Riding with a pack vs Riding with bike bags
I’ll set the scene.
Hadn’t heard from Derek all week, so in my mind, this ride isn’t going to happen. We capped the Friday off with afternoon-turned-sunset-turned-night beverages, finishing with nachos at Foundation (RIP). I wasn’t aware that the next day would be the hardest ride of my life.
We hit the snowline with about 500m left to go up.
Destination: Mineral Peak
Peak Elevation: 1456 m
Elevation Change: 3505m
Equipment: 50lb messenger backpack
Riders and Photographers:
Woke up with ears still ringing from the 9 o’clock gun, get a call from Kyle at 8am. Derek was actually serious and we’re going. At this point, I was searching for any excuse not to ride, but I thought to myself: “hasn’t Derek just started radiation treatment on a brain tumor? What was my excuse? Fuck it. Derek would go.”
With bags sorted, and with me riding a borrowed gravel bike a size too small, Derek, Kyle and I set off to Furry Creek. The Sea to Sky highway north with it’s dusty shoulder isn’t the best of roads to ride with a heavy ass backpack. I can’t remember if there was a headwind, but by Furry Creek I was almost spent. What came next, pushed me past my physical limit.
I should mention at this point that previous to this, I had zero Gravel riding experience. Over the next 2500 vertical meters I would gain some.
At the start of our ascent, the logging road up was a potent mix of dust and baby head rocks, and eventually eased into a washboard journey through several forestry camps. Looking back at my photographs, the scenery was stunning. However, I was too deep into my own physical pain-cave to notice at the time. We were definitely in a place where very few, if any, cycle to.
For me, the going was slow. Not ashamed to say I walked well behind Derek and Kyle for portions of the climb. We took and extended break, and I remember eating an entire Ziploc of trail-mix without saying a word. At this point, light was dwindling and for me it was either bike up, bitch out, or break down.
Fuck it. Bike up.
We hit the snowline with about 500m left to go up. Thinking it would clear up eventually in a more sun-exposed area, we decided to push our bikes through gradually deeper and deeper snow. Three switchbacks later and with twilight approaching, I decided to leave my bike hidden in the snowy trees until tomorrow. We were cold, tired and running out of time. Like a fucking superhuman, Derek strapped his bike to his bag and continued to hike up in the snow. At the time I didn’t understand why he did that, but in hindsight everyone has their own battles and with approaching cancer, this was one of his.
There is an old rock quarry that sits in the saddle just below Mineral Peak. On the edge of a sheer cliff, was the only flat and dry spot to make camp. We arrived there at exactly 8:56pm.