bikes canada general moosling trip reports

The trails are dry, so we ride our bikes

The Salty Dog 6hr over in Salmon Arm, BC, marks the official start of the bike season in Canmore. Well, that’s my rule anyway. This year, we really didn’t have much in the way of dry trails in Canmore beforehand – so the greasy muddy trails we ended up having to race on were at least a little better than the snowy trails back at home.

Laziness being the better part of valour, I opted to have a team mate this year instead of going solo. In some ways this was actually harder, as I constantly had to be paying attention to the time, instead of just riding my bike in circles for six hours. On the other hand – well, I got to spend at least 15 minutes sitting down and doing nothing but eating every hour or so. The other bonus was that I didn’t have to do the first lap (pictured above), as sprinting up a hill to get into prime position for the single track really isn’t one of my fortes.

Other added bonuses of the Salty Dog trip included the cultural excursions to both Boston Pizza and Dairy Queen. Yes, I’ve spent this much time in North America without visiting either of those fine establishments.

My fancy new road bike was taken out on its inaugural voyage on the roads, as I cycled it out solo to Castle Junction and back again – a fairly leisurely 113km or so.

There were no bears, but swarms of other bikers out on the road. I’d forgotten how hypnotic a road bike can be, and how hard it can be to actually stop once you’re legs have picked up speed and rhythm. I was tempted to keep going to Lake Louise, but for the knowledge that my knees mightn’t be as happy with this plan as I was.

In the end my knees felt fine the whole way, the weather stayed nice and sunny, and I enjoyed the views along the Legacy Trail and Bow Valley Parkway.

We had another trip to Invermere on the May long weekend, while it rained in Canmore, surprise surprise (it rained a little in Invermere too, but at least it was warmer).

The boy found a friend to ride with, and so he and I rode a loop of the Junior Johnson trail with this new adopted friend and his family. The boys were busy pretending to be trains most of the way around, and we were just pleased they were sufficiently distracted with each other that they forgot to complain about hills or tired legs.

The boy remains cautious on steeper downhills (quite sensibly as he has no brakes on his balance bike).

After that successful weekend, which included a little frustration at trying to keep up with a friend who had pedals on his bike, we finally went out and bought him his first pedal bike.

Right now the boy and his new bike are engaged in a kind of stand-off though. He’s thrilled with the pedals, and keeps telling everyone that he has pedals now. But he doesn’t want to actually learn to use them, as it was a bit tricky the first time he tried, so all bike riding has become theoretical at this point.

Meanwhile I went riding south along Spray Lakes Road, just to see what was there. I found some snow, some ice, a little rain, and a squeaking noise in my bike. No bears.

bikes general moosling travel trip reports

Riding Bikes in Oregon – Part 2 (Smith Rock)

Turning off the highway and driving the final few kilometres to Smith Rock began an exercise in longing for my climbing gear that lasted until I began to realise that it was actually pretty fun to be riding here too. Smith Rock is one of THE North American rock climbing destinations. Birthplace of sport climbing? Maybe. Spectacular rock and views? Definitely.

The boy rode his bike for the first few hundred metres, then decided he’d had enough, and for the rest of the day it was just helping Alex with his resistance training.

Alex tried to sell me on the idea of starting off with an easy loop around the river trail, but I wasn’t having any of it, so instead we immediately started heading uphill, where the views are. Although of course this did involve initially dropping down from the parking lot, to the river, and then having to start the climb from the valley bottom.

We set out with a route description from an old mountain biking book. This book suggested that the trail we were headed for, Burma Road, was a pretty burly climb. Thus far, nothing we’d rode in Bend seemed to involve any climbing at all. So we may have underestimated this threat. It was indeed a burly climb, particularly with a singletrailer. Even without – there were pitches of loose, steep trail that weren’t easily rideable.

After that, things got a little saner though. We’d gained a lot of elevation already, and were spat out onto some doubletrack that was a more sensible gradient (something between the climb to the Pass in Canmore, with occasional touches of the Quaite Valley trail thrown in for good measure).

And then views! For some reason Alex was feeling a little tired by now, and felt like sitting down in the shade and eating some lunch.

From this point the route in the book described dropping down on fire road for no reason before climbing back up more fire road to reach Grey Butte. Alex was not enthusiastic about this option, so after lunch I did some scouting, and found some singletrack headed towards Grey Butte that was deemed acceptably not-uphill.

It turned out to be a great choice. In fact the only flaw to this piece of trail was that it was hard to avoid looking at the views. And when you did look at the views, it was hard to avoid falling down the side of the mountain. Aside from that, it was lovely. We turned around once we reached the butte though, rather than trying to ride around or up it, and headed back towards Smith Rock. Where there was more difficulty trying to look simultaneously at the view, and the narrow strip of dirt we were trying to balance on.

From here it was all smooth sailing back to the car, except for the one steep section of Burma Road, where the boy was booted out of the singletrailer. I walked him down the hill in stages, while Alex man-handled his bike with empty singletrailer down the hill.

But after ferrying my bike ahead through one piece of trail, I stopped after hearing an odd noise. After looking around, I realised the source of it was a little rattle snake sitting on some rocks just in front of me, rattling in a cranky kind of fashion. He was close enough for me to reach out and touch, and seemed so small as to be adorable rather than threatening (at least compared to Australian snakes I’m used to), but I backed away anyway, and advised Alex he’d be better off taking the high route at this point, as the low route had an irritated rattle snake on it.

And then it was time for icecream!

Distance: 17km return
Elevation gain: 660m

bikes general moosling travel trip reports

Riding bikes in Bend, Oregon – Part 1

The adventure began not with a bike ride, but with a ridiculously long car drive, from Alberta to British Columbia, through Montana, and on to Idaho and then Washington.

There we stopped for the first night in Spokane, and the boy roamed the streets on his strider bike.

I arrived in Bend the next day in a haze of sleep deprivation, as it started to precipitate on us in a manner suspiciously similar to snow, and we ran to hide in the REI store. And then realised that releasing a recently car-bound small person into an exciting store was a terrible idea. Attempting to un-release the kraken proved challenging, but we managed to escape the store with minimum destruction and with some useful maps of bike trails.

The next plan was to work out where to stay. We didn’t want to go far, and the weather looked unpleasant. After dithering about on airbnb, we settled on Mill Inn, which had the combined benefits of bike storage, available rooms, and being walking distance from both the REI district (or Old Mill District, as it calls itself) and downtown Bend. Both of which places looked like they were straight out of a modern Urban Planning textbook (pedestrian oriented design! roundabouts! place-making! alternative traffic calming measures!).

The first morning of riding turned out rather disastrously, as I still hadn’t caught up on sleep, and was having micro-naps on my bike. This doesn’t work in lava rock gardens, and so I was returned to the Inn for more napping, while the menfolk rode some more, ate icecreams, and avoided painful death at the beaks of numerous Canada Geese.

The following morning began with a run up Pilot Butte, after which I started to feel a little more myself, and was followed up with a move to Tumalo State Forest campground, and a cruise around the Phil’s Trail network.

At the campground we’d opted to stay in a yurt, despite having our tent with us. I had strong and conflicted feelings about this. The yurt was expensive! But so convenient and comfortable! But does this mean I’ve become old and bourgeois and too good for a tent? Who did I think I was? I felt a little better when I reminded myself that there was no running water in the yurt, and it only had plastic windows, so really it was just a large and comfortable tent.

On the plus side, the boy absolutely mastered the art of sleeping in a sleeping bag while staying in the yurt, possibly helped by not lying in a tent right next to me in my sleeping bag, which is apparently always much warmer and more comfortable than his.

And so we’d settled into the yurt, ridden a few easier trails near town, eaten icecream, and taught the boy to refer to Canada Geese as Evil Geese. The weather forecast was looking better and better, and things seemed to be going well. To Be Continued…

canada general moosling snow

The winter video…

Because winter is safely over and it couldn’t possibly snow another day, I present to you, the boy’s video of winter exploits (music chosen by him):

bikes canada general

Woohoo, biking on dirt!

Sadly there’s not much in the way of riding photos. Because we were too busy riding.

Suffice to say it was an awesome day.

Dry trails, sun, warmth, fun singletrack, fantastic riding companions, awesome new bike.

Still recovering from a(nother) cold, early season legs. Still good. It was my first time out on the Giant Lust Advanced 2, and I already love it. Looking forward to a fun summer with lots of biking.