When I originally moved to Camp Whiskey Foxtrot last year my landlords immediately gave me permission to cut some trail on the property after explaining the style of bike racing that I do. With feverish excitement I set out into the backyard to see what was possible on the 40 acre property...
An incredibly hot and sunny spring followed by a damp start to the summer had the woodlands exploding with growth. Most areas weren't even traversable to scout out a route for a potential path, and after feeling defeated by mother nature I walked away to let the dream fade. Autumn then winter settled in, crushing the entire forest floor under rain and snow with yields not seen in close to a decade. The contours of the land were finally evident and lines slowly began to present themselves.
Taking the property for granted was something I'd always kept close to my thoughts and knowing how incredibly lucky I was to live on the property I knew that I had to make the most of my time there. March 15th, 2017 I officially started on the "Pizza Party Hot Lap" with a rake, a shovel, and no idea what I was doing.
Four and half months later the trail was finally connected into one continuous loop. 0.5 kilometres, 35 corners, 1 firewood up and over, a 40ft boardwalk, 1 rock garden removed, and a bobcat cut triple track uphill finish. The next obstacle was how to share the small piece of hard work with my friends. Not enough course for an entire event but still substantial enough that it deserved it's own time to shine.
GRDNTCXBBQ. Two days of bikes, BBQ's, friends, pizza, racing, gravel grinds, swimming, and meat darts. A weekend experience like nothing else I'd been a part of and would hopefully remind everyone why we ride bikes in the first place. Saturday would see racers facing off in head to head heats for a single circuit of the #pizzapartyhotlap while making their way towards the final bracket of a round robin bike tournament. Hosting something that was a little bit cyclocross and a little bit schoolyard was the best way I could find to ease everybody into the realization that CX season was truly around the corner.
With it being the first event I'd ever put together I had no idea what to expect in terms of rider engagement and just the overall feel of the day, but by the end of the podium ceremonies I couldn't thank everyone enough for the environment they'd created. Riders were ready on deck for their next heat excited for the next challenger, people ran into the woods for a better vantage point of the podium contending races, pizzas were devoured as socializing occurred when it wasn't their turn on course, and everybody seemed to find that balance of taking it seriously but not too serious. A truly informal, formal cycling event.
1) Nick Geddes
2) Greg Macdonald
3) Blake Crouch
1) Tara Miller
2) Erica Spizawka
3) Rachel Carey
Temperatures rose and having already given myself heatstroke from pretending to be a gym teacher standing at the start line all afternoon it was time to herd everyone towards the nearest swimming hole. Little Qualicum Falls is a place I'd been dunking into for more than 15 years and not once had I seen a park ranger. Just my luck that when I get a chance to bring a group of friends to a spot that holds so many memories for me, Uncle Lawmaker decided to show up. Selfishly I at least got a few flips in before he asked us to vacate the entire provincial park but I don't think my sick CX skid when we first arrived played well in our favour.
We divided into two groups at that point as some campers decided they still wanted to swim and headed for Cameron Lake. The others just couldn't get the thought of fresh tube steaks out of their minds and pace-lined home to Camp Whiskey Foxtrot.
Socializing went deep into the night as everyone huddled around the small BBQ during a very dry fire ban season. An early morning awaited everyone as a 60km gravel grind had been planned to round out the weekend.
The front yard finally started to look in disrepair on the second morning but everyone was still in great spirits. A symphony of hand powered coffee grinders surrounded the previous evenings social circle as the early sun lit up a butane stove and Von using his own fingers as a roasting stick for some "breakfast" hot dogs. By 9:30AM we were all kitted up and ready to explore what Qualicum Beach, Errington, and Whiskey Creek had to offer.
Turning back to see lots of laughs and smiles was the icing on the cake to a weekend that had already gone far better than I could have planned. The gravel grind took longer than anticipated with numerous mechanicals and crashes but it seemed the consensus was clear that a loop through what was effectively a retirement community could be made fun with the right pace and the right people. With the temperatures rising once again we all decided to make a stop at a newly remodelled burger shack before cutting the ride short so everyone had time to make their corresponding ferry goals.
One weekend before GRDNTCXBBQ I had been given notice that the landlords would be needing the house back and October 1st was the decided move out date. Getting the chance to orchestrate a weekend of events at this paradise like home for over the last 18 months suddenly held a lot more weight with the looming expiration date just around the corner. When all was said and done I'd been given permission to return whenever I pleased to ride the trail itself and that if people had interest I'd be more than welcome to host the same event next summer.
If you've read this far thank you, but it's now your turn to let me know if this is an event you'd like to see replicated for summer 2018. If the photos and words didn't convince you then keep an eye out for the video edit that Warren Fenton is putting together on behalf of Brodie Bikes.