Saturday, September 29, 2007

Weaving the Golden Ribbon

My routine lately on Saturday morning has been to rise early, load the bike on the truck and get to the build.

Today was no different. Well only that I didn't rise all that early.

9:30am and I was still the first one there. On the hardtail I climbed a up into the woods trying to escape the light rain that was falling from the autumn clouds that were enveloping the mountains.

I climbed directly to Snakes and Ladders today. No ride for me just building. I made it to the trail head in good time, geared up and started my ride down to the building spot. On the way I hit the regular jumps and stuff on the trail and wouldn't ya know it......I had virtually no front brakes. I found this out after the root gap jump; I blew through the left hand berm and wiped out. That'll teach me!!

On my way down I paid close attention to any missing/broken rung and any wet spots/puddles along the way. There are a few spots that will need a bit of work, but for now I am happy with the other words they can wait. Once at the building spot I parked my bike and got out the camera to take some before shots. I always find it amazing to see what the land looked like before we shape it into our little roller coaster ride down the mountain.

The goal today was simple for me. Build as much of the line at the top as possible. I worked my ass off today and got a lot done. We are close. Very close to having this line opened.

A before and after shot of a classic benched section. After clearing the top organic layer and other material the benched section came together well

Another before and after. While cutting this section of the line I knew it was going to be so much fun to rip. It's a golden ribbon of single track.

So once my time was expired I packed up the tools (shovel, axe, mattock and a rake) and rode down the new line and out the bottom of the trail. From the looks of it, a few people have been riding the extension. A lot of debris was cleared near the landing of the hit that we built.

Anyway, I pedaled to Shotgun and began my usual descent. I hit everything as normal at the top of the trail and set up for the jump near the top. I hit it with good speed but landed a tad nose heavy and then I heard a clank and a bang.........did my wheel explode? Did I break my frame? I make the motion to pedal, but there is no resistance. Broken chain? Nope, none of the above. The freaking B-bolt that holds the rear derailleur to the frame snapped. A few righteous words later and I was on my way down the hill..........coasting.

By not applying your virtually non existing brakes you can actually make it most of the way down Shotgun without any pedaling.

Once at the parking area there were a ton of vehicles and people mulling about getting ready to ride. I was feeling a little bitter with a broken bike but Rob from a local bike shop drove past and said howdy. He asked how things were and what not and then I mentioned the issue I had with my derailleur. I asked if he had any broken derailleurs of my flavor in the shop and if I might be able to pillage the bolt I need. Being the good guy he is he said he would have a look when he got to work in a few hours. Well guess what....he called me at home and told me he has what I need. The guys at Experience Cycling in Maple Ridge know how to take care of their customers. Later in the day I stopped in the shop and Rob gave me the bolt I needed. Outstanding!!! Good shop and great customer service!!!

So overall a great day of building and an okay ride with a partly broken bike. I was happy with the work I was able to get done and it'll be so nice to ride the new line all buffed up, we are close, so very close.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Passing Of Summer

The last official day of summer.

It was partly cloudy when I left the house.

It started raining during the climb.

I was riding my regular turf...The Woodlot. It was a little later start than what I am used to, but it felt great to get on the bike and ride in the hills. I was on my Heckler again.....I say that sarcastically because I really only seem to ride The Heckler nowadays. The hard tail is pulled out every now and then and the Ollie only seems like it is pulled out for the big hit days. I was kind of planning on getting a new frame this year, but I just seem to be liking the Heckler a little too much. It is simple, strong and does almost everything I ask it to do without a single complaint.

Anyhoo.....I rode up Stovetop again today in the wet and it actually seems easier than in the dry. I rolled over the sweet intersection of The Toadstools and then continued up the skidder to Tsuga. On the skidder I got absolutely soaked because when you pedal, you can't exactly stay centered on the trail to avoid the wet leaves that border the trail. The wetness aside, I had a good pedal up to Tsuga. At the trail head, I geared up and let go of the brakes.

Tusga was in great shape; no holes, no mud, no blowdown, just all natural goodness.

Once at Snakes and Ladders I took my time to see if there were any spots collecting water. There were a few, but a few minutes with a shovel is all that most need. For the most part, Snakes and Ladders is ready for the rains that are coming. A minimal amount of preventative work is all that is needed.

Timmy had been busy working on the trail at the extension. It is really close to being done. He had pretty much finished the hit that I roughed in last week. It was all framed and filled with dirt and tamped down. I was the first to hit it. Nothing big, but it puts you exactly where you need to be in the landing area. I cannot wait to totally dial the last section of the extension. I am really happy with what we have done.

So rather than work at the bottom of the extension, I took my bike up to the top and started work on removing a rather large amount of duff. The tie in to the original trail is not going to be as easy to construct as most of the extension we have done. The line consists of a trail builders nemesis.....DUFF. For a good 50 feet there is a substantial amount of duff, red rot, black, mossy, rooty, organic sloppy duff.

I spent 2 hours clearing 6 feet of trail. Thats right, 2 hours 6 feet. Some people wonder why it takes people so long to hand construct a trail. It is mainly because to do it right it takes a lot of back breaking exhausting work. Digging, picking, cutting and moving rock, dirt and removing roots all so that the trail will flow well and run smooth and dry.

This picture shows what I did today with an axe, mattock, shovel and saw. The cut into the duff is about 3 feet wide, at least 3 feet deep and about 6 feet long. It was a PITA to do, but it will be well worth it in the end.

This picture show just how much duff and stuff I threw down slope. All the red in the picture was my handiwork today.

During the course of doing this work today I had a few visitors on the trail. Firstly 4 guys hiked up the new line. There I was standing with an axe and 4 guys from Washington State walked up the trail dragging their bikes. They were lost. Not knowing how to find the beginning of the trail, they walked up form the bottom and somehow saw the new line and followed it to my location. How they found it I don't really know but they were happy to get some directions from me and they were on their way. One guy and his dog came down in near silence and then 2 guys that were hooting and hollering passed by.

Once I had emptied my tank, I packed up the tools and headed down the trail and out over to Shotgun. A quick blast down and then out to my vehicle. At the bottom I met up with a guy I had seen the last 3 weeks so we chatted for a bit then I got in my truck and homeward bound I was.

I managed to get a good chunk of work done on the trail and had a good solid ride as well.

Summer is gone, time for change.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Changing of the Seasons

This weekend I was able to escape reality once again and venture to The Woodlot early Saturday morning at sunrise. By the time I parked the sun had finished rising and I had the hill all to myself. I stopped at the Timmy Ho's on the way so I had an XL DD in hand and was eager to get to the dirt for a ride.

I was riding my Heckler this week and have made a bit of a deal with myself that I have to make an absolute effort to ride the whole way up when ever I am climbing. On a bike with a granny gear, there is no excuse..........I know I am going to regret this pact with myself.

Once I finished my coffee I began the real pedaling up the hill and I rode up Stovetop again. On the Heckler it is a little more of an effort as the front end want to come up on the bike, but with a little extra effort I was easily able to make it all the way up with no pushing at all.

At this time of the year the temperature is starting to fall and the forest is beginning to get ready for the winter. Fall is very soon upon us. With this comes the changing of leaves, trees shed their needles and things get a little wet. Now I mention this because I had the crap kind of scared out of me during my solitary climb due to mother nature. As I was near the top of Stovetop I could hear some crashing sounds not to far from me. I stopped immediately and tried to get a better listen and figure out my next move.(Recently there had been a rather aggressive black bear in the area so I was a little more alert than normal). Bang, crash, crash clunk. Bang, crash, crash clunk. Bang, crash, crash clunk. I listened to the same sound for several minutes trying to figure out what to do.....should I go up, or turn around? Finally I realized it was simply pine cones falling from a really high tree swaying in the gentle morning breeze. You'd be surprised how much noise a damn pine cone falling 100 feet makes. Inside I felt kind of embarrassed but it is better to be safe than sorry.

So after the pine cone incident I was on my way to the top of Blood Donor and then the intersection of Upper and Lower Toadstool. Well since last week the trail fairies were hard at work building an beautiful intersection for the trail that used to get really sloppy in the winter, but not any more.

Shot taken looking down Upper Toadstool to Lower Toadstool - Nice work Greg and Denise.

I just had to stop and take a shot of this beautiful new bit of work that will go a long way in the winter to reduce the erosion that happens at this junction. After the quick stop for the photo I continued up to the skidder road and all the way up to the Powerlines. I did spin the wheel of fortune, but I had decided my route already. Karpenter, Blood Donor, Lower Toadstool, Snakes and Ladders, Shotgun.

At the top there was mist and clouds so there was no real view to take in today. I guess the winter riding season is soon upon us. Karpenter was wicked. All the Woodwork was dry and the dirt was moist and tacky. I rode everything clean and even stopped to get a little video of myself on a signature feature of this trail.

Around and through the stump on Krazy Karpenter.

After Krazy Karpenter it was a short push up to Blood donor. Recently there has been a BIG hit addition to the top of the trail. A good 15x15 foot step down jump that will never see my tire tracks.....ever. It's just too big with too many repercussions. I did however hit all the other sweet nuggets on Blood Donor and and then traversed over to Lower Toadstool riding over the new junction.

Lower Toadstool has seen a lot of new wood work and re-routing since I last rode it. I is all fast and flowy that put a big fat grin on this boys face. Once at the bottom of Toadstool I went left and made my way to Snakes and Ladders.

Along the way I ran into some people that recognized me from a few weeks ago and they were back for more fun at the Woodlot. They were just staring their ride on their way to the top. I said howdy and continued up to Snakes and Ladders where I ripped down the trail popping all the hits and lovin every second of it. Once at the building spot I hid my bike, got some tools and got to work on starting the little surprise for the extension. I was able to find the logs I needed and in the area of the hill we are in there is so much rock to be had that I had no issues finding the supplies I needed to build today.

One kind of funny thing that happened today was I was spotted by two kids on the trail holding my axe, so I just continued walking up the trail towards them with my axe in my hands. The first kid rode by quickly all bug eyed but I asked the other if he had seen any blow down on the trail as I was pretending I was clearing the trail of fallen trees. He said nope and high tailed it outa there as fast as he would have been hilarious if I had some ketchup splattered on my shirt and the axe.

In total 10 people rode past in 2 groups and I was able to avoid being seen by all of them. Soon enough this will be open for traffic, but for now we feel the need to keep it quiet.

After working for a while I packed up the tools, climbed aboard my bike and rode out the rest of the trail and over to Shotgun. Once at Shotgun, it was a super fast rip down to the truck where I saw a bunch of the people that rode past. I said hello and then drove home.

It was a great day of riding and a productive day on the hill. The seasons are about to change.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Artsy Fartsy

Today I hit The Woodlot. Solo. On my hard tail and I brought my camera.

I arrived reasonably early but missed sunrise. 7am was when I started the climb with a Timmy's XL DD in hand.

Once the coffee was finished (near Hoots) I decided that today was a day for some real pedaling up the hill. So I dropped the hammer and pedaled at the best pace I could up to the top. Now I will be the first to admit that my pace is not impressive, but I don't stop. I took the not so traveled route up and climbed up Stovetop. It is trails like Stovetop that make the quest for pristine single track so rewarding. Stovetop is such a sweet gem of a trail. You can climb the whole thing in the wet or dry on a silky ribbon of gold dirt. Nice narrow pedalable singletrack is an utter rarity for me and today I loved it.

As I mentioned earlier, I brought my camera with me. When riding on the climb from Stovetop to the top of Giant Killer I noticed a small stump with some mushrooms sprouting from all directions. On most well traveled trails this forest of fungi would have been destroyed even before they planted their roots, but on this peaceful path, it has flourished.

An Artsy Fartsy Photo - Click to ENLARGE Photo

So once at the skidder road I continued to pedal my way up. Today I realized my appreciation for the hidden singletrack that you can use to climb up The Woodlot rather than the skidder. Bouncing all over on baby head rocks really sucks in comparison.

Once at the top my original plan was to ride to Karpenter then back up to Tsuga, Snakes (build) then Shotgun. BUT..............................................................I remembered someone mentioning a wheel of fortune at the powerlines; so I turned around and there it was. I grabbed my camera and took a few shots of this wickedly cool contraption. So I just HAD to spin it and the trails that came up on it for me to ride were: The Gate, Tsuga, Snakes and Ladders. I honestly could not have asked for a better route.

Wheel of Trail Fortune

Wheel of Trail Fortune - Closer up (click for a larger picture)

Wheel of Trail Fortune - Video

As you can tell from the pictures above and the video, I thought this thing was really frikin cool.

Well I geared up where I was and made my way over to The Gate. Personally I have never loved The Gate. I always ride it conservatively. It is a cool trail and all with some interesting skinnies, but it has never been on my list of trails that I Must Ride.

So then it was over to Tsuga after The Gate and what a fun rip it was on the hardtail. Tsuga is always a nice flowy ride that I enjoy every time I ride it.

Snakes and Ladders was in great shape and flowed really well today. No real issues anywhere on the trail and I bombed down it with a reckless abandon I have not had in a while.

Snakes and Ladders Teeter Totter - Video

I decided today to capture myself riding the teeter totter on the log ride section on Snakes. I have always loved teeters and I must say that Tim and Rob did a spectacular job on this teeter. 100% all cedar and it works so damn well. It also has a cool squeak to it when it lowers.

Then it was on down to the area of the extension. Tim had been up there earlier this week and done a bunch of work. He did a lot of work on the last corner and cleared most of the straight away. At first when I arrived I was not sure about what I should do, so I rode the corner a few times; gaining speed each time.

The line of the corner was perfect so I decided to dive right in and really get to work on backing the berm of the corner. I found 2 large logs and dragged them into place, buried them and started the back filling. Rock then dirt. It took shape MUCH faster than expected. It really needs to be rained on to settle the dirt and compact it, but the shape is there and it is a solid start. I even had a bit of fun hiding while building.......11 people rode right past me while I worked away. I cannot wait for Tim, Rob and I to open up this line.

Snakes and Ladders bermed - I love how the dirt gets kicked up as I drift the berm.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lonely Ride

So today I hit the Woodlot solo on the Heckler. I had been playing with the suspension a little bit since I last rode it so this was a bit of an experimental ride. I also changed the tires on it from Michelin Comp 16's to Botranger Big Earls. Lately the weather has been kinda blah. It rained a little overnight so things were damp, but the weather during the ride was nice; partly cloudy.

I headed up and made an effort to pedal virtually the whole way. In the spots where is it truly a PITA to pedal I pushed at a hard pace not stopping at all on the climb. I have done nothing active since my last ride at The Woodlot, so I was seeing if I could maintain a good a pace and keep the heart rate up. I decided my route was Cabin Trail, Snakes and Ladders, Hoots and Shotgun. On the way up to Cabin trail along the flatter traverse part of the climb I ran into a group of 4 riders and a dog. For two of the guys it was their first ride at The Woodlot so I welcomed them and set their minds at ease that the route they had chosen was the best route to introduce yourself to The Woodlot (Cabin, Snakes, Hoots, Shotgun).

At the trail head we geared up and I wished them well and rode on my own on the way down. I must say that the changes I made to my bike and the tires made a good bike spectacular. I have never felt my bike feel so smooth on the trails before. I was impressed.

At Snakes and Ladders I rode the trail looking for any trouble spots but for the most part there were none. Near the Boa Bridge on the trail I met up with a group of 6 people that were having a hoot sessioning the jumps and doing the teeter totter. I smiled inside as I rolled by.

I had sort of intended to spend some time extending the line we were working on, but we are at a point where I would very easily been spotted if I was to do work with people on the trail so I decided to just ride the new line, inspect it (looks great) and ride on.

Hoots was fun. The open section in the clearcut in getting beaten to death, but that it what happens to popular trails; the get ridden hard.

Up to Shotgun where things on the bike felt great. I caught up to the group of 6 people who I saw on Shakes and Ladders, so when I rolled up to them, they let me pass. Down to the vehicle and off home.

A good number of my rides lately have been solo spins. Not ideal, but at least I get the joy of riding my bike in the forest and mountains.