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Preparing to get back on the saddle



Just think about it, in about one more month we’ll be mountain biking in Whistler again.

The thought fills me with incredible excitement as the countdown gets underway. But I have to admit there’s definitely an element of dread too.

I shudder to think of the climb up Tunnel Vision or the road up to Shit Happens. How many times will I have to get off my bike on that first climb? It doesn’t even bear thinking about right now.

Then there’s the whole issue of the bike seat and my butt. Sitting at my desk is going to take on a whole new meaning after my first few rides. Even my new padded gel seat isn’t going to do much as I break in my butt for the season.

Last year I made the mistake of boldly vowing to compete in every single Loonie Race. This year my goal is to get through the first Loonie Race with a little more grace and style.

It better not be the Green Lake Loop.

I’m desperately praying for the Green Lake Loop to be scratched from the whole Loonie Race roster. It’s not a pleasant ride in the middle of the season, never mind the first race of the year.

Last year the Green Lake Loop almost broke me. It was my first Loonie Race ever and let me tell you, it took a lot of convincing for me to show up for week two.

The race started off all right. I was nervous but looking forward to getting it over and done with. It was my first time on the trail and I had no idea what to expect. The only thing that had me a little worried is that people tended to groan when they talked about the Green Lake Loop.

Two minutes into the ride my chain fell off. I should have realized it was an omen and turned back right there but I forged ahead.

When I first got into the single track I started to panic. I was having a little trouble and holding a few people back. There’s nothing worse than screwing up in the single track when a crew of people are chomping at the bit waiting to overtake you.

When the trail opened up a little more I was starting to enjoy it. And then the climbs began. It seemed as though it was never going to end.

Like every Loonie Race I was encouraged along the way by my fellow racers and at the point where I was almost ready to give up and turn back I realized I had no choice but to keep going.

My home was a long way away and I was cursing everyone who had ever talked me into doing a Loonie Race as well as all those people who said the Green Lake Loop "wasn’t bad."

I kept saying over and over again "it’s got to start going downhill soon, it’s has got to start going downhill soon."

And it did.

But the downhill portion of the Green Lake Loop is a steep loose gravel situation. Your back wheel spins out all the time and soon I was over my handlebars, holding a hand that was ripped and bleeding, head spinning, totally stunned.

I was pissed off and at that point I wasn’t just cursing everyone who had talked me into this, I was ready to throw some punches.

When I rolled into Gone Bakery in Alpine near the end of the pack, I was a different woman. I was so dazed and confused and shivery and sore that I couldn’t even drink my beer. That should give you some indication of how bad I was feeling!

Ah, the first Loonie Race of the season. Even now I shudder to think about it. I know it’s just around the corner and I am so wholly unprepared for it.

While we’re on the topic of shuddering I have to admit that I get a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about Whistler’s newest trail, Comfortably Numb, which I have yet to do.

The trail opened late last season so I got out of it pretty easily.

I’m thinking Comfortably Numb is going to come up in conversation around mid-June. There’s no way I’ll be good enough shape to do it at the point, if indeed I’m ever in good enough shape to do it.

So I’m going to have to come up with a pre-planned list of excuses to keep me off that trail.

Now to be fair, I’ve heard nothing but great things about Comfortably Numb. But you have to look at the source of this praise. It all comes from what I would call hard-core mountain bikers. (I consider most people in Whistler hard-core.)

I on the other hand like to meander through Train Wreck and stop and talk about the actual train wreck for 15 minutes or so while I catch my breath. Or I like to take in Shit Happens with a good long break splayed out on the rocks midway through the trail.

To be honest, a six-hour bike ride just doesn’t appeal to me. It’s like an emotional rollercoaster.

At first I’ll be pumped that I’m finally on the trail.

Then it’ll all start to go wrong as I get frustrated in the single-track switchbacks in North Secret Trail. Then I’ll get tired but will stay determined to forge ahead without complaining. Soon I’ll start cursing my abilities on a mountain bike. Next I’ll start blaming my boyfriend for daring to take me on a trail that I obviously wasn’t prepared for. Then I’ll most likely fake a little injury or a bike malfunction just so I can take a break and try to regroup.

I’ll finally get so hungry and thirsty that I’ll feel like throwing up. Eventually I’ll start to come around again when I know the end is in sight and it’ll be sheer delirious joy finishing up the trail, coming home and then reliving my experience to all my friends for the next few weeks.

I’m exhausted just typing about it.

So you can see why there’s a part of me that’s worried about the coming season.

But even though my first Loonie Race was a total right off last year, I’ll tell you that the races were one of the highlights of my summer.

Despite all those bad things about mountain biking, I just can’t wait to get back on the saddle.