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Day 6 — Squamish

July 25, 2010

For Challenge riders the distance today is half what it was yesterday.    Anything is doable now, right?   Slowly as the week has progressed I feel like I have been burning through body parts.   Quads, then glutes … yesterday ate my arms.  What is left?  Not much by this point.  Just the will and the mind.   Except when I’m climbing, riding feels very much like a mental sport.  Climbing is also, but my brain can’t make me faster but it can keep me on the bike and spinning when you just want to get off and walk.  No walking!  Climb!!

Out of town onto asphalt (sound familiar), people cheering.  Yay!   Then climbing, up through a neighborhood and finally we dump onto dirt road.  Still climbing.   We found an aid station, but it turned out it was mostly for the Epic riders who were off doing some singletrack, lucky them!  We hop right back onto the road and keep climbing.    I heard 13km and also 9 miles, either way, it was a lot of up.  But oh, what I didn’t know was the best trail in the entire universe, Half Nelson, was waiting for me.   A reported $70k in cost, it was like a downhill pumptrack.    Pure bliss on a bike.   I flew down happily, only having to pull over twice — I could have ridden it 3 or 4 times.   Instead, no, it was time to go on.

Today was a wacky day, I got passed by the same riders 3 times in a few cases.   Our route wove in and out and apparently kept pace with some of the Epic riders.   That was weird.    After the fun of Half Nelson we entered a black diamond trail.    One woman said “This would be fun in my downhill gear, but … ”  Very rocky and rooty, if you had guts, it was pretty rideable, otherwise brawwwk and walk time.   Then we went off on our own trail, which was somewhat the same, but a little easier, you know, I really like to ride my bike!

The second aid station was at a beautiful spot with a waterfall.   After a bit we hit another set of climbs and switchbacks.  I lost everyone again but I knew Debra was in good company.   I could ride pretty much everything without stopping and I was tired of being passed.  I rode most of the trail until the end.  That was sweet.   I had a pretty good day today, it was one of my favorites.  The funny thing was at the end there were some hard downhill switchbacks.  I was having trouble and on the last one had to bail off my bike somewhat awkwardly.   I walked down to talk to the course marshal since he watched the whole thing.  Since I was feeling stupid,  I decided it seemed like a nice time for a chat.  It turns out his name was Mike Nelson and he was a good part of the reason the trail was called Half Nelson.   How cool is that?   He did a lot of the back-end bureaucratic stuff to get the trail in.   Anyone who has put in a trail knows what a thankless job that is.  He said they are working on a Full Nelson.    Luckily after that encounter I still knew how to ride and it was cruise back in.    We passed some rock climbers on the way.  I really love Squamish, it is beautiful and has so much to offer for outdoor play.

Tonight is back at the same camp, which is nice.  Tomorrow they will bus us in the morning to Whistler, the last day!!

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