Spring Snowstorm you say? Oh, The Coulee Cruiser Must be Coming Up

Spring snowstorm should be an oxymoron, but alas, it is not. Last year at this time, I was in California on a vacation enjoying the infamous Los Angeles sun and the resplendent glamour of Beverly Hills. After the Morrissey concert, I befriended some LA locals who invited me on a tour of the nightlife the tourists rarely get to see. So, I went to some surreptitious hipster clubs in Echo Park where my newfound friends were surprisingly more interesting in my life in Edmonton, more specifically the weather as they never ventured more north than San Francisco. Between sips of Pabst Blue Ribbon, I told them that it was snowing back home, and with incredulous looks, they asked if that was a freak storm like the ones in some trite Hollywood movie with a biblical end of the world theme. I sternly told them that it is quite normal for Alberta to get snowstorms during the March/April time periods; we call them spring snowstorms.

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Mark’s Beer of Choice

For me, and perhaps other ABA mountain bike racers, the spring snowstorms manifests in me this linger feeling that the first mountain bike race is nigh and that I better stop my winter diet of tacos and beer. For those unacquainted with my dietary habits, this really is no joke. So without any further adieu, Bert and Mac’s Racing via the Alberta Bicycle Association announced that registration for the Coulee Cruiser had opened, just as 20cm of snow hit our lovely city. Cruel irony? Maybe in the Alanis Morrisette sort of way, but I suppose it’s like a Pavlovian response for us to get our training in order as the first mountain bike race is quickly approaching.

My fellow chiropractor/mountain bike junkie Kevin Nemeth is the local legend / race ambassador for the Coulee Cruiser located at the Lethbridge College campus. If you haven’t been down to Lethbridge before, they have this valley system called a coulee. The word coulee comes from the Canadian French coulée, from the French word couler meaning “to flow”. Now, how more appropriate can you get for a mountain bike race. Before you snub your pretentious cycling noses about racing in a gravel valley course in southern Alberta, just remember how often we Edmonton mountain bikers have to defend our love for our river valley trails despite the fact we don’t have such monolithic elevation like Canmore or Jasper. I always get surprised at how much climbing there seems to be at the Coulee Cruiser or maybe it’s just my beer-engorged belly amplifying the elevation. Nonetheless, it’s a challenging course for any level of racing, and the warm desolation of the area is a welcome respite from the cold, icy winter we just experienced, or experiencing, depending on your point of view.

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Mark’s Winter Beer Gut

The most interesting aspect of this race is, of course, the fact that it is the first race of the season, and so we can all gauge who did or did not put in a good winter training camp. There are always the surprise racers who come out of the gate fast and hot, while some of us are just hoping and praying that we haven’t lost too much of our speed, power and cognition due to the inevitable scourges of aging. It is also a reunion of sorts, as you will reconnect with people you haven’t seen over the winter months, so there the awkward “what’s your name again?” and “you look fast”, while the whole time, you hope that they had put in less effort to training then you did, so you don’t end up in last place. Oh, local ABA racing is such a social hodgepodge of emotion.

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Edmonton’s Multi Use Paths – Spring Edition

The last time I raced the Coulee Cruiser, Kevin and I were in a back and forth battle for the coveted 5th place, which for us older chiropractors, it was a really big deal. I think we were looking at it like it was the Alberta Chiropractic Mountain Bike Championships (ACMBC) for 2012. On the last climb, I surprised Kevin when I put in a last ditch attack. As I passed him, he yelled out “You’re an animal”, which in retrospect, I think he yelled “You’re an asshole”. The chiropractic brotherhood is alive and well. So, if you have been training like Kabush and Pendrel over the winter and want to show off your hard work, there is no better place to do it than the first race of the year. Or, if you have joined a beer club over the winter instead of joining a spin class (Seriously, I really did join a beer club), the Coulee Cruiser is the perfect race to enter, as it’s the first race of the year, so it’s a “Mulligan”. Kevin will give a free adjustment to every registered racer. Well, maybe not, perhaps just a firm chiropractic handshake, but come down to experience the University, the coulee (The Flow) and mountain biking on dirt instead of snow.

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