Feature: The Escape–Day 1

Best of luck for the easy rollers?


Photo by Dan Barham
Words by Seb Kemp

That was by far the easiest fifty kilometers of my life.

We might have been head punching our way through the rain storm that was rolling up the Howe Sound, but I felt like a cycling superman. This, despite the fact that we were already waterlogged and chilled after a half-hour stop at the Tantalus Outlook to make coffee in the hope that the clouds would peel back enough to give us the advertised view.

It had taken most of the morning to get as far as we had, but we’d stopped to take in the view, posthole through snow to see waterfalls, and then crack out the burner, the grinder and the filters for a cup of joe. Other than waiting a bloody long time for the kettle to boil, it seemed all too easy. A quick look at the cycle computer explained why: 1,019 meters of descending and 338 meters of ascending. Rolling down out of the mountains felt like cheating.

By the time we freewheeled into Squamish it was engulfed in low-lying rain clouds, so we treated this exactly like any normal bike day: get on the singletrack and then find a cool beer once the goods were got.

Squamish has been cloaked in snow for the last month or so, even down to sea level at times. Fortunately, in the last week or so south-facing aspects have been melting out, giving the local riding community back some opportunities. The few trails that are open barely account for a fraction of what is usually available. This winter, even more than usual it seems, has been hard to Squamish trail riders. At times like these the adage of quality over quantity is worth remembering because what we rode was in fine form.

We dropped the trailers off at our digs for the night – Mark Knight of Bear Back Biking was kind enough to put us up – and climbed Jack’s Trail up to Crouching Squirrel, Hidden Monkey. Starting off fast and flowy before steepening among the emerald forest, the trail felt like the first real test for bodies and minds after the easy rolling ride out of snow town. The dirt has packed well after the winter layer sat heavy and provided forgiving traction for hungry tire tread. What’s more, the roots and rock are clean after the rains, and the line of the trail seemed to entice us into letting go and giving more.

Dave Roth, the madman who agreed to accompany me on this trip, is an old hand at long-distance rides and bike adventures, but hadn’t spent a great deal of time riding in Squamish. He was impressed–really impressed–so we celebrated that fact by hitting the Shady Tree for burgers and beers, and toasted the first day’s passing with not even a glimmer of disaster or hardship.

Perhaps this is the way it is meant to be: that everything is easier than it seems when you sit at home dreaming it. Or perhaps we are burning through our allotment of Lady Luck credits far too soon and far too quickly.

Previous Entries from our Journey
DAY 0 of the Escape

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