The Seven Summits is a serious undertaking. So, why would I want to attempt this hurt fest after a four year hiatus from DH racing and, well, riding in general? With a newly earned degree under my belt and perhaps a little spare tire too, my desire to ride was back. Quite simply: I just wanted to. C’mon! We all have that illogical desire to summit a peak... in this case I wanted to summit seven.
So, months in advance, I logged onto my favourite social network site to see what other crazies I could rally up to partake. And surprisingly it was my DH race chicas who were game. I suppose the joke is that DHers don’t know how to move those cranks in circles, but there’s a certain breed of us who love the hurt. A mix of west coast pros and hardcores answered the call: Adrienne Miller, Kat Popma, Karla Stowards, Naoko Fujimaki, Deb McKillop and Rossland locals to act as our guides, Nicola Kuhn and Carolyn Rouselle. I was accountable now; this ride was going to happen whether I was ready or not.Meeting Rossland
The day before the ride, we all roll into this dreamy little historical town, tucked away in the Kootenays, in southern BC. The trails here wrap around and through town, and are telling of the outdoor lifestyle lived by its locals. Although skiing and biking are the true passions of this town, its history starts with a gold rush, and as we head to the bike shop to pick up the essentials (tubes!), the buildings show their early 1900’s character; it's almost a beckoning call to investigate what each little shop has to offer. There’s certainly other things to do around town, and checking out the local scene is on my list.
Next, we headed up to our swanky accommodations at the revamped Red Mountain Resort. Our cabin was stunning, and the best part other than the hot tub and vaulted ceilings, was the garage! Who knew a group of women could get so excited over a garage! Admittedly, we’re different than typical ladies.The Day of The Epic
Our local aforementioned guides, and shuttle service (care of Adrenaline Adventures
), show up at the crack of 9:30am (At our request of course! A girl needs her zzzzz’s). The mood is, well, apprehensive; light comments lined with innocent excuses, followed by jittery giggles float through the group. Our guides, quiet and friendly, listen serenely while we sort our worries out. Is that a knowing smirk I see? In retrospect, it's so very apparent they knew something we obviously didn’t!
When we arrive at the trail head on Nancy Green Summit, just west of Rossland on Highway 3B, a small pack of runners go in ahead of us (yes, I know what you’re thinking, “runners?”... people do run this thing!). We jokingly say they’ll probably beat us to the finish. However, the joke is on us; within thirty minutes of climbing I realized it was reality... we were going to be beat by people on foot!
The first summit requires the most climbing and starts right away, relentlessly, weaving up through the tress. Originally, this switchback-esque part was a horse trail, and this seems to fit, as the trail is best suited for 4 equestrial legs (yup, just made that word up) and not 2 mere human legs! But, of course, the view, which we saw nearly 2 hours later, was well worth it! This is why we love to summit peaks. These moments are truly magnificent.
Okay, break time over ladies... get to it! Six more summits to go. The troop rolls on, passing stunning mountain views, and oceans of wildflowers, both good fodder for a positive state of mind. Highs and lows ensued: elevation wise, and of course, emotionally and energetically. And then finally: descent.
The “pure” descent from a DH’ers perspective, is at the end on the Dewdney Drop Trail. Wicked fun, fast and flowy, we all have ear to ear grins and our legs burn in a new way as we trade torturous pedaling for pumping, to smooth out the natural contours of the trail.
Like the views, the descents justify the climbs.... until..... pffffff! four flats, and.... oh sh*t!.... one wipeout. Apparently this group of DH savvy riders is no match for all day XC! Just to note: after 6 hours of hard riding, and equipped with an all-mountain bike, one can’t expect to haul balls on a downhill ripper. Humbled and happy we make it down to our trusty shuttle. And thank the lord, or in this case, Lawrence our shuttle guy...for a cold, amazing and well deserved beer.
All in all it was mad hard, but wickedly satisfying. I can’t say it was pretty, in fact it wasn’t, but I’m proud of our accomplishment. There’s nothing like overcoming a lull in your riding and this trip has done that for me. Kat Popma sums the whole experience up well. A picture being worth a thousand words, please check out her visual summary.The After Shock
The next day, those of us with relenting schedules and a bit of mojo took to the town and tested out the DH trails: Flume, Cherry Poppins, Whopedoo, Whiskey. Not to be missed; these trails are rad. There seems to be a bit of everything; exposed rock lines, steep knarly chutes, mellower fast and smooth sections, natural drops, and built up jumps.
Some people find their groove on a beach, getting massages and facials in some tropical paradise. We found ours by getting our asses handed to us, with some self inflicted pain... go figure! Like I said, we’re a special breed! But I’ll make the assumption that if you’ve read this article you're a sucker for hurt too... so drop your excuses, grab your bike, and head to Rossland, and the infamous Seven Summits!
Happy trails, to you all!