Today was meant to be my first day of training indoors on my fancy new turbo. However a delay with DHL meant that I was forced to head outside again which in Vancouver in December is usually pretty miserable. However the weather this weekend was amazing and with the lack of snow around this offered an excellent opportunity to cycle Seymour one last time.
I set off nice and early, slightly unsure what to expect as I knew that there was snow at the top (I could see it) but had no idea how the road conditions would be with regards to ice. I had a plan B but really wanted to make it to the top and build a snowman, one of my favourite hobbies!
It was the most beautiful crisp morning and not a cloud in the sky. It reminded me of cold days back on the Isle of Wight along the river or on the downs during the shooting season which I am missing but this isn’t a bad alternative. As I cycled through Vancouver I didn’t see anyone else on their bikes which I considered an ominous sign or maybe it was just the fact it was 8am on a Sunday!
I eventually had to cycle down in to the mist covering the harbour to cross to North Van but the picture above gives some idea of how beautiful it was. The picture includes Grouse Mountain rather than Seymour which is one mountain over.
As I crossed the bridge and cycled through North Van the visibility was poor and it felt like a proper winter day. It was a lovely temperature to be riding but I was very well wrapped up having learn my lessons previously. The only issue I was having was that my Cliff bars were freezing which makes them rather hard to chew!
Pretty much as soon as I started the climb up Seymour I came back out of the mist and it was beautifully sunny with frost everywhere. I still hadn’t seen a single cyclist but there were a lot of mountain bikers going up the side or driving further up, made me feel very much like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The beginning of Seymour is always impossible but I managed to get through and then settled in to the grind and enjoyed the fresh clean air and beautiful views.
The frost on the side of the road thickened as I climbed and eventually turned in to snow (after 9k), although I didn’t really feel any difference in the temperature. For the climb I had jacket open, gloves off and neck warmer down but was sure I would need these later!
My concerns about ice became a reality at 8k (of 12k). All of a sudden two pedals in a row I felt my back wheel skid through and thought this might be the end of the trip as I was not going to go down hill on icy roads. I dropped to a lower gear and cadence, as I didn’t have 4 wheel drive or even 2 wheel drive, and this seemed to solve the issue. I was also helped by the fact that the road had been well gritted, this did create a slight issue of being sprayed with grit when cars when past.
I eventually made it to the top and the views made the whole journey completely worth while. I spent quite a bit of time enjoying them and taking photos. I also had a nice cuddle with a puppy who was encountering snow for the first time!
I then went to the bottom of the ski slopes to take a photo and build my snowman (not my best). The car park up there was seriously icy, I initially tried cycling across it but gave up very quickly as I could barely walk across it and luckily avoided any incident.
Next up was the descent which I was going to take very slowly despite the grit. As I started I saw the first other cyclist who eventually came zooming past me on the way down.
I wrapped myself up with pretty much everything I had with me and set off. I realised very quickly that most of me was absolutely fine but my hands were really struggling. It became clear that making the snowman with my gloves on was a really bad idea and was coming back to bite me in a big way. After 5k of descending I had to stop as I couldn’t feel any of my fingers! I ran around for a bit shaking my hands and flexing my fingers and finally got some feeling back. I managed to then keep them warm enough to get to the bottom but it took a while for them to recover again.
I had passed a few more people cycling up on my way down and I think quite a few people will have had the same idea the may have just been more sensible and waited for it to warm up a bit!
I then had a nice ride back through Vancouver and the climb hadn’t taken too much out of my legs which is always good as the journey home can be tough otherwise.
A pretty special way to end the season of outdoors cycling and from next weekend I expect to be on the turbo. I will try to get out when I can but will probably be out on the slopes on the good days instead!