Saturday, December 30, 2006

Redemption on Mount Fromme

Today the venue was Mount Fromme. I arrived at 7:45am and within 5 minutes I was on my way up the road to climb to the top. Along Mountain Highway I passed a couple other guys but for once in my life my pace was higher than someone else and I never saw them again on the climb. There is something different about riding Mount Fromme solo, it is like the rider vs the ominous mountain. I think this is what draws me back from time to time.

The climb up was not bad at all. The temperature was chilly but not cold. I was not raining but there had been some snowfall over night the snow on the road started at the water tower. Once again I was getting fresh tracks in the snow on the way up as I was the first one climbing for the day. It was only at the end of the 6th switchback and the end of the 7th switchback where the snow was too deep to pedal and I had to get off my bike to push. Once at the 7th Secret I geared up and started the descent on the snow laden trail. Of all the trails I have ever ridden, 7th is by far the most suited for a snow ride. It is as if the trail was designed for riding in the snow. The sweet slippery flow lasted the length of this magnificent piece of trail work. Fun, fun, fun as always. After 7th it was up the road to Oil Can. Oil Can had seen some work over the last year by the NSMBA to bring it up to the high standards that are expected of trails nowadays. I had only ridden this trail once before on Remembrance Day '06 but it was so much fun that I decided to give it another run. Sweet easy loamy flow, 4 words that describe this trail perfectly.

After Oil Can it was a quick traverse on the Baden Powell trail to get to the top of Boundary. The last time I rode Boundary I destroyed my rear wheel on a beautiful feature at the top of the trail so one could say that this was the redemption run.

The stunt in question is at the top of the trail and involves a couple wet slick narrow ladders that need to be negotiated perfectly to lead into the steep down ramp.

Photo by: Doug Chinnery

Well all went well today, I admit I was nervous but the outcome was favorable (in my favor). The rest of the trail involves many steep rock faces that are linked by narrow sloped ladders that require 100% concentration or you go for a ride on your butt. Today I was on and everything seemed to come together for me. The trail is spilt up into sections and at one junction you have a choice of going left or right, well I chose the wrong direction at a particular junction and headed off on my way to Digger. Well this wrong turn in the end seems like the right turn because I ran into the builder of Boundary. Karen is the sole builder on of Boundary and does an absolutely stellar job at it. I would say we chatted for a good 15 minutes about this and that but in the end I needed get home and she wanted to get to work on her trail. This lady does masterful work and deserves a huge amount of recognition for her efforts.....and she rides it on a hard tail!!!!

Once I was back on the right track I made quick work of the rest of Boundary because I was now behind schedule due to the longer climb in the snow and chat with Karen. Once I was on road I climbed up the road at a good pace and descended to where I parked my car. Then it was the 40 minute drive home in Saturday morning traffic.

In summary I had a great solo ride with a quiet climb in the snow, a rip down frosty 7th Secret, a flowy run down Oil Can and I finally rode Boundary top to bottom, meeting the builder of the trail along the way. I don't really see a better way to end my '06 riding season than with this ride.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Biking Nirvana

Today's ride took place at the Woodlot. I had planned on hitting Fromme, but things didn't really work out for that, so I headed off to my local stomping ground instead. I figured I would head up to the top, ride down to Snakes and Ladder and build for a while but the building part didn't really materialize. I headed up at about 9:30am and I was the first biker to start the climb for the day.

Rather than just riding/pushing up the hill the regular route, I decided that I would go up Stove-top and then continue up to Krazy Karpenter once I reached the road. Well going up Stove-top was a big mistake. The recent storms had brought down a lot of trees on it. Someone had gone along and cut most of the fallen trees, but they did not clear them off the line. This saves a lot of time while cutting, but makes the first climber work for his ride. It seems as though I was the first climber. I'd say I cleared 10 or so trees before I simply got tired of getting off my bike so I just pushed up and over the rest of the trees. Clearing the trees added about half an hour to my ride so I was now a little pressed for time.

Once at the skidder I began the next part of the climb up by picking up the pace. Once I reached Tsuga I decided that Karpenter was going to take too much time so I began my descent on Tsuga. Cory had been busy on the trail clearing all the fallen trees so Tsuga was clear and I blasted along without worry. At the usual turn off to Snakes and Ladders there were 2 or 3 large trees that will need to be chain sawed out and then a few more on the connector. The next time the saw is up high on the trail these trees will be removed.

Sometimes when you ride a trail really often you get a feeling where you can relax and just let your bike guide you down the ribbon of dirt and wood, well today I had one of those moments on Snakes and Ladders. At the top of the trail I just let go of my brakes and let my bike be the guide. A wet slippy skinny cleaned without a worry, a drop without a care, a gap jump as smooth as silk. It was like I didn't even have to other words: Biking Nirvana.

Once at the rock face I had a look at the condition of the ground and thought about what I could get done today and whether it was worth even trying to build. I decided that I would spend my time having a look around at other trails today rather than building. So to the bottom of Snakes I went and then I pedaled to an area of The Woodlot I have not been for quite a while. Lets just say that this line that I found has some okay bridges on it and should be a good 'All Mountain' flat line for those that want to venture on it. Of course there will be some harsh critics and yes some things could be better built but the line is there and all it needs is a little TLC and a day or so with a chain saw to remove fallen trees.

So I then made my way to Shotgun where I once again let go of the brakes and let her all hang out. My new brakes seem to be working alright but likely need one more ride to completely bed in.

Mmmmmmm, new brakes '07 Juicy 7s

Shotgun was a blast as always. I have never really thought about it before but the name 'Shotgun' really suits the trail. Having ridden the trail likely a couple hundred times I seem to know all the roots and rocks that hide on this trail, but as always when you least expect it one of them jumps out and bites you. I didn't go down, but it was close so I had a really good look at this root that seemed to have my name written all over it. Next time I will pay a little closer attention. Out to the car it was where a couple guys asked about conditions. All I could say is snow at the top and the wood is VERY slippy.

I had a great ride............Nirvana!!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Everyone's Asleep.........TEST RIDE

Being the day after Boxing day and home for the holidays I figured I would get out every chance I got to ride. Yesterday I had bought some new brakes for my bike, some tires and some grips. I had everything installed by 5 pm....yesterday. I needed to take things for a test ride. So as soon as the kids were asleep for their naps today and the wife was laying down for a nap, she gave me the nod. Oh how I love the nod. I booked it down to the garage, put on my helmet and pedaled like hell to the trail at the end of the road.

New brakes need bedding in and heat needs to get into them before they work 100% so I knew not to expect much from my new binders but lets just say I was pleasantly surprised. I then headed down the hill to an area that I hope to one day build a sweet single-track line that would go for a couple kms before popping you out at a trail that leads to The Woodlot.

After a few kms of riding I turned around and headed home. I had my test ride and got my fix for the day. Best of all, when I arrived home and got upstairs everyone was still asleep.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cabin Trail Freeze Ride

Today as I headed out the door to go for a ride and build at The Woodlot I knew that the weather was going to a little cold and wet so I dressed appropriately for the weather. It was raining on the way to the parking area but rain soon turned into snow. At the parking area there was about an inch of snow when I started my climb up the hill on my Heckler. Once again I was getting fresh tracks in the white fluffy stuff.

The plan for today was to go all the way up to Cabin Trail then down to Snakes and Ladders, meet Tim and his wife Joanne on Snakes to build for a while then ride out down Shotgun. So up the hill I went with the snow falling a not a soul in sight. I had the fresh pow to myself. The further I went up, the deeper the snow on the trail got and the more I realized that my shoes and shorts weren't quite the lower body attire I wished I was wearing today.

The picture below is taken a little ways from the power lines looking up through the green tunnel created by the canopy of Spruce and Cedar.

A shot of the climb at The Woodlot.

So once at the power-lines I could tell that there was a rather significant amount of snow on the ground considering how little there was lower on the hill. I'd say 7" of snow at the power-lines and I was heading even higher.

I was able to pedal part of the way to Cabin trail but that soon came to a halt once I encountered the fallen trees across the skidder. There were at least a dozen trees down and in several spots you have to venture into the forest to get around them. At one point I considered turning around because the snow was getting so deep. By the time I was at the trail head I was in at least 14" of snow. Fortunately the trail only had a couple inches that had fallen through the canopy so the ride was wicked fun. In fact I would say that this is the best condition I have ever seen Cabin Trail in during a winter season. Someone had been up the trail and cleared ALL of the fallen trees on the trail. There wasn't a single thing that needed to be cleared. The trail simply flowed and I had an absolute hoot.

However the trail didn't completely escape unscathed from the recent wind and snow storms. The last and largest bridge on the trail took a direct hit from several trees. It was completely broken in two pieces and will need to be completely rebuilt.

The bridge that didn't survive the storm.

After Cabin trail I headed down to Snakes and Ladders. Along the way there was only one spot that had not been cleared which was a pair of completely up rooted trees that I think we will put an A-Frame over in the near future.

On Snakes and Ladders I ripped down the trail with glee to the rock face section that Tim and Joanne were working on. In the past I have had many people roll up on me while working and I know how it can literally scare the crap out of you. So as I approached I yelled out, but it was too late, I scared the crap out of both of them as they were nailing some rung on our new bridge section on Snakes. By this time I was cold and wet and not SUPER eager to build. But I went to work nailing rung while Tim cut stringers and bucked up a log for rung. Then the saw jammed, I ran out of rung and we all decided it was time to simply stop building.

I was now starting to get uncomfortably cold as it was now 11:30 and I had been in the elements for 3 1/2 hours wet to the bone. Tim and Joanne packed up the tools and went for a hike and I rode down to my car staying off the brakes because my hands were now too cold to feel my brake levers. Shotgun was brutal for me at this point because of my numb hands. I stopped several times to try and get feeling in my fingers and fortunately I made it out in good time to my car unscathed. I then quickly started my car, turned the heat on full blast and loaded my bike. As I was loading my car up I informed a few younger guys of the conditions up the hill (snow) and warned them to dress appropriately as they were in jeans and cotton hoodies. I guess you have to learn the hard way right?

Over all a good ride, but I think I am going to invest in some warmer winter weather riding gear.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Trees, Karma and mishaps.

Tonight's ride was once again at the Woodlot. At 6:30pm I met Dave and Mark at the parking lot and we headed up the hill with me on my hard tail, Dave on his Norco Six, and Mark on a Team Shore. It was hard to believe but the rain had stopped for us and we were not needing our rain gear for the ride. Since I had last been at The Woodlot there had been yet another windstorm and we were sure that we would be encountering fallen trees during our ride.

We had not really decided on a route beforehand so we decided that we would figure out our route at the top. Once Dave and Mark had finished their bickering about how to mount the HID on Dave's helmet ;-) we started the climb to the top. Once we had reached Quick Hit, Dave and I stopped for a bit to make sure the trail was in good condition but Mark continued on. Dave and I then continued a leisurely climb up into the forest. However about 10 feet into the forest Mark jumped out in front of Dave scaring the crap out of him. I don't think Dave will admit it but Mark got Dave really good.

Fortunately there weren't any trees down on the climb up and the power-lines came up quite fast. Once at the top we all geared up, fired up the lights and decided on the route. Tonight is was Krazy Karpenter, Blood Donor, Giant Killer, Snakes and Ladders and finally Shotgun. Once we started into Karpenter I could tell the wood was SLICK everywhere. I managed to clean the big log-ride on my hard tail and gave a WHHHOOOOOHOOOO at the bottom as there was one moment of sketch, however Mark was not as lucky as me and took the first tumble of the evening knocking his HID off his bars. After the repair we continued down the trail only to be stopped by the first of MANY fallen trees on the trail. About 5 more stops to clear trees and we were finally at the spiral ladder that goes around and through a stump.

I have ridden the spiral stump feature many times and have figured out the process of riding it clean many months ago, but neither Dave nor Mark had ridden it, let alone cleaned it. There is a fine art to making the turn clean and a simple trials hop doesn't always suffice. Mark gave it a shot and well....didn't quite make it through, neither did Dave. Mark tried it again and almost made it, but I think Karma caught up with him for frightening Dave earlier because just as it looked like he was about to complete the stunt, he stumbled and grumbled as he put a foot down.

Later on down the trail there were still more tree down across our path but for a while there was a section that was all clear and I was able to get on to the narrow planked skinnie section. I rode it.....not totally clean, but almost. Behind me Mark made an attempt at the same section but did not fare too well. His rear wheel slipped off the plank and he went plunk with his bike. Though Mark got up okay, his bike and light were in need of repair. His rear wheel came out of its drop-outs and his HID light snapped its mount and was dangling about in the dark. Once repairs were made we continued over to Blood Donor. I think by this time we had already stopped 10 times to clear trees so once we were at the top of Donor we decided to have a good look at the new ladder gap step-down at the top of the trail. All I can say is Big, really, really BIG!

Down Blood Donor we went clearing a tree here and there and hitting a few stunts on the trail. Giant Killer was next on the agenda. Fortunately there really weren't many trees down on Giant Killer so we were actually able to get some flow going on the trail. On the long log ride I had a brief moment of sketch due to the wet and slippy conditions, but overall it was a sweet ride.

We then went over to Snakes and Ladders to give her a rip. The trail started off okay, but time after time we were stopping to clear tree after tree. Once we made it down to the Snakes Jump. Mark and I decided to hit it a few times and lets just day Mark was lucky he had a lot of air in his rear tire. CASAGE!!! Of the three of us he definitely provided the most entertainment this evening.

Further down the trail I hit all the stunts and Mark and I paused at the top of the rock face. Behind us we could hear a thud and a groan. Dave went down on the little log drop. He was shaken but everything was intact and thankfully his bike was still running well ;-)

Down to last ladder roll we went and Mark asked just how fast he shoudl roll over it and where to aim for. I instructed his with total confidence, "Keep you speed under control and at the bottom of the ladder make sure to stay right, the tree on the left will take you out". So down the ladder I went, keeping right......well I went way too far right and smacked into a tree I had never even seen before. In fact I broke one of my helmet lights with my tree hugging head slapping adventure.

Once straightened out we went over to Shotgun....after clearing more trees. Shotgun was fun and fortunately nearly no trees down on it. There was one on the upper part of the trail that we were not able to clear, but other than that, the trail ripped and we all had a hoot.

At the parking area I checked my watch and it was 10:30, this was a 4 hour night ride that usually only take 2 hours. Downed trees, mechanicals and the odd spill had doubled the duration of our ride. In the end it was a great ride and we got a lot of trees cleared off the trails. Plus Dave realized that he now HAS TO HAVE A HID light.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Clearing after the Storms

Well today was one day that I will remember for some time to come. Tim, Rob, Dave and I headed to Snakes and Ladders in the dark at 6:30am. Given the recent snow storm and the windstorms, the trails at The Woodlot are in desperate need of repair from fallen trees.

The four of us climbed to the top of the trail by climbing over and under half a dozen fallen trees. This first photo shows what the top of the trail looked like when we arrived.

Fallen trees everywhere.

Once we stashed our bikes we hiked down the trail get the chainsaw and axes and to survey the trail to get a good idea about the state of the trail. On the hike down there were a lot of HOLY CRAPS and WTF!?! being said.

A group of fallen trees.

In several places the trees fell in groups, so rather than just one tree there were 5 or 6 trees fallen in a group or clusters. Once we were at the tool stash Tim went to work getting the saw running and I went down to the bottom of the trail to see how many more trees were going to be needed to be cleared. Once the saw was running it was a quick jaunt down the trail to cut out the 6 trees that had fallen then it was up the trail to cut out all the trees that fell during the bad weather we have had.

Nobody actually kept a count of the number of trees that we cut out but I would guess that there were at least 30 and likely 40 trees that we cut out in total. We made surprisingly good time cutting out the trees with Tim manning the saw and Dave, Rob and I moving the cut pieces out of the way. Dave and Rob ended up doing a fair amount of removal with the axes while Tim worked on the saw and I kept him company or removing dead-fall by hand. By 10:00am we were at the top of the trail and that was with a lot of hiking around and the 'issue' we had with the saw.

Tim doing some hedge trimming.

When we were all at the top of the trail Cory came walking by with his bow saw and a not so happy look on his face as he was just surveying all the fallen trees on the trails. To sum it up, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get the trails back into their former state. Rob needed to take off a little earlier than the rest of us so he was the first to jet at 10:30 then Tim left at 11:00am with the saw on his back ready for a tune-up. Dave and I stayed back for a little while longer to clear some fallen trees with the axes on the skidder road up.

By the time all four of us had left, the skidder road up to Snakes and Ladders and the whole trail itself was clear. There were other people working their butts off on the hill clearing trees and doing work to get the trails back into good running order. A big shout out to Dieter, Dan, Cory, Ewan and anyone else that has been busting their butt to fix the trails after the recent storms.

After Dave and I finished working we hiked back to our bikes and rode Snakes and Ladders free and clear without the worry of running into any fallen trees. At the bottom of Snakes and Ladders there were still a few trees on the road out but they can be taken care of on a later date. On the road below Quick Hit Dave and I ran into Dieter and Dan who were kind enough to bring a nice saw and offered their help in clearing Krazy Karpenter, Giant Killer and Hoots.

Both Dave and I then rode Shotgun out to the parking area where there were about a dozen or so people mulling around wondering what trails were open/cleared and what was closed. All I was able to say at the time was Snakes and Ladders and Shotgun were both clear and ready to rip.

The four of us had a good time building together and from what I understand, there is suppose to be another big wind storm blowing through in the next few days, so we may be repeating this exercise sooner than we think.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

6 Pack and a dog named Golden

With the recent snow and my inability to get out on the trails this past weekend I have been itching to ride. Neither Rob or Tim were able to come out and ride so I did a “Who wants to ride?” post on the NSMB.COM ride planning forum. It seems as though I was not the only one itching to get out and ride. From my post we determined that Simon Fraser University (SFU) was likely the best hill to ride on this fine evening and 6 guys and a dog showed up for the festivities. The riders were Dave, Steve, Anthony, Kim (with his dog Golden), Mark and myself.

Once all the introductions were made we started the climb to the top on Joe’s Trail (Trans Canada Trail) . I think all of us were a little surprised to find that there was a total lack of snow on trail up which made the climb really quite easy to climb rather than push. I had just eaten before arriving and my belly was not feeling very good on the climb at all but once we popped out at the bus stop at the top of SFU it was time for the real fun to begin.

Across the campus we went with lights blazing to the top of Naheeno trail. Once we were all armored up and the light running we dropped in on the trails to see what they had in store for us. This evening I was the only one on a hard tail as everyone else was riding 6”x6” bikes, but I did just fine. On Naheeno were several downed trees on the first trail that will need cutting out with a chainsaw.

Once across University Drive East we got onto Mel’s trail and traversed over to Nicole’s. Again there were a few trees down on Mel’s, but overall the trail was in good shape. Nicole’s is rather famous for Nicole’s Pole and with Steve leading and riding it first so easily I thought ‘sweet, no problem’. Well Nicole’s pole is a feature that showcases the laws of physics and the grip that you how your tires have. Steve had some reasonably new sticky tires on his bike. I had a new sticky front tire but an old totally worn rear tire that was sticky a year ago. Down the pole I went but every time I touched my rear brake it would cause my tire to drift off one side or the other. Fortunately I kept cool and rode the log only using my front tire (testing the law of physics and the grip on my tire). One at a safe exit point I wheelie dropped off the side. Later on I heard Mark saying I was not making that log look confidence inspiring.

The rest of Nicole’s was a sweet rip to the bottom and we all stopped to remove one larger branch across the trail. At the gravel road the 6 of us chatted for a good 15 minutes and everyone but Steve and I departed home. Steve and I decided to climb a little more and do Lower Snake. The climb to the top is short and easy and you are rewarded with a nice easy rip on single track to the bottom again. There were several large trees down on the trail and last one about 50M from the end of the trail was a full sized tree uprooted where the root left a 3 foot deep crater in the middle of the trail. In that on spot they will very likely need to do a reroute.

Steve and I then headed to our cars where something really odd occurred. Just as I got onto the paved road, my derailleur hanger decided to break and I had my derailleur in the spokes of my wheel. I guess there really was no better place for it to happen right.

Overall a great ride out this several people I have never met before and zero injuries.