Thursday, December 9, 2010

AntiChrist Mountain

While my cycling buddy and I were cycling for pies between Oliver and Osoyoos, our view of Anarchist Mountain became more and more exposed.  Way, way up at the top, the last visible switchback cuts across the face of the peak at an incredible angle and fantastic height.  I shook my head in disbelief that we had ridden our bikes to the top of that mountain on our last KVR adventure.

Anarchist Mountain rises up 4,800 feet above sea level and by traversing it's numerous hairpin turns, one is rewarded by reaching the summit.  As my friend Roy told me many times as I questioned him - "Where the %$#@!*? is that damned summit?"on our tortuous climb "It's not where you think it is".  If you Google Anarchist Mountain, you'll come across many websites that describe the incredible views from the summit.  Which is bullshit.  When you do reach the summit, and because it is nowhere near the valley in which Osoyoos resides, there are no commanding views to be had.  In fact, the land is rolling pastures and arid looking farmland.

My guidebook recommends starting the climb at 4am to beat the traffic and the daytime heat.  I would love to try that.  Imagine.  By 11 o'clock in the morning, you'll be Rock Creek and stuffing Rock Creek cheese sticks into your face.  Another ten minutes of cycling and you'll be picking out a shady campsite at the fairgrounds and stripping off to go soak in the nearby Kettle River and let its gentle current massage your tired muscles.

But no, we'll hit the mountain around 11 o'clock in the morning, just when the day begins to heat up and the traffic starts to clog the highway.  And when we finally pull into Rock Creek, all the baking they've done that day will be sold.  However, we will find a nice shady campsite since the three times we have camped at the fairgrounds only two other sites were taken (at most).  One time we had the whole place to ourselves and Roy took the men's can for himself and I took the women's.

This summer when Roy, Richard and I cycled through Hedley, I met the museum director who related a cycling trip he had made from "Hedley to Halifax". According to him,in the four months of cycling across Canada, the worst and hardest part was climbing Anarchist Mountain.  He almost quit then and there.  I could relate to his story.  With a 6.6%  continuous grade (meaning: for every 100 feet you travel, you go up over 6 and a half feet) and it doesn't stop, Anarchist is a challenge.  A couple of years ago we met Paul Letard - the grandfather of the KVR cycling trail and he asked us if we had done Anarchist.  Replying in the affirmative, he told us he had done it in the thirties on a fixie when it was a gravel road.  Now that is something!

The route is so steep that you can't stop.  If you do, you have to turn your bike around, head downhill, build up some speed, watch for an opening in the traffic and then turn sharply uphill and begin the grinding process all over again.

It is tough when you're carrying 40 pounds of gear on your 30 pound bike, but you are rewarded upon reaching the summit of an hour and a half of downhill to Rock Creek where at times you can hit 60 kilometers an hour no problem.





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