photo cred: Brendon PurdyOnce we were all properly sorted, we headed up the road like a bunch of Chatty Cathies.
photo cred: Margus RigaOf course, I locked the bike out completely and rode it like a single speed. What did they expect?
We rode all the way up to the trail entrance. I do not remember the names of many of the trails, but I do remember being warned that the first thing we would encounter was the Poop Chute. Wade Simmons told us this feature has been used in many photo shoots and ads. It's very steep, very scenic, very North Shore.
photo cred: Brendon Purdy
Wade showing us how it gets done (STIL).
There was no way in hell I was riding this steep shit line. Not without decent sleep, not straight off the bat, not on a bike I'm not familiar with, not the day before a seven day stage race, and to be honest, probably not even in the most ideal situation on my own bike the day before Armageddon. There was a (less) steep go around on the right hand side. While most of the attention was diverted towards the Poop Chute, I went for it.
I should have been paying better attention. As opposed to looking down the entire line, I only focused on the upper section. Post dropped and suspension engaged, I fully committed...
without seeing the rider standing at the very bottom, straddling his Instinct and watching the other action.
I ran into him.
It's at this point that I should mention that I was on the 970 MSL.
It was set up stock with a 2X drivetrain and skinnier than I would ever run 2.2 tires (Conti's undersized version of a 2.2). Other riders were aboard the higher end 999 with a 1X system or the BC Edition with fatter tires and slacker angles. Either of these bikes would have suited me better. 2X systems are dead to me. I spent 80% of the ride in the 36 tooth, 10% of the ride in the 22 tooth, and 10% fumbling and swearing. As far as the tires go... I would never dream of riding the moist and loamy trails of Vancouver on anything even remotely XC'ish. Rolling around with a constant butt pucker is no fun at all.
So yeah, I ran into a fellow industry insider douchebag journalist and immediately fell over. A few people saw it. I got even smaller.
The trail continued to be a challenging slick mess of roots and rocks. I was anything but settled into the bike. I rode the next few steep sections with the suspension locked out wondering if I could give an honest impression of a full suspension bike if I never used the suspension at all.
Eventually they got us onto a trail that was less straight down gnar and more rolling gnar. I settled into the bike. I started riding it the way it was meant to be ridden, utilizing the 22 tooth ring to scale up the root cluster messes. It was, dare I say, "pleasant?"
The bike, that is.
Riding with somewhere between 20-30 journalists on the other hand...
To say our skill sets were varied would be an understatement. There were some that were hanging with Wade, rolling the steeps, and booting it up at every opportunity.
photo cred: Margus RigaThere were more that were like me, slightly above average riders who could clean most of the more technical sections of trail.
And then there were those that confounded me in so many ways.
They could not ride, had trouble getting out of their own way, and more importantly, my way.
This was my big opportunity to ride the fabled trails of Vancouver. I don't know when I'll ever get the chance to do it again. Somehow, more times than I can remember, I got stuck behind a guy with a pair of shoes of a certain color who would not just get out of the way. There I was, grinding my private 970 MSL up an impossibly rooty section of trail, stoked that the bike was keeping traction despite the 2.2 skinny meats under me, and there he was... in the way.
I could not find a way around him, I struggled, I unclipped, the pedal came around...
It smashed into the inside of my bad knee. I mumbled expletives at a level that had to be audible to those around. He never looked back.
It was a ride I'll never forget, if not for the company I kept or the trails ridden, than for the fact that I will never likely be on a ride quite like that ever again.
photo cred: Brendon PurdyTomorrow I'll tell you about the post ride celebrations and libations and what I think of this whole "Bike Launch/Press Camp" thing.