Alberta Rockies 700

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PART 1: Riders n’ rigs

Introducing some of the riders n' rigs from the @ar700bike last week. Heavily dominated by @surlybikes and @salsacycles 29ers and fat bikes. No one packed the same but everyone showed up with smiles and the passion to ride gravel in the Rockies.

Part 2: the people of the @ar700bike

The best part about these events is the people you meet and the camaraderie that is felt from strangers and friends alike. Some young, some old but all supporting each other and helping out when they can. I was definitely thankful to Jonathan the organizer and route creator as well as @bikepackcan for their cheers and smiles along the way. I rode with Heather and Alexi through long nights and hot days and they always kept pushing forward, driven and always so positive. Chapeau to all who made it such a great event.

Part 3: the roads of the @ar700bike

All gravel, almost all the time. Cruising around 8000 feet they were dusty, dry, full of washboard, cattle guards and potholes. Luckily it was dry this year but there were some big trucks that made you wish it was monsoon season and blinded you with a sheet of fine white powder. The most challenging part was the constant rollercoaster ride up and down the passes, struggling to get a rhythm going. You needed to be in a good headspace or else your mind would wander with dreams of smooth pavement still 20 km from the Rocky summit.

Part 4: personal memories from the early mornings and late nights on the @ar700bike

Making camp at 11pm at night can be hard after riding 18 hours. Pausing with a little pasta 'n broth with my @msr_gear #pocketrocket then crashing inside my @tarptent was a slice of heaven. My least favorite moment would hands down be sliding on the cold wet bib and jersey before the sun comes up. My good luck charm was the crow feather that stuck with me all the way from Coleman to Nordegg (until it mysteriously disappeared when I went into a gas station to call it quits). The best time to ride was definitely in the morning, watching the sun come up over the mountains revealing hues of orange, pink and purple. Animals always came out at that time too; herds of elk, white tail deer, a lone coyote and even a grumpy old badger waddled by as I broke camp from my meadow hideaway. The evenings were a nice quiet time for reflection watching the clouds pass by in the expansive Alberta skies. The little moments always make the biggest impression on me. Riding down into the North Saskatchewan River valley was one of those times, making me feel humbled and grateful to be amongst such grandeur and beauty.

part 5: the food of the @ar700bike

This wasn't a fancy full meal deal, after all this wasn't a relaxing weekend tour. I needed to be light and fast but still treat myself to non-gas station food. I'd never brought along a stove on a race before, but I wanted to see what difference it made to have a hot meal in the morning and night. With my @msr_gear pocket rocket it really didn't add much weight and the results were phenomenal. I was never hungry, never felt crappy because of bad road food, and it was super easy and efficient with everything prepared dry ahead of time. I carried 4 days worth of meals in my backpack (which fed me on my pre-event ride as well) which I could have easily stretched out to more in case of emergency, because at one point there was a 300km stretch without any service whatsoever.

For breakfast it was oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit and coffee. Lunches were tortillas, hard cheese, Korean bbq beef jerky from @brant_lake_wagyu and more nuts and dried fruit for desert. Snacks were peanut butter based inspired by @whileoutriding. Suppers were Mexican rice and avocado burritos and penne pasta in salty chicken broth. I didn't use a water filter, but the Aqua Tabs worked like a charm.

Little treats along the way included a bbq in Canmore, an ice cold ginger ale provided by a camper on the road who felt sorry for us in the heat, and wild strawberry ice cream and a pizza n' beer to finish.

Overall I was never hungry or hangry and real warm food was always welcome on the cool nights and mornings.