Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Exciting first blog! Canmore and World Champs prep

Thought it may be about time I set up a blog so you guys all know what’s going on with Megan and Riding.

As most of you would know, I’m currently in Canmore, Canada, awaiting the 24 Hour Solo Mountain Biking World Championships, and have been here for about a week now… Wow, bit of blogging to catch up on aye???

The flight from Auckland to Vancouver was actually pretty good, and for those of you who like travelling with your bikes to random destinations, I have to say that Air NZ have always been great to fly with and this was no exception. Off the plane at Calgary and shuttle along the Trans-Canada to Canmore, arriving there a mere 2 hours after my flight initially left Auckland (this time zone and date line thing really screws with your head)

First couple of days in Canmore I did quite a bit of exploring and “tootling” on the numerous trails along the riverside, and was stoked to find some amazing single track around the mountains across the other side of the highway around Cougar creek. Mount Grotto is host to a sweet little single track loop called the “Horseshoe Loop”. There’s tracks scattered all over the mountainside here and I’m pretty sure you could get lost in there for hours and have a great time. I may have been a little more inclined to wander if I’d been carrying bear spray with me. A few days later, I went exploring on the other side of the creek and found this awesome trail that was just this buffed, smooth single track climbing right up to the ridgeline, then there were little dipping corners carved into the mountainside that you could just fly into the berm and pop up the other side. It descended into some committing technical singletrack, then arrived on this meadowy ridge that overlooked the town of Canmore and the Rocky Mountains. Awesome! I think it’s really important when you visit somewhere new that you have a chat with the locals and not necessarily follow what’s in the trail guide or on the web. Generally, the best tracks are the local “secrets”, and I doubt I would’ve found these little gems on my own.

I spent those first couple of days in Canmore just spinning my legs out and adjusting to the time difference, altitude and heat. Temperatures have been between about 25 and 30 degrees most days, except yesterday morning when I had to wear arm and leg warmers in the icy shadow of the mountain around 7am. Canmore sits around 1400m above sea level… Enough to have you huffing and puffing up a climb or two for the first couple of days, and the sun rises about 5am and sets around 10.30pm… Fantastic for a 24 hour race (only 7 hours of darkness), but not so conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Third day I was up at the Nordic centre checking out the course for the race. NICE! Sweet, techy single track and some good solid climbs in there, too. I like it very much. It will be relentless at night. Still a bit breathless, cheers to the altitude, but having too much fun for it to bother me too much. Over the last couple of days, I’ve done a couple of laps of the course. The solo riders have a higher proportion of technical single track, being world champs. Probably the biggest talking point of the trail has been the Coal Chutes... Very aptly named. These steep li'l babies have been the source of frustration and fear for many riders scoping the trails. Not only are they a nice set of steep switchbacks, but they are actually made of coal, so have become a powdery, fast, crazy (ok, I'll use the word "uncontrolled") descent. Better still, being made of coal, if you happen to have a spill coming down here, everyone down solo alley will be able to tell from the coal shade of black covering you head to toe. Bring on the dark and coal chutes... There has been talk of the organisers removing it from the course... I vote no...

I’ve also had the privilege of coming across an elk, a tree squirrel, a deer (he was so cute!), and a bear (so cool!). The views are astounding, even out on the course… Everywhere you look is a postcard shot.

So, the bike has arrived in one piece, thanks to my Acoustic Motorbike bike case, Andy Pine from Go Fast has been awesome in organizing their Canadian counterparts to send me a rather generous supply for the race (thanks guys!), Haydn (the boss) from Woodhill Mountain Bike Park gets here tomorrow night and Chickenman from Bike 75 has been giving me mechanical advice via TXT. So, all I have left to do now is hang for Saturday…

I’m ready… Let’s see what Canada throws my way!

Watch this space for more details on where to follow the race.

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