by Rolf Warburton
Tired of slavishly following wheels? Tired of relying on your vocabulary? Our Club has seen two related changes in recent months. The first is the wanton abuse of GIFs on the forum by certain otherwise-erudite cross riders. This tasteless spree has wreaked a kind of puerile havoc unseen since the CompuServe nerderati ruled bulletin board services in the late 1980s.
The GIF abuse won’t last. But the other change just might. Since last summer, the Club has also seen the emergence of consistent, early-morning cyclocross rides—up to three or four a week. Driven in part by the successful CrossFondo, these rides continue to attract steady numbers and show every sign of extending the traditional CX season. Cross rides are on their way to becoming a permanent Club feature—and every Tripleshotter should try them out.
Crossers gather on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at our usual TS meet-ups. Wednesday Farm rides offer a cross option as well. We often make it to post-ride coffee with the rest of the Club.
The best things our cross rides offer are variety and chances for genuine discovery. The CRD boasts hundreds of kilometres of bike-friendly paths and trails and we almost never repeat the same ride twice. Even for those who grew up riding here, there is always more to explore. And whipping through the trees with the wind in your face, sometimes not knowing what’s around the next corner, gives you a sense of freedom and exhilaration only matched on skis. Nature therapy, indeed.
Some routes are decided spur-of-the-moment, some get worked out on the forum (amongst—or in spite of—all that GIF-ery.) Our routes emphasize flowy single-track, with only occasional, short, technical sections (rocks, sand, stairs etc.) to keep things interesting. We take turns sharing locals-only knowledge and introducing each other to hidden shortcuts and neighbourhood connectors. Common choices during the week include Cedar Hill Golf Course, Ten Mile Point, Gyro Beach, Cattle Point, Willows Beach, and Beacon Hill Park. Sundays we go farther afield, often hitting Lochside, Colquitz River, Interurban and Galloping Goose Trails; or Elk Lake, Royal Roads, Thetis Lake, Hartland, and Francis King Parks.
In addition to giving you a break from the monotony of following wheels along the same routes every week, cross riding can augment your regular road riding in a multitude of ways. Short, punchy climbs and the occasional muddy slog provide effective interval training and help develop your top-end power. Riding off-road also develops pedaling efficiency, handling skills, and core and upper body strength as you navigate loose surfaces and inclines.
Here’s the kicker, though: while a cross bike and wider, knobby tires can make these rides more comfortable, specialized gear is not really necessary. We’ve had riders join us on hybrid commuters or hard-tail MTBs they found lost in the back of the garage. We even have a few talented regulars who show up on road bikes with 25mm slicks, and who hop over rocks and through mud with ease. We always re-group after each trail segment and happily adjust our pace to avoid leaving anyone behind in the woods. (These are still Tripleshot rides, after all!)
So don’t let your lack of a cross bike or inexperience stop you from coming out. Above all else, urban cross riding is FUN and will give you a whole new perspective on how good a group ride can be. Come give us a try—no GIF-ing required.