This weekend, Suz and I were in the Seven Summits mountain bike rally in Rossland, British Columbia. Our unofficial time of 7hours, 59 minutes and 30 seconds only got us t-shirts, but we were pretty proud of ourselves anyway! The course is described by Trailforks thusly:
Riding the Seven Summits is a significant undertaking, and for most riders it will take the better part of a day. It’s a long 36km, unrelentingly technical, and physically demanding 4000ft of vertical gain. Lung bursting climbs alternate with exciting descents and swooping singletrack through high-country meadows, dramatic ridges and mountain forests.
Here is a google earth view of the first half:
The route starts with a crushing 8km uphill that climbs over 2000 vertical feet! As it turned out, I was more nervous of the downhill sections than the uphill sections as I felt I was in pretty good shape and Suz has been riding lots this summer. The big number for us was to make the halfway cutoff. If you are not at the 4th summit by 1pm you can’t continue. We started at 8:30am and made it with 30 minutes to spare luckily.
For much of the time, the route follows the top of the ridge behind us as it climbs and descends the seven mountains along the way. We rode close together for safety and support.
Several technical sections required us to stop and figure out whether it was ridable or not. Most people rode the whole thing but have way more experience which meant I had to constantly watch out behind me for riders going mega fast in the downhill sections. I wore out my disc brakes clean off and had very little braking power by the end!
Above: A rider flies down to the Granite Checkpoint. The steepness with small rocky drops is typical of the 8000 feet of vertical descent. By the end of the day, many things that would have scared me at the start were becoming tolerable from constant exposure.
The checkpoints were pretty crucial as the volunteers were very supportive and goofy with most dressed up in odd costumes! The halfway checkpoint had water and drive-by chocolate fondue for energy and morale boost! Without these mental lifts, it would have been pretty hard to finish. Apart from the halfway stop, the rest was self-supported owing to the extreme isolation of the trail. That meant a pack with extra clothes, food, raingear, spare parts, tools and lots of water.
Above: Suz crests the 2113m summit of Record Mt. Six down and one more mountain to go and it’s all downhill to the finish line!
By the time we got to the last downhill, it was my hands and arms not my legs that seemed like they were going to fall off as I was plagued with bicep cramps. We crossed the finish line and were greeted with great fanfare from everyone there. After the dropping of the bike and exhausted hugs, we were presented with a cold drink and a ride up to town for the celebration. We were the second last shuttle bus so the festivities were in full swing when we arrived in town.
Above: Supper and awards back in Rossland
In retrospect, it was probably a bit over my head but I’m glad to have taken it on. We may just do this one again next year and perhaps then I will be a better rider.
Here’s a short section of trail between Mt Elgood and Mt Plewman: