Hike to West Wind Pass and the Canmore Canada Cup

 
Grassi Lake, Canmore

Grassi Lake, Canmore

Spray Lake

Spray Lake

The view after 5 minutes on the West Wind Trail!

The view after 5 minutes on the West Wind Trail!

Getting to the Pass.

Getting to the Pass.

Wow!

Wow!

A well deserved break to enjoy the view.

A well deserved break to enjoy the view.

2,5 km to that awesome view? Hell, yeah!

2,5 km to that awesome view? Hell, yeah!

We get spoiled so much in BC and in the Yukon! On this hike, there are a few trails options and not must signage so it can get confusing. Stick to the trails on the right and you’ll get there. Consider taking poles if you struggle with steep descent. It’s a pretty tame hike by Rockies standard (it’s considered moderate), but the climbing is pretty steep and constant, so just plan accordingly if you need breaks. We got to the pass in one hour and back in 30 minutes. After taking a break at the pass and admiring the view, you can keep hiking all the way up to the Wind Tower. 

Mathilde at the start of her race.

Mathilde at the start of her race.

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Mathilde finishing.

Mathilde finishing.

Mara at the start line

Mara at the start line

Mara at the start

Mara at the start

Aïsha getting down the aptly named Organ Donor trail.

Aïsha getting down the aptly named Organ Donor trail.

Aïsha getting some air!

Aïsha getting some air!

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Well, Canmore was not what I was hoping for. This was for sure not my weekend. I crashed on Thursday during my preride and then crashed again on race morning, bending my front wheel and derailleur 2 hours before my start. We pretty much took a bunch of different parts from other bikes and put them on my bike. When I was finally able to do my race, I didn’t even get 10 minutes into the race and got a flat on my rear wheel. There was lots of experience and learning throughout these few days spent in Canmore, but I’m wishing to get all problems fixed in time for the Horseshoe Canada Cup. What happened to me today was simply bad luck, crashing and flatting are things that are part of cycling and it is for sure not the last time that this will happen to me. Awesome job to everyone who raced today and thank you very much to all the people for helping and supporting me throughout this rough couple of days. What a fun event though, I wish to come back next year and have an even better time riding these amazing trails!

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Even after 5 years on the road, we sometimes forget how fragile the balance of our daily life is. Of course, sometimes we just need to get somewhere and drive a lot, but that also means making sure to get outside and be active for an hour or so a day at least. We are pretty good about keeping our regular (healthy) meals schedules and to keeping a work and school morning routine. However, since we left the Yukon, we haven’t slept in a campsite once and parking lot life does take its toll on all of us. Yes, our bus is big, but throw 5 adult-size person + a giant size dog and it feels very small. Especially after 2 weeks. 

Since there isn’t much external framework when you live on the road, you have to constantly check in with yourself to figure out why you feel the way you feel. It’s one of the reasons people say traveling is a fast track to self-improvement. And a fast track to divorce!!

So, yes, even after all this time, we’re still learning how much of a balancing act this is. After two days in nature, I feel like myself again, ready to cross the Prairies and hit the hot humid and buggy weather of Ontario. Just kidding, I’m so not ready for that. But hey, soon we’ll be in Quebec and spending time with our loved ones and I sure am ready for that!!

Finding free QUIET camping spots in Whistler and Canmore is not an easy task (and paid campgrounds are often full or very expensive). Even the usual trail head spots often have NO Overnight camping signs. We lucked out that our friends found a new trailhead that didn’t have a sign up yet, so we could spend two quiet nights here after the chaos of the Visitor Center (there are huge signs saying NO overnight camping there, but they tolerate it if you leave by 8 am).


 

Down the Cassiar, Westy troubles and Whistler Canada Cup

 
Boya Lake Provincial Park.

Boya Lake Provincial Park.

Boya Lake Provincial Park, Northern BC.

Boya Lake Provincial Park, Northern BC.

Full moon rising over the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

Full moon rising over the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

Aïsha keeping us entertained on long drives with her ukulele songs.

Aïsha keeping us entertained on long drives with her ukulele songs.

Leaving Burns Lake pulling our broken Westy on a U-Haul platform, still unsure where we will be able to get it fixed and even less when…

Leaving Burns Lake pulling our broken Westy on a U-Haul platform, still unsure where we will be able to get it fixed and even less when…

Mathilde showing great form on a steep line during the Whistler Canada Cup.

Mathilde showing great form on a steep line during the Whistler Canada Cup.

Mathilde, proud to finish that tough race!

Mathilde, proud to finish that tough race!

Aïsha at the beginning of the race.

Aïsha at the beginning of the race.

Mara feeling tired.

Mara feeling tired.

Mara on the left and Aïsha on the right.

Mara on the left and Aïsha on the right.

Mara

Mara

Mara dug deep to finish that race.

Mara dug deep to finish that race.

Teammate Zachary Brunelle taking one of the technical A line on the course.

Teammate Zachary Brunelle taking one of the technical A line on the course.

Mathilde in 3rd place!

Mathilde in 3rd place!

The Whistler Canada Cup course was the most technical race the girls had ever done. On top of that, there was 240 m of climbing PER lap. Some sections of the course were only a few days old and very loose. The whole course was incredibly dusty. Aïsha crashed during the preride; she was in pain during the race and had lost her confidence, so she decided to opt out after one lap to avoid another crash and save herself for next weekend Canada Cup in Canmore. Mathilde coughed all night (and kept everybody awake) and was feeling miserable on the morning of the race (we all brought back a nasty virus from Whitehorse). She freaked out a bit after the first big climb when she stopped and felt like she was choking, but thankfully, coach Dan Sams @terraridersyukon was right there and talked her through it and she kept on going. She finished her race and grabbed the 3rd place. She was super proud to have finished such a tough course in her physical condition. After a sleepless night, too much preriding the day before and still healing from her nasty crash at Baie St-Paul, Mara was able to hang on to 4th place. Quite a feat in her condition! The field of Expert Women U17 was very strong with a few BC riders who are super strong technically. It was a good experience and the girls know what they need to work on for next year!

We were super proud of the girls’ Yukon teammates from U Kon Echelon who came all the way down here to race, not expecting such a tough course, but did it nonetheless! Way to go, friends!

And the girls now have Instagram accounts: @aisha.roldan, @mara.roldan.mtb @mathilde.roldan
Go give them a follow if you want!



 

Baie St-Paul and Sherbrooke Canada Cups... and an hospital visit

 
When the big sisters are gone… the little one gets her parents all to herself. And sushi.

When the big sisters are gone… the little one gets her parents all to herself. And sushi.

Getting the bikes up on Mamie’s car to get to the race in Baie-St-Paul. Photo by Paul Brouillard.

Getting the bikes up on Mamie’s car to get to the race in Baie-St-Paul.
Photo by Paul Brouillard.

Ready to race the Baie St-Paul Canada Cup! Photo by Paul Brouillard.

Ready to race the Baie St-Paul Canada Cup!
Photo by Paul Brouillard.

Warming up. Photo by Paul Brouillard.

Warming up.
Photo by Paul Brouillard.

Mara crashed hard on the first lap of the Baie St-Paul mountain biking Canada Cup when her handlebar hit a trail marking pole. They carried her down - partly in a coach’s arms and partly in a 4 X 4 (can someone tell me why they didn’t have a proper ambulance with a stretcher at such a big event?!). Photo by Paul Brouillard.

Mara crashed hard on the first lap of the Baie St-Paul mountain biking Canada Cup when her handlebar hit a trail marking pole. They carried her down - partly in a coach’s arms and partly in a 4 X 4 (can someone tell me why they didn’t have a proper ambulance with a stretcher at such a big event?!).
Photo by Paul Brouillard.

She was sent to the hospital for some x-rays. It was nerve wracking to follow that from afar, but my mom was with her and the medics and a Dalbix coach took great care of her. Photo by Paul Brouillard.

She was sent to the hospital for some x-rays. It was nerve wracking to follow that from afar, but my mom was with her and the medics and a Dalbix coach took great care of her.
Photo by Paul Brouillard.

There is no spinal injury, no fracture and no concussion. Pffeew!! They did an ultrasound to rule out internal bleeding since she crashed on her belly (and the tip of her handlebar poked her in lower abdomen...). There might be some torn ligaments, but all she needs to do is rest + ice and take anti inflammatory meds. She even had the OK to race the Sherbrooke Canada Cup the following weekend! That’s all she wanted to hear! She’s such a tough cookie!

There is no spinal injury, no fracture and no concussion. Pffeew!! They did an ultrasound to rule out internal bleeding since she crashed on her belly (and the tip of her handlebar poked her in lower abdomen...). There might be some torn ligaments, but all she needs to do is rest + ice and take anti inflammatory meds. She even had the OK to race the Sherbrooke Canada Cup the following weekend! That’s all she wanted to hear! She’s such a tough cookie!

The XCT on Sunday in Baie St-Paul was pretty muddy. Aïsha slid under the tape, but got back on the bike and finished strong. Mara was there to cheer for her team!

The XCT on Sunday in Baie St-Paul was pretty muddy. Aïsha slid under the tape, but got back on the bike and finished strong. Mara was there to cheer for her team!

Catryana, Mara and Aïsha.

Catryana, Mara and Aïsha.

In the tulips with Mamie. Photo by Paul Brouillard.

In the tulips with Mamie.
Photo by Paul Brouillard.

Bringing Mémé out in the sun and eating some fast food (her favorite - Louis Luncheonnette!)

Bringing Mémé out in the sun and eating some fast food (her favorite - Louis Luncheonnette!)

Aïsha racing the Sherbrooke Canada Cup course under the eyes of her grandparents (up on the hill).

Aïsha racing the Sherbrooke Canada Cup course under the eyes of her grandparents (up on the hill).

Mara on the Sherbrooke Canada Cup course.

Mara on the Sherbrooke Canada Cup course.

Aïsha

Aïsha

Sisters talking about the race just after crossing the finish line.

Sisters talking about the race just after crossing the finish line.

Debriefing with coach Dan.

Debriefing with coach Dan.

Grand-papa and Grand-maman came from Terrebonne to watch the race and cheer for their grand-daughters.

Grand-papa and Grand-maman came from Terrebonne to watch the race and cheer for their grand-daughters.

The whole Dalbix-Siboire Expert Cadet and Junior Crew!

The whole Dalbix-Siboire Expert Cadet and Junior Crew!

Sweet Charles - aka Cha-cha - who was quite confused to hear people cheer for Aïsha using his own nickname (Sha-sha). He kept repeating: but I AM Cha-cha!

Sweet Charles - aka Cha-cha - who was quite confused to hear people cheer for Aïsha using his own nickname (Sha-sha). He kept repeating: but I AM Cha-cha!

Family who cheer for your daughters when you’re not there: Priceless! It made our hearts so full to see them there.

Family who cheer for your daughters when you’re not there: Priceless! It made our hearts so full to see them there.

Mara during the XCC on Sunday.

Mara during the XCC on Sunday.

Aïsha during the XCC

Aïsha during the XCC

Aïsha during the XCC

Aïsha during the XCC

Sprint finish for 2nd place for Mara at the XCC (she is the first one here).

Sprint finish for 2nd place for Mara at the XCC (she is the first one here).

Breathing a sigh of relief after securing the 2nd place in a sprint finish!

Breathing a sigh of relief after securing the 2nd place in a sprint finish!

That’s what you call leaving it all on the course!

That’s what you call leaving it all on the course!

Aïsha’s back was killing her during the XCC and she was in a lot of pain. She still finished the race and was proud of herself for not quitting.

Aïsha’s back was killing her during the XCC and she was in a lot of pain. She still finished the race and was proud of herself for not quitting.

Mara on the podium of the XCC.

Mara on the podium of the XCC.

It was the first time the girls were away for 2 weeks and that we could not be at their races. Needless to say, it was nerve-wracking! But they were very well-surrounded!

The girls had a great flight experience and I feel like since we often hear bad things about Air Canada, I feel it is important to talk about the good things they do too. The girls were upgraded to a direct flight from Montreal to Vancouver (instead of a transfer in Winnipeg) and got upgraded to First Class for that flight AND given 20$ each in per diem to spend at the Vancouver airport! Way to go, Air Canada!

And a little something I posted on Instagram that you might not have read:

And they’re off again, this time it’s only the twins, but for a trip to Quebec. It's funny how when your kids are young and you choose to keep them close people are feeling like you are over protecting then… I've always been a believer in the idea that kids who feel secure when young become confident adults, that you cannot force independence, that it actually come from a place of secure attachment. I had cautious little girls who took their time and we gave them that time. And here they are, at 15 yo, leaving on a trip across Canada alone with 3 flights, solid, independent, resourceful and self-reliant. It's a real treat to watch. Maybe it's time for a little pat on the back.


 

The Bear Mountain Canada Cup

 
The whole Dalbix-Siboire Team for the Bear Mountain Project with the coaches.

The whole Dalbix-Siboire Team for the Bear Mountain Project with the coaches.

Mathilde taking part in the race even with her 12 stitches.

Mathilde taking part in the race even with her 12 stitches.

Aïsha going strong even with very intense back pain.

Aïsha going strong even with very intense back pain.

Mara finished 3rd on the cross-country course! A pretty impressive feat for a first year cadet!

Mara finished 3rd on the cross-country course! A pretty impressive feat for a first year cadet!

Mara giving everything she had on the short track. She kept her second place for most of the race and slipped in a corner on her very last lap… She still finished 3rd and was very happy!

Mara giving everything she had on the short track. She kept her second place for most of the race and slipped in a corner on her very last lap… She still finished 3rd and was very happy!

Left: Mara sharing the short-track podium with one of her teammate from Dalbix. Right: Mara and Aïsha with their wonderful coach who has been training them from afar since December.

Left: Mara sharing the short-track podium with one of her teammate from Dalbix.
Right: Mara and Aïsha with their wonderful coach who has been training them from afar since December.

Proud team. Such amazing young people!

Proud team. Such amazing young people!

The Bear Mountain Canada Cup was the first national race to which the girls ever participated. They are finally old enough for it and did great for first year cadets (U17)! If, like me, you are a neophytes to race lingo, you might not know the difference between a Canada Cup and the national Championship. The Canada Cups are a series of 8 races to which anybody can participate (so there were US racers who came to race it in the Junior category - U19) whereas the national Championship is a once a year event to which only the best Canadians can participate. Bear Mountain was the first Canada Cup of the 2019 season and Mara and Aïsha were racing in the cadet field (15-16 - the age at the end of the year) as first year cadet. The big race (the XC race) was on Saturday and there was a short-track race on Sunday. There was also a big Enduro race happening on Sunday, as well as a Bike Festival, so it was quite the event!

Mathilde is still too young to be part of the Canada Cup, but she could take part in the Bear Mountain Challenge XC on Saturday morning. However, she crashed on the Enduro course while pre-riding with the local team (Dirt Squad) group 4 days prior and ended up in the ER and needing 12 stitches on her knee… She was very bummed to not be able to race, and at the last minute decided she still wanted to give it a go and said she would stop if it was too painful. She did one lap and decided to stop (her race was 2 laps), and was very proud she gave it a try.

It was a wonderful team experience for the girls and they were so happy to be part of such a big event. It was great to be finally reunited with the team and their amazing coach. I’m already looking forward to the next Canada Cup… and coming from me, this means a lot!!

 

A weekend in Baie St-Paul

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The girls's start. I was the first time that the 3 of them were racing the same race!

The girls's start. I was the first time that the 3 of them were racing the same race!

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It's no secret that bike races (or any other sporting events for that matter) are not my cup of tea. What's not to love about being woken up on a Saturday morning at 7:15 by “Eye of the Tiger” to spend all day on the sidelines, inhaling dust while cheering people you don't know, thinking: shouldn't she be here already? Who's this again? Look at those legs and ass (OK, I know I'm not the only one, that's the only perk...), while simultaneously having a near heart-attack when they call First Aid on the course during your kids’ race? There's also waiting for the award ceremony that is never on time (except for that one time you were late), being bossed around by an overzealous 15 yo who tells everybody that is 50 yards from the trail that THERE IS A BIKE RACE GOING ON PLEASE STAY AWAY (‘cause you know, I'm standing in the mud with a ridiculously heavy camera NOT KNOWING there is a bike race). What's not to love, indeed? But you know what the crazy part is? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else when they race by me and I see their eyes light up when they see me cheering for them.

It's no secret that bike races (or any other sporting events for that matter) are not my cup of tea. What's not to love about being woken up on a Saturday morning at 7:15 by “Eye of the Tiger” to spend all day on the sidelines, inhaling dust while cheering people you don't know, thinking: shouldn't she be here already? Who's this again? Look at those legs and ass (OK, I know I'm not the only one, that's the only perk...), while simultaneously having a near heart-attack when they call First Aid on the course during your kids’ race? There's also waiting for the award ceremony that is never on time (except for that one time you were late), being bossed around by an overzealous 15 yo who tells everybody that is 50 yards from the trail that THERE IS A BIKE RACE GOING ON PLEASE STAY AWAY (‘cause you know, I'm standing in the mud with a ridiculously heavy camera NOT KNOWING there is a bike race). What's not to love, indeed? But you know what the crazy part is? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else when they race by me and I see their eyes light up when they see me cheering for them.

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Spotting daddy.

Spotting daddy.

“Hit the jump!”I yell like an overly enthusiastic teenager, camera in hand, as he rides towards us. He gives me a grim look as he rides around it, which brings him close enough that I can see the twigs sticking out of his helmet. “He fell on his head!” Aisha says, worried. Look closely, you'll see his branch "horns".

“Hit the jump!”I yell like an overly enthusiastic teenager, camera in hand, as he rides towards us. He gives me a grim look as he rides around it, which brings him close enough that I can see the twigs sticking out of his helmet. “He fell on his head!” Aisha says, worried. Look closely, you'll see his branch "horns".

Lots of love for papa who had two hard crashes during that race.

Lots of love for papa who had two hard crashes during that race.

Ending the day in the village of Baie St-Paul.

Ending the day in the village of Baie St-Paul.

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Gelato time!

Gelato time!

Being twins in the world of competition is not always easy. In the past, the twins either did team races or competed in different categories (in AZ Aïsha raced with the 15-16 yo). But here, it's not an option. The 3 of them are in the same category and if they want to race, they will be racing together (or against one another, depending on how you see it). It was an excruciatingly hard week for Aïsha as she is still struggling with an injury and feels like she is not in race shape… but also wants on the race experience. So, at last, she told Mathilde that she would race if she also signed up for the race. And just like that, we had 3 girls on the course at once! They each chose an achievable goal for that race and reached it! Mathilde knew she would very likely be last and she was, but kept riding with a big smile, encouraging the boys that were lapping her and receiving cheers in return. I believe we all grew from that experience as a family.

Being twins in the world of competition is not always easy. In the past, the twins either did team races or competed in different categories (in AZ Aïsha raced with the 15-16 yo). But here, it's not an option. The 3 of them are in the same category and if they want to race, they will be racing together (or against one another, depending on how you see it). It was an excruciatingly hard week for Aïsha as she is still struggling with an injury and feels like she is not in race shape… but also wants on the race experience. So, at last, she told Mathilde that she would race if she also signed up for the race. And just like that, we had 3 girls on the course at once! They each chose an achievable goal for that race and reached it! Mathilde knew she would very likely be last and she was, but kept riding with a big smile, encouraging the boys that were lapping her and receiving cheers in return. I believe we all grew from that experience as a family.

Cheering for Maghalie Rochette, their idol!

Cheering for Maghalie Rochette, their idol!

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Mara during the XCT (the second event of the race, the other two didn't race that one).

Mara during the XCT (the second event of the race, the other two didn't race that one).

Tired and proud to be 4th on 21 racers and to have been in the hot seat for a while.

Tired and proud to be 4th on 21 racers and to have been in the hot seat for a while.

Wearing her team colors for the podium. So proud.

Wearing her team colors for the podium. So proud.

My childhood memories of Baie St-Paul involve lots of not-so-great art galleries and a mosquito apocalypse in that very same Westfalia at this very same campground which led us to leave for a chic restaurant to have dinner without being eaten alive. We were on a return trip from a Gaspe peninsula tour with my dad’s partner of that time. It had already been a tense trip (she didn't care for Bon Jovi and sang off-key to old French songs and it drove me nuts, so I spent a lot of time behind my walkman, lying down on the back bench NOT looking at the landscape that she nagged me to admire). She also loathed me for my bad manners. When we'd watch a movie together, she'd spend more time peeking in my direction than watching the screen to make sure she'd catch me picking my nose and call me on it.

So that night at the Mouton Noir (see, I remember the name of the restaurant 30 years later! That's PTSD!), she threw a scene because I had taken a bite off my bread roll instead of ripping a piece off with my fingers and THEN putting it in my mouth. I was ten. You might have guessed she had no children of her own. It went downhill from there.

I'm glad to report that the Mouton Noir is still in business and that the art galleries are still thriving, as well as the mosquitoes. So long Baie St-Paul, see you in less than 30 years I hope!