I, along with most Vancouverites, spent most of this winter off my bike. The Lower Mainland received an unprecedented amount of snow this season, not just in the mountains but right in the city. The snow banks in December and January were huge, reminiscent of more northern climes. This excess of snow was very out of place in a city that normally enjoys very temperate weather patterns, and is situated well within reach of a tsunami crashing off the Pacific Ocean.
So, due to the lack of exposed dirt on the trails, and the fact that I work all winter (yes, Regular Joe works, like the rest of you), I shelved my bikes for the season. Sure, I got out here and there on my trusty road bike and dodged some traffic, but my dirt addiction was put on hold. I stayed busy however, working and skiing, but every so often my mind would stray, and I would daydream of happy times gone by, of memorable days on my mountain bicycle.
It seemed that spring had finally chased winter to the higher reaches of the mountains, where it belongs this time of the year, the forecast was for a sunny, warm Wednesday, and I convinced my good friend at Kona, Dik Cox, to take off from work early to ride. Call it a business lunch. It should go without saying that after a few months of cold turkey, and a spanking new Dawg Supreme staring me in the face, I was beyond excited to get out for a spin.
As we mounted our steeds, and pedaled up and out of Deep Cove, my enthusiasm dwindled slightly as the reality of an extended break hit me like a freight train. I acutely felt every old war wound, and noticed how all my bike muscles had casually atrophied away over the winter. The first climbs were like walls, and there was not a gear small enough to aid me. What I needed was a small engine to propel me to the top. The irony was as glaring as the shiny parts on my new bike. The roles had been reversed. Where my chain was freshly oiled, the bike frame sparkling, the shifting precise, I was the opposite. My body was coated in a thick layer of rust, my movements felt unfamiliar, and my legs were sore and screaming for a break.
As the climb wore on, the rough edges began to smooth out. My body re-discovered the innate rhythm of the pedal stroke, and everything started to mesh together. My mind, not so focused on the initial pain now, had a chance to wander and take in my surroundings. Lush, green forest and a tacky ribbon of singletrack winding upwards were all the stimulation I needed. The reminder of why I ride was all around me.
We pulled up in front of a hand hewn trail sign, the marker for the North Shore classic, Severed Dick. It felt appropriate to be here, as this was the first trail I ever rode on the Shore, during a school spring break with my family. My emotions were reminiscent of that day long ago as eagerness, excitement and a little fear coursed through my veins.
The downhill began, cautious and tentative at first. I soon warmed to the trail, to the old familiar feel of the bike dancing below me. As our speed increased, so did the buzz, and I let loose a maniacal chuckle. Dik answered with a holler as we diced it out down on our little piece of heaven.
Fully satiated, we connected singletrack goodness right back to the Cove, where cold refreshments awaited. As we hosed the North Shore loam off the bikes I soaked up some spring sun, enjoyed the tired burn of my legs, and replayed snapshots of our ride in my mind.
Our post ride chatter was full of the excitement of our day, and of future adventures. The fire had been re-kindled, and I couldn’t wait to plan my next ride. And the next ride, and the one after that. Mountain biking season is here!