Sunday, November 25, 2007

Woodlot Trail Day - Giant Killer

So in this post on my riding journal I am deviating from my normal writing subject.

Today there was a trail day at The Woodlot on Giant Killer, so I showed up to take part in the trail day and take part in fixing up a trail that gets allot of riders on a near daily basis.

I arrived at The Woodlot 0007 main gate and was let in so that I could drive up to the bottom of the trail. When I arrived there were a dozen or so builders there from the Maple Ridge area and from Mission, Abbotsford area who are all part of the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association (FVMBA). I was finally able to meet Gary, Trevor, Steve and the old guy Tom ;-)

Ladder Re-Build

I grabbed my pack from my truck with my sharpened axe in hand and headed up the trail to see what I was to do today. After speaking with Cory and Ewan I headed up to the top of the trail to fix a badly eroded corner. With me I took 2 young riders that were there to assist in the building. Once at the top we simply go to work gathering rock. Basically when building, the bigger the rock the better and the more rock you have the better. Once rock gets put in place and locked in with some dirt, you don't really ever need to come back to fix it as rock doesn't erode.

After a while a few more people showed up and the top (Trevor, Jamie, Rich, Gary) and a few other kids who's names I cannot remember. It's really kinda funny.....building that is......everyone has a different take on how to do things. After a little planning and a little give and take the whole section was rocked in with the granite being placed by Trevor, Jamie and I. The younger guns dug all the dirt and the corner was groomed to perfection. It should now run solid for the life of the trail.

Nasty corner now filled with rock

A before and after shot

The progression of the rock work

One amusing thing that happened was a couple of the young guys decided to dig out a HUGE rock. I helped them get it out of the hole it was in, but in the end it was so freaking big that they (5 teens and a one adult) could not move it down the trail. They decided to leave in on the side of the trail as a way to remind themselves of the work they did today.

Trevor and I then proceeded a little ways down the trail to fix a small hit on the left side of the trail, we basically benched the collapsing slope in and cleaned up the jump. With the speed the buffed corner will produce, this rebuilt hit will now easily be able to the hipped or rolled for a little added pleasure on the trail.

By this time it was around 1pm and I was hungry, so I walked down the trail to the bottom were it was burgers and drinks served up by Rob from Experience Cycling. Great guy, good shop and good burgers. I chatted with a few other guys that are a part of the FVMBA and I then decided to put in a little more work so I went back up and help to rock and dirt in another section of trail on the lower part of the line.

Many sections of the trail were worked on today and lots of rock and dirt was moved and groomed. Ladders were fixed and a ton of much needed maintenance was completed. Though I was not able to stay to the very end I walked away after putting in my time knowing that the work done today is going to make Giant Killer run a lot better over the winter and for many more seasons to come.

A great effort was put in by everyone that was there and my hat goes off to those that participated.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lights In Action

Tonight was the first night ride of the season and man did we ever pick a nice night to get out for a ride, I'd almost say perfection. The moon was full and not a cloud in the sky. When Tim and I arrived around 7pm it was cold enough that here was frost on the ground but not too cold to ride.

Once we were both properly bundled up for the ride in the hills, we started our ascent into the darkness. Ski gloves and a toque are now my staples for a cold weather ride. If my hands and head are warm I am good to go.

On the ride up we chatted about all kinds of things; from bikes and cars to our wives and kids. I think I have only gone on two solo night rides and there is good reason for that. Riding in the dark is sooooo much more fun with others.

At the powerlines there was so much moonlight that you could see Mount Baker way off on the horizon (the city lights are Mission on the left and Abbotsford to the right).

The moonlight skyline

So once at Goldmine trail we each took our time gearing up, making sure to set our lights up correctly and down the trail it was. It is like this trail was designed for night riding. We had a hoot. About half way down we adjusted Tim's suspension and what a difference softening things up makes.

Once on Snakes and Ladders it was time to take out the camera and snap some shots of our lights in action on the trail. For my first attempt at shooting at night I am pleased with how the pictures turned out.

Tim zooming past

Tim lighting the trail painting red dotted line.

Riding the new section of Snakes in the the dark was awesome. The line just flows. At the bottom I was practically giggling by how much fun the line was to ride at night.

On the traverse over to Shogun it was amazing looking at the glittering frost on the gravel and small grass that lined our path. It was like our bikes were being lead down a priceless track of tiny diamonds.

At Shotgun we let go of the brakes and shot down the line without a care. Only one large tree remains blocking the line from the windstorm last weekend. At the clearcut opening I had to watch my speed very carefully on the long wooden ladder otherwise I'd likely of ended up in in pieces kicked off the edge of the line.

Finally at the vehicles Tim and I talked about our next possible ride, plans for building and the vibe we had from this ride.

I've once again been bitten by the night riding bug.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rockin in the Rain

Once again it was raining.....nothing is quite like the fall in Southern BC. I rode at The Woodlot, solo today. I had a limited amount of time and I really wanted to put in some hours getting a puddle section of Snakes and Ladders running dry.

I pedaled to Snakes on my Heckler and once at the trail head I geared up, fixed a little bit of trail at the top and then rode down a a fairly good clip. There were no addtional fallen trees on the trail so it was clear sailing the whole way. Once at the new section I grabbed my pruning shears from my pack and started trimming the labyrinth of roots that were draped over a certain part of the trail. It really is amazing how the proper tools can make building sooooo much easier. With the roots gone I grabbed some tools I needed and headed back to the wet spot below the rock face.

The section I worked on has always been a trouble spot for wetness. I decided it was time to really fix this section once and for all. So I dug up the dirt to gold soil below and stared setting in the stones. In the end I think I did a good 12 feet of rocking that all cambers to the outside and 'should' drain and remain dry for many years to come.

After working as long as I could I dropped off the tools and packed an axe on my back that needs sharpening. Boarded my bike, tested the new rocked in section for line selection and flow (flows nicely) and ripped the rest of the trail. Have I said I like the new extension?!!! Oh god it is fun.

I then had a peek at the trail we discovered a few weeks ago. Lets just say it no longer exists....chainsaw massacre!

I then went to Shotgun and rode out to the truck. Great shot ride, but more importantly I was able to get some work done on a wet spot. Looking forward to getting that whole section finally rocked in with the rock I stacked 18 months ago.

Monday, November 12, 2007

33 second ride with Tim

Today Tim and I decided it was time to finally open the 'new line' on Snakes and Ladders, so we went for a bit of a ride and then did some maintenance on the trail and 'opened' the new line.

There had been quite a bit of wind in the last few days and this morning was no different, in fact it this morning it was blowing even stronger. There were many trees down all over the Lower Mainland causing downed power lines and power outages all over the place.

Once we arrived we geared up and started our climb into the howling forest. I know it is not exactly the smartest thing to be riding a bike in a forest in a windstorm, but imagine the stories you can tell when you are old and gray. We could hear trees and branches falling from time to time and every now and then we'd stop and look up to make sure something was not ready to pop us on the head.

It had really been a while since I'd ridden with Tim and he an I had allot to talk about on the ride up. It really doesn't get much better than riding with friends. The ride up almost always gives you the chance to talk about life or current events or just BS about nothing at all. On this ride up I had a lot of things I talked to Tim about.

We decided to climb up to Tsuga and ride down from there. At Tsuga there were a few smaller trees and branches down, but nothing that couldn't be cleared by hand. It was a nice rip down chasing each other on the line and we then headed over to Snakes and Ladders. At Snakes we stopped at any fallen tree to clear it or hop over to keep moving down the trail to the tools.

Once we reached the new section and the tools, we grabbed the chainsaw, axe and mattock. Tim carried the chainsaw and I had the other tools and we walked up the trail cutting fallen trees and fixing mud holes. When we were done the trail was clear of blow-down and it was relatively free of mud holes. Those that were not easily fixed will be taken care of in the coming weeks.

We then went back down to the new line and ripped it all the way down. It is crazy how little time it takes to ride a sweet section of trail and how long it actually takes to build it. Tim and I had been working on this section since the summer. Many hours were put in by both parties and in the end the new line is 33 seconds of actual riding time. 33 seconds.

In those 33 seconds there are dozens of corners to rail, trees to dodge with your shoulders, rolls in the terrain to pump and one little jump to hit and duuring all of this you don't even have to do a single pedal stroke. You glide and pump the whole thing.

After Snakes and Ladders we made our way to Shotgun. By this time the rain had started falling and the wind remained as tenacious as ever. For the most part Shotgun was clear........that was until we made it the the clear cut section where another BIG tree had fallen across the trail before the road. After climbing over the tree we ripped the rest of the trail to the jump over the log beside the classic Shotgun rock. Tim was leading and out of the corner of my eye I could see a tree hanging at head level that I had never seen before. Tim hit the jump and immediately upon landing I could see him duck his head down. I being shorter in stature did not need to duck. Had Tim not ducked I think I'd be carrying him out on my shoulders. We stopped and he had a jittery hand shaking holy crap moment to gather his thoughts and we were on our way to finish the ride.

At the cars we decided it was time to get the lights out and do a night ride some time soon. Hopefully we get out in the dark soon. After a further chat about life and other such things we each got in our vehicles and headed to our respective homes.

Great ride, great meaningful conversation and finally we have opened a new section of Snakes and Ladders.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day Ride 2007

Today I went on the 5th annual Remembrance Day ride. Today's ride was different than those in the past. This year I rode solo and the ride was taking place at The Woodlot.

I did a little searching on the internet and planned a long route up into the mountains that would take me to places I have never ridden before. The night before the ride I had my bike ready and my gear packed read for an early morning ascent up into the clouds. Once parked, I pedaled up as far my legs would take me and when I could no longer pedal, I pushed and even dragged my bike up the trail until I could go no further.

Lately I have had a tremendous number of things in my life to think about. Often when riding up I have an opportunity to tune out the elements and the exertion my body is making and I am able to think deeply about 'things'. As I said before, I had a lot on my mind so the extra long climb allowed me to sort out the issues affecting my life. In the end, I ended up going up and over one mountain and then on my way up another. I finally stopped climbing when I was ankle deep in snow and soaked to the bone deep in the forest with a clear mind.

At 11am I stopped at the crest of a mountain and watched the clouds roar past carried by a strong stormy wind leaving a glimpse of clear blue skies off in the distance. These images reminded me of sacrifices that Canadian soldiers made in the wars they have fought have allowed me the freedom to be able to enjoy my life. They have given me the freedom to do what I want to do on a daily basis. Though I may not express my admiration for soldiers on a day to day basis, I completely respect what they do and always treat them with the utmost of respect, because that is what they deserve.

So my route down took me back to the Goldmine trail and then over to Snakes and Ladders, the trail right above Shotgun and then finally Shotgun.

This map shows my route up in Blue and route down in Red

View Larger Map

My muddy bike and gear after the ride

This ride gave me an opportunity to deeply reflect on many things in my life and to pay my respects to those that have fought in wars that preserve our way of life.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Beginning to the New End

Today of all days I decided to go for a ride. I had been beautiful all week.......before today. Late last night it started raining and luckily for me I picked up a new soft compound tire for the rear of my bike. Basically I am now running my winter tires on my hard tail (winter here means wet......not necessarily snow and ice).

Anyways I was in the mood to climb today. In fact if I had picked a hill with more single track climbs, I would have probably enjoyed myself a little more. Call me weird, but I was wanting to climb. BUT I was riding at The Woodlot today so I climbed up the road as I usually do and then I ripped my shorts. The front of my seat grabbed some fabric and shorts are in need of a lot of TLC. This threw a big glitch into my riding as the hole was now continuously getting hung up on my seat while climbing. The only solution was to rip off my shorts but that just wouldn't be wise, so I decided to cut my climb short and go build for a longer period on Snakes and Ladders.

Before I built anything I stopped in a really cool area of the forest and took a few shots of the open forest on a moss covered rock. The BC forests are truly spectacular places to explore and enjoy your pursuits in life.

As far as the building went, well we are really close to opening up this line now. REALLY close. Tim decided that he would kind of reroute the beginning of the new line to gain access to the existing line at a different spot. I'd looked at that spot before but never really thought much of it and just thought we would take a different line. HOWEVER after Tim cleared the debris off the line I saw the vision of this line. So I got out the pick and started digging down to gold dirt. It took a while and a lot of effort, but the new part is going to be 100% gold AND there will likely be a sweet technical drop in line when we are all said and done.

After building I packed up and rode out. Not a single sole came down the line. It was far too wet for most people today.

Shotgun was alright even in the pouring rain. At my truck I thought I'd snap a shot of my trusty steed. I must say that my bike looks far cleaner than I thought it would after riding in all the mud. I guess it was raining so hard that most of the mud got washed off.