Our day began in typical clown fashion. The weather was questionable. I slept past my alarm and had to scramble to meet my crew on time. But we set off for our first conquest, Seymour, with lots of energy and pockets full of gear and food.
I’d been training on heavy tires to avoid flats, having been warned of a possible tube shortage because of Covid. With all the debris on the roads after winter, this turned out to be a great idea. I didn’t get a flat all spring. But I discovered it was great for another reason, too: when I changed back to my regular tires, everything felt easy. I had no idea how hard I’d been working for the past three months. It was my fastest and most painless climb up Seymour—although I will admit, when it started to rain near the top, I panicked a little, thinking we’d have a rerun of our terrible experience on Cypress just a few weeks earlier.
Luckily, it was only a few drops, and this time we were prepared. But we didn’t linger at the top just in case. There were also SO MANY BUGS. Honestly, Seymour has nothing to recommend itself. I can’t think of a single reason to climb it other than because it’s there. It’s long, steep, and unrelenting.
Besides which, getting there and back is a nightmare. We left early on purpose to avoid traffic, but by the time we were coming down, we were in the thick of it. I know there are bike detours in spots to keep you out of the bridge traffic, but we don’t know our way well enough to use them. So, that wasn’t fun.
But Grouse was a bright spot. The great thing about Grouse (besides being short) is that I never remember when the end is coming and am always surprised. I tell myself, I know there’s one last nasty climb, and invariably realize I’ve already done it. And, bonus: there’s food at the top. We stopped for much needed coffee and breakfast sandwiches.
And then on the way down, one of our crew got a flat. I have a lot of practice changing tires, but not a lot filling them with CO2. Thank goodness we had a hand pump. It took us much longer than it should have to solve the problem—a long story involving major clown energy that I’m just not going to tell.
However, we were determined this would not end our day—and it didn’t. Bottom line: I’m done with C02. Hand pumps are more reliable, which is something I never thought I’d say. One of our crew has carried a hand pump from day one and we’ve made fun of her for months because of it. Yesterday we all had to eat our words. The hand pump saved us.
Onto Mountain Number Three: Cypress. Having found a way up from Marine Drive that wasn’t totally incapacitating, we began the last climb. No one was talking anymore. And then one of our crew started bonking hard. The trouble is, by the time you realize you’re hungry, it’s too late. You have to eat early and often before hunger hits. But again, we were determined that all three of us would make it to the top. We pooled our resources and kept going until we got the job done.
The day ended with beer, chips, and a well-deserved celebratory meal of burgers and fries.
It’s good to come away from a long ride like this having learned something, and we definitely did. The triple crown is a challenge of training, planning, and determination—and a little luck with things like weather and mechanical failure. In the end, there’s nothing like the feeling of getting to the top of that third climb. 146km, door to door; almost 2700m of elevation; a lot of chafe. Would we do it again? Absolutely.