Despite the unfortunate cancelling of the Summer Solstice and Giver 8er races at COP in Calgary this past weekend, Mark, Brad (our newest team member), and I were still keen for a change of scenery and to get some out of town riding in. So, we packed up Brad’s Forester with our bikes and our favourite Xterra champ Mike Vine, and we headed for Bragg Creek early Saturday morning with visions of sweet mountain trails in our heads.
It was a beautiful morning, and as we headed out of the Southern stretches of Calgary to meet up with Josh in Priddis for brunch, we took in the lovely foothills scenery and shared more than a few laughs over the abundance of hideous Primal jerseys and clip-on aero bars we saw being used by the sportif weekend riders out on the highway.
It took a while for Mark to choke down his diner coffee at brunch (“it’s just brown and water”), but finally we were on our way to West Bragg to ride. Unfortunately, we were just a little behind in our timing, and as we pulled in to the trail parking lot, dark clouds rolled in and the rain started to fall quite heavily. Josh figured it would be a quick storm, and we unanimously decided to patiently wait it out before we hit the trails. After about 30 minutes of steady rain (and a bit of sleet at one point) it started to taper off, and we got our things together and headed out. While it was indeed quite wet as we climbed, the numerous warnings from weekend warriors that things were slick were largely unfounded, and we all agreed there was actually quite a lot of traction (unlike in E-town where wet trails are as slick as ice). The riding in West Bragg was super fun; however, it only took about an hour to be suitably mud and grit covered to call it a day, and we headed in to Calgary to clean our bikes and ourselves. After a quick follow up ride around Glenmore Reservoir to get in a bit more ride time, we ordered in from Tom’s House of Pizza and drank fancy beers. Mark was thoughtful enough to eat all the leftover pizza so we wouldn’t have to eat it the next day. With hopes of better luck with the weather and a longer ride the next day, we hit the hay early.
Sunday morning we hit Nellie’s for breakfast and headed straight out to Station Flats to get in some big climbs and descents. Aboard their light carbon 29ers, Mark and Mike quickly dropped the rest of us on the long climbs; I had expected this though, and was content to slowly sit, spin, and grind up and up all the way up to the top of Moosepackers. The very top was still snow-covered in spots resulting in a bit of arduous hike-a-bike, but knowing the ride down was upon us gave me the light at the end of the tunnel I needed to push through the knee deep (well, my knees deep) snow. We briefly discussed our options at the top – I was keen to descend Pneuma, since I personally find the top section of Special K not to be what you call a “fun” descent, but rather a sphincter-clenching and brake-grabbing curse fest that’s also quite choppy, while Mike wanted to practice Special K for the Bow 80. Mike won out, and down we went. The top was extra sketchy with still unmelted patches of snow, but we all made it back to the parking lot relatively unscathed and also invigourated by a great day spent out on our bikes.
After a brief stop back in Calgary to eat, rest, and to catch the highlights from the Men’s World Cup XC race and geekily discuss electronic XTR, we packed up and headed back to Edmonton. All in all, it was a great weekend of team bonding and trail riding that only added to everyone’s anticipation for the races this weekend in Canmore. Josh, Mark, Brad, and I will all be duking it out in the XC on Saturday. On Sunday, I’ll be doing the Organ Grinder 5 hour race solo, and Mark and Josh are teaming up to fight it out in the competitive Men’s Pair category. However, we all know the true competition of who can consume the most Spolumbo sausages starts after the racing is done. Mark will be hard to beat, but I’m going for a PB this year.