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.
The Montane Traverse is never as easy as I want it to be. Or rather, it’s an easy trail, except when it’s not. The easy parts are pretty easy and the hard parts can actually be kinda hard. The problem is that there’s nothing in between. That and, also, I usually forget about the hard parts until I’m just about to ride them.
Given the recent catastrophic floods, it seems self indulgent to write about riding my bike. Many people, homes, businesses have been incredibly affected by the water. Most of the trails in the area have been washed out or are in real need of repair. So that being said, while the pieces are being picked up, please enjoy this velocipede family tree in lieu of a regular post.
Of the two trails that best represent the soul of mountain biking in Canmore, EKG is undoubtedly the most popular. This doesn’t mean that it’s the best trail in the area, although it is pretty decent, but rather that it’s very accessible. And I mean that in every sense of the word. EKG is both easy to get to, and easy to ride. All of this is good, as the trail can be very fun.
If you are caught unprepared by a sudden rainstorm, you should not run foolishly down the road or hide under the eves of houses. You are going to get soaked either way. Accept that from the beginning and go on your way. This way you will not be distressed by a little rain. Apply this lesson to everything.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo, The Hagakure
For a few weeks, the Highwood Pass becomes a playground for road cyclists. As soon as the snow melts, usually in mid-May, the Pass offers car-free riding, good climbs, and great scenery. At least, it does until the road opens to traffic in June, then it only offers two of those things. But, for those few weeks, the Highwood Pass is great. Beyond great even.
The thing about riding with ex-professionals, former olympians, and the like, is that the ride is never as easy as you want it to be. In fact, very frequently, the ride is much harder than you’d like, no matter how slow everyone agrees to pedal. It’s usually rides like these that remind you that you’re not as fast as you think you are. You learn that those expensive wheels you bought don’t make up for fitness and talent. You learn that video games are not a substitute for the stationary trainer in the off-season. You learn that, maybe, you should think twice about that second helping of dessert. The hills around Banff can teach you all of these valuable lessons, and more, with the right company along for the ride.