Friday, August 13, 2010

The Golden Triangle: Day 1 Canmore to Golden

The hardest ride I have ever done to date. Hands down. All the training I did for my half ironman in Calgary. FORGET IT. That training was for this. I was far more bagged at the end of one day of this ride series than I was after the race. Maybe it was good that I didn't know in advance what I was getting into. And I will say now that if I was to do it again I would do it like this, supported on a proper road bike with someone else carrying my gear. We did a longer ride than this organized version because we left from Canmore which adds about 50-60 km to the ride advertised in the link. And if you want a sneak peak of the outcome look here NOW. This is our version of the ride.

Two Centuries and a Metric

Days: 3
Total Distance: 427.0 km (162.7, 107.1, 157.2)
Hours in the saddle: 19:09:25

The Players:

Guy: 58 year old (but looks much younger), Chair of Business Admin with an IT and Education background and my friend Lisa's boss. Arguably a workaholic (I doubt he would refute that). Travel junkie and happily married to a spouse (luckily) who is an AC employee. Coincidence? I think not. Internal alarm clock firmly set at 5:30 a.m. Francophone by culture so that is the French "Guy" (hard "G" -- ee) as opposed to the English "Guy" (hard "G" eye) -- Rides very very heavy touring hybrid bike by Mikoura (or something like that). Strengths: the long gentle downhill for which a young punk chick like myself riding an unfriendly converted mountain bike much enjoyed sitting on his back wheel for these sections. Although, there is a downside to sitting in anyone's draft in the mountains. Sometimes it was preferable to sit back and just look around and you can't do that if you are staring at a rear wheel.

Wayne: 71 year old, once-retired-but-back-again, business communications instructor who's lived in every major city in the entire West of Canada and beyond. Connoisseur of the non-alcoholic beer. Born in Banff (people are actually BORN in BANFF??) his first love for speed came on the downhill slopes and he still downhill ski races. Rides: an old-style steel-framed Marinoni road bike with modern components. Strengths: the tucking downhill. He drives his car similar to how he downhills on a bike and skis. He may have had to haul his CPAP machine for 427 km but when I am 71 years old, I can only dream that I will still have the balls and the gumption to ride the Golden Triangle. He rode the route 15 years ago in the reverse direction and this left the memory a bit fuzzy of some route details but the fuzziness kept it interesting. There is truth to the "Ignorance is Bliss" adage.

Kim: Our well-loved narrator, 39 year old (really for truly) nursing instructor, triathlete and separated mother of 2 and an inclination towards the carpe diem lifestyle. Arguably a computer addict (but I deny it). Youth and beauty packaged together -- (please, now, time to get back on your chairs) -- rides converted Specialized Hard Rock Pro with disc brakes and industrial strength slick tires and locked out front suspension. Strengths, the long steep (and/or gentle) uphill -- the secret: spin and ride light, my friends, spin and ride light -- or at the very least, be lighter than your riding companions. Dreamed at least 427 times during this ride that she was on the prized even lighter Madone.

In a Nutshell Day 1:

sun, hill, drizzle, rain, cold, hill, sun, overcast, black, rain, hail, bigger hill, construction, huge trucks, rain rain rain.......

It started with flat tires. Wayne had been out in the Okanogan and had flat after unexplainable flat. He woke up the morning of the ride to yet another flat. And within 14km of Day 1 he had flatted the same tire again. And I thought: if this is an omen of what is to come, we are in big big BIG trouble. Guy found his flat right after lunch in Lake Louise. This allowed me to go shopping but as with my experience in Canmore, everything I loved cost too much.

I changed clothes so many times on this ride I coulda been in a cycling fashion show. Sleeves, no sleeves, jacket, no jacket, no sleeves, rain gear.

We rode west for the most part a little on the Trans Canada (TC), a little on the old highway 1 that turned a 2 km trip between Banff and Lake Louise into a 60 km trip. Who knew this was even geographically possible? And then back on the TC after Lake Louise. Most of the TC was under construction past Lake Louise. There were some awesome downhills that stretched out for 5 km or more. There was debris on the shoulder that made me thankful at moments for my fat tires. They have those nets up in places on this section that stop rock from falling off the mountain onto the highway. A lot had fallen through the net and was on the shoulder. I would ride just outside the white line to avoid the rock chunks and still have semis who had the option of 2 other lanes, brush past me six inches from my shoulder in my lane (bunch of Hill Billie red-necks  -- to quote Wayne). We stuck together for the most part which sometimes meant waits at the top of the hills for me.

I was about a half km ahead when the rain really started to come down somewhere just outside of Field. The skies had been black off to the West for sometime and it started to come down in droves. I stopped a the next side road and pulled out my rain jacket and quickly put away my phone and my camera. The hail started about 20 seconds after Guy and Wayne caught up and pulled over with me and we all dove for the cover of trees. This picture of Guy in the hail was the last I snapped with my camera for the rest of the ride. When we arrived in Golden, my camera battery was dead (who can explain why) and my phone was not functioning. I guess the zipper of the waterproof panniers leaks a little because the pocket I used to store away and protect both, was soaked with water.

The evening in Golden was spent on laundry, finding the shortest distance to dinner, 200 metres to the Timbermill Family (thankfully licenced) Restaurant, crying over my phone and the dead battery in my camera, and watching Dr. Who and Halloween II. It was a stunningly intellectual evening for three overachieving individuals.

Things I learned on Day 1:

1. Most of the first 40 km was uphill. At least Gently but I didn't realize this until Day 3 when we covered some of the same road in reverse and that road was definitely mostly downhill.
2. My saddle is really really uncomfortable and moving your "comfortable" road saddle to your mountain bike does not work or spare your bruised sit-bones.
3. Mountain weather changes in the blink of an eye.
4. Zippered pockets on water proof panniers are not so waterproof.
5. Mountain bike shorts on a road ride are NOT a good idea.
6. When the one guy who has done the ride before but 15 years ago, estimates that the ride distance for the day will be 150 km, immediately add 15 km in your head to easy the psychological pain when the 150 km mark comes and goes with no end in sight.
7. The bigger the vehicle, the STUPID-er the driver.
8. When one of you forgets the camera and another forgets the camera battery charger, it does not help the situation  if the two pieces of the remaining puzzle are not compatible with one another.
9. It doesn't matter how much weight you carry. Aerodynamics wins the downhill race every time.
10. On day one, before you blow your metabolism out of the water, you will still feel hungry before you bonk.
11. One of you  may be dancing to the Beatles and one of you may be dancing to Alanis Morisette, but you are both dancing and feeling no pain after 80 km.
12. There are not many secrets left between people once you've washed their underwear for them.
13. It is fun to be the fastest uphiller when you can catch your friends panting at the top of the hill on video.


Lisa said...

We drove that section this July and I have to say that I would much rather be in the car...My fear of riding the narrow road would win out. Coward that I am..;0)

Kudoos to all of you! Looking forward to the next installment!

Tri-Guy said...

Absolutley fabulous. I love all the Garmin data.... then again all of us techies do. Loved the photos.. too bad about your camera and phone. Awh hell... it probably is a good thing to be unplugged now and then.

You have to love the suction and the 2 second heart attack that comes with big trucks. I actually find the pros (real semi drivers) are not bad and are very courteous. It is the people who are renting motor-homes, that have no idea how wide hey are, are the worst.

Kim said...

Greg. There was one of those idiots as well that blew past me as I was passing Wayne on a shoulder of Hwy 1 between Canmore and Banff -- very early in the ride, Day 1. Guy was behind and saw the whole thing and said the guy couldn't have been more than 6 inches from my shoulder. I even knew he was coming before I passed and went anyway because I also assessed that he had the whole entire passing lane clear to use -- but he chose to make me crap myself instead. Thankfully, the one I describe above as well as this one, were the only really scary incidents for me on the whole ride. For the most part people were very courteous out there. Thankfully.