Sunday, 30 January 2011

West Coast

A taste of west coast on the weekend - skiing a snowy Whistler (actually mostly Blackcomb) Saturday was super fun. Lots of terrain, great snow, certainly not cold by this side of the Rockies' standards, fun meeting new people, watching a skier improve. Even found a few ankle deep fresh tracks. It's funny - I have these virtually new Fischer bigstix, but I haven't really skiied on them in 3 years. Good thing I sorta remember how they work ; )

Sunday we snowshoed to the top of Hollyburn mountain from the Cypress parking lot. Good excuse to burn off some steam on the upper half - a few stops and half the climb at a pinning it pace yielded under an hour up. Cutting loose from the parking lot probably would have been 45 minutes. Great workout, fun times, sunny warm day. Steve, Tania, Tara and Cindy shared the afternoon smiles.

This North Vancouver recreation is awesome when it's not pouring rain (like Saturday when leaving for/driving to Whistler). I make an effort to do fun stuff in Calgary, but its different being right on the mountains. Having said that, it's a big choice to endure the tax burden out there - talk about a way to milk an economy dry.

My track record of skipping the "tougher" weather in Calgary is pretty lucky so far this year ; )

Sunday, 23 January 2011

African Speedster

"The point isn't just getting from A to B.  It's putting the hammer down along the way."

Emptying my little tank

Today was a great group ride for the group of us who set out on cross bikes from Devin's house for adventure. No surprises - Pat Dodge has one speed, Lachlan, Keith, Devin and Craig are fast, Shawn likes whip cream on his cookies, I chased Thomas around.

Super fun day, but that caps off a big week for me and right after a big day yesterday, plus work this weekend, so I'm bagged.

Let's hope I can expand the endurance before being bagged before its Portugal time.

And then there were two

Shawn, Craig, Bill, Keith, Sonia, Cyrus and I met at Cadence before going hog wild on the Bowness/Tuscany ravine coulee. Craig turned off first (for once!) as he had been under the weather and had an appointment that afternoon. As we made it past Church Ranches Sonia also turned off.

Half hour later Cyrus' derailleur bit the dust with his big ring/big cog combo so he had to call in evac procedures from his wife. The rest of us continued on the beautiful day up Symons Valley on the hardpack snow on gravel.

Coming back the turns of events let Bill and I ride into the northwest on our own. Great 4.5 hours of riding, followed up by straight to the office for me.

Caught up with Devin and Shannon later in the day for a 9pm dinner... so tired by then. Fun day, I like it when biking fits in before work.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

ski life

You know those days when you wake up at 3:30 am to drive 300km to chase down epic snow a few hundred km away, then ski all day, then apr├Ęs, then hot tub with beers, then massage, then 3 course meal, then hit the lodge where ukranian pool gives way to people dancing on the pool table while whitesnake is playing and the shot-ski is doing triple duty and the google employee vs. Sudbury champ are eyeing each other over the ping pong showdown from two years ago and “fireball” the chef is who you know has earned that name through some serious stories is drinking beers in chugging contests against the guests then someone rings the cowbell and shouts "it's snowing" and orders a round for everyone in the place and you dare not look at your watch cause you’ve been up a long long time, but you think that drinking from the glass of life is as good right now as drinking that ice cold kokannee that’s the “beer out here”?




Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Powder tips

Our guide gave us these tips: follow me; ski good or eat wood; have fun.

We did.

Monday, 10 January 2011


Some days in life are just divine.  Like high elevation drop off points with blue skies, nice temps, and nothing but deep fresh snow to the pickup point.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Island Lake

Lots of friends. Someone's 50th. Lots of Jager. Lots of deep snow. Bam!

Winter Driving

I love driving. I love winter. I even love winter driving, especially in the new transportation. It's hard to imagine a machine taking care of more snow issues, except perhaps my friends Subaru Impreza WRX STI with studded tires and more power than my oversized tank. Such a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, even if it was considered "don't drive" weather by the forecasters.  It's like a 3h full concentration and judgement exercise, and after a full night's sleep, that was perfect.  Most of the way down was horizontal blowing snow that left little clue of where the road was, until the Crowsnest Valley.

Snowy Singletrack

Craig, Thomas Yip and I met at Cadence on a windy windy -7C day to share stories, coffee, and our excitement to ride singletrack in near perfect condition. Although it wasn't that cold out, barely saw a soul outside; I guess the horizontal blowing snow deterred most. Other than the wind chill, the snow is dry and packed, making trails smoother than in the summer, and giving perfect traction as long as you don't deviate from the 10"-12" packed width.

Loops through Tuscany ravine were top notch - all rideable, all twisty, fun and fast. Proceeded back along the north side of Bowmont on similar, then a loop through Edworthy which was great other than one massive spring flow which made 20m of steep ice to cross.

Finished off with the Edworthy east trails, then a warmup soup and sandwich at the Lazy Loaf.

How can it get any better? I have a great feeling about 2011. I had enough biking fitness to survive this 4h excursion, and have fun biking plans this year. Friends have great biking plans to follow too. Work looking great, and other stuff settling out well too.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Uspallata to Chilean Border

Sharp erosional edge near Uspallata.

It's impressive how defined it is and how long it goes on for.

Ahhh, one of many mountain pics that just make me feel good.

Snowcapped peaks are beauty in the summer - must have snowed in last week as they weren't quite like that on way out.

Climbing the whole way up the valley.

Small rainbow in the sky.

This donkey or horse didn't make it.  Everything feels harsh here.

Nearing the famous mountain.  Notice ski lift in background.

Ski "town".

Old outpost on other side of valley.

Rescue helicopter for Aconcogua park.

Not Aconcogua, but the other side of the valley.

That rock is the size of a house.

On a little walking tour at the park entrance.

Aconcogua is hidden today.

Descriptors but no actual view.

Pack horses for gear transfer.

Across the valley.

Donkeys to carry stuff.

Nearer to the border it gets more rugged.

Another "town" in the valley.

The Chilean border side.  Note the chairlifts on the right hand ridge in background.

Crossing needs lots of stamps with a rental car.

This was back in Argentina, but worth it.  All forms of transportation are game for the city streets.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Mendoza to Uspallata

Such a nice day for a drive, and such good scenery.  Its a beautiful area so I got a little trigger happy with the camera.

Graffiti'd monument to oil production just south of Mendoza.
 Refinery town south of Mendoza.
 Here's the town name to find it on a map - everything seemed to be owned by YPF.
 Starting the climb up the valley to Uspallata.  Lots of dry country - would be good for dirt biking.
 Old train tracks.  Apparently some company is looking at reviving the derelict line for transport, which would need a little work.  But the track has three sections of different gauges which is a pain.
 Further up the valley towards Uspallata.  Beautiful day.
 Here's a roadside monument to recycling... err or one of those little Jesus Cristo in a box thingers that inspires people to leave water.
 This is the other side of the road from the recycling monument - still dry and facing towards Uspallata.
 I don't think conquistadores even had to pick where Uspallata was, their horses did it for them.  After eating dry tumbleweed stuff walking through the mountains, they just followed their noses to the lush greenery of Uspallata.
 Pizza Especialidad.  Egg, olives, ham, cheese, red peppers.
 This is the view from Uspallata on the exit from town starting towards the road to the Chilean border.