Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Black Metal Hillclimb: Mt. Tuam

Mt. Tuam.

Reaching up from Saltspring's utopian towns and rolling fields, the badass profile of the Island's most black metal mountain looms over Fulford Harbour.

Mt. Tuam exhaling smoke, spitting out bones
To a summit just shy of 2000 ft., the road rolls from from sea level into several steep ramps, working its way past pastures and into forest. The gates of a stalled development mark the bottom of the twisting paved portion, a perfectly built road ascending to empty residential lots and clear-cut vista.

Further proof that the climbs that don't make it on to Strava are more fun,
The second part of our climb took us, after a bit of bushwacking and cleat-stomping, up washboard gravel. Impending bad weather kept the pace steady, and I swear malevolent crows circled overhead.

As confirmation that our route was both foolhardy, and ill-conceived, it started to snow. Fat, drifting flakes moving as slowly down as we were moving up the hill. Not much ceremony before turning back. There's always more pride in completion once you're back sipping coffee.

Clay single-ringing the climb

The paved descent is ripping fast. No cars to speak of means both lanes are yours to make use of, but watch for windfall branches scattered throughout.

One of the best things about these rides is running into local legends, an octogenarian sipping coffee while telling us stories of grasstrack racing in the UK during the first half of the twentieth century. No surprise that he'd ridden what we just finished countless times on his Colnago 'with slightly fatter tires' and a whole lot of bravado.