It might take a helluva heave...but the fast and whimsical trails of Squamish are still only just a stone’s throw across the border.
It’s early into the day of riding when we hear the slap of the rock, the loud and definitive smack more suited to a beaver’s tail on water, not a bike on granite. Will somehow recovers in the bottom half of the drop and then rides out the rest of the line. His yelling and whooping breaks the silence of the British Columbia forest, just as our riding had broken the levitating stillness. He just escaped a line unscathed that he had no business escaping (nor riding in the first place), and he knows it. He wants the whole damn mountain to know it.
Spencer and I take the smaller drop to the left to catch up, but notice something fishy about Will’s rear tire. It has stopped spinning true. Riding behind him is now akin to staring into a magician’s hypnotic watch: left and right, left and right, that wheel should absolutely not be moving that lateral.
I know that Margaret Atwood once wrote “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” But should your bike wheel spin like a lopsided cyclone?
We ride out the rest of the trail, with Will avoiding the rest of the drops. Popping out onto the service road, we pull out a true-ing key and begin to inspect his rear tire. It’s early enough in the day that he could go into town (while Spencer and I sneak in two more laps, obviously), buy a wheel, throw it all together, and then keep riding. I mean, when you come to Squamish, you don’t come to sit at the car, drink beer, and read. You come to ride.
But then he starts tuning the wheel. Will throws a bit of duct tape on a very (VERY) loose spoke: a practice that, by any means, is never a solution. Except now?
While Will tunes his wheel, praying to get it to stop nicking his frame with every rotation, Spencer and I pull out a beer, then another, then another. This is no quick fix. But it’s quicker (and cheaper) than a new rim. Spencer and I had originally been very empathetic to his situation, because no one wants to wreck a wheel only two laps into a long day, but as we watch Will tunes his wheel and softly go through his catalogue of four-letter words, we can’t help but laugh.
The sun is out, but the bugs are surprisingly not. We’re in what some describe as the hidden-heaven of the mountain bike world, a secluded mecca, and for some reason we’ve found trails that are vacant and waiting: the playground is ours. That’s what happens when a local friend gives you advice, so we decide a bad wheel isn’t going to ruin our day. Well, I mean...it wasn’t our wheel...right?
Will, after fixing his wheel, tries it out on a much-less consequential rock.
It takes a practice run, and another round of curse words that we’d rather not like to type up, but eventually he nails it.
While still hypnotic, his wheel is spinning straight enough to avoid hitting his frame. He knows he is one big drop away from his weak and untrue wheel giving out on him and causing a nasty crash, but the three of us rarely get days off to cross the border and enjoy Squamish.
Rocky landings be damned...never waste a day in mountains. But be sure to bring enough beer for the repairs...