Surrey Off Road Cycling Enthusiasts - ride, build, learn, preserve.

Thanks For Nothin!

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You are likely aware that "Mountain Biking" has a bit of a negative connotation with some members of the outdoor recreation community. However, it is more than just optics driving the choice of "Off Road" Cycling Enthusiasts in the SORCE moniker. It’s because there are no damn mountains in Surrey! With this in mind Jonathan Stibbs, Frank Ammirati and I had just the plan for working the pumpkin pie off our middle aged torsos. An early morning jaunt to the Shore on Thanksgiving Monday.

You are likely aware that "Mountain Biking" has a bit of a negative connotation with some members of the outdoor recreation community. However, it is more than just optics driving the choice of "Off Road" Cycling Enthusiasts in the SORCE moniker. It’s because there are no damn mountains in Surrey! With this in mind Jonathan Stibbs, Frank Ammirati and I had just the plan for working the pumpkin pie off our middle aged torsos. An early morning jaunt to the Shore on Thanksgiving Monday.

It was in the works before the long weekend. We thought that it would be nice to check out Cypress for a change. Cypress (actually the ski area includes Black Mountain, Hollyburn Mountain and Mt. Strachan) is the lesser known of the three North Shore mountains. We were reasonably familiar with the more popular members of the Shore’s triumvirate. There is the infamous Mt. Fromme which flanks Grouse Mountain and is the home of Oilcan and Ladies Only and sicker fare like Air Supply. Mt. Seymour is home to the masterpiece show trail CBC and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and of course much more. To us, Cypress was a wild card. We had the classic North Shore Map of the mountain with it’s confusing haiku substituting for a trail description and total absence of topo lines and trail direction (although you can usually assume if the trails point south it’s downhill!) I even posted the ride on the SORCE Ride Forum with the caveat, "potential to get lost!"

Through the information superhighway we learned that the BLT trail can be ridden up or down. Being XC inclined we felt that a good single track climb beats a road ride. I don’t want to get into a dueling banjo rant on the merits/perils of shuttling—besides, we only had one vehicle. We parked at the first switchback on the park road and pedaled in to the trailhead. The trail map describes the BLT as "a triple-decker sandwich… with a kosher dill"—thanks, really helps!! I assume that the acronym stands for Big Long Trail (actually its boulders, logs and trees) and envisioned a winding trail switchbacking up the side of the mountain. Some trail, the BLT starts out as a retired portion of the old Cypress access road complete with pavement and concrete barriers. Oh well it’s better than sucking back exhaust on the main drag. According to the map we anticipate meeting up once again with the second western switchback on the Cypress access road. So we grind up past the bear warning signs expecting to meet with the "real" BLT. We notice a few singletrack trails dropping out on the left onto the road so we think we are on the right track. About 10 minutes into the climb the pavement gives way to steep gravel, still with no sign of a singletrack climb. At some point we hit a fork, nasty steep to the right and a bit mellower to the left. We all agree that the left fork is more appetizing and grind along the western ridge up and up until we unfortunately hit a 8 foot chainlink fence marking the Watershed Boundary. Frustrated by the wasted climb we make the most of the descent back to the fork and try to carry some mo up the steeper route. Little did we know that brief gravel road rip would be the last bit of coasting for about an hour. The steep fire road section is an unrelenting granny ring ascent that makes the 9-mile hill on the Test of Metal look like Stanley Park. We never do hook back up with the access road. We peer from lookouts on the hill with no hint of the road in sight. I consider rubbing myself in bacon fat in the hopes a stray bruin will end my suffering. Although we pass many signs indicating that we are on the Trans Canada trail none of them have any reference to how far we are from anywhere—we figure we must be near Canmore as we hit the clouds! After scouring the map I figure we must be near the top of the hill. Sure enough the trail grade drops and finally opens up at the parking lot at the Cypress Bowl alpine ski with close to 2000 feet of climbing behind us.

Oh well, at least now we can get some payback on the way down. We quickly burn up several hundred vertical on the road before we get to the downhill trail head. The trail is that kind of spongy humus (not the middle eastern chickpea dip!) and roots that make riding difficult but at least it was soft. Unfortunately everything is soaked from the previous days torrential rains and going is slow. Then the grade picks up and we are descending Reaper. Unfortunately I brought my XC hardtail with a whopping 3 inches front travel. It was great for the climbing but it is not the machine for this. We make our way out and hang a right onto another section of the Trans Canada and hookup with Blind Skier and then Paul Hogan another root and rock strewn fall line rut/trail that invites more hiking than riding. After a steep descent to a 26inch diameter crater Jonathan takes the first endo of the ride. Undaunted he hops back on his bike and dives it in some more. Finally we meet some other riders who clearly thrive on this kind the trail and they are out of earshot before we know it. For us, the trail is a hospital visit waiting to happen and we get very adept at carrying our bikes through more jagged rock gardens. The piece de resistance is an unmarked trail leading to a blind step down 40 foot gap jump with a very sketchy run out. Needless to say we back tracked and took a left fork which deposited us nicely where we had parked—no more climbing!

During post ride beer and grub at the Queen’s Cross pub on Lonsdale we all agreed that that was the worst day of riding in our experience.

Thanksgiving???Thanks for nothing!!!

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