Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Nutbrown Century

Jon had us over for a barbecue.  The only condition was that first we were going riding.  We were told portions of this were impassable, but we had high ambitions.  As it turns out, that advice probably is correct if given to the elderly, french poodles, and those lacking stamina, fortitude, and the company of good men.  Horses nor dirt bikes nor Land Rovers nor men on foot could have spanned this route today. But guys with cyclocross bikes was a different story.

After getting to bed after midnight from a half Chinese wedding on Saturday, I was up at 6:30 to get ready and get Shawn.  He, Pat Dodge and I were meeting at Chez Nutbrown for a little pre-bbq appetite whetting.

So here's the deal.  Let's say you want to circumnavigate half Kananaskis on your 'cross bikes, bring a nice picnic, and head off into the flood ravaged lands where there were once trails… on a beautiful August day.  We did dismounts, shouldering, tricky climbs, sand, descents - but none of this manicured course and spec height on barriers.  Anything from ravines to fresh trees felled to knee deep ice cold river crossings.  The ice water actually felt good on the legs that somehow logged 2,500m of climbing.

It's hard to generate enough superlatives for the day.  Gorge Creek, the old abandoned road was beautiful.  The Sheep River road approach was great.  We encountered our first slow moving further up on the Sheep River where the power of water slowed us to trying to cross broken bridges, scrambling washed out canyons, fording rivers, riding rubble that was once trail, etc. 
This one is where the trail was. 

We picnicked on sausage and cheese at the half distance mark, but more than half way by effort. We started to descend, before climbing up the Little Elbow pass climb from the south, which was a grunt of an effort.  First flat (mine) and only one of the day was there, then eventually made it out.

Naturally we rode a high tempo on the Elbow Pass climb on highway 66.  How tempo?  Compared to our last "long ride", we hit the base at 9h into the day then took 2 minutes off our prior best time... then raced each other on the hills home just for good measure.  Elapsed time: 9am departure from Nutbrowns to an arrival just before 8pm.  Shower, BBQ, then I had to nap on the couch a bit before driving home.  Big day, great ride, great group, and lots of calories slayed in the name of adventure.  

Input water for the Camel Bak All Clear. 

A home cooked BBQ after 11 hours of adventure is hard to describe in earthly words.

Pictures to follow, I think I left my phone at Jon's when I had to wake up off the couch to get myself home.  Left house at 6:30, returned at 11.  Jon, Pat, Shawn - thanks for the well executed mission!


  1. Wow, that is a huge day! Can't wait to check out the pics (and strava file).

  2. Those photos document it well - Tried some myself but could not capture the context as effectively. It was a big day, but somehow during the process that never dawned on me - just solid.

  3. Exactly. It's either the sausage and cheese, the group, or knowing the end was only once we reached Jon's that made time pass differently.