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.