Into the clouds

19 06 2011

Marine cloud.

For the non-meteoroligically inclined, that’s when a layer of cool moist air moves inland from the ocean, bringing cloud and drizzle on what’s supposed to be a nice day.

In the middle of a summer heat wave, marine cloud brings cool relief.

But when it’s not even summer yet, let alone hot, it just means a change of plans from a road ride.

Alas, not riding at all was not an option, as I skipped my usual Friday ride to await delivery of our new dining set. So by Sunday my legs were twitching to turn the pedals.

I lost my usual Friday ride to await delivery of our new dining set

Fortunately my trail buddies Dan and Shanksman were heading up to tackle the undulating cross country single and double track on Burnaby Mountain so I pulled out the Kona and latched on.

Those trails used to be our regular haunt, but it’s been a couple of years since we’d been up there; the fear of crashing seems to become more pronounced as you get older, and we’ve all managed to have some significant crashes up there.

Dan heading up Burnaby Mountain for the first time in a couple of years

Of course, being true cross country riders who appreciate the up as much as the coast back down the mountain, no shuttling for us.

For the most part the climb is just a steady slog, find a rhythm and gut it out. That is, until the trail forks: to the right, the easy way up; to the left, 90 meters of vertical torture called Cardiac.

After the requisite pause to catch our breath, and for Shanksman to muster his courage. we went left.

Shanksman musters his courage to tackle the steep climb of Cardiac

Momentum and technique are the keys to a successful ascent of Cardiac; maintain the former and keep just enough weight over the front of the bike to ensure the front wheel stays in contact with the ground while still transferring to the back wheel.

And he's off!

According to my Garmin, the early, steepest part of the climb is about 34%, with one brief blip up to 41%, then it levels out somewhat to average almost 24%.

Ouch, a chest burster for sure.

The riding pace up Cardiac is barely faster than walking.

Frankly, I was more nervous about the descent.

It’s been awhile since any of us had ridden any kind of technical trails; UBC is pretty easy when it comes to mountain biking. And while Burnaby Mountain is a far cry from the North Shore Mountains, the damp roots, occasional bridges, drops and rock gardens can be worrisome when your confidence and technique are lacking.

I wavered on a line going over a bridge and went down early, but it was Shanksman who had the biggest blowout when he hit the front brake a little too hard coming off a bridge and catapulted into the ground hard. I didn’t see it, but I heard his moaning and wheezing as he tried to regain his breath.

Our first worry was he’d cracked a rib or dislocated his shoulder. But after lying motionless for a few moments, he gathered himself up off the ground; he’d just been winded, a nasty gash on his ankle the only memento of his misadventure.

Shankman's SFU souvenir.

The trails are a nice change of pace (literally), but give me a long afternoon on the smooth road anytime.