Well I have been away but not really away. Just been busy riding my ass off (literally)… This past weekend has been truly epic for me. Integrated almost all of my favorite rides topped off by the most intense technical ride of my life.
Hit up some single track with some xc riders. I didn’t fare badly, I could keep up to most of the riders and generally caught up and passed them on the descents. A good 3 hour ride on some sweet trails. Nothing out of this world but definitely fun when you are really grinding away.
Some friends came up from Bellingham and one from Chicago (just met him) to ride Whistler. It was a decent day. Nothing too exciting, didn’t burn myself out and didn’t really push myself. Unfortunately with the race on the mountain was incredibly busy and just not as much fun as when you can jam in tones of runs. Only a couple of mishaps and me finding out jumping isn’t my cup of tea. It is by far my biggest weakness. I just don’t find the enjoyment in it.
Thursday - Gargamel
This is the epic day. For those of you who watch vids I was sinking my teeth into a famous hidden (not really, just hell to get to) trail made popular in The Collective. These guys, at breakfast, decided it would be a good idea to ride Gargamel. The featured Whistler trail in the movie.
I was able to get a buddy to shuttle us (THANK GOD). Initially getting lost and going about 45 minutes up the wrong fireroad we had to do a 740 point turn to turn around on this thin fireroad. Come back down the mountain and head up the correct fireroad for another 45 minutes. 4x4 tall truck access only. I can only imagine the climb on a bike, and it isn’t one *I* would ever attempt, definitely not my cup of tea. For those of you that like exceptionally long steep loose rocked climbs, this could be a nice loop
At the top of the fireroad we finally found the trail, which was the beginning of hell. We all figured, “oh we’re at the top of the mountain almost, can’t be much higher”…well it was a 45minute hike a bike to the top. Oh and the first time you THINK you are going down, be prepared one more small climb.
Ok now done with the xc stuff we are at the top. Already nervous from the ride up (we were inches away from cliffsides, it’s a little nerve racking at points) I wasn’t sure what to be prepared for on the way down. Little did I know I was buried in a pile of the most technical riding I have seen. I ended up being in a little over my head being able to ride only 50 to6 0% of the entire trail, hiking down the rest of it and avoiding the stunts themselves. Anyways this is top, pure unadulterated mulchy single track. Green as can be, rooty and just stunning. Beyond that this section was steep…I mean STEEP. Sections were unrideable at my skill level. I can handle steep, straight with a good rollout. This stuff (and all the way down) was steep with 0 rollout, or even better turns, on roots with little dropoffs, in the middle of the steeps. This section had a stunt with a sick run in to a steep rolldown, the rolldown is 100% doable, making the turn at the bottom got everyone, only 3 of the 5 tried it and only 1 rider made the turn.
Terrain change to little more whistler style ground and rocks. Rock faces and boulder rolldowns. The mixture just added to the difficulty but this felt more like the whistler I am used to and this is where I got most of my actual riding in. Still steep and tech, but my flow kicked in and I got some confidence.
Now the bottom which I was warned about. THIS is the movie. This is all the sections they show in the movie. LONG steeps deadly exposure, drops, ladders and just plain INSANE riding. This was a pretty short part of the trail but I bet I only rode 10 to 20% of this secion and 0% of the very ending. It was beyond insane and loose. Lets put it like this, 3 of the 5 made it down (the same 3 stomping almost everything) and they were trying to outrun boulders chasing them. It was just that loose. One particular section was really tech, rolling rock face to a 1 ft ledge where you turn left on the face, which immediately drops (rollable but near vert) which IMMEDIATELY goes right, which then finds more extended rockfaces and rolldowns, it just didn’t let up. Hiking this was a challenge, I was not up to this type of riding at all. After this was the most famous stunt on the trail, the rockface to bridge to little jump. Again, no ridey for me (next time for sure, its probably the most doable) but the 3 good riders cleaned it.
The 2 main drops in the movie are very undersized in the movie. The techy jump, distance and landings do not do the drops justice. Neither drop looks large but in person, the first is easily 12 ft with a very tech landing and an almost immediate left, while the other drop, while smaller, is landing on a freaking boulder tranny…none of the riders hit these and will leave them for another time.
While I realize riding 50% of a trail isn’t normal to be posting, this just needed to be put somewhere. The experience was amazing, the 4 hour decent was just awe inspiring and the immediate progression was worth it. I haven’t wiped the smile off my face in the day since I hit it and likely won’t get it kicked off till I ride something else. I rode within my range while still allowing me to progress. I pushed my limits, knew when to pull back and REALLY improved my steeps. The trail comes out a really popular xc/fr trail that has existed a while, I have always been a little freaked by the steeps on this trail, lets just say I didn’t notice them this time round. Gargamel is definitely a pro level trail making most other trails in this town look like groomed trails. Another thing I know, by the bottom my confidence was high enough I likely could have ridden 60 to 70% of the trail.
The only thing that sucked, was the 45 minute road ride back home. But the burgers and beers at the end of the ride more than made up for it
Well I am out, my legs, back, shoulders and arms are beyond stiff. This was my epic ride for this month