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Ride Report Archive March 2011

Paul there not just wool socks they are Smart Wool Socks at Amazing Socks

Thursday 3/31/11

Took a ride at Growlers today. Jim had posted a notice that if you were underemployed and wanted to ride to meet at the gate. There were five of us, Paul
(who retired and is now working more than ever),
Eric and Ryane
(young guys that just hammer the trail - boy do I feel sorry for them having to spend so much time waiting for me).
Then there was Jim
(who is out of shape - yap that's terrible)
and myself
Kelley (draggin the hind end, I call it "doin sweep").

We rode the first three road trails and then did the climb up the road to Creation. When we got to the Legacy trail I had decided I wanted to work on my skills in the exit. There are a number of log overs and large drops that always give me a problem. While they did the loop, I sessioned the section. It worked well for me.

We headed down WTF, which was in excellent shape, probably the best section I rode all day. Then hit Vortex and Jekyll. Just before we got to the creek crossing Paul lost his derailleur(check out the late Sheldon Brown's Feelings on Derailleur) and he had to coast and walk out on the road. Jim and I finished the upper section then rode out with him.

Tuesday 3/29/11

COB (Crotchety Old Bastards) ride at Stella. The COB's on this ride were Kelley Hinkle, Bob Kenney and Ken Roberts (with his dog Penny). Wet, that was the word of the day. It did not stop raining for the three hours we were out. The trails were as slick and slimy as I have ever seen them.

We started by riding about five miles up the road to where the Golden Spike crosses and headed back along the ridge.

The beavers have been busy in the creek along the roadway. The big dam was littered with shinny white sticks. The bark stripped, most likely for a meal, the white sticks scattered across the dams like the bones of their prey. As we rode further up the road, Bob pointed out what looked like a couple of new dams under construction.

I wish I could remember all the trail names that we rode but... we did hit Celtic Knot, the Chicken Trails (and I did slap a couple as we rode by) and Gateway to name three of at least six.

After we headed down Gateway, Bob and Ken asked if I had ever done the Lakeside trail. Since I had not they took me up on the Haryu side.

The Haryu side of the Stella system is more like the trails at Growlers, the two systems are very similar but Stella trails are much tighter. The trails on the ridge tend to seek out every advantage in the terrain. Rolling over root wads and mounds formed by root balls of blow down, long since decayed and rotted away. Swooping down through drop outs along the edge of the ridge and catching the next opportunity to regain the ridge in a few strong pedal strokes.

The Haryu side was a strong climb followed by a good descent. The climb was broken up into a number of short very strong climbs, but I was able to struggle up every one of them. Each climb found me shifting my weight back and forth trying to keep as much contact and weight as possible on the back tire while twisting the front wheel left and right jockeying for the best line.

After making the top of the line on the Lake side trail, it meanders along through the woods. There is a clear cut that is visible off to the left as we rode out. On a dry day this section would scream with lots of rolling swooping trail, a little less of the technical that the Stella ridge has and longer straight lines, or at least that is the way it felt.

The final descent was very muddy and sloppy. I slid and skidded my way down what has got to be a great run on a dry day. The conditions required me to keep more distance between myself and Ken, who was in front of me, because I had almost slammed him once already because of an out of control skid where the back of my bike almost caught up with the front. The best I could get from my breaks was ether, out of control skidding or a barely controllable free run where I was dodging trees and bushes and holding on until the next opportunity to apply a little more break.

Damn it - it was fun!

PS When you are ridding the Stella trails, be sure to thank the guys that have built and maintained them, Bob and Ken are a couple of these guys.
Ken told me that Kona was going to be at the Highlander with demo bikes next month, more to come.
Bob was talking about these breaks at JensonUSA
COB Stella Ride

Saturday 3/26/11

It was raining hard when I got up this morning. As I sat and ate breakfast I could hear the rain pounding on the roof. The satellite reception faltered a couple of times as I watched the multicolor blob the weather man was pointing at inching its way across the screen.

About 6:00 am I started putting my bike gear together. My attire for the day would be poly wear and rain gear. Grabbed my helmet liner and some poly gloves to wear under my fingerless bike gloves and put my video camera in my pack, hoping I would be able to pull it out and use it.

I was the first to arrive at the trailhead, the rain had stopped. I readied my bike and slipped on my pack just as Guy Smith, Andy Wilson, and Jesse Lopez arrived. I told Guy I'd meet them up on the road and took off up the power line hill.

I cranked my way up the hill in the light mist maintaining a steady but reasonable pace.

I took off down Predator, splashing through the puddles; there was lots of standing water on the trail. Predator has to be the most used trail in the system. I was about half way down the road section when I could hear a harsh squawking of breaks off in the distance behind me.

We continued on down through the woods on Predator, the lower section was not as bad as the road sections but it did have more than a couple of very greasy spots.

Next we rode Cousin Eddy, one of the first trails to have been put in, it had a few puddles but overall was in fair shape. Even the grinding hard climb on the back end was still firm under my tires and I was able to clear it all.

There is one spot on Cousin Eddy that I have written about before in my Growlers Gulch trails description that seems to claim more than its share of riders, and today was my turn. I still don't know why I could not make the turn at the bottom but I just kind of slid over the nicely banked edge. I tried to ride it out but soon saw that was not happening and just kind of walked off over the front.

As I turned around Andy was sliding down the incline, his wheels firmly entrenched in the rut formed by all the bikes, his foot planted in the mud, acting like an out rigger as he slid down the hill. I picked up my bike and started cranking to catch up.

Next up was Terminator. The climb was uneventful except that we lost Jesse. We hooted and hollered a few times, and then Guy said he would go back and find him. We agreed to meet back at the road.

I guided Andy through the woods, making all the little trail intersections. Rolling through a couple of small dips the trail turns down hill as it passes over the first of a half dozen large dirt mounds, big rollers. Quickly whipping past trees and through a few more small dips to the next big roller that requires you to lean forward with a couple of power strokes, then push the bike out, shifting your weight back and low for the quick little descent. This is followed by some more rolling track with one good root drop before the next large roller which has an extended crown. It is a narrow little ridge with the trail falling off the other end which leads to the finish of this section with a fast run until the trail turns back up hill.

After making another climb we hit the top of New Guy and bombed down it. After we crossed the road, the trail had some of the corners washed out because a dirt bike had been on it.

We met up with Guy and Jesse back at the road. Jesse had lost the chain on his bike and they were just finishing the repair.

Our next run was down Shooter. The tread was in good shape across the top of the ridge and down Shooter. We hit it hard, a few slick spots and one that shifted my line about six inch in an instant. I stayed up and kept going skirting the few muck spots and un-weighting the front across some of the roots.

We rolled Frosty; it had a little more mud and muck. There were signs here of a dirt bike powering up the corners. There is a nice section that just cruses here, followed by a controlled screamer. Steep enough that in these wet conditions a little too much break will cause an out of control skid. I know when it is just right, I can hear my breaks making a whirring buzzing sound as I roll down the hill. Almost out of control but as soon as the grade slackens just a little, I start to slow down.

The track back to Beauty and Belly was clear from the last time we were here and we spent a lot of time picking up branches and clearing the track on that trip. This was payment.

We could see the Growlers Gulch Girls ridding up Belly as we approached. We took a short break then did the climb up Belly and the shot down Beauty. Great swooping run with lots of dips and rollers, with a couple of stumps and logs to roll.

Walk in the Park was in the worst condition of any of the trails. Every little dip and corner was a mud hole.

The road trails were holding up well and after the second one we decided to detour onto Carnage. As we dropped down it, the tread was a mix of muddy spots on the descent but was holding up well on the lower section.

The last trail for the day was one of my favorites, Piece and Pound. I stayed very close to Andy, trying to get some good footage as we negotiated the continuous up and down as the trail weaved its way through the ferns and timber that make up this section of the forest. The track was firm with very little mud. This trail, for the most part, is good for full torque. Great for pushing yourself and giving it as much power as you can. The grade here is never extreme. This is a trail that gets you up out of the saddle and on your pedals and then back over your seat, pumping the rollers. I think this would be a good single speed trail since I never have a reason to shift gears.

Back at the parking area I was surprised to see as many vehicles as there were; at least 14. The Growlers Gulch Girls showed up just shortly after we returned.
Melanie Norris Growlers Gulch Girls

Tuesday 3/22/11

Tuesdays ride with Ken Roberts at Stella. (Video)
I called Ken Roberts last night to see if he would like to do some ridding up at Stella. After a very brief conversation we agreed to meet at 9:00 the next morning.

We took off right on schedule. Ken with his dog Penny on a leash trotting right along side of him, a bell on her leash that is ringing her cadence.

Ken has been trying to train Penny to stay with him when he is mountain biking but she has a mind of her own. I should have asked what her breed was but it is obvious she has some hound; I should say a lot of hound in her and her nose is always on the ground. Most hounds just can't resist following the scent.

After ridding up the road and doing the Up trail, Ken stopped and told me that he was going to let me lead so that I would get a better feel for the trails. We started off with a loop trail, Lumpy Bumpy. There was a tree at the trailhead that had two large orange dots with a line running between them. Ken told me that was a marker indicating a loop trail.

Next we did the Homestead trails, a trail in, a loop trail, and a trail out. Smooth flowing trail, that ran through the timber. Very few roots, bumps or dips.

This was followed by Six Pack, not as smooth and flowing, this trail turned back in itself a couple of times as it snaked across the fir needle carpeted forest floor. As we were riding along Six Pack, Ken pointed out that the trail heading off and down the hill lead to Break Away and Blue Dot. Trails for another day.

After Six Pack we hit the main Stella double track ridge trail for a couple hundred feet until we arrived at the 10 trails area.

Here we did the 10 Trails trail. Ken was telling me that Stella ridge is running out of space for new trails. This seemed to be true. Every trail we rode on the top of the ridge had numerous places that it paralleled another trail.

We finished out the morning by riding a section of a trail called Supply and Demand followed by some unnamed track that had pretty good flow. One section was called Ant Hill and someone had been doing trail maintenance on it. The track was clean and smooth like we were riding in a neighborhood park.

Upper Pin Ball lived up to its name. The trail was a little gnarly with lots of little technical's. There were challenges that had me breaking, power stroking, and turning all at the same time to climb over a twisted entanglement of roots, while turning between two closely spaced trees -fun.

The Pin Ball trail merged into another trail that was much smoother and more traveled.

There were so many merging trails that I lost track of where we were, we just kept turning left until Ken stopped and told me that there was a trail that ran down the ridge, and I think he called it Gateway. He told me to just follow it to the gravel and he would be there with his dog waiting. He didn't want to take the dog down it until it dried out more.

Gateway started with a long run of smooth trail where I could pump up the speed, it had a few wet spots that I was able to skirt as I moved swiftly through small fir trees and alder groves. The trail took a dramatic change about half way down, as it rolled over a hump between a couple of trees and entered larger timber. The trail turned downward under the large fir canopy. There was very little peddling, rolling down the hill balanced with one foot forward and one back. Breaking when I needed but just trying to pick a good line over the roots and across little muddy sections to an end that came all too soon.

Saturday 3/19/11

Saturday 03/19/11 ride at Growlers.(Video)

The sun was shining when I arrived at the parking area. Berry DeSemple and Guy Smith were already there. In a few minutes Aaron Dennis showed up then Denise Livingston and finally Paul Norris. The ride started out, and continued through the day with the group splitting into twos and threes.

We had decided to climb a couple of thousand feet so after riding up power line hill and down to the junction, we hit the road trails for a warm up. The tread still a little sloppy in spots but for the most part the soil drains well along the trails, allowing us to crank through the whoops and hammer down through the woods.

Once we reached the real climb, I tried to keep up with Paul on Creation. Since he was riding his super stead, the Turner Sultan, he just rode away from me for the most part. The whole day saw me struggling to keep up.

The grinding grueling part of the Creation line doesn't come until after hitting the log ride across the creek. The lower section rides good in second and third gear; the small technical features are easily conquered with a few well placed power strokes. The upper section gets steep enough that I have to get into the lowest range, which then makes the little steps, logs and roots very hard to clear.

We hooked up with Aaron and Berry at the Tank trap and all rode Legacy together. There have been a lot of wheels on Legacy, but it is still a tough pull with all of the bobbling rolling terrain. It really needs some shovel work to knock down some of the bounce and give it more flow on the climb.

Paul at the top of Legacy Aaron at the top of Legacy Berry at the top of Legacy

The descent on Legacy is another story; for the most part it has very good flow. Starting off in the only trees on the hill, the trail swoops a couple of banked turns and a few whoops as it quickly descends. A couple of almost out of control steeps followed by a big roller then down through the new growth. I have never made it through the new growth back to the cat road, I know I can do it but I always get stumped, latterly by that last little section that contains some small stumps and large roots.

When I hit the cat road, there were three riders; I only knew one, Ryan Hicks. I walked out of the woods, and onto the cat road, wishing I'd have cleared that last 50 feet - maybe next time.

I bounced across the big gnarly rocks at the trailhead for WTF, after exchanging pleasantries with the other riders, and headed down through the new growth. The WTF trail is a hoot on the way down and a lament on the way up. I needed to pick up a little speed because I knew that Paul was waiting to take a picture. The trail bounces and twists along in about a six foot wide swath cut through the new timber. Dodging the old stumps and maneuvering around and over the blackened remnants left from the logging operation years ago.

Approaching the big descent I start to move back over the rear wheel, the trail has been reworked by Ryane and Miles Olin and Greg Ogden and they have gotten rid of the wicked off camber and made this sharp descent smooth with good flow. Paul is at the bottom snapping off a couple of pictures.

The rest of the descent on WTF is great with short benches, and then drops around stumps and over roots until it exits onto the gravel.

Next we do the Vortex descent, this is a great run and again, thanks to Ryane, Miles and Greg it is even better. They have put in at least a dozen banked corners and some great whops along the way with a couple of stumps to drop off of if you are so inclined.

The last descent of the day is Jekyll which flows into middle KMA. The trail is a little muddier then anything we have been on today, it gets a lot of use. This trail has become very familiar to me, from the rocky entrance and banked corners with the big rollers in the upper section. To dropping down through the new section that crosses over the culvert, then bumping along the rocky apron next to the road until the trail makes a strong switchback before descending into the woods. A switchback that makes my back tire slide around as it gets caught in a rut, a rut formed by hundreds of riders doing the same thing that I am doing.

Then down across a small log bridge, then another short section through the woods and another creek crossing, followed by some good downhill steeps with the last one ending in a banked corner before a very strong climb. I am always looking for this because if I don't get my bike into low gear I will be walking up the hill. Aaron and Berry were in front of me and both missed getting the gearing so I get to pass them as I climb to the top and make the connection with middle KMA.

More steeps, followed by a couple of big puddles, then a short uphill burst that is doable in the middle gear range, then the final quick descent into a couple of banked corners that were put in by Ryan McMaster this last fall. Great finish to a great downhill run.

Paul at the top of Legacy Aaron at the top of Legacy Berry at the top of Legacy

On the ride back to the cars, we rode Dead Left, which I am sure is called this because the hill is sooo steep off the left side. Great track that demands every bit of your attention it is very narrow with an extreme side hill.Dead Left Video

Then we finished with False Hope, this trail is also narrow and requires your attention. It has a little more climbing and a couple of steep uphill sections, that after the 2000 feet of climbing today, I just did not have the gas left in my tank. False Hope Video

Saturday 3/12/11

Rode out at Growlers with Paul Norris, Guy Smith, Jesse Lopez and Berry DeSemple. It poured down rain the whole time, the trails were slicker then when they had snow on them, we had to stop every few hundred yards to cut trees and branches or pick up tree branches, but I had a great time. We rode Predator next to the road, then a couple of kids on dirt bikes went by and we thought they might be going over to the mini downhill so we headed that way.

When we got over to Beauty and Belly we could not hear them anymore so we headed down Cousin Eddie. The trail was very slick but the blow down was minimal.

We headed up Belly and did a turn on Shooter, followed by Frosty Balls. There was a lot of branches and some small trees down on Frosty Balls.

We finished up on Beauty. There was more trail damage here than anywhere else we had ridden. We had to clear at least 4 areas of small trees and tree clusters out of the trail.

Just as we finished cutting the last group of trees on Beauty someone started shooting, and they were very close. Paul started hollering and the shooting stopped. We rode out and onto the road to find this jerk up on the road next to the trails shooting a hand gun.

He was showing off to a couple of young girls. The Idiot had hung a target on a branch at the head of the spur road that parallels Frosty Balls. The way he was shooting, the bullets were going down the road.

If someone had been riding Beauty and decided to head over to walk in the park, they would have crossed his line of fire.

Saturday 3/5/11

I met up with Paul Norris, Guy Smith, and Jesse Lopez at the Growlers gate, 9:30. The sun was shining and it was a balmy 50°f. The only issue looked like the 4 inches of snow on the ground behind the cars.

Paul asked if we had seen Bob Stanton's post yesterday that showed how much snow they encountered over at Stella and we had but no one wanted to be the guy to say...

The road up to the power line hill was clear, the power line hill had about 3 inches but there had been a rig down it so it was ride-able.

We hit Predator first and it was slick. Mud with patches of snow.

After making it to the intersection we decided to turn around and ride it again, hoping it would improve with use. Not!

At the intersection we ran into Cage Aaron and a couple of his friends Steve and I did not get the other riders name. They rode Predator in the reverse direction then we all hit Walk in the park. Worse!

Walk in the park was all snow covered, ranging from 3 to 8 inches. From there we decided to try Beast, thinking that since Jim, Dave, and Denise had ridden it last week... No!

It was a push your bike to the top. Finally we decided to do the mini downhill.

It was pretty good, in comparison to everything else we had ridden. So we did it again and again. Chase and crew did a nice job of kicking a lot of the snow off the banked corners and after the first run it became even better.

Did a couple three runs around the Trail of tears loop, then over to Frosty Balls, which today lived up to its name, then pushed our bikes up shooter to take another run down the mini.

Worked out to a couple of good hours of workout.
The Crew on Mini DH
Growlers Sunny Day in the Mud and Snow