It seems like every spring, everyone complains about the weather. The usual term andied about these parts is "June-uary." Well, June just happens to be my favourite month for riding. Ultra long days, the flowers are out, the trails are super tacky with minimal dust, and the snow has melted enough to allow for some decent vertical. Maybe that's why I prefer to call it "June-sanity," as the adventures we get up to during the last month of spring tend to be in the top rides of the year.
Trying to compensate for something with those tires?
Here's a typical example. As the winter did run a bit long, we decided to get some late spring cleaning done on a fairly big zone in the south Okanagan. Camping on the summit seemed to be the best bet, as we could clear both sides of the ridge on the Saturday afternoon, and then spend Father's Day shredding laps and racking up some vertical. Camping out at 6000' is a good test of whether or not winter is over as anything else I can think of, so there you have it.
Ride softly and carry a big saw...
I was a bit late due to some exploding dog issues in the van (my daughter fed my dog a couple dozen oatmeal cookies without my knowledge. Happy Fathers Day!), so I didn't get up until the late afternoon. I met the boys at the bottom and set up the shuttle for the next day, then ran the east side trail with Andrew and his saw. Minimal damage from this past winter meant that we got things cleared in a couple of hours, and actually managed to clear the trail AND beat a couple of other unencumbered riders down. Can I just say thanks to Dakine
for providing a Builders Pack?
Andrew is shredding hard with that thing. That's a serious saw, not a farm saw there.
The morning after.
With the chores done and the shuttles set for the morning, we proceeded to "camp" hard until about 2 am. Which was just enough time to get a few winks in before the sun woke us up at about 7. Even though it came up at 5:30.
This trail ain't big enough for the two of us...
Barb and some other locals were meeting us at the bottom of the west side at 9, so after a quick breakfast (hurry up, Andrew) we cracked off our first 4500' of the day. The top was still a little slick from the dew overnight, but the air was incredibly clear and promised a nice warm day of big laps.
Start your morning right.
Some of the riders in the first group had a limited time frame and had to jet after the retrieval, plus the second group wanted to hit the west side first anyway, so we made the long drive up to hit the west side a second time. The second time around is always better, as you can really let things fly with some confidence. The greasy sections up top had also dried out somewhat, and even the woodwork was drying up a bit.
Although the light wasn't with us this lap, it was much more memorable for the pace we held on to. Having had our inspection run, we were able to lead the fresh riders down at a ridiculous pace.
Just say no to crack.
Also, Andrew finally woke up and got it together so we got to stop waiting for him.
How many dogs do you have, anyway?
Most of the first group had to leave after that, but the second group that met us at the top had also left a shuttle vehicle at the base of the east side, so we took the third run down the steep and gnar to Oliver. This trail is WAY different, starting in some large old growth Interior Douglas Fir, and then dropping in to a zone of huge Ponderosa Pine and small cliffs. That upper section has some truly amazing loam sections, and some coastal sized timber to play with too.
How many riders can you see?
It's one of the steeper trails I know, and it's a real challenge to how you manage your speed. It's not that it's really that tough, it's that it's nearly impossible to bleed your speed off once you attain it, so you need to be pretty conservative in how you approach things. You can stay pretty aggressive in the upper sections, but as you descend it starts to get steeper, rockier, and sketchier. I like to stop and smell the flowers before carrying on too far.
From the halfway point, you get these amazing views, although you'd never know it. You tend to be kind of focused on the task at hand.
French Jonny gets a grip.
Actually, it's from stopping to take pictures that I've even noticed how exposed some sections are. You get a hint of the steepness in these shots, but you'd never notice it when you're riding. When it's a steep, technical line like you get so often on this trail, you tend to ignore the massive sidehill that you're on. Maybe that's why there's been a few ugly incidents on this trail that required heli evacuations.
Look out for that giant flower!
You can actually see the hospital clearly below here, but with absolutely no vehicle access it may as well be 50 miles to help. Ahh, the joys of risk vs. reward. Still, I'm glad to be riding here in the relatively cool and moist weather of June. Come July, and this is way to bony and loose to be much fun.
Jonny still has a good handle on things.
The day was getting on, but we had to go and retrieve vehicles so that meant that a lucky few of us could get yet another lap in. With fatigue setting in, it was back for another run down the west side.
Last call, Happy Hour is now enforced by law.
Again, it's such a joy to hit this stuff over and over, and with such ideal conditions. It being our third time down today, we really got loose.
Greasy gets loose in the dust.
By the time you're reading this, it's a few weeks later and these lines are baked hard and mega dusty. You can see how dry conditions are already, and this is the day after a fairly good rain.
What is wrong with that bike?
Racking up the vertical, and running out of daylight.
Also, the days are already getting shorter making it a big challenge to get this much vertical in a day. Not that my hands could handle much more. After 5 runs in 24 hours on my hardtail, I was spent. For those of you keeping track, that's 22 500' of descending.
Big runs lead to....
There you have it, why June was my favourite month. Except that now it's July and I have a new favourite month.
...Even bigger smiles.
Until next time, keep the chain oiled and be careful who you pick up in the van...
A Madman and his Magna-Doodle...