Friday, May 24, 2013

End of School and Alberta Bound

Well, those last two months truly flew by! April was a blur of paper writing, studying for exams, and moving out of our house.
Studying for finals has never been more fun
Skywalker pitch
Kyle came out for a weekend in the middle of all the chaos to do a trad and multi-pitch climbing course in Squamish, a very useful birthday present! With our new skills, we were able to attempt our first ever trad lead, 5 pitches up Skywalker near Shannon Falls. Thanks to the rain earlier in the week, the entire route was a wet mess, making the 5.7 pitches that I lead much more difficult than they should have been. Kyle was a champ, leading a sketch 5.8 crack that involved body jamming his shoulder into the wet rock and totally soaking himself to get up to the belay station. Needless to say, he was pretty cold for the rest of the climb. The skywalker pitch of the climb was a really cool, exposed traverse. I got hung up trying to free a nut that had got stuck. Much to my frustration, I wasn't able to get it out, some booty for the next climbers I suppose. Combined with fatigue, being cold and damp, and my mini breakdown about losing a piece of Kyle's gear, I was definitely relieved to get to the top. In all, the climb took around 6 hours!! I would love to go back and try it again in the dry. With more practice on multi-pitch climbs and a bit better weather, I am sure we could do the whole thing again in about half the time.

Tired and relieved to be almost done
Sometimes two hands just aren't enough
Getting pumped for the race!
Once exams were finished, I started packing for Calgary. I managed to find a job at the Foothills Hospital in the Medical Research Building, working as a Research Assistant with Marc Poulin's lab. It is a very exciting feeling to finally be moving away from Vancouver, even if it is only 1000 km away. Before I could leave, I had a mountain bike race to win. Two years ago, I raced the Sunshine Coaster Marathon XC and the Mach Chicken DH on the same bike, Landon's LaPierre Spicy, winning the overall single bike category. This got me free entry into last years event, but due to knee injuries and MCAT prep, I wasn't able to race. Luckily, I was able to use it for this year and I decided to race the entire thing on my Giant XTC Alliance, which is a great bike for the XC, but definitely not a DH bike!!

Keeping nice and warm. Stephen Exley photo

Still smiling!
Saturday was the XC race. Angela came out as my support team/photographer and tried to keep warm in the west coast drizzle. It was a cold race and I made a last minute decision to throw on a pair of Angela's tights and a long sleeve right before the start. I don't think I would have been able to finish the race if I hadn't.  It was tough to stay motivated, but a few km from the finish, I caught a girl who kept me focused. We battled it out back and forth before I finally managed to drop her on the last descent, taking 1st by just over a minute in a time of 3 hours 32 mins 17 seconds. We had a great salmon bbq after the race then everyone headed home, leaving Angela and I as the only campers at the equestrian centre.

Muddy at the feed station
Yay small bikes!
Looking rather odd with armor and a small bike

The next morning brought much nicer weather for the DH race. After a few practice laps, I was feeling pretty good about racing on my little bike, there were quite a few other girls doing the same thing. In the race, I hit the log drop, the only really large feature in the race, which saved me a lot of time. I was stoked! Overall, I finished middle of the pack with a respectable 7/13th place and a time of 3:59.84, 15 seconds off my time on the bigger bike 2 years ago. Convincing Angela to stick around for awards was probably the hardest part of the day. We went for a bit of a rip down black tower to kill some time and it paid off. I won the overall (same bike category) and took home some cash and a free entry for next year, I guess I will have to come back!

A purple blur off the log drop
 I spent the whole next day packing and left bright and early Tuesday morning for Calgary. The roads were pretty bad through the Coquihalla, evidence that winter wasn't quite over yet, but once I got to Calgary, it was hot and sunny!! I have been here for just over three weeks now and am finally figuring myself out. Work has been fun and I have done a few biking and climbing trips already, stay tuned for details!

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