Sea to Summit

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April marked the end of the real ski season. Road bikes were tuned and training for riding the Seattle to Portland Classic began.

I had mentally committed to try and ski every month this year and it was getting really late in the month of May and I still hadn’t made any turns. I can remember my first turns of the year the last day of October it seems like a long time ago. It was time to get my May turns but with a twist.

In Vancouver we are fortunate that our local mountains get an enormous amount of snow which tends to stay around well into June. This made grabbing some quick turns for May wasn’t going to be a problem but I needed to put in some road miles after working all week. The fear of a 200 mile day looming scares me into training even after a long week. A plan was hatched to combine a road ride with a ski. Not just any road ride but a ride from the ocean all the way to the top of Cypress ski area.

The ride up Cypress is by no means that hardest climb on the North shore but it is a worthy climb and for those who follow cycling it would be a category 1/2 climb in the Tour de France. With short pitches over 9% it causes your legs to scream for mercy.

Even with the last minute planning I was able to rope a partner into joining me. Bright and early Mike and I dropped a car at the top and with temperatures just barely above freezing we set off to rip down to horseshoe bay. 35 minutes later and over 1000m of descending we turned around to make the 24km trek back up to the summit. Being the first time I had ridden this climb this year I was interested to test my legs to see where my cycling form was compared to last season. Feeling surprisingly good considering the difficulties I managed to only be just over 2 minutes slower than my best time ever.

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On a side note it is very interesting to see that sometimes reducing your training load has great effects on your performance. This year I am riding about 50% of the mileage as I have in years past but in most comparisons I am not that much slower on the bike than last year. This reinforces the importance that quality training is better than quantity.

A little over 2 hours from the time we left the car we were back putting our ski gear on. We weren’t the only ones skiing either. As we skinnied up Mike realized that he forgot his skins! Rookie move but he soldiered on and bootpacked the whole way.

With great views of the lions and Howe Sound we clicked in and capped off my most unique ski day ever! Sometimes you have to get creative with your activities to keep everything exciting. A pretty cool way to have a 5000ft day!

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