I wrote last week’s article on a Thursday afternoon. If you didn’t see it, it was about how, even though I’ve slowed down so much with age, I’m still proud that I can ride steep, techy trails, not only on the Island, but also in Whistler where trails get steeper and gnarlier.
I was feeling good about where I am as a rider in my 50’s and despite missing the fast speeds on the ups and downs, I’m OK with it if I can still pedal up and keep riding down the crazy trails I love so much.
Less than 24 hours after I’d put my thoughts in writing, I woke up in Whistler and set out to find a secret trail I’d heard about (Secret trails are never secret for long if they’re worth riding). I had a pretty good idea where it was and off I went.
After a nice warm up climbing out of Creekside, I found the spur I was hunting for and rode straight into it.
Being a secret trail, there is minimal signage and no rating, so short of a few tidbits of rumour, I was jumping into the deep-end blindfolded.
It was a pretty tough entrance, but with my current confidence, I didn’t flinch. Down a steep chute, around a couple of corners, and over a few more technical bits. Then I came upon a sign that read, “WALK THIS, TURN BACK!”
“Hmmm, maybe I should look at this first?” I thought.
It was about a 15’ rock slab with a bike-length sized shelf, that then rolled into … who knows? It was completely blind and disappeared into another rock roll that went to somewhere far, far below.
I slid down the first 15’ on my butt, had a look at the second part and scrambled back up, mustered up some of this new confidence and rolled in. I don’t think my rectum has ever been that clenched before.
The very sticky looking rock was dusty and surprisingly slippery. As I slid out of control on the first 15’, I somehow bounced onto the shelf and into a side line, then flew to the bottom of the bigger, steeper section. It may have looked like a planned approach by a skilled rider, but looks can be deceiving.
From there the trail got hard. Big gap jumps, large drops into loose off-camber dusty roots, followed by more drops, a rock roll that made the first one look average, and relentless steeps through the trees.
I did my best and rode more than I walked, thinking the entire time, “I should NOT be out here alone.”
When I finally popped out the bottom of the trail, I relaxed a bit, wiped the blood off my shin, and kinda wished I could retract the article I’d written the night before.
The trail rating system goes like this:
Green circles for beginners / Blue squares for intermediates / Black diamonds for advanced trails / Double black diamonds for experts.
Some double blacks will have a pro line option within the trail. This trail felt like a constant pro line, and it was very, very humbling.
So I have two options.
The sensible one:
I never go near that trail again and let one more skill drop off the list due to age.
The fun one:
I get my armour, get a slightly bigger bike, and persuade an insane friend to join me … then go tackle it again.
Any takers on the “Insane friend” position? I’m taking résumés.
I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…