Since time immemorial, turning on the lights in a pub has signaled the beginning of the end of your night. The room lit up, your thoughts turn to securing that last drink, finding that greasy snack, or making that last-minute connection. For the past couple of years, the arrival of Frozen Thunder at the Canmore Nordic Centre has signaled the imminent end of the bike season. Snow has been creeping ever-lower down the mountains, frost is now ever-present during morning rides. Thoughts now turn to the off-season. Cross-training, hitting the gym, running (blech!), maybe the occasional swim. The off-season is coming. Frozen Thunder is telling you ” You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
It’s 7:00 in the morning and it’s hot. Along with the RV traffic on the highway, I had hoped to avoid the heat. I don’t function well in extreme heat. My second cup of mediocre, but complimentary, coffee is cooling as I look out the widow of my hotel room. I know that Osoyoos in August is hot. That’s just how it is. I was expecting that. But there’s a part of me that was hoping by waking up early it wouldn’t be so bad. Admittedly, it was a bit of wishful thinking. You roll the dice and you take your chances I guess.
Man, I’m grumpy this morning.
The big climb has a special place in cycling. In many ways it’s a contest with yourself and with nature. Do you have the legs to make it to the top? And barring that, do you have the will and the strength to suffer to the end. Pain, and how you deal with it, is a large component of cycling. The big climb, wherever it may be, is a test. Has Mother Nature created something that will beat you? Has She created something that you cannot defeat, cannot climb, cannot finish. How much can you take before you give up? And is giving up something that you can do?
It’s early and I’m already up. My body is still on Mountain time and I’m awake as very early melts into early. I have to be on the road in a couple of short hours, an eight hour drive across a still sleeping, unconscious, Washington State.
I didn’t really know what to expect. I had ridden the Dewdney Trail fifteen years ago (almost). Since that time, my memory of it has become hazy. A blur, now more feelings and impressions than concrete detail. However, I do remember that, at the time, I really liked it. With the access road literally across the street from my motel, the eminently charming-in-it’s-own-way Rossland Motel, I set out to re-acquaint myself with a trail that I had ridden only once, many years ago.