First Timers in Whistler

This is a story about first experiences for two people. When my brother, sister-in-law, and my little niece came out for a visit from Ontario I was super excited. I don’t get to see them very often and especially with the little one growing several inches every time I see her, I relish any time we get to spend together.

For as long as I remember, my big brother was a daredevil. I was definitely the scared one. He would roll down terrifying, rough terrain on his Canadian Tire CCM bike and go back for more. He did back flips into snow piles. He tried out the latest WWE moves on his little sister (ow). He got his motorcycle license and a zippy sports bike. So on this visit I thought I’d introduce him to the wonderful world of mountain biking as I figured it’d be right up his alley.

Because he would have to rent a bike anyway and was worried about a slow, out of shape climb, we made the decision to head to Whistler. Ryan has been to Whistler many times, obviously this was my brother’s first time, and it was also a first time for me. I had heard many things about this mountain biking mecca but was about to see it for myself!

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After an early morning start, we made it up there with no problems. Got Jay (brother) sorted out with a bike and gear and got in line for the lift. Now there were two things that stick very clearly out in my mind about this: one was just how lame I felt being pretty much the only person in a 100 mile radius not wearing a full face helmet. Silly how these things get to you but I was incredibly self-conscious about what I started calling my “loser helmet.” Everyone else looked so bad ass! And me? Well… not so much. But I digress….

The second thing I noticed was my feeling of dread when we got closer and closer to the lift. This was one of the most terrifying things about the whole trip! How do I lift it? What if I can’t lift it? What if I can’t get it in the wheel holder thingie? What if, because of ME, they have to stop the lift to help me get my bike on and everyone’s watching? You would think that as we made a couple of laps this feeling of terror would go down but it definitely did not. Just imagine: you’re headed up on a chair hundreds of feet in the air to throw yourself down a mountain and I’m standing in line just being terrified of embarrassing myself at the lift. Surely I can’t be alone in this.

Despite my panic, we made it up without me falling on my face or grinding everything to a halt. We did a couple of laps of B-Line, a nice, beginner flow trail for my brother to get a taste of what mountain biking is about. I was all jazzed about being “the expert” for once. Thinking I’d be the one to have to keep stopping to let him catch up. Nope! Jay held his own and zipped down the mountain at my heels. It was great but I would’ve appreciated him being just a little bit worse for the benefit of my ego.

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Me and Jay in Whistler

Unfortunately, this was pre-blog days and I didn’t think to take any video, but I have started strapping the GoPro on for rides so there will be ride pictures and videos to accompany my writing going forward. Look forward to some moderate speed fun!

After we tired ourselves out with a few runs, we had a lovely out-of-the-trunk picnic and headed back to the city.

I will be back in Whistler in a couple of weeks and then again for a longer jaunt at the end of June so expect some actual video and pictures. Perhaps we’ll see some skills improving and hopefully I won’t have a story about how I embarrassed myself on the lift.

Miss Pissy Pants

Great nickname, isn’t it? Obviously this one will be one of my finest moments as a human. I’m sure that any women out there will attest to the difficulty of going to the bathroom in the woods. I will never stop looking on with jealousy every time I see a man just casually walk into the woods, stand there for a minute, then come back out. There is no peril of falling down, having everyone see your butt, or covering yourself in your own urine. Its simplicity is something I am deeply jealous of BUT being part of the non-penis owning crowd I have to suck it up and get a bit more creative in the woods.

I would like to note that since this happened, my technique has vastly improved thanks to pointers from a few people (I will absolutely share these pointers and welcome any that you have as well).

So this story begins on an extremely rainy day in Squamish. Ryan (the boyfriend), Laura (my friend from this post), and myself packed up and headed up from Vancouver for a day riding Half Nelson. This was Laura and my first time on the trail (my first attempt at going there since the bear incident… more on that another day) and we were so excited to go that it didn’t matter that it was raining! Since where we were going didn’t have any bathrooms, I packed my trusty Shewee device and some toilet paper. Those of you who aren’t familiar with these, it’s basically a funnel system so women can stand up to pee and not have to drop pants fully down. Every review I read about it told me to get used to it in the shower before taking it out in the real world but I did not heed this advice. “How bad can it be?” I thought. Famous last words….

After quite the hike, we finally got up to the trail head and we were completely soaking wet. Ryan ran off to the woods to relieve himself and I thought I should do the same before we get going again. What a great time to try my new device!

I headed into the woods a little bit and even found a good spot that had a little dip in the dirt so my shoes would be safe. Not wanting to moon the world, I unzipped and tried to get everything in position and started to ‘go’. Now, I don’t want to get into too many details here but the long and short of it is that I didn’t hold it snugly against my body enough and it started overflowing over the top instead of straight out the hose in the front. Panic mode! I tried to attempt to remove it to do a squat but ended up peeing all over myself, stepping into a giant mud puddle/urine combo, and eventually losing balance and falling my butt into the puddle full on. It was a masterpiece of uncoordinated glory. A crowning achievement of grace. I came out of the bush looking sheepish where I had to announce what had happened. After the laughing died down, Laura came up with “Miss Pissy Pants” which I would be known as for the rest of the day.

Yes, it was embarrassing. Yes, it was uncomfortable. But these are the moments we can always look back on and laugh. I will tell this story to anyone who will listen. The story is self-deprocatingly hilarious but it’s also a cautionary tale.

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What I have learned is as follows:

1.) The Shewee is a perfectly delightful system but only if you practice with it in the safe space of the shower before you try it in the wild.

2.) Trying to “wash” yourself off by sitting in various puddles throughout the day doesn’t work.

3.) Always bring a change of clothes when you go out riding, even when you think you won’t need them (shout out to Ryan for letting me wear his jeans back home).

4.) If you don’t have a Shewee, just squat down super low to do your business. I thought this would put my shoes in peril but it works extremely well. I’m sure some of you know this already and think I’m an idiot for not knowing but if not, there you go.

5.) Find friends who will laugh WITH you more than laughing AT you.

6.) You get called “Miss Pissy Pants” once and that’s your nickname for life. Tread carefully with what you do as it may stick.

A (Literal) Crash Course on Snow Riding

When my boyfriend told me about his traditional Christmas ride my first thought was, “well, we live in Vancouver which doesn’t get a ton of snow. I guess that’s not SO crazy.” After this year’s massive snowfall dump and my silly realization that there is more snow on mountains (I’m from Ontario, I never gave much thought to what happens up there!) it suddenly did seem crazy. But I wanted to try it out!

So on Boxing Day, we packed up our extra warm stuff, a change of clothing (a lesson I learned from another incident which I will write about), and our soon to be snow-covered bikes. That day we went with familiar and decided to head to Fromme to ride Bobsled. Considering the weather, that trail name seemed appropriate.IMG_0007

Because of the time of year, the parking lot was closed so we had to park down on a street and hike it up in the slippery slush and snow. I will take this moment to sing the praises of my shoes, Five Ten Women’s Freeriders. Even though they’re fabric, it took a shockingly long time for my feet to actually get wet.IMG_0022

After the grumpiness kicked in and we finally made it up, it was all downhill from there. Slip sliding, falling over, lots of squeaky noises I didn’t realize I made, tonnes of laughs, and an overall good time. But why take my word for it? This one has a video!

Overall, I was scared to go out, worried that I would lose traction and fall on my face or get seriously hurt. I am so happy that I decided to put the fears aside and try something new. That seems to be a main theme for me in learning this sport: yes it’s scary, do it anyway (within reason). I highly suggest if you get the chance to get out there and poke around in the snow, just don’t take yourself too seriously. Hope to see you all next Christmas ride falling down with me!

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Christmas ride 2016

 

The Bike

Finding a bike was a challenge. After a couple of rides on rentals and deciding that I did actually want to pursue this sport, it was time to find a bike of my own. Naturally, I had a brief flirtation with brand new, shiny bikes. I would look at them online and in stores in all their $5000 glory. Then when I would take them for a short test ride around the block I realized I had absolutely no idea what to look for. The advice I was given was that when you got on the right bike it’ll just “feel right.” Considering I basically hadn’t ridden anything since I was in elementary school, I could barely remember what a bike is supposed to feel like at all, let alone the specifics of geometry.

Then came more questions: hard tail or full suspension? Downhill? Enduro? XC? What are you planning on doing on it? Apparently “ummmm….. ride on trails and stuff?” wasn’t specific enough. Once realizing just how much of an amateur I was and that I really didn’t know what I liked and didn’t like in a bike it was clearly unwise to sink months of salary into it.

I won’t get into the details of my lovely and helpful boyfriend (at the time, just a friend) scouring the PinkBike listings for ages and sending me anything remotely good. I will note that at a towering 5’1″ it was difficult to find something in my size and that felt okay. But then one day, the perfect listing came along.

Enter: the 2010(?) Transition Bottlerocket. Sure it was just a frame with no wheels or grips or a chain. She was a little beaten and bruised around the edges but she was beautiful and the price was definitely right. After borrowing some wheels from a friend and a test ride, I was in love. Pictures were taken and shared on Facebook like I had just given birth or adopted a puppy. Even though I didn’t have the money for parts yet and couldn’t ride it, I still had her sitting there in the living room making me smile.

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Slowly, the pieces fell into place. I got used wheels, a cassette, some grips as a souvenir from a shop in Melbourne, Australia. I learned as I went, asking a million questions, taking everything apart to clean and put back together. I would point at random parts and ask “what’s this called?”, “what’s this?”, “how would I take that off?”  Even when no one was physically around to help I took pictures.

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I got to know my bike inside and out and, because I am a massive dork, I named her too.

So without further ado…. Meet Jenny 5.

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