North Shore Triple Crown: Hard Man Edition

I won’t take credit for having pioneering this route, but I wanted to do it for a couple of reasons. One, it is Jens Voigt approved for level of suffering; second, it is the edition of North Shore Triple that accumulates the most amount of climbing meters. I thought it would be a great way for to start my goal of climbing at least 7,235 meters over the course of the week as part of Strava’s Rapha Rising Challenge. My weapon of choice for this ride was a completely stock 2013 Brodie Romax; lovingly known as the Purple People Eater. Logan Tacoma and I set off the morning of June 14th immediately after the dramatic conclusion of queen stage of the 100th Tour de France which was playing live on the televisions at Musette Café. We were inspired by watching some of the fastest, toughest cyclists in the world absolutely turning themselves inside out climbing Mont Ventoux with a figurative knives in their mouth.

Our route would take us from East to West. First climb: Mount Seymour! Our approach through East Vancouver had a zesty pace. We were still grinning after watching the Tour and, in my head, there was a maniacal laugh coming from that masochistic voice in my head. “Muhuhahahaha!”. Our first “categorized climb” began after we passed the ranger’s hut on Seymour Parkway. My legs were feeling strong and loose so the pace up the mountain continued the same strong pace that began very early in the ride. My competitive nature almost got the best of me on the final kick up to the ski area parking lot. I totally hit the red line in my attempt to beat Logan to the top. He was toying with me like the little Dash boy in the Incredibles who can absolutely smoke anyone but will hold back to only win by a slight margin. Thanks for not crushing my spirit Logan!

Bidons full of alpine water, we boogied down Seymour Parkway, across Seymour Highway and up Lillooet Road up to the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. There, we had our first taste of gravel on the trail down to the bridge across Lynn Canyon over to The End of the Line. A couple hundred meters of gravel… no flats! Great! Hopefully that’ll continue over 20 km’s of gravel! We spun through the neighbourhoods in upper Lynn Valley before reaching the gate on Mountain Highway. The reason I mention the gate is because this is the location of the transition from pavement to gravel. The 33c Clement tires handled very well climbing in the packed and loose gravel moving up the mountain. I couldn’t believe how well Logan was managing despite him using a full on carbon race bike with slick 25c tires. What a beast! I’m surprised he didn’t suggest climbing up the Grouse Grind!

Logan and I are long time mountain bikers and we have climbed Mountain Highway countless times… on mountain bikes. Although the climb was going well I definitely found that I had to be much more alert and handle my bike well compared to when I would climb a mountain bike. We crossed paths with several mountain bikers heading up to the various trails on Fromme. I had prepared myself to be laughed at by the knobby tire, baggy short crowd but instead the reactions were: nonplussed (probably bonking already from pushing a 50lb downhill bike up the road), bewilderment (“You’re going WHERE? With THAT bike?!”), amusement (“Good luck… *chuckle*”), and one kid who looked like he saw a unicorn. After passing Seventh Secret the trees begin to open up and let the sun in. It was getting toasty and my legs were really starting to feel the effort I was putting in.

At one point during the climb I decided I had to stop. Our equipment choice combined with the road conditions meant that I could hardly take even one hand off the bars to reach for a drink or a bite to eat. After squishing a gel pack in my mouth, sounds delicious eh, we marched on. Once we were on the ski runs the shade was non-existent and the full heat and radiation of the sun was slowly cooking us alive. Jersey open, splashing my water bottle down my back, rubbing sweat out of my eyes with sweaty, grimy hands; yup, this is what we signed up for!

The most depressing part of our ride: arriving at the top of the Grouse Mountain Skyride. You response to that statement is probably something like: “Why you fool?! There is ice cream, beer and air conditioning there!” Well, that’s exactly it. We dragged ourselves up a mountain and suffered for over an hour only to reach the top sweaty, dirty and exhausted only to find tourists from New York who smell like fabric softener and are eating ice cream. It kind of sucks the joy of ascending a mountain when you see others attain the same goal with minimal effort. Nonetheless we were excited that the first half of the crux of our ride was complete! We began our descent this time with bidons filled with ice cubes and our fingers crossed our machines would survive the beating they were about to get.

Even though the Romax is a cyclocross bike, descending a questionably maintained road for over 10 km’s is still a violent affair. Once we were back in the trees the descent was further complicated by the shade which hid big rocks and potholes before we could see them. All in all I got one flat and Logan got two. We had packed enough tubes to keep us rolling so it was mission accomplished. Mission painful and violent, but accomplished. Jens Voigt knows all about that.

High fives and kudos to the guys at Lynn Valley Bikes for having their store located on Mountain Highway and for being such great guys and getting us fresh tubes and CO2 cartridges and getting us back on the road promptly to continue our feat of strength and stupidity.

Unfortunately for our aching legs, there was some fairly serious climbing ahead even before reaching Cypress Bowl Road. In order to maximize total climbing meters for the day we headed back up Mountain Highway, grunted up Dempsey/Braemar, crossed Cleveland Dam (with one more punchy gravel climb) and Thomas Voeckler’ed our way through the rolling British Properties of West Vancouver before reaching our last big climb of the day.

The undulating terrain in the BP nearly got the best of me. Once Logan and I began heading up Cypress Bowl Road I knew I would have to dig deep and get every last bit of energy to drag myself up to the top.

Logan, was still feeling saucy and lucky for us we came across this guy:

Polka dot jersey, yellow jersey, green jersey, rainbow stripe jersey… There is an unwritten rule that these are all jerseys you earn and do not buy. I understand that you can go online, point, click, and bam you have polka dot everything mailed to you. I’ll take a guess that this fellow didn’t earn his polka dots because you can see Logan absolutely destroying him up ahead.

After I caught up with Logan we both sort of sighed in relief that we were done with the suffering. We congratulated each other and headed back down the road.  Our pace was noticeably slower on the way home. I was spinning the lactic acid out of my legs to make sure I had room for more since this was just the beginning of a full week of climbing.

The North Shore Triple Crown Hardman Edition results:  distance: 137.5 km, climbing: 3,751m.

My Rapha Rising results: 10,151m! Definitely the most climbing I’ve done in a week!


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