Thursday, February 27, 2003

First Burke Ride

My new installment in my riding journal has actually taken me to a new mountain. I hit Burke Mountain today with 3 other guys from my work. We all took off a little bit early from work 3:30pm and headed up to the parking area at the gate near the rifle range. Now I had been up at Burke about 7 years earlier and I did not remember a thing about the place except that there was a gate and if you come down the access road, you should be hard on the brakes in order not to kill yourself. Well when we arrived there were a couple cars/trucks up there and a few people just setting off but the rest were heading home. It is late February and we don't necessarily get that much daylight.......we are getting more and more as we get towards spring but we were pushing it. Our goal was to get to Triple Crown and ride down before darkness fell. The weather was great today, clear with some clouds so the climbing up, the ride was bright and reasonably warm. As I said, I had not been there in many years, so the climb was very new to me. Of the 4 guys on the ride, I had the heaviest bike by far, now not to use this as an excuse, but I was probably the slowest going up the hill. I was not suffering at all, I just go at my own pace (riding and walking.......mostly walking). Once we got to the fork in the road that either goes to Sawblade or up, we noticed little bits of snow on the ground. Further up the steeper parts there wan more and more snow on the road. Luckily in the trees or where a truck or two had drive on the road, the road was clear of snow and rideable. So once we reached Triple Crowns trailhead, we armored up and headed down the trail.
Now let me tell you a little about the guys I was riding with: One guy is a self proclaimed 'Former Cross Country Geek', He rode a specialized Enduro Full Suspension with 5 inches front and rear with clip in pedals. If he wanted to he could have been finished the climb to the top in half the time that it took us......he can climb. His brother is new to Mountain Biking although he has a great bike for a newbie. He rides a Norco Fluid with a 24" rear tire. He is not a bad climber considering he is new to the sport. And my third riding partner rode a Specialized Full Suspension Cross Country bike. He has been riding about a year and isn't too bad on the uphill part of the ride.
Once we on the trail down I had an instant smile. This ain't a bad trail at all. The guy on the Specialized Enduro was the one leading the ride as he has been up here quite allot while for the rest of us it was our first time on the famous Triple Crown. Up at the top, the trail has some nice flow lines without just being a boring single track trail. A few jumps here an there were good and over all a fun trail. I was surprised to find that there were very few built up tricks or ladders etc. So once upper crown is done and you come out onto the powerlines, you are led onto Middle Crown. So this is where the guy on the Enduro and I traded bikes for a bit. He headed off down the trail and stopped almost immediately. He almost was thrown from my trusty steed as he is used to clipless pedals and he felt my bike was set up for a heavier rider. He weighs 150lbs I weigh 177lbs so I can see where he is coming from. Our bikes are totally different and it was clearly evident right away. So once we were both back on our own bikes we all kind of split up and the two more advanced riders did a bit of The Abyss and the other two kept on Middle Crown. I went on the Abyss which is a nicely built up trail with drops logs and ladders. Parts of it were beyond my abilities (BAD - Big Ass Drop) but it was a good trail nonetheless. However we didn't stay on this trail. We thought it would hook up with Middle Crown right away but we were mistaken. So the two of us yelled at our buddies to stop and we hike a biked transversely across the mountain face to hook up with Middle Crown. Once we met up we continued down the hill as fast as we could due the fact that we were losing light really fast and it was gettin kind of dangerous in the tree cover. The trail was sweet and fast flowing down to a skidder road. This is where we decided that rather than continuing up the hill a bit to get to Lower Crown, we decided to go down the logging road to the cars. This was fun as it was balls out speed, however getting into some of the bigger rocky areas at speed can be a little hair raising. Then it was down the road to the gate and to the cars. One thing that kind of spooked me was that gate, when you come down the road with a full head of steam, that gate approaches pretty quick.....I'm glad I have good brakes.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Ride with the Wife

Today I took a half day at work and my wife and I headed up the Woodlot. She decided that she would walk/hike and I would bike up. I walked with her the whole way up and being a nice sunny day in February we enjoyed the whole 'being in nature together' thing. When you get to the clearcut area where you get a view of Baker, we stopped and took a picture of the view.

I decided to keep going up to Toadstool and she just walked down to the car. The ride up was alright but the ground was frozen in parts as it was clear out at night and pretty chilly. Lower Toadstool isn't such a bad single track trail as it has stood up to the winter riding quite well. So at the bottom of that, I turned right and hit Hoots. After Hoots I thought to myself that it really wasn't worth going up to Shotgun as that trail is getting torn up with all the wet weather riding, so I just went down the 'trail up'. I have never gone down this and I can't really recommend it as it is pretty boring. As I was packing up the car, a guy arrived in a truck with a brand new Kona Stab and big smile on his face. You remember that smile...............when you just got you new bike and taking it out for the first ride.
Keep on smilin everyone.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Long ride at The Woodlot

Well today I was once again back up at the Woodlot. Today I decided that I would go for a little bit of a longer ride and decided to go all the way up to Goldminer. I guess I am getting much better at climbing because there are now very few spots on the way up that I am not in the saddle riding up rather than walking. Once you cross the power lines it is pretty easy to pedal your way up the hill to the trailhead of Goldminer. As the trail flattens out I kept seeing snow on the ground. There really wasn't much, but there were little patches here and there. At the beginning of the ride it was raining lightly but by the time I was at the top, it was the typical West Coast rain..........hard. As I put my leg and arm armor on under the tree canopy, I thought to myself why more people don't do this trail. It is a fun fast flowing trail.......sure there are little to no stunts, but it is a fast fun single track trail.

Anyway I made it to the power lines and across to the lower Goldminer trail. I then had a look around on foot to see if there were any other trails in the area, but it looks like it is only Goldminer until you get to the next junction. So on I went catching a little air on a few of the jumps along the way. I then found the junction where Tsuga and Lower Goldminer meet up. I highly recommend taking the upper route rather than the lower as it is much drier and rideable out the skidder road up. While I was up there I went bush wacking to see if there were any other trails that nobody speaks about, and I think I found one. It was an abandoned trail that looks like nobody has hiked on it for quite some time let alone biked on it. Once I clear it up I will make sure people know where it is. So I made my way down Giant Killer and Hoots. I have not been down Hoots in quite some time, somebody made their way through it with a chainsaw and cleared the blown down trees...PROPS to you who ever you are. For the first time I did that small drop/jump that has an ugly log lip without any hesitation. I remember my last attempt......ugly wipeout. Anyways, it wasn't smooth but I landed it it okay. I will say that my new Avid levers are working well. For my first ride trying 1 finger braking I am pleased with performance. I then made my way to Shotgun and to the parking lot. The lower section of Shotgun should be's too muddy and getting chewed up. I actually walked it as I didn't want to mess it up more than it already is. I would say I had a pretty good day up there and I didn't even see a single person on the trails. I saw many cars in the lot after my ride but then agian I was only the second car in the parking area when I got there in the morning so I was there way before most people.

Until the next installment........

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Full Day Of Biking Fun

Well today I headed up to the Woodlot at about 10am today. When I got there I was only the second person up on the hill, I think it was because there was rain forecasted today and people were feeling out the weather. So the ride up was without any problems at all because I had done a whole pile of maintenance on my bike. I bought a new cluster to go with the new chain I bought the week before. It is nice to have 100% confidence in your drivetrain. So I rode up the skidder road to the point just past Schwinn Way. The upper road that veers off to the right. I decided that I would find out where the heck this path went. So I passed the trailhead to Tsuga and I passed the bottom of The Gate and just continued straight. This road get a little overgrown but is still rideable. When you get to the end, you can see why nobody ever goes down this path. It comes out onto the clear-cut for the powerlines about 100 meters below the entrance to The Gate, but you come out onto the scrub underbrush beneath the powerlines. It looks like it is easy stuff to drag your bike through, but I beg to differ, it is tough going with a big Freeride sled. I eventually made my way to the powerline road and up to Gold. It was starting to rain now, so I wasn't really happy to be starting my ride on logs, but I an getting much better at maintaining a line on a log. I finally rode the first major stunt at the top or Gold, not the drop to the left, but rather the ladder to the right. The rest of Gold was pretty good and I had fun. So at the bottom of Gold, there is Schwinn Way. I decided to see what goes to the right. So up I went, you can ride parts but other parts you have to drag your bike over fallen crap an stuff. So I left my bike on the trail and just walked along this abandoned skidder road. I think there may be building going on somewhere up there, but I am not totally sure. Anyway, if you stay on the road which is a slight up hill, you come to a fork in the road where it flattens out. I first went to the left. I continued on this flat road until I came to what will someday be a super sweet log ride that crosses the road 8 feet in the air. Well I turned around there and went back to the fork in the road. I looked down the trail to see my bike still there, so I took the right fork in the road. It continued for a short time and I could start to see light through the trees and finally came out at the powerlines. I could not tell how far along the powerlines I was compared to Gold's trailhead, but I will go back up and mark this as I think I will clear it out some day so it is rideable again. Well I turned around and went back to my bike. I went down to Toadstool and made it to the first log ride and met up with a guy that I had seen before riding up here. He was fixing a ladder up to the log ride so I stopped to talk to him for a while. I have been riding up here for a while but never done any maintenance or building, so I got his contact info and I plan on hooking up with him some time to do some trail work. So I continued my ride down to Giant Killer then over to Heckyl and Jeckyl. I decided today I was going to start to do some higher drops. I completed a few decent drops which boosted my ego and confidence. The it was up to Shotgun and down to the truck. Overall a good day of bushwhacking and great riding. I hope that soon I can get up there to do work on the trail and say that I have contributed to the Woodlot, rather than just using it. Later that day I hit the Advil Outdoor Show and caught a few of the bike races and dirt jumping. Not a bad bike day I must say.