Getting numb, comfortably

19 09 2011

Sometimes it takes seven years to get back on the horse.

That’s how long it took to build up the fortitude to take another run at Comfortably Numb, an epic cross country mountain bike trail just north of Whistler.

On the hottest day of summer, 2004, my riding buddies, Dan and Shanksman, and I ventured to this undulating, rocky, rooty route that climbs to 1100 meters over more than 20 kilometres. It almost killed us. Well, me especially.

I ran out of water. I got lost. I got nauseous from the sandwich I’d packed for lunch. I was overwhelmed by the difficulty of the terrain. In other words, I’d bitten off more than I could chew.

This time, we decided to take a more modest bite.

We waited until September, when the weather is cooler. In fact, it rained right up until we mounted our bikes and climbed the first ascent.

Getting ready for Comfortably Numb

And we decided to ride only about a third of the trail, opting for the early exit that would spare us some of the more challenging parts of the trail, but still give us a good four hours on the saddle.

This would be Giebelhaus' first Numb, not that he's worried.

It was a much more enjoyable day. And with seven more years of wisdom on our side, we were all a little more content to hike-a-bike whenever the terrain got too tough for our capabilities, which was often.

Seven years after our first attempt, we all embraced the hike-a-bike.

Some of the climbs were steep.

All that pushing and carrying the bike can be tiring.

During that first attempt, I wanted to beat the trail, and every time I got off the bike I felt like I’d lost a battle, that the trail was showing me up.

This time, I embraced the portage. Any time I doubted my ability to negotiate a drop, or a bridge, or a root-littered climb, I clipped out and crab-walked the bike or outright carried it. The last thing I needed was a broken collarbone or sprained wrist.

Instead of attacking the mountainside, we respected it, enjoyed its beauty and the clean, dewy air.

The mountain views were worth the effort.

As were the waterfalls.

We survived. Barely.

At the end of the day, we were all in one piece and the beverages at the pub were just as refreshing.