Riding an old trail with new eyes

I’ll bet you have a favourite trail.  The one that you are so familiar with you could ride it with your eyes closed.  The one that you ride so many times in a season you know every corner, every climb and every rock on the trail.  You love it, but every once in awhile you find yourself wishing it offered you a little something more.

One of my favourite trails – Mountain Hero just before the long, brake burning descent

Fat Cyclist calls rides that you do all the time “comfort rides” and I love them for the same reasons he does.  The better you know the trail, the better you become at riding it.  Nailing berms and knowing precisely when you need to gear down (and how much) to make it up a short steep pitch makes you feel like a rock star.  Plus, the more often you ride a trail, the more memories you collect on it.  There are trails I have ridden enough to have stories for almost every few hundred meters of dirt.  “I remember the first time I made it up this climb;” “This is where I broke my chain and had to hike out;” “I remember when we bench cut this new section,” etc.

But, one of the best ways to ride an old favourite is to do so with a person who has never been on the trail before.  Recently, I got to take a friend on Mountain Hero for her first time.

Mountain Hero is an epic (literally an IMBA epic) ride up and over Montana Mountain in Carcross, Yukon. My friends call it – and they are not wrong – the longest 35km you will ever ride on a bike.  The total distance doesn’t sound like much but the climb is steep, loose and unrelenting.  I ride it once a year for the incredible views, the proximity it gives me to Yukon’s mining history, and for the sense of satisfaction I feel when I’m done.  This year I had it on my 40 goals for turning 40 list but as the end of August drew closer and I hadn’t yet completed the ride I was starting to think it might not happen. Snow is likely at the higher elevations by early to mid-September, so the Mountain Hero window of opportunity is short.

Last year’s Mountain Hero ride on September 2.  Snow dust up high!

When it came to my attention that my friend, who is passionate about downhill riding, had never ridden Mountain Hero – even though she grew up in the territory – I knew I had to get her up there. To be honest, even though this is one of my favourite trails in the Yukon and I feel like I know it really well, I hadn’t been all that excited about doing it this year.  Taking my friend up there gave me a reason to go.

And it was awesome.  I mean, it’s always awesome up there but this time, for me, it was so great to see the trail through new eyes and to share in her wonder at our spectacular surroundings.

Mountain Hero – August 2013
At the stone houses on Mountain HeroLike many things in life, good bike adventures are better when they are shared.  We shared the suffering of the climb and the gratification of the descent.  We shared food on our snack breaks and we have shared photos from the adventure.  I was reminded why I love this trail so much because she saw it in a new way for me.  And I got to share in her sense of accomplishment in riding one of the toughest trails in the Yukon.

About Author