Hard lessons from the ice

About 20 years ago when I lived in the city, we had a solid dump of snow one Friday afternoon.

About 20 years ago when I lived in the city, we had a solid dump of snow one Friday afternoon.

Then we woke up Saturday morning to blue skies and freezing temperatures.

Generally, in these conditions, most people are thinking of the ski hill, but my buddy Pete thinks differently.

He quickly had a bunch of us organized and geared up for a bike ride on Burke Mountain out in Port Coquitlam.

Normally, Burke is known for its great single track and loamy descents, but that day the best riding was up the main logging road right to the top for a short loop around the snowmobile trails and then back down the road.

It sounds boring, but the frozen snow would give just enough traction to allow us to maintain momentum on the climb.

On the return trip you could pick up enough speed to drift corners, carve fresh tracks and get more air than you wanted as you flew out of the cross ditches to land with a crunch in the snow again.

It was perfect…almost.

One steep section of the road that seemed to remain wet, even in the driest conditions, was not covered in crunchy snow that day, but a solid sheet of rough ice that ate up 500 metres of the road before the snow took over again.

It was a treacherous section that was impassable on the climb.

We had to bushwhack and hike-a-bike to get around it on the way up, but for such an amazing day it seemed like a small fee to pay.

We hit the top, battled through the softer snow of the snowmobile loop, had a snack and started the high speed and out of control descent.

It was hard to describe, but very different than normal mountain biking and soooo much fun.

Even big crashes came with no consequences, other than a face wash in the snow.

Then we approached the ice section and as most of us slowed down in preparation to hike around it, my racing partner Gary picked up speed and flew into the ice.

He held it together for almost two feet before chaos ensued.

He hit the ice hard, got tangled in his bike and slid violently for about 30 meters before drifting to the side and catching some much needed traction in the snow.

As we scrambled down to see if he was alive, I could here him through his laughing “I forgot about the ice.”

Oddly, the rest of us saw it clearly and stopped, but Gary learned the hard way that the shiny bits are extra slippery and make for a brutal landing.

Short of a few bruises, Gary was fine and rode the rest of the day with careless abandon.

I thought he would take it easy after a close call like that, but he just brushed it off and rode like nothing had happened.

Sliding through corners, jumping the water bars and riding as fast as we could. That attitude is probably why Gary is such a fast rider.

Regardless, we had even more fun on the remaining descent that afternoon to finish off a fantastic winter ride.

Like a flash of deja vu, this entire story came back to me Tuesday morning on Rhyley’s commute to school.

Blue skies, freezing temperatures and a bit of snow.

We were watching pretty closely for icy patches.

Well, at least I was watching closely. Rhyley decided that the shiny part of the sidewalk looked like more fun. Wham! Down she went with a look of surprise.

Similar to Gary, when she should have been bleeding, or crying, she was no worse for wear and after a few seconds of rubbing her knee she rode like nothing happened.

The next big patch of ice appeared a block later and she rode right over it with a giggle. She slipped a bit, but managed to stay upright.

I’ve never liked riding carefully.

I find it causes more issues than it prevents and it definitely slows skill development, but watching your kid is a different story.

I’m not sure if I love that she’s like me, or if it just scares me.

 

I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…

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