I Wanna See Your Peacocks

17 Sep

Panorama of Bennett

I had been avoiding my summer illness with great success, until in a moment of weakness I finally allowed it to catch me.  On Saturday morning I woke up with a throbbing throat, and a bad headache.

Thankfully it is mid-fall – which is the ideal time to realize you have done exactly none of the “summer fix-ups” that were mandatory pre-winter activities.  The fence is still being tethered together by 2 pieces of rope, held up by a bike rack, with a 73% chance of keeping Starbuck from escaping.   There is also 20 bags of recycling that need sorting and a kitchen wall’s worth of drywall to go to the dump.

The other great thing about fall is that it gives you a preview of winter light – in other word it’s the time you get to realize that 97% of your lightbulbs are burnt out.

Sick days are perfect “work days” and armed with sweatpants and tea, the Mr. and I got most of the must dos done; which made Sunday all the better.

When I got up on Sunday morning with limited throat irritation, I gleefully surmised that my diet of echinicae and vitamin C scared away the black lung.  With this conviction, I called bike-wife and we arranged a Carcross date.

Originally, we had planned a shuttle day, but half our crew bailed, and it’s hard to shuttle with only 2 people.  So, we took advantage of the company and planned  a different sort of day.  Instead of up and down fun, we picked a bit of an adventure – a longer ride up the gravel road, with big view payoffs.  It was the perfect ride for bike-wife, who is always keen on a good picture or 12.

We were not disappointed – the climb up the hill turned out to be just enough time for the grey clouds to clear way for a bright blue sky.

It's so Pretty

Fall Colors on the Bridge

Mossy Green

And we did it all in typical classy fashion – in our matching Shredly Peacock Shorts. The only thing as bright as the landscape.

I wanna see your peacocks

 

In a rather unsurprising turn of events, it tuns out that the black lung wasn’t actually gone.  In fact, it took advantage of a desperation for another play-date and attacked with full force on Monday.  As long as it leaves for the weekend, I might be able to manage to rest.  It’s a shame that the weather is looking so good.

Last Call

3 Sep

With the dusting of snow on Grey Mountain, and scraping of frost on Hart Crescent – the Yukon officially announced “last call” on Tuesday.   It was warning time for all us hedonists who have been drinking up the good times that summer has to offer.  Not only was this inevitable, any attentive person would have already noticed the shrinking days and yellowing leaves.  It should have been no great surprise when the snow made an appearance.  And yet, last call always seems a bit unexpected – couldn’t they see we were having a good time?  Why would anyone want it to end?

There’s very few options when it’s last call.  If you are my backyard begonia or an 18 year old girl on her first night out, last call is the end of your evening.  You are limp and hanging lifelessly over the edge of the pot; it’s time to get pulled out.  For those that don’t surrender quite as quickly, there are essentially two options:

 

Option 1:  Accept it

It’s last call, and while the happily buzzed scramble to the bar, you just accept it as a natural sign that the night is over.  It’s time to move on, drink some water, and start making plans for the rest of the week.   Time to get the Fatback ready for winter – last call just means the end of one night, and the start of a new – slightly colder – day.  With open minds and fat tires, accept  the inevitability of it all.

 

Option 2: Cram it all in!

It’s last call, and your only real challenge is figuring out how many drinks you can carry back to the table.  It’s time to get it all in, there’s only a few more hours until the lights go out and the evening is officially done, so chug – chug – chug.  Yes, you will probably end up in significant pain tomorrow.  Yes, you will probably overindulge to the point that you have to swear it off altogether for a couple weeks.  But, everything is so much fun right now, that the only real option is to keep the party going.  Ignore all those naysayers telling you that you are going to injure or exhaust yourself and get on your bike.

Thursday: Blinglespeed with Monika

 

Friday: Grey Mtn adventure with Starbuck

 

Saturday: Dawn of the Tread Cyclocross

 

Sunday: Mountain Hero

 

Monday:  TBD

 

You’ll just have to guess what option I’ve picked…

 

The Cottonwood

26 Aug

As the summer weekends flashed past, I’d almost given up hope of squeezing in a Cottonwood ride.   It seemed like every day off work was solidly packed with other commitments, and other adventures.  When plans to go down to B.C for a weekend fell through, there was a suddenly a big beautiful gap just looking to be filled with an epic ride.

The Cottonwood trail is an 83 km hiking route from Mush Lake Road (across from Dezadeash Lake) to Kathleen Lake.  The trail includes about 2400 m of climbing, spread out over 2 passes; the Dalton Pass and Cottonwood Pass.   It’s a long day, but can be well worth the scenary.  Here’s a guide to the ride:

 

Km -30

Rainy

Start the ride  with the unmistakable sound of rain falling on your 2 man tent.

Go to Kathleen Lake Lodge, which opens up at 7 am, for a pre-ride feast of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and coffee.  Meal is usually served with a side of: “You guys are crazy – but I hope you have fun”.

 

Km 0

Park the car at Mush Lake Road and begin the pre-ride routine of dressing, undressing and redressing.   After exploring all routes of procrastination, start riding.

 

Km 16.5

Trailhead

Fly down the Mush Lake Road .  Believe (falsely) that this will be a quick ride.  At some point, wonder what you are going to order at Frosty Freeze – banana or chocolate milkshake?  Then hit the Cottonwood trail sign, and a double track path that goes up, up, up.

 

Km 21.5

Pie

After 5 steady kilometers of climbing, pull out that piece of pie you ordered from the Kathleen Lake Lodge.  It may have suffered in your bag, but you aren’t finished climbing, it’s pissing rain and it’s cold – a squishy pie is the best thing you’ll have.

 

Km 26.5

It Starts to Clear

Lupins

The unrelating climb is replaced by some fun up and down through the pass.  It will feel like fall, but everything will be bright and green; with the occasional patch of lupins.   Your camera will be wet, but it makes it look like a cool instagram, so that’s okay.

 

Km 33

Time to Warm Up

Cross the first big river. Holy crap is it ever cold!  To figure out which path to take, watch all your friends cross and assess whose shorts got the least wet – follow them.  On the other side surrender to the elements and try to warm up.  There’s no way to get dry, but it’s better to be a warm wet before starting a descent.

Steamy Shorts

Watch the steam come off everyone’s shorts, this will be highly amusing – especially when you’re mildly delusional from not eating enough.  Eat more food.

 

Km 35.7

Down we go

Things are looking up, you are warmer – and starting to enjoy some sections of singletrack descent.  Don’t worry, your delusions of all downhill will be shattered by a steep hike a bike.   Be careful on this steep climb, your shoes will fall off at least twice, and you will somehow get your bike caught in between two trees on your back and be temporarily stuck.

 

Km 39.3

Start of the Singletrack

Bike High Fireweed

Cottonwood Valley

You are through the second pass and onto the best part of the trail – Cottonwood Valley.  The only problem is that everything is so beautiful that you will want to stop every kilometer for more pictures.

Fireweed is as high as the bike, which means most of the time you will watch your friends helmet heads bob float above tall green stalks.  You will then  hit the fields of fire (weed); bright oranges and reds will distract you, and you will probably almost endo because you are staring at the colors instead of watching for rocks..  As you slowly lose elevation, each field will get redder and redder – you are coming back to fall.

 

Km 46.6

Bear Evidence

You are now into long stretches of meadow, and although the short grass makes for long views – you will get that funny feeling that you’re being watched from afar.

 

Km 49

Deadfall

You will turn onto a mining road – look up and to the left, you can see the relics of Johobo mine up in the mountain side.  This would be a fast and furious section, but there are several downed trees that slow down the ride.   After crawling under the 10th tree, you’ll tell yourself that you are going to start doing yoga again.  It’s a lie.

 

Km 57

Louise Lake

Down you land at Louise Lake – and she’s a beauty!  There’s still lots of downed trees, but Parks Canada seems to have some interest in having them cleared for next year.  Although they are a nuisance, they aren’t so bad as to ruin the ride.

 

Km 67

Crossing Victoria

Time to cross Victoria Creek again – thankfully she’s warmed up a bit since the last time.  Although it’s fast and flowing, at least it’s not an ice bath.  One of you “friends” will throw rocks to  splash you while you cross – maybe it’s time to find new friends.

 

Km 71

Kathleen Lake

First encounter with Kathleen Lake – a new rock slide means a short walk through the lake.  The trail along the lakeside is in bad shape, but it’s brief.  If you get too cranky,  just look left, because the view is spectacular.  There’s lots of flattened rocks to skip in the water and the odometer suggests that you’re getting close to the end.

 

Km 75

Goat Creek crossing – the final river to ford.  Where’s my beer?

 

Km 77

One last look at a beautiful lake – it’s hike-a-bike time.  If you are wearing clipless,  bring sandals/running shoes.  The final 6 km of the trail will be a tough hike over a rock glacier, and then through a maze of un-rideable trails and downed trees.  When you hit this section, you will have some false hope that there is still time to get to Frosty Freeze before it closes.  It’s time to let the dream die – you will spend almost 2 hours slipping on roots, sliding down hills with your bike still attached to you, and generally cursing your existence.  You will ask yourself:  Why didn’t I just get a boat pick-up? (a completely viable option – just call Ron Chambers – he’s in the book in Haines Junction).  Then you will try to convince yourself that this makes you more hardcore.  Then you will trip on a root and want to cry.

 

Km 83

All done.  You may have missed Frosty Freeze, but as long as there’s a bag of chips and a cider somewhere, it’s all good.  Spend your anniversary doing this every year.

Bike Love

 

 

 

 

Of Mice and Marigolds

22 Aug

As difficult as it is to believe, I do have other hobbies besides biking.  They are few and far between, but they exist.  Most of them have fallen to the wayside as my love of cycling as grown.  Thankfully gardening outlasted personal hygiene and general cleanliness in the race for my spare time.

 

Although the Yukon’s season is short, years of failure have left me with reasonable expectations for summer vegetables.  Perennials planted in my first year at the house, have established strong roots and produce big flowers with limited work.  And I’ve figure out exactly what to put in my annual deck pots.

 

 

If not for the mice, this might have been the perfect year.

The mouse problem started early.  After the snow melted, I went to examine my precious lily bed; a section of garden that had taken 4 years of faithful bulb planting to finally get consistent flowers in the summer.  When I went to add some compost, the entire bed dropped 2 inches.  Apparently during the summer, some rodents realized that lily beds could be an easily accessed treat.   I might have some sympathy for these hungry little vermin, if not for the fact that I have been generously feeding them compost for many years.  I can not imagine that old lily bulbs are tastier the constant stream of strawberries, potatoes and Midnight Sun coffee grounds that I literally dump into their kitchen.  I resolved to destroy my enemy.

 

 

Unfortunately my second encounter with the mice weakened my battle position.  I was removing compost from the bottom of the bin, when suddenly a section of dirt dropped, revealing an entire mouse nest.  In it, was 8 squirmy, pinkish baby mice.  This was my opportunity to eradicate an entire family, but I was weak and they were cute.  So instead of killing them – or even leaving them to potentially die from exposure, I replaced their nest, closed up the compost and walked away.

For a while I felt good about my compassion.  Then the mice ate my cauliflower.  And my carrot tops.  And my cilantro.  And my broccoli.  I hoped that by showing some compassion, the mice would respect my hard work, but instead they took every opportunity to indulge on a midnight snack.  I tried a live trap – they ate all the peanut butter and ran.  I tried a bucket trap,  they seemed to prefer to fresh vegetables.  Finally, I gave up and took out the traps.  For a week, I set all the traps, and most of the time the mice were able to extract the peanut butter without consequence.  Finally, I got one.

 

 

Of course, my desire for vengeance was premature.  Although I managed to get one, I didn’t have the resolve to actually confront my victim and had to beg a friend to dispose of the evidence.  Turns out that as much as I want the mice to die, I don’t really want to be the one to kill them.

Now, I’m trying to find ways of sharing the vegetables – and I’m hoping the random influx of peanut butter in the compost will curb late night munchies.

 

 

A Trail for a Trail Makes the Whole World….Bare?

14 Aug

This week, I hit my frustration threshold when news broke that McIntyre Creek, a local recreation area, had been destroyed by vandals.  It wasn’t so much the destruction, which was obviously horrible, but the motivation (brought to light following the vandalism) that angered me.  The vandals thought that trees planted as part of the restoration project were spikes, meant to injure motorists.  This wasn’t true, but for me illustrated just how dangerous it is when user groups think they are in conflict.

It’s crazy to imagine that in such a huge place like the Yukon with all it’s space and extensive trail networks, there would be any conflict at all.  But the idea of sharing can be hard – for everyone.  Sharing trail means that sometimes you have to pull over mid-way through your greatest Bouncing Bunny downhill EVER because a family and their puppy is hiking up.  And maybe for a split second, that’s infuriating, but then you remember that the family is just trying to enjoy the trail as much as you are – and that the puppy is just a puppy.  Sharing trail can mean hoof prints and foot prints and wheel prints and bigger wheel prints.  Sharing trail can also mean meeting up with pretty cool people doing things you think are completely insane (but don’t worry they think the same thing about you).

In an attempt to put my trail sharing thoughts into words, I wrote this letter, which is my Pollyanna plea for everyone to try to find the ways to work together – or at the very least find ways to tolerate each other without hurting others or the trails.

Last week, a very sad act of vandalism took place in McIntyre Creek, when the restoration site was destroyed after someone pulled out all the willow stakes meant to promote re-growth, and prevent erosion of the bank.  The worst part about the destruction was that it appears to have been motivated by misinformation.  Individuals believed they were being targeted, that the stakes were there to hurt them, and they retaliated.  While this was simply untrue in this case, there is no denying that similar acts of vigilantism aren’t unheard of on the trails in the Yukon. 

In my summers of adventuring I’ve encountered: broken glass under log rolls (presumably designed to puncture bike tires); spikes under ladders and jumps (to hurt a fly-by dirt jumper);  cords and ropes strung across trees (to clothesline speeding motorists) and more.   

I hope that this action is a lesson to us all, that it is time to work together.  The large number of people who enjoy the Yukon’s great outdoors should be finding ways to come together to protect our wildlife against development, not fabricating civil wars against each other.  The only way that we can do this is by showing respect and tolerance to other users and to the trails themselves. 

So next time someone comes down the trail towards you, try a smile and a wave.  Take the first step off the trail to let someone get by.  Ask someone how their day is going.  Pick up some garbage that someone dropped along the route.  Move a hanging tree that could fall at any time.  Don’t destroy trails and if you do, find a way to fix them.  Respect trail access rules, even when you don’t agree with them.

Show some tolerance for those who experience the outdoors in a different way.  Assume the best of them, instead of the worst.  Maybe the spikes are trees, planted to restore the creek.  Maybe a tree was moved, because someone thought it was a hazard.  Maybe the dirt biker didn’t know he’d throw up so much dust. 

There are jerks in this world.  They are everywhere, not just on the trails.  But, when someone’s rude to you at the Superstore, do you block the aisle to stop the next shopper?  Do you ram the next person over with your cart?  Of course not – so don’t do the same on a trail. 

Multi-use means that we all have to compromise a little bit. If we can’t do that, we risk hurting people or destroying trails.  And if that’s the plan, we might as well just pave it over now.

I hope that people reading the letter will think a little bit before they get upset at their fellow trail user.  We can all be jerks – myself included – but maybe if we work hard, we can all be a little bit nicer to each other.  And the very least, we can try not to injure each other, or destroy the trails.

I know it’s not just a Pollyanna idea, because the first person who sent me a note after the letter came out was someone who wanted to tell me that they are a hiker who moves logs out of the way because they are worried about bikers.   Another person (ATV-er)  sent me a note saying they helped some stranded hikers out of the trails last weekend.   We can all be jerks – but let’s face it, we are pretty awesome most of the time.

Mt. Mac Trails

6 Aug

Thanks to the hard work of the Whitehorse Trail Crew, the Youth Achievement Center and Contagious Mountain Bike volunteers, there are all sorts of new trails at Mt. Mac just waiting to be ridden.  Unfortunately, there is no map of these trails (yet).  In order to solve this little problem, I have created the world’s most ghetto bike map.  It is not accurate in length – BUT is accurate in location, including entrances and exits.  It is meant only as a resource for people to use if they are wondering how to get to the new trails.

I’ve tried to color code it with RED showing the trails from previous years that were already on the map; and ORANGE for the new trails. (Click on the photo, then click on “View all Sizes” on the top right, you can get a larger version)

Please note that these are NOT the official names, just names that people/I have been using informally.  The official map will have the official names once they have been decided.  Until then, I’m using the names just for the simplicity of explanations.

Sierra's Ghetto Mt. Mac Map

Here is some general information about the trails.  All the trails (except Bouncing Bunny) are bi-directional.  There is a simple rule you can follow – it’s always more fun when you’re going down.  But, guess what – you’ve got to get up somehow, so suck it up buttercup and  make those legs burn.

Below is  the Twitter (140 characters or less) version of the Mt. Mac trails:

Porcupine Ridge – VERY slight uphill going towards Best Chance.  Fun singletrack that takes you along the ridge.

Peak Freans – Great bermy trail that heads down from the 7.5 km Trail and links into Porcupine Ridge.

Mouchet (also called Tristan’s Trail) – Amazing bridgework – fun in either direction, but slightly more downhill heading towards Rocky Canyon from 7.5 km.

Fetish – Takes you up from Rocky Canyon, or down from Birch.  Cool trail gap, and fun skinny (if you are heading down)

Reimer Reason – Takes you down from Sarah Steele to Fireweed Hut.  Cool boulder drops (rolls if you are me), when you’re heading down.

Calypso Canyon – Takes you down from Falun Lookout to Fireweed Hut.  Some fun drops, including a rock gap; and great berms.

Rebirth – Bermy Trail that climbs from the end of the 24 Hours Loop to Falun Lookout.

24 Hours Loop – Beautiful ridge trail that is completely bidirectional.

Bouncing Bunny – Best ridden down from Sarah Steele, just like the name – bouncy.

 

How do you link them together?  Here are some fun rides:

Big Mac Attack: Dirt Jump to 7.5 km, down Peak Freans to Porcupine Ridge.  Follow the Ridge all the way up Upper Valley, down Katima Trail and Logan’s Run.  Get onto 24 Hours of Light, climb Rebirth to Falun Lookout, down Calypso Canyon, up Reimer Reason, turn left on Sarah Steele to Bouncing Bunny.  Down the Bunny, turn right on the 10 K, take a SHARP right up Birch, turn left on Fetish, down Upper Rocky Canyon, up the bridge on Mouchet and back down to the Dirt Jump park.  This is about 30 km (I think)

Snow White:  Dirt Jump to 7.5 km, down Peak Freans to Porcupine Ridge.  Follow the Ridge all the way up Upper Valley, down Katima Trail and Logan’s Run.  Get onto 24 Hours of Light, climb Rebirth to Falun Lookout, down Calypso Canyon, up Reimer Reason, turn Right on Sarah Steele.  Go down Sarah Steele onto Rocky Canyon (take an almost immediate left to do Upper Rocky Canyon and Mouchet or head straight for the Dirt Park).  Why is it called Snow White?  Mirror Mirror on the Wall, what’s the best route of all?  This trail can be ridden exactly in the opposite direction, especially if you prefer berms to drops.

Appie – Dirt Park to 7.5 km turn right and head up Mouchet.  Turn up Fetish and then take the left up Birch, at the second Sarah Steele crossing, turn right down Sarah Steele and onto Reimer Reason.  Go down Reimer Reason all the way to Fireweed Hut.  Turn right at Fireweed Junction down the 10 km.  Ride the ski trails to Rebirth, and turn right up Rebirth.  Then down Calypso Canyon, back up Reimer Reason, and down the other side of Rocky Canyon.

These are only 3 of the rides I like, and don’t even take into consideration the possibilities when adding in Goat Trail.  Have fun!

 

 

When the cat is away…

6 Aug

The Mr. is on a crazy adventure riding his bike from MacMillan Pass at the NWT/Yukon border, to Norman Wells in the NWT.  He’s travelling down an old road called the North Canol that has long since been shut down to all traffic, plagued by massive washouts, and overgrown swamps.  Most people who hear about his trip are skeptical – research suggests many have tried to ride the pass, with most abandoning their bikes partway through the journey.
While this trip has been exciting, it’s also meant that I am home alone for 10-14 days.  So what happens when the cat’s away?

 

…the mouse invites kittens over to play!

The first day of being home alone, I invited my favorite kittens Rory and Joe over for a mountain bike adventure down Money Shot.  There’s not better way to feel old and out of shape than ride with a couple of young’uns.  I was able to keep up with Joe for Grey Mountain Road – as long as he was popping a wheelie.

The highlight of the ride was when we were only 1 km from the top and passed a family hiking with their four(ish) year old son:

“Your friends are ahead of you” he said

“I know, they should wait for me, shouldn’t they” I responded

“You should ride your bike harder” he retorted

Technically he was right, had I had the lungs and heart to ride harder I would have been up ahead with the boys.

After my most successful Money Shot descent to date, we headed back to my house for food and pie – the perfect way to return two kittens who have agreed to drag along their old friend.

 

…the mouse becomes an obsessive compulsive lunatic.

Thanks to technology I get to watch the Mr. travel across rivers and cliffs.   This leads to obsessive compulsively pressing the refresh button on the computer and creating amazing stories of rabid porcupines, carnivorous mountain goats and other grisly endings.  This is an unhealthy habit that logic and reason can not overcome.  The only way to get off the crazy spiral is to get away from the internet.  This is a bigger challenge than one might expect.  Thankfully the best spots to escape the WIFI cloud is on a mountain bike deep in the forest.

The clustered pink points are how far he’s travelled. The standalone pink point is where he is going.

 

 

the mouse wonders about the value of a house cat.  

It’s only once the Mr. was away that I learned to appreciate just how many inane details I like to share with him.  Details about what I ate, or didn’t eat; the celebrity gossip I’ve read; and a foot by foot account of my most recent ride.  It’s a lot less fun to come back after finally hitting a drop, or clearing a rooty section and have no-one to tell.   If this takes much longer, I’m going to have to make a cardboard cutout of my husband.   Turns out I like my cat to stay close by.

 

What’s More Epic?

28 Jul

An all day mountain bike ride up Montana Mountain in the summer heat?  The first Mountain Hero I’ve ever done where shirts were optional from bottom to top; even with the requisite snow crossings.

 

It’s never fun to ride the mountain in cold weather, but a hot Yukon sun is worse for me.  At every creek crossing I joined Starbuck and Pandora (Sky’s blue heeler puppy) with a refreshing dip; snow patches became precious ingredients for gatorade snow cones; and the day’s worst injuries were sunburns.

Why is my Mommy so slow?

 

Despite it’s relatively short distance (at approximately 30 km), the ride is nothing to laugh at.  With 1400 m of climbing and almost 5 hours of riding, it’s a long, long, day.

Mountain Hero trail

OR

An all night wedding party to celebrate Monika and Jonah’s big day?  With giant twinkie as a wedding cake; poutine for dinner and enough boxed wine to inebriate a small village, it was a party not to be missed.

The Bride and Groom

 

Although Monika was officially married in Tofino a week earlier, we made sure she had a suitable wedding entourage.  Of course, she didn’t ask us to be her bridesmaids – we just figured she’d appreciate it.

 

 

No wedding is ever complete without a wicked photo booth courtesy of Paul Gowdie – and everything is better with fireworks.

 

 

 

All I know is that when you put them together into one big Saturday – you’ll have a very long work week ahead.

The Smells of Summer

23 Jul

The first smell of summer in the Yukon is not particularly pleasant.  It is the unmistakable stench of the Jizz Plant (Stinkus cumulus maximus).  Officially, the actual cause of the stink is a disease called “Witch’s Broom” – an appropriate name if the witch was responsible for cleaning a brothel.  I realize I am being rude and inappropriate, but the truth is there is nothing else that describes the scent accurately – and in reading this, I am sure that next year, when you are riding through the forest and you get a whiff of unpleasant air, you’ll immediately know what I’m talking about.

 

This year, the delayed summer meant all the Witch’s Broom bloomed at once.  It was the most pungent year yet, and one which required a lot of mouth breathing – which wouldn’t be so bad, if not for the swarms of small flying insects.  But, like all parts of Yukon summer, this phase is brief.  After only a week, there isn’t much to detect at all.

Which brings us to the new smell of summer – beautiful wild roses (Rosa arkansana), which has erupted along the singletrack trails of Grey Mountain.  Shallow mouth breathing as been replaced by deep nasal inhalations to stimulate every olfactory bulb available.  There were moments on Friday’s nights ride that smelled like an aristocratic bedroom in 18th century England (or at least what I imagine one would smell like).

 

Like the Witch’s Broom, the flowering roses will soon be gone.  In the mean time, I’m going to ride to smell the roses – no stopping necessary.

The Wife and the Mistress

22 Jul

Last year I rented a Mojo HD in Orergon when my precious Snatchsquatch suffered from a mechanical.  Like all good affairs, I couldn’t get her out of my mind and 8 months after my first test ride, I decided to make the Mojo a permanent member of the family.  Unfortunately, the addition of Francine the Mean Machine (aka my new Mojo HD) meant finding new homes for Millennium Falcon – my A-Line Park Edition downhill bike, and Sheera Princess of Power – my pink Mount Vision.

 

What’s the perfect way of testing out a new mistress?  Planning a ride with the bike-wife.  Jenn and I become bike-wives two years ago when we were training for the TransRockies bike race.  It was actually Jenn’s legal husband Ben who coined the phrase bike-wife, in reference to the sheer number of hours that we spent together.   Our marriage was “consummated” on day 5 of TransRockies when Jenn put a contact back into my eye while we were in the shower.   Since TransRockies, we still ride together, but nothing like when we used to spend entire weekend transporting trifle across Grey Mountain on our bikes.  A top to bottom ride on Grey Mountain was the ideal reunion.

Despite all my years riding in the Yukon, I’ve never done the full top to bottom of Grey Mountain.  This ride takes you from the peak trail, called Money Shot, all the way down to the Yukon River.  It’s about a 40 km trek, that starts with some more serious downhill scree and ends with rolling ridge trails.

The climb up Grey Mountain is a familiar one for Jenn and I.  With repetition becomes habit, and we stopped at all our regular drink breaks as we pedaled to the towers.  There we stopped for a root beer treat – which became the only accident of the entire ride when I chipped my tooth against the bottle top.

 

From the helipad we trekked across the ridge with our bikes.  This was the most nostalgic portion of the trip – as more time was spent carrying our bikes on TransRockies then riding them.  When we arrived at the Money Shot drop-in, we ate a quick lunch surrounded by a litter of puppies.

 

Jenn had never been on Money Shot, and I’d never done it on anything but a big bike.  We knew it might be a bit much for Jenn’s smaller cross county bike, but we were in no rush, so we made our way down on foot and bike as the trail allowed it.

 

From there, we rode our regular training route – Easy Money, Payback, Girlfriend, Juicy, Yukon River Trail and back to the house.  It was risky to use a new bike for the first long bike ride of the year, but if was great.  Francine climbed fabulously and descended like a super star.  It was the first time I’ve ever cleared the ride from Easy Money down – which includes both the technically drops, and root steps; and the sharp climbs of the bottom section.  And while the Mistress performed wonderfully, the bike-wife was even better – reminding me why we got married in the first place.