Sat, Jun 4 2016 - Highwood Pass (Hwy 40) from South Winter Gate (View Original Event Details)

Event Coordinator(s): Grant P
Participants:Grant P, Mike S, Phyllis, Margo F


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Write Up:
A lovely day for a ride up Highwood pass and despite things going not exactly smoothly, I think it was a good event. See the first hiccup came just before I left the house only to hear there were road closures in Black Diamond for a parade. Slightly delayed but with a detour in hand, Mike figured it would be easier to take the Okotoks route, but we made it without getting lost.

A sunny day and I even remembered to put sunscreen on... except for the couple of spots I missed or put too little on. I wonder how many other folks miss spots early in summer?

Although it was posted with the possibility of splitting up and I said at the beginning that if anyone felt they wanted to turn around before the top, they could but we mostly rode as a single group. Truth is I said that because I thought I may need to turn back, being on a required modified diet (and the fact that I'm a self confessed slacker). We nearly lost Mike when he deeked off to use a bathroom but Margo stuck around for him while I caught up with Phyllis.

It seems the wildlife is quite active without cars around there. Besides the usual birds and furry lil critters that occasionally show themselves, at one point I'd pulled away from the group and as I crested the hill, I caught a quick glimpse of a deer crossing the road and quickly disappearing into trees.

We stopped at the Mist Creek day use area where we had shade and picnic tables for a short break, then began the second half with increased climbing. A few kilometers after this we could see a group of riders stopped by the roadside. As we gradually rode up the hill, they rode down and said there was a bear on the slope. When we got there it was a sizable adult grizzly who didn't seem too concerned with us looking but after a quick photo stop we started to go again. Margo was about 50m ahead of me when she saw a different cub and a larger grizzly run out from the trees. They paused then ran right behind her across the road. I started yelling the old "yo bear" and "get out of here bear" and they kept right on running.
Erm.... however Mike and Phyllis said what I didn't see was the large adult grizzly had turned around, come back up the slope and jumped over the barrier. They said they thought it was about to chase me as I rode up the hill. Good job it didn't because I don't ride up hills fast enough.

About 3-4km before the top I decided to take a bathroom break before the inevitably busy top. Mike passed me as I headed into the bush and Margo wasn't far behind but when I came out they were out of sight. Thinking I was playing catch-up with the group I turned off the slacker mode. Margo still reached the top before me but we didn't know where Phyllis was. A couple of quick pics and we rode back to Highwood Meadows just below the top to take a break but still no sign of Phyllis. Instead of a break I started the descent, found Phyllis, then obviously having forgotten to re-engage slacker mode, I rode back up that fricken steep bit AGAIN. It seems she had fallen prey to a flat tyre. It was obviously a popular thing to do that day because I saw several other riders at various points in similar predicaments.

Then came the shorter part of the story - the return descent. Maybe shorter but still not without some hills. A quick stop to take a couple pics of sheep and once again time to play catch-up. Have you ever tried yelling mint sauce at sheep, they'll run away because they must have heard what happened to their little cuz the lamb.

Back at the cars and the final hiccup. We'd dallied and enjoyed the ride for so long that half the group needed to get back to town so with a beer in the cooler the stop at a pub on the return was postponed to another event.

So having returned without losing anyone and no bear sized chew marks, only minor mechanical issues, and everyone reaching the top, I'd call it a good event and I look forward to seeing everyone again soon.