This version may be easier to read … work with me Outlook! …
“Wow” and “ouch” is all I can say after Mike Fuhrmann and myself decided
to make the two hour trek North from Toronto to Blue Mountain last
Saturday. It was a perfect day for hurling oneself down a “mountain”, the
sun was out, a slight breeze was present and the ground was dry.
I arrived slightly before Mike at the base of the Mountain Bike centre and
was pleasantly surprised to find many trials and freeride structures
setup. I armoured up and set about riding the obstacles. Mike showed up
not too long after I started and joined in. There were long ladder bridge
sections a few feet off the ground, teeter-totters, rock sections, beams
But alas, we didn’t make the 2 hour trek to stay at the base of the
“mountain”. It was time to head up to the top and ride down. Blue Mountain
serves as a rather large ski resort come winter and during the summer some
of the mountain is used for things like mountain biking (err …
unicycling) and hiking. Instead of allowing the bikers to take one of the
ski lifts up to the top a van with a trailer shuttles the riders up to the
top (a 5 - 10 minute drive and a whopping 800 feet of elevation gain. No
chuckles from you West Coast folks!).
At first the owner, and shuttle driver, was a little hesitant about
letting us go down on the unicycles. He was concerned that we didn’t have
enough armour (i.e. we weren’t wearing full face helmets and
chest/shoulder pads that he was used to seeing the downhill bikers wear).
We assured him that we’d take it easy and walk any sections we didn’t feel
comfortable riding (even then he had a perplexed look on his face as if
it’s really difficult to walk the trail).
We took the easiest trail for our first run. It started off innocently
enough, fairly flat with some small downhills … even a couple of small
uphill sections. And then the flatness went away and the real decent
began. Slowly it started to get steeper and then steeper, speed began to
increase and control began to decrease. Needless to say, the heartbeat
went sky high and then, by some luck, the bottom arrived, the run was over
and we couldn’t wait to go up again.
For our second and third runs we decided to try our luck at a more
difficult trail (“The Ridge”). It had sections steeper and much less
packed down than the first. It was indeed and challenge to keep control on
the decents. And then it appeared … a 35 foot long North Shore style
ladder bridge 5 feet off the ground. I couldn’t quite make it over the
entire section, even after numerous attempts … my legs were just shaking
too much from the previous decents. After a few small drops and some
smaller ladder bridges the run ended and it was time to take the shuttle
up to the top again.
Run four, time for a Black Diamond trail … a much longer steeper trail
than the previous ones. To make things interesting it twisted its way
through the trees making it much more important to stay in control. This
was probably the fastest run of the day and one of the most exciting.
By the last run our legs were shaking, but we were determined to get
another run it. We decided to take the easy route that we did on our first
run. Despite the fact that this trail is labeled as the easiest it has its
fair share of steep sections. On one of those steep sections I decided to
see how fast I could make it down … mistake … I ended up with a nice
souvenier from the ride … trail rash running down my shoulder and arm
from an unintential meeting with the ground.
Since the ride, my legs have been screaming in pain everytime I take a
step … or even worse … walk down stairs. It’s incredible how much
strain is put on the legs when one has to counteract the forces of gravity
on a downhill.
Needless to say it was a blast and … we are going again next weekend!
We took some pictures, hopefully we’ll take more pictures next week and
post them on the web. It’s too bad pictures never capture the true
steepness of hills.