
Blaine and I received an almost free entry for next year so we are definitely going again, but even if we didn’t, I would go again next year. The Golden 24 was well run utilizing the Zone4 chip timing which worked perfectly posting live results, and the course was a great variety of singletrack that any mountain biker can appreciate.
Instead of hitting the trails for this week's Thursday ride, we are going to give back a bit, roll up our sleeves, and spend the evening doing some trail maintenance. Under the guiding hands of Brad and Dan, we will be working on some of Masters Degree and trimming back some of the recent green growth on the trails below the shop/university area. We will meet at the regular time and place (6:30pm at Rosso) and walk over to the trails - if you have any trail maintenance tools/gear (shovels, rakes, hedge trimmers, etc.) bring them along, but if not, we will have some extra tools on hand to keep everyone busy. Don't forget your mosquito repellent and sturdy footwear, as well as anything else you might need to make your evening an enjoyable one. Hope to see you all this evening!
Photo: Ryan Creary
Coming this August 20 to 24 redbike is heading to Sol Mountain Lodge. This backcountry mountain bike trip will be about enjoying the outdoors and exploring a new set of trails. Sol Mountain Lodge is located in the Monashee Mountains not far from Revelstoke and is the five-star lodge of backcountry lodges. Amenities such as a yoga studio, sauna, comfy beds, electricity, and running water for a hot shower after riding add to the experience.
The constantly expanding network of flowy singletrack trails with slab rock features is truly unique and designed for XC and trail riders alike. Designed for everyone, these are all inclusive trails to promote a safe and fun trip.
Check out www.solmountain.com for more information.
There is even a promotional video to get you really stoked. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/bBqEIwCNJkY
For booking information contact Brad at redbike. This trip will be run on a first come, first serve basis and will fill up quickly, so jump on this opportunity for an amazing and memorable mountain biking vacation.
The Tuesday night Fat Tire races started off hot like a firecracker last night out at Sunridge with the fine folks of Hardcore putting on a great evening of mountain bike shenanigans. Our inaugural race is this coming Tuesday, May 10th out at Terwillegar Park, and we hope to have a great turn out, but we also need some volunteer help! If you have the evening free, we would love to have your able body around to help with set-up, timing, or tear down, and you can even sign up at this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1epLtGuLjMLZT7s0Zg-mrvyyQxQc9RgM2D4TQL8frndw/edit?usp=sharing so we know who to expect. We are putting on a total of six races over the next few months, so if you want to help out more than once, please feel free to sign up as often as you like. The time commitment is small - show up around 5:45pm and hang out until about 8:15pm, and you get the joy of chumming around with Mark and Shantel for the evening.
It's the night before Spring Equinox - so what better of an execuse do we need to celebrate! Join us for some beers & cheers and some light snacks too. Our friends from Kokanee Redbike will be on hand and they've got a lot of beer to share! We hope you can join us.
When it comes to bikes, I'll admit to being a bit of a carbon snob. Light, stiff, responsive, strong, and indulgently expensive at times, I'm always drawn to this magical, man-made material when it comes to bikes. There are the naysayers of course; the carbon critic is quick to point out that unlike a steel or aluminum frame, which typically dents upon impact and essentially maintains its integrity and usability, carbon is much more likely to crack or break, leaving the frame broken and useless. Boo! I scream like the old woman shouting at Princess Buttercup in Princess Bride. While this was a mildly defensible position when carbon first appeared, this argument is now as outdated as Mark's 90s bootcut Diesel jeans that he's secretly kept and doesn't want anyone to know about. Repairing carbon fiber is common practice now, and even available as do-it-yourself kits (disclaimer: I, nor redbike, nor mainstream media, endorse this method!).
Even if you consider yourself only a casual rider, breaking things comes with the territory as a cyclist. However, there is a relationship between amount of riding and the amount of destruction going on, and it's not terribly complicated math - the more you ride, the more stuff you break. Breaking parts is one thing; snapped chain, broken shifter, seatpost - these are certainly inconvenient, but usually not too hard on the wallet. A broken frame though is significantly more complicated and expensive, and surprisingly not all that uncommon. Most riders I know have cracked or broken at least one frame over the years - I cracked an aluminum frame years back, and was lucky to still be eligible for a warranty replacement. But what if your warranty is expired, or you bought the bike second hand? You're essentially stuck buying a new frame (or bike), right? Well, if you frame is metal, then yes, a new frame is the most feasible option. If your frame is carbon though, it's quite possible the frame can be repaired and put back into perfect working order for a fraction of the cost of a new frame.
"What does broken carbon look like?" you might be wondering. Not pretty - big breaks will usually be obvious cracking or splintering of some kind (procrastination alert: http://www.bustedcarbon.com/), although smaller cracks can remain unnoticed for a long time, especially if you don't clean your frame very often. Chances are, if you're like many of us, you won't even notice a crack or break right away - unless say you've crashed and the crack is in a noticeable, obvious place where you know an impact has occurred (the handlebar swinging around and smacking the top tube is a common example). Typically, a crack will become apparent while cleaning or polishing your frame, which is how I recently stumbled upon a rather nasty crack in my driveside chainstay on my well-loved and abused Van Dessel Full Tilt Boogie. Since I first acquired it in 2012, I've loved everything about this bike, and despite putting it through hell and back for several cyclocross seasons and torturing it the last two seasons as a full-on winter bike/commuting bike, there was no chance I was going to just toss the frame in the garbage dump. Sure, I could re-purpose the parts, but this is a bike that fits like a glove and is very near and dear to my heart that I had planned to ride for many more years.
After the initial shock and expletives expressed upon discovery of the crack and some pity phishing on social media, I assessed the situation rationally. Repair seemed like a possible solution as I looked wistfully at the formidable crack, but it was a topic I'll admit being a bit ignorant about - even though several friends had mentioned getting their frames repaired locally, I never asked much about it. Until now. Several quick and panicked texts returned the name of a genetleman named Al and his company Dynamic Composites, so I looked up his contact information on the interwebs and sent off an email to see what could be done.
Al responded promptly and gave a quote based on the picture I sent, and I arranged to drop off the frame for the repair, which he said would take about a week. To be honest, I performed my due diligence as a consumer and received a quote from another recommended repair place in Vancouver, but when that quote was more than three times this quote, plus the cost of shipping the frame there and back, the choice was obvious. I was glad to meet Al as well - he is a gem of a man and full of entertaining stories and historical tidbits about the bike industry. He's certainly had a chance to design and build some neat things, so it was quite an honour to meet him.
My frame was fixed in a week as promised, and came in cheaper than the original quote, which was a great surprise. Al was a treat to work with, and upon picking up my bike I was treated to several more great stories and some classic memorabilia on display in his office (e.g., Magura hydraulic rim brakes on one of the first prototype carbon Rocky Mountain DH frames). The bike is back together and in regular rotation, and working as good as ever. Because my frame sports a raw finish (read: unpainted), you can see where the repair is on the chainstay if you look for it - it's virtually impossible to match the raw weave look and make the repair invisible. However, this also made the repair cheaper; getting paint matched up on a painted frame to make the repair invisible can add to the cost of a carbon repair significantly.
Take that carbon naysayers. My broken bike was fixed as strong as new (likely stronger in fact) in less than a week right here in Edmonton. Easy peasy. Having now experienced a carbon repair experience myself, I can only fully endorse and highly recommend going to see Al if you crack your carbon frame and need to get it repaired.
I know it's probably killing you at this point to know how much this endeavor set me back. But I'm also curious about what you think it cost me. Next time you see me, give me your best guesstimate, and if you're within $10, I'll buy you a beer. Otherwise, you're buying.