Cypress Mountain

Roxy taking in the view at Cypress Mountain lookout

The Low Down:

Trip distance: 31.5km (one way from start point Cornwall/Burrard, Vancouver), 15km (from the start of Cypress Bowl Road to top).
Trip time: 2:45hrs one way Vancouver – Cypress Mountain. Estimated 1hr cycle time from start of Cypress Bowl Road to Cypress mountain parking lot.
Elevation gain: 750m (from start of Cypress Bowl Road to base of Cypress Mountain parking lot).
Route info:

Hustle that muscle

I finally cycled up Cypress Mountain which was something I’ve wanted to do since I got into road cycling two years ago. I haven’t been cycling as much as I would have liked this summer; aside from my regular commute to work which is 30 minutes one way of mostly flat with one steep but short hill, I wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence in my leg power. But with some self-assurance of “slowly but surely”, “the only challenge is you”, and other cheesy pep talk lines I set off from Vancouver in the glorious Sunday afternoon sun.

Crossing Lions Gate bridge into North/West Vancouver

You can connect to the Trans-Canada highway from Capilano Road or Taylor Way after crossing Lions Gate Bridge but I try to avoid the highway if I can. It’s a little nerve-wracking despite the wide shoulder to have cars speed by you at 90km/hr or more (let’s face it most people don’t stick to the speed limit). Connecting via 21st street you only have to cycle another 2km on the highway before taking the Cypress Mountain exit and starting your ascent following Cypress Bowl Road all the way to the top.

Switchback eternal.

To be honest I found the 1.75km climb up 21st street the most difficult. I’m not sure how to calculate the gradient (I’ve never been good at math) but it was steep and long enough to make me feel like I was going to pass out by the end of it. Another blow to the fragile ego, if Cypress Mountain was going to be an uphill climb like 21st street I didn’t think I would make it all in one go. The thought of giving up and just going home was tempting, but onwards I pedaled (after a little tussle with my clipless pedals at the traffic light junction of course).

The ascent up to Cypress Mountain was not as steep as I thought, but it was a consistent steady uphill that required not only muscle but will power. There are km and elevation markers every 2km; normally when hiking I’m a huge fan of signage. When slogging up a mountain I’ve learned signage are irritating reminders of just how little distance I was covering against my exerted effort. Eventually I made it to the top, elated and celebrated with a fist pump. Booya.

It took me about 2:45 hrs in total from Vancouver to the top of Cypress, a time I’m pleased with considering the lack of training on my bike. What I’m truly happy with was the taming of my “monkey brain”. It’s easy to give in to the little voices in your head stopping you from your goal when you’re tired – search for the mental strength to push through! And in the hour it took me to haul my behind up that mountain, the 15 glorious minutes of downhill adrenaline made sure I’ll be back for round 2.

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