Well, it’s good to keep your expectations and perceptions of yourself in check. That’s what this past weekend’s ride did for me and it was good.
After a super fast weekend on the Dawson Overland Trail, last Saturday’s ride plan was a 50km route from Annie Lake road to Fish Lake on some mushing and snow machine trails. We were using a GPS track from another local cyclist who calls this the Friday Creek ride and it’s the first time I’ve been on a ride where the GPS file was crucial to knowing which way we were going. Thanks to Paul for keeping us confident about where we were.
From a pull out down the Annie Lake Road, before you cross the river, we started the ride on a hard packed rolling climb towards Alligator Lake. Conditions were awesome!
After 18km, Monika decided that she was more into a swoopy fun ride back to the car than another 30km towards Fish Lake, so she reversed course. Sierra and I forged ahead but very soon we realized that we had actually strayed from the trail we were supposed to be on. Friday Creek made an appearance on our left and we turned around. When we got to the place we were supposed to turn right, towards Coal Lake, my heart sank a little bit. This was going to be a push after all. It was terrible or anything but the trail was considerably drifted over and there were a few steep sections that would have required pushing even if the trail had been harder.
I had high hopes for an improved state of affairs once we got to Coal Lake. Once is the key word there. It took FOREVER due to soft snow, drifts and generally windy conditions. Veer off the trail and you risked sinking up to your waist. At least Starbuck was having a good time.
What should have been a fun easy descent towards Coal Lake was a mix of pushing and riding and by the time we got down there I knew we were in it for the long haul. This was clearly not going to be a 4 hour ride. In fact, at Coal Lake we had already been out there for more than 4 hours.
Once on Coal Lake proper it became clear why you want to ride the trail in this direction, even though the elevation profile might tempt you to do otherwise. The wind was FIERCE. My body was like a giant sail and my bike a boat as we sped across the lake. At times I wasn’t even pedaling. I’m bummed that I didn’t pull my camera out because it was beautiful down there but to be honest, I just kept wanting to get further along our journey.
Once across the lake we joined up with a mushing trail. We even passed a musher and her team, settling down for the night. The light was beautiful but the sun was getting lower and lower in the sky. And we were still frequently pushing our bikes due to a few steep pitches and general mashed potatoes snow conditions.
Finally, as the light was really leaving the sky and I was cursing myself for not having packed a light (lesson: always pack a light. ALWAYS), I recognized where we were. We had finally caught up to a section of the trail we had ridden a few weeks earlier during a failed attempt to ride over Mt Mac. Our phones beeped with texts as we came back into reception and while I wasn’t worried about being able to finish the ride, I was moderately concerned about riding the descent to Fish Lake in the dark. But, we made it on to Fish Lake and through a small section of overflow with the tiniest bit of light in the sky. 56km in total at the ludicrously slow average speed of 7km/hour. I was tired.
But as Sierra said – it turned out perfectly. Monika got a super fun 40km ride in, I got some good training for the White Mountains race, and Sierra finally completed a trail that was on her list. I love when life works out like that.