Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Lunar Ride

Tim had stopped by last night at my place to say hi, see the new baby and to see if I was interested in a night ride at the Woodlot. As luck would have it, I was just outfitting my hartail with my lights in anticipation of night riding sometime very soon. I gladly accepted his offer and we met at The Woodlot at 7pm for a moonlight night ride. 7pm was perfect because we were able to get the bikes all ready and start to make our way up the trail just as the sun set. We were both running lights on our bikes and on out helmets so we each had the ideal setup.

On the way up we just walked in the dark with the only light coming from the moon that was peeking though the misty sky. One in a while we would turn on a light just to make sure they were working, but we did not really turn on the lights until we reached the top of Toadstool on our way to Blood Donor. So with one of my lights burning, we made our way to the trail head of BD and armored up.

With all our light firing (I had 60W total going 30W on the bars and 30W on the head), we started down the trail. The total rush of night riding quickly returned to me as we started our ride down this favorite trail of mine. The way that the color of the ground changes color in the dark is amazing, it turns from a dark cold brown in the daylight to a warm fall brown color in the dark. Nothing else compares to seeing it for yourself.

So we rode BD without incident all the way to the gap at the bottom. Now there was no incident at the gap, but this was the first real jump on the ride and in the dark, your bike lights do not point down and your head lamp does not exactly point down at your landing area. I soon found out that I am thankful that I know the trail well enough to ride it without any light on the trail at all because when you are in the air, the trees, not the trail are all lit up. Both Tim and I had safe landings and continued on to Giant Killer, I was just pointing out that jumping in the dark is not for the faint of heart.

Giant Killer was a total blast as well. Watching your buddy come down the trail from a distance behind you is really a cool sight to behold. So over to Snakes and ladders we went. We both ripped out little gem. I paused on the plateau before the rock drop to let Tim go first. It was really cool watching him just kind of disappear over the edge of the drop. I quickly followed and we ripped the trail all the way to rock faces. We were like little kids in the candy store. I love riding with friends and riding by moonlight with your buds is even better.

We stopped at the final rolldown on the trail as Tim and I has a look at the squid line. He has a discussion about different lines and discussed what we would be building together the next time I was able to get to The Woodlot to build. I cannot express how happy I am with the way that the trail is coming together with all the work Tim has done on his own lately. I can’t wait to get diggin in the dirt with him soon.

So we rode over to Shotgun and started our cat and mouse game down the trial. It was my turn to be the mouse and Tim was the cat trying to hound my rear wheel in a little race down the trail. I must say that tonight I was on fire. After the first 2 little drop/stepdowns on the trail and the right hand berm, I didn’t touch my brakes, I just flowed the trial and leaned into the turns. It was crazy how much fun I had going as fast as I could in the dark all the way to the road crossing. It was at the road crossing that we switched cat and mouse positions and I chased Tim. For the first bit, I was all over him (as I said, I was on fire). Then I got too close and tried backing off, that was when I lost sight of the trail, hooked my tire on something and almost went ass over tea kettle into a tree. I stopped, regained my composure and started back on line making an attempt to catch up to Tim. Well, I made a big mistake and rode about 5 meters off the trail into the bush. I decided that Tim was to win the second stage of our cat and mouse game and we called it a draw.

So out to the cars we went and packed up. I must say I had a total blast night riding and I cannot wait to get back on the trail to do it again soon.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Proud Papa

This day marks a very special chapter in my life. This is my first ride since my daughter was born 5 days ago on September 20, 2004. On that day my wife and I welcomed Norah into the world. Without going into the details, all I can say is that she has me wrapped around her little finger already and she is most definitely daddy’s little girl.

The weather today at the Woodlot was fabulous. The sun was out and it was pleasantly warm. The Woodlot was very busy today. Normally I park very close to the trail exit, but today I had to park up the road a bit due to the number of people that had beaten me to the hill. On the way up, I was stopped by a group of guys that recognized me as a builder and we talked a moment about Snakes and Ladders. To sum our conversation up, they are super happy with all the work we have done on the trail and cannot wait to ride it again.

Onward and upward to the top of the hill I went passing a few people I knew on the way to Krazy Karpenter. Now this is a trail that I had not ridden in quite some time. The last time I rode it, it was not in very good shape and my ride was downright crappy. Well, no repairs have been done since, however I had a new inspiration during my ride and I rather enjoyed my blast down this classic trail.

At the bottom of Karpenter, I turned right and made my way to Blood Donor. I had a flowing vibe with me today and I rode everything with confidence. I had an absolute ripping time down BD. I managed to catch up to a group of guys half way down the trail and they let me pass at the junction to Giant Killer.

Giant Killer was once again super sweet. Rather than ride the trail really fast, I just cruised the trail, pumping everywhere that I could and just had fun. I must say that I totally aired the gap / stepdown at the end of the trail with the most air I have done to date.

Snakes and Ladders was next. Holy crap was this run fun. I completely ripped the trail with a new found vigor I have never had before. All the way from the top to the snakey bridge to the log ride to the drop to the new flow section to the wooden berm to the jump to the hip style turn to the boa bridge to the logride with the exit that fires you like a howitzer down the next creek crossing to the new log drop to Tim’s next bit of work. Tim’s next bit of work would be hard for most people to notice due to the fact that it is all dirt and rock work at the top and bottom of the bigger rock face. I totally noticed it because I ride the trail all the time. An I loved it. BIG pieces of rock wedged in at the approach and a building up and expansion of real-estate at the end of the rock face. All this work he did went a long, long way in making this section so much more fun to ride. Once again Tim, two thumbs up my friend. This was not all he had done in the last week. He also started the work on the new squid line for the last roll down on the trail. He had roughed in and framed the wooden berm, but it was lacking any rung, so I just stuck to the trail. My ride was going so damn well today that I decided that I would do the last drop to flat on the trail. In fact this was the first time I had ever done this drop as it is about 4 feet to complete flat, kind of crappy way to end the trail (it will get changed some time soon), but I finally did it today.

I rode out to Shotgun and then down to the car. A great ride as a proud papa.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Exorcism

I had a good idea that today was going to be the last ride I can go on before my wife gives birth to our first-born child. My wife has a pretty good idea that the baby is going to come soon but not in the time that it would take for me to go for a quick spin up to the Woodlot. I had just happened to have been watching a very, very good Mtn. Biking film that morning……..The Collective. My favorite scenes are Hawaii and the North Shore, especially the Wade Simmons scenes on the Shore. The music is perfect for these two scenes; the light happy music for Hawaii (Sunday Jen) and the cool jazzy track for the North Shore (Life in the Rain). All I can say is that Wade is the smoothest rider I have ever seen. Watching how he flows and pumps along a trail styling everything his tires touch has to inspire one to try and mimic him.

So with the sounds and images of The Collective fresh in my mind, I headed to the Woodlot on what had to be one of the wettest days of the year. I am used to the west coast rain as I have lived here my whole life, but today was one of the wettest I had seen in quite a while. I had a few ideas about what my route was going to be, but once I was headed up the hill I nailed down a nice quick flowing route for my (wet) ride today.

Blood Donor to Giant Killer and then over to Snakes and Ladders and finally Shotgun. Blood Donor is now a trail that I hit virtually every time I go for a ride and The Woodlot nowadays. I just cannot get enough of it. It has flow, top to bottom…tones of it. I knew I was the only guy on the hill at the time as there were no tracks on the trail up and there were no other cars in the parking area so I played it safe during my ride. Giant Killer was next and it flowed today for me like no other day absolutely awesome. I even did a stylish dismount off a log ride mimicking Mr. Simmons. With the tunes of The Collective in my head I was smiling the whole way down the trail…… it is funny how the ultra cool jazz music so perfectly matches riding in The Woodlot.

So I jetted over to Snakes and Ladders to see what my buddy Tim had been up to over the last few days. I had not talked to him since we last rode on Tuesday so I was very eager to see what he had done. I had the song from the Hawaii scene (Sunday Jen) playing in my head. I swear I had the best ride every down my trail. She was ripping so well in the rain and it flows so well all the way to the rock faces. Tim had worked some of his wizardry on the trail at a spot where the flow used to just sort of stop. A few unsafe bar bashing tight trees were removed and an old short logride was re-established. The short ladder approach that places you on the log is like magic and perfectly sets you up for a nice drop of the log back onto the trail. I swear it was like he worked an exorcism on the trail resulting the perfect line the just flows. I stopped and dismounted off my bike after this new little feature and ran back to have a closer look. It was like this thing just belonged there naturally. Ultra sweetness. The rest of the trail was just a quick rip to the bottom and then a nice quick ride over to Shotgun.

Shotgun was really good. I was still on my high from ripping Snakes and Ladders so as usual Shotgun was a blast. I ran into 2 guys that were out walking their dog and having a look at the trails. They were riders but decided to just walk the trials to have a look at the building on the trails. I pointed them in the right direction as they had never really been there before and I was on my way to finish my ride. By this time now, there were a few cars in the parking area so I wasn’t to be the only one enjoying The Woodlot today.

All I can say is I had an absolutely fantastic ride that will take a few days to down from the high.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

First Tracks

Well, it has been more than a week since I last went for a ride. In fact I have been going riding regularly (at least once a week) for the last year....except when I have been injured. Tonight was a quick ride after work with Tim. I left work at 4pm and loaded up the bike when I reached my house and arrived at the Woodlot by 10 to 5. Tim had already arrived and was playing with his rear derailleur. It appears that he needs a new chain as it is skipping like a double dutch rope team.

So we decided to start to make our way up the hill but when we got to a section that we could pedal, Tim's chain decided it would keep skipping, so he had to walk the whole way up while I pedaled. We had a good talk about life and issues on the way up to the trail head. It is pretty cool how guys can talk about their lives when we go biking......the ride/hike/walk up to the trailhead allows you time to get to know your friends quite well.

So we decided that we would just go up to Mandatory Caution/Fluffy Kitten then Snakes and Ladders and finally Shotgun. I really wanted to leave enough time for Snakes and Ladders as Tim has been spending a fair amount of time this last week building on his own. I wanted to have enough time to enjoy and ogle at the new work on Snakes. So, Mandatory Caution........lets just say that there is a very good reason that almost nobody knows about this trail. It is in total disrepair. All the logrides are green and slippery monsters of destruction. 50% of the ladders are rotten and the trail has a fair amount of blowdown. All I can say is that I will not ride it again until there is a tonne of work done to it. On a positive note, we know for a fact that there has not been any work done on the trail for years and we did find some abandoned tools that we could put to good use, so we may relocate them to a trail where they will be used regularly.

Once we were at the bottom of that trail we made our way to Snakes and Ladders. Tim has over last week, done number of things to the trail on his own. The first of the features are the 'Twin Bridges' that cross the first 2 creeks just as you start to the trail head. These 2 crossing have been needed since the first day we started building and they are sweet. From the perfect positioning of the rock on the approaches to the way they turn to the close spacing of the rung, these 'Twin Bridges' are near absolute perfection. My hat goes off to you Tim, very, VERY well done.

Once we got to the real trailhead I started the rip down the trail. It is one of the few rides I have done on the trail in the total wet since we have been concentrating on drainage and making the trail flow and rip. I am really happy with the way it is draining and just ripping in general. I was able to pedal all the way to the new drop so I am pleased at how the 'temporary' approach is working (it may just stay this way with a little more dirt work). All the way to the 'Snakes Jump' I just ripped the trail non-stop with a huge grin. Another new feature that Tim had recently made was a small dirt hit off a root that sends you across the trail like a hip jump. I was not able to hit it with the right amount of speed, but I can really see this being a cool hit when ridden right.

We then made our way down the trial to the next bit of work Tim had completed recently. It is the exit off the logride. The way that we had previously constructed the exit, people were just skidding across the trail and creating a big rut that we were needing to build up with rock. Tim however had a new vision for this section. Instead of rocking in the section and hoping for the best, he extended the wooden roll down section and made a small berm. He also extended and existing bridge that is used for the easy route around the log ride. It turns out that I was the first guy down this new section, I made the first tracks. One word describes the new section SWEET. In fact I cannot describe how sweet this section is to ride now. It starts with a nice long log ride then a super sweet curvy ramped exit that just shoots you over 2 creek crossings. This is what it is all about.......when things just come together and you get this super rush in the stomach of just riding a heavenly section like this. Absolute perfection.

Tim posing for a photo on his recent wood work.

We finished the ride on Snakes, having a quick look around at the end of the trail, then ventured over to Shotgun. On the way there we met up with 3 guys that were out for a quick spin (Hoots, Quickhit and Shotgun). One of the guys had just bought a new Norco Shore with 888 forks and was one very happy rider. So a quick blast down Shotgun and out to the cars. At the logging road crossing on Shotgun, there have been a few changes as there is now a ditch at the end of the log, the loggers we very kind in that they placed several logs across the ditch so that we can safely make our way across.

At the cars, Tim and I got the numbers of the guys that we saw on the trails because it turns out that they do some night riding up at the Woodlot and both Tim and I would really like to start night riding. I always say that the more people on a ride the merrier and when you night ride, it is even better.

In all, it was a short ride, but to have the distinction of making first tracks on such a perfect piece of trail work is an honor.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Morning Spin

It had been a while since I've gone for an early morning ride (I mean ride and no building). The plan was simple, Brad and I were to hit the Woodlot at 6:30am and just ride all morning. In the end, I would say that we did a pretty good job of executing the plan.

We started at 6:30am due to the fact that the sun is starting to rise much later in the morning. If we had started at our regular time of 6:00am, we would have been riding in total darkness on the way up. I had brought a Froe with me that my dad had fixed so I decided to hike it up the hill to Snakes. Climbing with a big metal Froe is a PITA but we really need this tool to make the beautiful rung we are now getting famous for. So after I made my way back up to the road after ducking down to Snakes and Ladders to stash the Froe, Brad and I continued our hike to the top. For some reason this morning I had no zip, no gusto to get up the hill. It was like my feet were dragging on the ground but Brad was the opposite, he was just hauling butt up the hill. I know that you expend allot more energy when you pedal up the hill rather than sit on your bike and climb, but I always find it easier on the body to pedal than to walk. Therefore I was trying to pedal as much as possible on the way up (it was made a little easier due to the fact I was on my hardtail).

When we arrived at the parking area the weather was overcast but not raining at all. The weather forecast was calling for showers on and off during the day. So by the time we made it to the power lines and mad the turn up the hill, it had started to rain very lightly. The light rain was actually very refreshing so it didn't hamper our spirits at all. We decided that the route was going to be Gold, to Blood Donor, to Giant Killer to Snakes and Ladders then finish with Shotgun. Once we got to the tree line where Gold starts, we armored up and started on the wet slippery skinnies. I think most riders will agree with me when I say that wet log rides that are in places only maybe 6 inches wide just aren't the best way to start a ride. I like the trail, but Gold has not seen any maintenance in years and is in need of some luvin. There are several spots that could do with new rung and or a full makeover. I guess in time we will see when the builders get to this classic trail. Never the less I had an okay run down Gold and by the time I made it down to the last set of log rides/skinnies, I was on my game completely and rode them perfectly. It was a slightly different story for Brad though. It had been many weeks since he last rode at the Woodlot so he was having trouble finding his groove and was admittedly off his game. I really felt for the guy as at times he was really getting tossed around on the trail.

So then it was Blood Donor. I had a pretty sweet rip down this trail hitting everything but the drop into the pit as I was on my hardtail (I am not quite at the point of comfort for doing a drop like this on my hardtail). I have really grown to like this trail and the only bad thing about it is that it is now too fast, it just flows too quickly from top to bottom.

On to Giant Killer. For me it is much like Blood Donor. Fun, fast and flowy. I just decided that I would skip the bigger drop at the bottom and the gap jump. Both stunts skipped due to the bike. I love riding the hardtail and never feel bad about skipping something because I am on it I just don't feel as confident doing the larger stunts on the hardtail.

We then made our way to Snakes and Ladders. The upper part of the trail is just ripping right now and I like the new drop to ladder that we put in. It is definitely something that can be taken at a wide range of speeds to either give you a big drop or just a little plop off the rock. We ripped all the way down to the 2nd rock face where I decided to try the alternate left outside line down the rock. The exposure off the side is just freaky, but as long as you maintain your line it is for me the most fun line down the rock.

We then finished the ride with a good rip down Shotgun. It is really surprising how well this trail holds up to the traffic as I would say that 90% of the people that ride here go down this trail to end the day. She is a little muddy at the bottom, but apart from that, it is a great trail to finish off a ride.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Whistler - Trip # 8 This Year's Final Installment

It looks like today's ride at Whistler will be my last one for the year. I managed to make my way up there 8 times this year up for 3 times last year. It was an early start today where I picked up Rob and met Mike at Seymour's to park my car, that way we all jet up to Whistler in 1 vehicle (Mike's truck).

Over night it had been raining.....no in fact it had been pouring really hard all night. Needless to say we were hoping that things would clear up a little. It didn't. All the way up to the hill it was raining and when we arrived it seemed to get even worse. In the past I have ridden at Whistler in these conditions and still had a good time. The only problem is that several really good trails get closed when it rains and therefore limits the variety that one can get in a days worth of riding. Once suited up we purchased our tickets and upward we went into the pouring clouds. It was our plan to go all the way to the top on the Garbonzo chair and do a top to bottom run to start off the day. Much to our dismay the Garbonzo lift was not running at all today. It was due to the very wet weather. So for our fist run we decided to hit the ever so famous A-Line. As always a tone of fun and it seems that in the wet it is smoother. Table after table after table under my tires and the wind rushing by my face. I was one happy boy.

Once me made it to the Boneyard area we split into 2 groups. Mike and Rob did lower A-Line to the GLC drops and I did the Bikercross. Since the Crankworx slopestyle, the biker cross has been freaking awesome. All the step-ups and step downs with tables and berms........it is truly a bikers paradise, a 2 wheeled playground. At the bottom we met back together and made our way back up to the top.

Now I am not going to go into each and every run, but I will rather go over the highlights of the day. Rob's one footer............I was cruising behind Rob yelling at him that I wanted to see him pull some big air as we were going into the last part of lower A-Line. There is a small jump to a left hand berm and Rob hit it at an okay speed and pulled his left foot off the pedal and basically landed with only his right foot on the pedals. I was laughing and yelling at him to see if he really meant to do that. I guess only he really knows cause he won't give us a straight answer. Further down the trial on Hornet, Rob was going down the rather slippery rock and something went wrong. He did a Superman from the top of the rock all the way to the bottom. He ended up nailing his knee on a rock and put a hole all the way through his armour. We had to stop and fix his bars after this spill as they were all crossed up.

Highlight number two......Mike slipping on a root at the top of Schlyer/Joyride and ending up in a ball in a HUGE puddle. I was laughing with him and not at him.

Highlight number three..... passing a group of riders down the bikercross course in the air on the tables. It is a great feeling zipping safely by a person through the air. Need I say more.

Highlight number four.....my second to last run down the hill. It is 4:52pm and I have only a few minutes to get down the hill for one last run. I mach down Dirt Merchant at the highest speed I have ever done it. Step-up, step-down, table, table, drop......then rip into A-Line, table, table, table, drop.......then my favorite, the Bikercross course. I hit the course with the most speed ever and it made a HUGE difference in smoothness. Landing way down the trannies, leaning into the 10 foot high berms, airing the doubles and step-ups. It was freaking awesome.

Over all, a great day, a few beers and food at the Longhorn and the drive home.

This is what Whistler does to a pair of Oakley shorts.

I cannot wait until the next time I am able to up there again.