Having postponed our Saturday ride due to bad weather we stuck to the plan of climbing Seymour even though the weather wasn’t perfect. We spent most the morning messaging trying to work out what we should wear for the trip, ranging from summer cycling gear to full winter gear, and in the end we both went for sort of middle of ground outfits. How wrong we were!!
We took the ride over to Seymour at a steady pace as Kayla was prioritising getting to the top as it was her first attempt and for me it was a warm up ride for a triple crown attempt in a few days (Seymour Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain in one go).
Kayla took me on a much better route along 10th than I had taken previously which involved a lot less stopping. When we crossed Ironworkers Memorial Bridge the cloud was so low we couldn’t see any of the mountains which was the first time I thought I might be underdressed. On a side note a freight train went past and I have never seen such a long train, there must have been over 100 carriages!
Once we got to North Van I was in charge of directions as I had cycled Seymour before. It was all going so well until I directed us straight on and then right. At this point Kayla assured me that we were heading back to where we had just been, I assured her we were not as I had just consulted my phone. Sure enough about 1k later we were back at the start of a small loop. Luckily we both saw the funny side of adding extra k’s to the ride and I was then relieved of directions duty.
We reached the bottom of the climb and set off at our own pace. The first 4km is the hardest and the 1st km is brutally draining. After about 2.5 k I cycled back down and joined Kayla for a quick photo in the mist which was quickly thickening and a chat for a bit.
I then headed on up the mountain grinding away and while its a long climb the gradient does ease after about 6k so you can get in to a good rhythm. As we were climbing the mist was getting thicker and wetter and I was beginning to cool down despite the hard work putting in to the climb. After about 7k I was joined by a Canadian called John and we completed the rest of the ride together. We had a long chat covering pretty much everything, but mostly sailing as he had cruised all over the world. He also had a recommendation for a club of cycling racers that train through the winter so that might be very useful to keep cycling.
John and I finally made it to the top where the visibility was awful, I turned straight back down to go and find Kayla and met her about 2.5k from the top. This brief experience of descending made me aware just how unprepared I was for the descent to come as my hands and body were freezing. We cycled to the top together, I was struggling with my hands and Kayla with her feet. After a brief photo and seeing some fellow idiots doing a Spartan race we headed inside in the hope of finding a cafe to warm up but unfortunately there was nothing. We sat inside for about 10 mins but every time someone opened the door we could feel the cold air and agreed we had to just get it over with.
We both wrapped ourselves up in everything we had and set off. The visibility was probably down to 20m and it very much felt like ski resort. We set off cautiously as with the wet roads and poor visibility it was a pretty sketchy experience. Not to mention it was absolutely freezing, my garmin recorded 7c but with windchill it was so much colder. On the way down my body and legs were so cold but it was my hands that were struggling. I was having to check them on the brakes every 30 seconds or so to check that my hands were still working. By the bottom every bump hurt as the force went through my hands which I couldn’t feel at all.
At the bottom the mist cleared and instantly it was a lot warmer but we stopped and agreed that a break and warming up was essential. We found a little coffee shop, that was full of other cold cyclists, and joined the queue to get a hot chocolate, I also had a muffin and panini. In the queue neither of us could stop shivering and by the time it got round to drinking it I could barely hold it without spilling it. I cant remember the last time I was this cold and even after 20 mins of warming up I was still shivering all over.
On the way up the mountain we had discussed type 1 and 2 fun (1 – easy enjoyable fun, 2 – fun that is painful but you do enjoy). Over our hot chocolate we agreed that there is also a type 3 – where you think you are having type 2 fun but it turns out you’re not and are just miserable!
We eventually decided to crack on as there was still quite a way home and it had to be done. Amazingly off the hill it was so much warmer and very quickly we both warmed up and by the time we were back in East Van it was actually a lovely day for a cycle.
Another fun, for most of it, ride to the north shore and now ready for the triple crown next week although I feel it may stretch me to my limits but that is for another day. I learnt a pretty tough lesson today that over here, especially if climbing, you need to dress correctly. I got dangerously cold on the descent and in future will overdress as I very nearly didn’t even take a jacket.