It was going to be ‘The Evening of the Flat Tires’ as close to 200 riders gathered at the WildPlay Element Park on the Cougar Forest Service Road. For many of us, this was going to be an introduction to some new trails that would get us from the FSR all the way to the Alpine neighbourhood.
It was Thursday, Aug. 2 and we were ready to take on the 14th Toonie of the season. Sponsored by the Whistler Bike Co., SRAM, Nesters Market and the Edgewater Outdoor Centre, this race was going to have all the serious climbing done at the beginning — and what a climb it was.
Right across the main FSR from the WildPlay Park is a “road” that starts to climb right away. With the dry conditions we’ve been having, this climb — although reasonable in distance — was a gritty, grimy, gravely, grindfest meant to get us to the Azrael trailhead.
Of course, in the end, we did make it. When we got there, the cool forest beckoned and all was well.
If you go looking for this trail, don’t be misled by some of the more established-looking trails that go into the woods, they usually go to WildPlay toys. The trailhead will be on your left, where you’ll see a ditch on the side of the “road” which ought to have tire tracks going through it.
Further in the forest, you’ll see the trail. Azrael is new, so there was a lot of bushwhacking over newly-arranged rock trail interspersed with occasional, fresh, loamy, mossy bits. Since it follows more or less the same line as Section 102, I was surprised at how soon we made it to Shit Happens — where I had my first flat of the evening and, believe me, I was not the only one!
The Dilineator finished the race for us, crossing over the new Rainbow-Baxter Creek neighbourhood and depositing us in Alpine Meadows.
I only had two flats that evening — regrettably, because the guy who had three scored a nice suspension fork for his troubles. As did the girl who rode the whole race on a hardtail with V-brakes, proving once again that it’s not the hammer that makes the difference. It’s the carpenter!
Tonight (Thursday, Aug. 9), the Whistler Real Estate Co. Ltd, Race & Co. and Merlins will sponsor the 15th Toonie of this season. Merlins will be featuring Redeye Empire for your rocking reggae enjoyment. Sign-up will be at Merlins between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.
We’ll start on Blackcomb this time, ride above the Benchlands, get a taste of Yummy Nummy and pop into the Lost Lake system where the Lost Lake Road crosses the golf course. A quick grind up Vimy Ridge will get us to Tin Pants and onto to Panorama to that short, steep Fountain of Love connector.
From there, it will be Frank Zappa all the way to down the Nicklaus North Bridge, after which we’ll climb back up via Hook Tender. The Hydro Cut and Centennial will hook us up with Ms. Pinky, after which Frank will get us all the way to Peaches and Regalia (which, by the way, had some nice work done on it recently) and the finish. We’ll meet up at Merlins for afters.
Next week (Aug. 16), Fanatyk Co. will show us the Westside, starting at the top of Alpine Way. This will be our first sojourn on that side of the valley, but fear not, there’s more to come.