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Ride Report Archive April 2011

Saturday 4/30/11

Another beautiful day at Growlers.

Met up with Barry DeSemple and Lucy at the Oak Tree and headed for Growlers. Guy Smith showed up shortly after our arrival and we were pedaling by 9:30. After warming up on the new power line trail, Predator, and then all the road trails. We grunted our way up the hill, by way of the road, until we reached the creek side entrance to Hyde (of Jekyll and Hyde).

It was a good climb up Hyde and Vortex even though it was still very wet on the track, lots of muck and mud. Especially muddy on some of the banked corners and newly worked areas.

Ryane Olen, John Kowalski and a friend passed us on their way down Vortex.

While we were stopped at the top of Vortex, Lucy started pacing back and forth along the edge of the road, looking intently down into the woods, her ears up eyes focused on something moving down below. She was getting more and more excited by the second, then Mike Van Hoose popped out of the woods, followed shortly thereafter by a friend.

Everyone seems to be headed to the top of Vortex, I had decided to ride up the WTF trail. I had ridden it before and preferred ridding that instead of the gravel and alder spur road.

Mike and his riding companion took off up the road as we started the climb up WTF. I like the climb because it presents some solid challenges. The lower section is the most formidable. I start climbing, riding full on in low range with my weight balanced to maintain optimum traction. Since this section of the trail has a terraced form, I am able to pausing long enough at each terrace to hyperventilate a little before forging forward.

The section that Ryane, Miles, and Greg Ogden did such a nice job on cleaning up and benching is the only section that is too steep to climb.

We proceeded to do the Legacy loop, stopping a couple of times for the view.

At the top of Legacy we took a break and within minutes Eric Looney and a riding friend showed up, followed by more riders and soon we had a party going on. All we were missing were the lawn chairs and beer.

We took off one after the other, swooping through the big banked corners, bouncing over the rough and bombing down the steeps.

Right at the end of the Legacy trail Guy did an end-O off a lose chunk of rotting log. He got shook up a bit, had a gash on his leg, and it looked like he was going to have a fist sized black and blue mark on his thigh.

Later at the junction with Jekyll and KMA, Guy turned to me and said "I don't think I have ever ridden that trail, what it's the name"? I had to respond "Are you sure you didn't hit your head, how many fingers am I holding up"?

We finished out the KMA stuff and all met up on the road.

After some discussion, Guy and I headed down the last section of trail. Not sure what the name of this section is but it ends at Secret Garden.

There are two section of trail here, one from the gravel we were on to another spur road, then from that road to the bottom of the trail system. I have only ridden this trail a couple of times.

The first section was a fast 2 minute scream down through the trees, following a ridge line that had one very steep section that had me off and on the trail a couple of times as my back wheel skidded along behind me.

The next section could very quickly become one of my favorites, even though I bounced off a stump after negotiating the first of many features along this trail. The trail rolls a hump and crosses a very narrow gap between two old stumps. It follows this with a ridge like run down a series of big mound rollers and deep dips. A big roller followed by a dip that launches your bike to the top of a mound, with a quick right turn on the top that drops right on to the top of another mound that sets you up for a short section of rollers to pump.

More swift single track to an out of control skid down to the trail junction with Bitter Bitch. This is followed by some track that has some large dips and short swift drops as the trail crosses through the forest.

Neither of us knew which way to go to find the ridge trail so we headed in the general direction we thought we should be going and ended up on Bitter Bitch.

I have ridden Bitter Bitch down once, and up twice before. I always think it is not as bad as the name makes it out, but boy am I wrong. I always remember the switchbacks and how they make the ride up pretty good, but I forget they are only on about 20% of the trail. The rest is just plain tough climbing.

Saturday 4/23/11

Kona day at Stella

Saturday April 23, 2011 was Kona demo day at Stella. The word was the Kona rep was going to be there with demo bikes.

Guy Smith, Jesse Lopez, Barry DeSemple and me, Kelley Hinkle got there at about 9:30 and we were on the gravel in just a few minutes.

As we rode up the gravel, there was some talk about where to ride. Guy and Jesse thought we should climb the Haryu side and ride that trail up to the bridge.

We did the climb on the gravel road instead of the dirt. It was brutal. A real grunt and groan climb that seemed to go on forever.

We finally hit single track and started with the connector trail that cruses along next to the clear cut. Mostly level stuff with a couple of small ridges to cross but ends with a sharply angled bank that drops you on to a steep descent to the main trail.

Barry blew out his ghetto tubeless* in this first section so we discussed the pros and cons of tubeless while Barry put a tube in his tire.

We cranked it hard, eager to be rolling on the tread, through the challenges of gaining the first ridge on the Lakeside trail. Some good short burst climbs followed by equally short blasts down the trail. Hardly enough time to catch my breath before we were cranking at full capacity up the next stretch.

The trail finally turned to follow the top of a ridge, some nice rolling actions with some good dips and swells to pump through.

The trail crosses over several ridges as it starts descending. There are some good short downhill stretches that require picking a good line through root masses.

Finally the line turned down hill moving from one ridge to another and back again as it crossed a very small clear water creek twice. First crossing the creek on a short slick painted plank, the trail made a short steep descent into a nicely banked corner to be followed by a second bridge, a small arched structure that was filled with gravel. Someone put a lot of work into this little bridge, it was not just a board flopped down across the creek.

We rode up the gravel and past the yellow gate to the main line double track.

We inadvertently took a detour to do a quick loop on a trail marked at the entrance with a pair of large orange dots painted on a tree. The main line trail runs almost directly into this trail that has a serpentine course. A flat forest floor trail that with genital climbs and fun sweeping descents around the trees to circle back and dump right back on to the main line trail just a few feet from where it started.

After making our way on through to the Ten Trails area we rode over to do a loop on Tire Bite, followed by a return to the 10 trails area on the Fast and Furious trail.

I had been out her on Thursday and road both these trails, they are in such good shape and the track surface was just plane smooth.

It was a super swift ripping run back on Fast and Furious, as we made it live up to its name. This trail is a good trail for ridding hard with lots of rolling terrain, just perfect for pumping hard through it.

We followed these runs by doing the Chicken Trails, named for some rubber chickens placed strategically along the trail.

Back at the 10 trails area once again, we bounced around some options on the next trail to ride. Jesse and Guy said that they had figured out the route for the Chicken Trail so we headed out to do that loop.

The Chicken Trail was easy to find since there is a rubber chicken hanging over the start of the trail. The route took us up and down some mild grades, nothing too steep but still putting us to the test as we navigated our way through the woods.

We exited the Chicken Trail out onto the main double track.

We continued down the double track and after passing along the back of the first loop we did when we hit the trails, we headed off on one of the trails I had ridden last Thursday when I got myself lost.

When I had hit the gas line, I had turned around and ridden back because I had never been down this trail; Guy led on down across the gas line.

We rode for a couple of minutes then took a sharp left onto a trail that headed down hill through a grove of young conifers.

The trail slashes a path weaving and dodging the trees as it heads down hill. We stopped at a junction just long enough to decide to continue in the downhill direction.

Big grins on our faces as we turned to continue down the hill, I think I was actually laughing as the trail entered a section of very closely spaced alder trees that caused me to jog my handle bars back and forth to avoid hitting a couple of the skinny trunks.

The pace slowed as we glided across a wide bench and spun our way up the hill to a point where the bleached bones of an elk lay alongside the trail. That is when I realize we are on the Skeleton trail.

A short ways further and we hit a section of trail where I started my ride Thursday. This section of forest has lots of exposed roots with a thick canopy overhead. Twisting, turning, and pumping through the tree wells until we dropped down a bank, out onto the gravel.

Guy turned up the road for twenty feet and then turned back into the forest to follow a rugged little line that runs next to the road for a hundred yards or so before dropping straight down the ridge.

The line is wide and easy to negotiate as it runs very steeply down the hill, swerving back and forth around the trees. My body stretched out, favorite foot forward on parallel pedals with my weight way back over the rear wheel. Swooping across a couple of flat sections to drop over the edge and scream down another. A line that requires a tender touch as you apply pressure to the break lever, just enough to keep your bike under control, not enough to cause the back wheel to lock up.

Riding the line until it finally reaches the bottom where it turns and crosses a green space that is the gas line.

A short burst climb to another little ripper that crosses the face of the hill side as it switches back and forth a couple of times until it finally flattens out into a swift forest floor run that crosses a small steam on a bridge made of planks.

The trail terminates at a half log that crosses a stream and dumps you out onto the gravel.

We start back down the road toward the parking area, a mile or so away. Guy suggests we take a try at the road trail that runs a few feet up the hill side.

I have ridden the first section a few times but was told that the rest of the run is pretty gnarly.

We turn around after passing the trail head and take a stab at it.

The trail starts like the trail we just came off, weaving along through the fir trees, nice single track, fairly wide with a few root steps and some easy rollers along the way.

After a couple of minutes we cross the gas line and the track is a little more challenging, nothing to write about, a small steep with a single board bridge crossing at the bottom. That is followed by a very steep climb which has both Barry and me in the low range, leaning forward as we crank up the steep, my front tire bouncing back and forth in front of me as I twist the handle bars back and forth trying to keep it on the ground.

After breaking over the top the trail makes a nice little downhill run straight through the clover heading down to an exit out on to the gravel.

We pass the exit and the track makes an abrupt change.

The trail narrows up to half its former width. It makes a short climb through a sections of track with lots of exposed roots, the trees along here are more alder then fir. Up and down through the alder groves and patches of fir trees, the narrow little ribbon of a track runs just above the road bead.

This is a tight twisty trail crossing some sections of very steep hill side. I alternated between jumping up and leaning forward to crank like hell for ten seconds then throwing my ass back off the saddle and skidding my way down the back side of the steep I had just climbed while twisting my handle bars back and forth as I am dropping over roots and grasping for the line of most probable success.

Then the track dropped again into a narrow ravine to flash across a small narrow bridge. I grunted and panted my way up the other bank to a point where I had to dismount and push for the last few yards.

We hit a couple of spots along the trail where the trees were so close I had to lean down close to my bike and push my way through like a toddler on a strider bike.

The trail finally ending as it crossed a deep little ravine on a plank covered bridge.

We finished out the gravel run and returned to our cars.

Penny trotted out to great us with the bell on her collar ring in time to her gate.

The parking area was full and I saw some of my riding friends there; Bob Keeney, Ken Roberts and the newbie Travis were all there getting ready to ride.

The sun was shining, a warm wind was gently blowing through the forest, and it was a great day for a ride. The track on all the trails was firm with only a few spots with some stiff mud.

*A ghetto tubeless is a non tubeless 26 inch rim with the tube for a 20 inch rim pulled over it, split down the center and folded back over the edges. The normal tire is then mounted inside the split, a sealant is added and the tire inflated. Then it is shook and spun to distribute the sealant. The excess tube hanging over the edge is then trimmed off with a razor knife.

Thursday 4/21/11

Thursday solo ride on the Stella trails.

I didn't have much of a plan for a ride, just go ride.

I decided to ride into the 10 trails area. To get there I was going to take a trail that I have exited the system on a few times but never ridden in on.

The trail starts with a short section of burley exposed roots under a canopy of fir trees. Good tread with just a few small mud holes where the mud has taken on a thick pasty form.

That only lasted a short ways and the trails broke into a section of mixed trees, smaller fir trees intermixed with a deciduas tree like alder. There is a trail intersection there and I took the trail that split off to the right.

I noted that there were blue and white ribbons flagging the trail every now and again, I tried to paid close attention and note things that might keep me on track if I decided to exit on the same path.

My path soon intersected the gas line. I made a couple of mental notes about the intersection, noticing a marker stake that had some lettering on it, just off to the east and a red ribbon that hung over the trail entrance. The only thing wrong with mental notes is that I have a tendency to forget them.

Within a few hundred feet, my trail intersected the main trail that comes up from the gate. I was at a four way intersection and I recognized the Gateway trail head just a few feet back down the trail.

I rode up to the main line trail and followed that to the 10 trails area.

I took a break and considered my options. I have been wandering around with Ken a lot down on the Supply and Demand trails, and Mouse Maze. Those trails have a rough kind of twisty flavor to them. The Carpal Tunnel and 10 Trails are trails are also a bit twisty and bouncy but more on the top of the ridge. I finally decided to try and find the loops we had done on the Harmonic Convergence. As I recalled they had a little more flow to them.

I headed west out of 10 trails and went down through a small valley. The trail crossed an overgrown spur road when it left the valley. I thought this might be the spur rode we had been on when we did those trails, so I headed down the road looking for a sign; a couple of logs and the trail head right after the logs.

The spur road dead ended soon enough and I rode back to the trail.

The trail ran a serpentine course through the woods and I could see glimpses of the double track on the ridge line every so often.

The trail had spots all along it where the forest carpet had been ruffed up. Thoughts of some omnivore creature, turning over small patches of the forest floor look for grubs and such ran through my mind until, damn; Bob Keeney and Ken Roberts have been here cleaning the trail. The track was super clean. It was so sweat.

The track turned to start downhill I bombed a couple of big rollers and swooping corners to be followed by a short uphill burst. I recognized this as the trail I had been looking for. It has such good flow.

As I flew down the hill I noticed a junction coming into the trail from my left and recognized this as the entrance we had used on the Convergence ride. A few more feet and I remembered to take the right fork.

I looped around and over lots of smooth features rolling through the woods, short burst climbs followed by more rollers, twisting and turning on a dream like track.

The trail came back around on its self and I bombed back down to take the left fork this time.

Again, I was recognizing some the features on the line and cranking it hard. The trail was so damn smooth, not a single branch or even a fir cone along the entire length, so sweet.

After a bit I came to another junction and remembered stopping here with the Convergence ride. Someone had been with us and pointed out that the downhill trail from here leads to some serious stuff, so I went uphill.

I was soon at another junction but could not remember which way we had went so I continued up hill, just to find myself back on the original trail, at the bottom of the small valley.

Please with my efforts and rewards for now, I pedaled back to the 10 trails area.

Once back at 10 trails I decided I would head back down to the road and see if I could find the trail on the Haryu side.

I headed down the Main Line trail, following all the twists and turns until I reached the spot where Ken and I had stopped last Tuesday. Everything looked familiar, so I took a long pull on the tube from my Camel Back and headed down the trail.

It wasn't long until I found myself on the gas line, but not at a recognizable location.

I retraced my track back to the location that was familiar and this time I took the left trail instead of the right trail.

Soon things started looking unfamiliar again, I kept going until the track got real narrow and I again felt lost.

There was a junction here and the trail went left and right. I decided to go left. This was probably a mistake. I should have returned to that familiar location and taken another try but no, instead I continued on as this trail seemed to circle back around and head in the direction I had just come from.

I spotting what looked like the double track through the woods, here was a smart idea, I picked up my bike and bush wacked my way to the double track.

Still didn't look that familiar, so I decided to head down it and see if it started looking familiar.

A few hundred yards down the track and I rounded a corner to find some giant rollers. Oh, I couldn't pass these up, and the track was heading down hill, although there did not seem to be any tread marks on the rollers, and no real defined line.

Rolled them anyway and headed down hill on what looked like it could have been the new line Ken had told me about last Tuesday.

The line was good as long as it lasted, when it looked like a dead end, I noticed a rough track heading back up hill and into a wooded area. I followed it.

It was a little sketchy but after a few twists and turns there was a definite line, which was not just a game trail. It headed down a pretty steep incline but was ride-able. There were a few places I had to put a foot down and one where I got off and walked a few feet. Since I was riding alone and on a line I did not know I didn't want to be too stupid.

The line ended at another trail that was running parallel to the gravel road, I could see the road through the woods and the new trail was very well developed, although it did not look like it had been getting a lot of use.

I soon crossed a nice wood bridge that had been surfaced with roofing paper and made my way up and around a few more bends until the trail merged at the end Gate Way trail.

More adventure:

I made my way up the road looking for the Haryu trail.

Since I had only been on it once I figured, the worst consequence would be me ridding back out the way I had came in. But wait! That's what I had just thought about the Main Line trail.

The location of the trail head was a little sketchy, I could not remember riding very far up the road so I took the first opportunity I saw, which was an old spur with a definite track in one lane.

Soon I spotted the first marker that Ken had pointed out to me, some foam (from a foam rubber mattress) laying in the trail, disguising itself as rocks with sharp angular shapes.

This trail has some very distinct features in a couple of steep, but short, climbs and a creek crossing with a small bridge.

A very nice long rolling run through the woods, the tread was beautiful and the rolling run down the ridge line and back was swift with great pumping action.

When I hit the road, I knew I was near the end but there was a trail heading back up the hill right next to where I exited. I didn't remember it but thought I would check it out.

Very steep climb with skid marks adorning the trail; I could only make it about half way. It culminated in a steep bank that I had to drag my bike up.

I rode it on through until I hit the road and then returned to the trail head.

Riding up the road, all I could remember was that Ken had told Bob to take the second trail on the right. I was riding on a spur that ran into a main road where I saw a trail straight across from me, but Ken's words echoed in my brain, take the second trail. So I rode up the road until I found another trail head and turned onto it.

The trail swooped down through the woods and across the face of the hill side until it merged with the first trail.

The trail then took a more downhill turn. Sliding further back on the saddle I prepared to ramp it up a bit, but was soon stopped by a freshly downed tree.

A little bumpier, a little rougher, and quick rumble along under some fir trees with lots of exposed roots and I rolled out onto the gravel.

Tuesday 4/19/11

Stella Ride Tuesday 4/19/11

On Monday night I called Ken Roberts to see if he wanted to ride Stella on Tuesday; 9:00am at the gate.

Ken was there with his dog Penny waiting for me when I arrived. There were a couple of other riders getting ready to take off, Joe and Lance. We made brief introductions and they took off with a couple of dogs trailing behind them.

Penny went nuts when her dog mates left. She started wailing and would not stop.

As soon as we hit the gravel, Penny was pulling Ken up the road, kind of an unfair advantage since I was cranking my ass off to keep up and Ken was just sitting in the saddle smiling.

That ended as soon as we passed the first access to the Haryu side and she lost scent of the other dogs. Penny relegated herself to following Ken at her normal canter.

We rode up into the trail system and did the Pioneer loops, followed by Six Pack then a short break at 10 trails where Ken suggested I try his bike out.

I had never been on a full suspension and this was a Garry Fisher 29er with full suspension.

I expected to feel the suspension right away and was surprised when I kicked my leg over the back of the bike and dropped into the saddle; it felt rock solid.

The bike fit me pretty good since Ken and I are about the same height.

I took off down the trail, shifting to a gear that was comfortable for me and jammed toward the first log over I could see.

My natural reaction was to pull up, standing in the pedals as I threw my weight back, and un-weight the front end as I hit the logs.

The tires made a light rumbling sound as the bike smoothly rolled over the logs. I was slightly stunned at how smooth that was. I never even got to feel the suspension, there was maybe a slight compression but I think the 29 inch wheels took a lot of the impact out of the logs. Do you have to have your butt on the saddle for the suspension to have a pronounced effect?

We rode what Ken called the serpentine. This is a series of trails, starting with the 10 trail, and then doing both the carpel tunnel trails.

Each time circling back to the 10 trails area, more of the unique trails names to follow; Main Line to pick up Supply and Demand, all four Supply and Demand trail to Robs' Connector trail that took us to Mouse Maze.

We stopped and Ken asks if I know where I am, like a man in a drunken stupor, I point east and say 10 trails is that way. Ken grins and points in the other directions, looks up at the sun (yes I said sun) and pronounces the sun comes up in the east and 10 trails is in the west.

Then we ride up the hill a ways to find Ant Hill and Pin Ball, to ride back out on Main line to a point I recognize.

Sunday 4/17/11

Tarbell Trail to Hidden Falls

Barry sent me a message Friday about riding on Sunday. He would not be able to make the Saturday ride at Growlers. I shot back a message suggesting Tarbell Trail; I know Barry likes that ride. Even though it is a sweat fest for the first two miles.

I posted our intent to see if we could get any other takers but when the cranks started turning it was just Barry and I.

Conditions were good, the sky was overcast and it had not rained for a couple of day. The temperature could not have been much above 40 degrees and I don't think it took ether of us more than five minutes to get our gear on and start pedaling.

Every time we crossed a mud patch I noticed two sets of tracks with the same tread. It looked like the trail has seen one rider since it has stopped raining.

The trail head is at 1,850 feet and the top of the climb is just over 2,500 feet. The grade isn't bad but when the trail presents a stiff climb the root steps along with the rock and rubble double the effort required. The first half mile greeted us with lots of these roots and rubble features.

Once into the woods the grade diminished and we cruised along, after we crossed the logging road we cranked it up as the trail turned muddy and we had to skirt some large muck holes. The goop filled my tire tread and fling globs of the stuff all over the back of my legs.

Once again we climbed the rock and rubble line, in and out of the forest as we crossed another clear cut.

Exiting the clear cut at the edge of a logging road the trail ahead turned into a small stream.

A lot of the trail along here is nothing more than a ditch and once the water starts running down the trail it has nowhere else to go. The water was a few inches deep so with my focus on not getting my feet wet, I maintained a steady and consistent cranking to work my way up the couple hundred feet past the spot where the flow of water entered the trail.

The trail presented us with more of the technical climb that was punctuated with a final steep topped with a large root wad. The trail turns sharply here toward the south and continues to ascend but at a pleasant grade. The track continues through the low brush that crowds the trail from either side, for a quarter mile or so until it finally makes its way around the ridge and starts to head east.

We cranked it up here, the flow is outstanding. A good solid line surging as it drops and weaves through the timber until it breaks out into an open area of bear grass and low shrubs. Then all of the trees disappeared as the track entered another new clear cut.

The track is a series of big rollers. When this area was covered in timber it was an outstanding ride. Now I could see Barry and Lucy hundreds of feet ahead of me, now I can see the trail across the valley and I find the starkness disturbing. The track is still excellent but the scene is disappointing.

After crossing the new logging road the trail re-enters the timber and soon starts to descend.

Another half mile and the trail drops a few hundred feet in six tight switchbacks. The tread here is again lots of rock and rubble.

Following a line that is somewhat level the trail crosses a few small streams that are flowing across the trail and in one spot down the trail for a short ways.

When we hit coyote creek, the bridge had snow on it and the trail on the other side of the creek was also covered with snow. We walked our bikes along the snow covered path for a hundred feet or so, than started riding through patches of snow until as we passed around the front of the ridge and the snow disappeared completely.

The final descent on the out run to Hidden Falls has superb flow. The trail is very wide and the tread is firm. There is not a lot of rock along most of this. Three switchbacks that were easy to negotiate followed by a short ascent and we were at the falls.

The amount of water flowing over the falls is very impressive. The sun was shining through the trees above us on the hillside next to the falls. It was very picturesque.

The elevation at the falls is about 2150 feet so there is a good 400 foot climb back to the high point of the trail.

Most of the climbing on the return trip is done on the switchbacks.

It was a great ride back that had some good features and challenges.

From the high point on Squaw butte to the parking area is a real screamer. All of the root drops and rock and rubble seem to disappear. I took advantage of the banks along the ditch that forms the trail, railing back and forth from side to side as I tore down the hill. Clearing all the root drops with ease.

We stopped a couple of times on the flat, grinning from ear to ear, pumped by the rush of the descent.

Saturday 4/16/11

Saturday ride at Growlers

Guy sent me a message that he planned on riding Growlers at 9:00 Saturday. I told him I would be there at 9:30.

I pulled into the Growlers parking area at 9:15 to find 4 rigs already parked.

We took off up the power line hill and rode down the road to the road trails.

We did all the road trails, the tread was good but there was still a lot of mud and muck in every dip along the trail.

We hit the gravel at the end of the road trails and as we rode up the road were overtaken by Joel and Ken on their way to the Golden Spike trail. Joel was carrying a buck saw in his pack. These guys are real power riders; I have heard that Joel and Ken are training for the Cascade Cream Puff. That is tuff stuff.

We turned our attention from gravel to dirt as we left the road to start climbing Jekyll. Every rut and dip presented a challenge for traction. Even at that I only had one place where I had to dismount.

We climbed and took the exit across from the ABC trail system.

After riding it with Jim and the big dogs on Thursday I wanted another go at it where I could set my own pace. I had weenied on the bank at the entrance to ABC and followed that by doing a slip and slide into a tree right after remounting. I wanted a chance to clear this damn thing.

Approaching the bank I shifted into a low midrange gear, I took a couple of deep breaths then a couple of good cranks and stood up as I hit the quick rise. I could feel my tire give way under the power stroke as I broke over the edge but I was clear.

We rode through the first section with some nice well worn log overs, most nothing more than a bump in the trail, a couple where I leaned back and rolled onto the log and finished with a kick over.

Earlier in the week I was riding with Jim and Erick, we were going up Beauty; Erick was in front of me. There is a good size log across the trail and Erick wheelies up and with a quick power stroke, literally jumps the bike over the log, honest there was a second where both wheels were off the ground. I feel good if I can get the front wheel on the log and crank through without having to stick a foot down.

The track was in excellent shape. The area drains well and does not get as much use as most trails. The logs and roots were still a little slick but the tread was firm as we rolled through the forest mounting all the short climbs and swooping through the simple features presented along the trail.

We decided to hit the Miracle Mile. I don't think it is a mile, maybe it's a mile to get here from the gate. Anyway the tread here was also very good, not to many riders have been riding it and it is one of the better trails for rollers and just plain fun stuff. Slightly more technical then the ABC because of the terrain is a little more complex.

Next we did JFK or the Grassy Knoll. A poor start for me, the big log over is one I need to come up and session, I know I can do it but I balk every time I hit it and end up walking it.

Once I caught up to Guy, we picked up the pace a little and after a short climb the trail breaks out onto a grass covered ridge. The trail weaves along through the grass and some small fir trees, winding around old stumps that are scattered across the ridge.

There was lots of elk sign in the area, one spot I could almost see steam rising. The valley that lies below the ridge is lush with green grass. It looks inviting; it looks like a place where elk would hang out.

In my opinion, the best way to ride this trail is in the other direction.

We finished out by dropping onto the road and had just started to pick up another trail when Denise and her riding companion showed up.

In our conversation with Denise, she told us that last fall when she was up on JFK doing some trail work she decided to punch this trail through as a connector trail to JLS and KMA trails. I don't know what JLS stands for but KMA is an acronym for Kick or Kiss My A... I don't know for sure which, I guess it depends on how the trail treats you.

She told us that after she got started, Jim, Dave, and Andy showed up and gave her some help.

The trail is wide and has a couple of log overs. The first could use some shoring on both sides because it is just high enough that my ring gear catches on it and since the trail is going uphill, I will never make it. The second one is well laid out and a nice roll over.

At the end of the connector trail is JLS.

JLS is a features trail that I avoid, I am not into the large log overs and started it one day to find myself off my bike more then on so I just backtracked out.

Guy and I finished out by doing KMA, crossing the road and dropping down the lower section of KMA to the second, yes second, lower section of KMA. We then rode back on the road to finish our ride with Walk in the Park and a part of Predator.

It was a good day, the sun broke through a few times, we spent a good hour socializing in the parking area with other riders as they returned.

Thursday 4/14/11

Chasing the big dogs.

On Tuesdays ride, Jim had asked if I wanted to join him and Jack for a ride on Thursday, so I opted in. I suspected this might be a tough ride.

It rained all night and most of the morning. As I passed through the Longview area there was a break in the deluge, the clouds lifted and visibility improved. Hope!

When I arrived at the parking area, Eric Loony was already there grabbing a snack before the ride. It was not raining, but the cloud deck visible at the ridge line just above us.

As Erick and I mounted up the legends of Growlers Gulch rode up; Rob Larson, Jack Barry, and Jim LeMonds.

I had heard stories about the fevered pace these guys ride at and now I can testify to their validity.

We skipped most of the lower stuff, riding down the road. Buy passing the first road trail Rob took the lead at an opening along the road. Climbing the bank and clearing the log at the top in a couple of pedal strokes, he never slowed down, busting down the trail at full speed. I knew in an instant that I could not faultier or I would be lost, lost to the group.

The next three road trails, turned into one. Most ride groups stop at the end of each trail until everyone has caught up, but since these guys have ridden so much together they just keep on hammering.

By the time I hit the end of the road trails, Eric and Jack were nowhere in sight, Rob and Jim were approaching the top of the hill before the gate.

The climb up the gravel was grueling; my heart was beating so fast I could hear it in my ears. My chest was pumping up and down trying to get enough oxygen to keep my brain and muscles working. Looking up the road, I could hear Rob and Jim having a conversation over the top of my gasping for breath.

We descended down Creation; it was wet, soggy and dark

Double down followed Creation and I stayed on Jims back wheel until we hit the break away after the rolling the mound. I do believe that Jim knows every stone on the trail, as was evident in his line.

After hitting the spur road, I was again pushing myself as I stood up and cranked trying to catch up to the other riders. Catching a glimpse of them in the distance now and then during the straight away.

Jim was kind enough to hold up some and as we rode along I tried to hold up my side of a conversation through my painting and wheezing.

Jim ripped up the bank on Grassy Knoll; I was able to stay on his wheel all the way through the grassy knoll trail until we hit the big log over just before the finish. He rolled over it like a bump as I struggled, losing my drive and having to push over the log.

We rode the rail road grade to the ABC trails. ABC is a labyrinth of trails, where I have been told the key to this maze is to keep going straight at every junction.

From the beginning of the network, I was lagging, still struggling to keep pace. My thighs screaming, my heart pounding out of my chest, my lungs gasping for air as I tried to make gains on catching the group. I spotted Jim spinning his pedals after the first junction. He acknowledged my catch up and we were off, cranking through the turns.

The pace of this ride was so intense, that the only time I could get a hit off the water bladder, was when we were ridding the road or a straight section like the rail road grade. These guys never slow down.

We finished with a run down Jekyll. The tread was sloppy in a word. The soil is completely saturated and the great sticky tread from last Saturday was a greasy track requiring every second of my focus.

To summaries; on the flatter twisty sections of trail I have a chance of keeping up if I don't bobble. On the uphill sections I can hear their conversations over the sound of my own beating heart and gasping breath fading away as the distance increase with every pedal stroke. On the downhill sections I can hear their breaks off in the distance, getting further and further away.

Tuesday 4/12/11

Growlers ride Tuesday 4/12/11

Jim dropped me a line Monday saying that a new guy was coming out and asked if I would like to join them.

I hit the parking lot about ten minutes before 1:00 and just after exiting my rig, a Hummer pulled up with a bike on the back.

Travis got out of his rig and asked if I was Jim. I introduced myself and told him we better get ready since Jim would probably be ready to ride as soon as he got here.

Travis told me he had started on a workout regime to lose weight, that he was jogging, trail running and had just purchased a couple of bikes for him and his wife. He said he had been riding on gravel trails and wanted to do some trail riding. Clue; Travis has no single track experience. This was going to be interesting.

I glanced at the bike he was riding, an older Trek hard tail. I have to say that Travis is a big guy and when he told me how much weight he has lost recently, I was impressed at that number.

Erick Loony showed up just before 1:00, ready to ride and Jim rode up right behind him. We made some small talk introductions and started up the gravel to the power line hill.

I held back a little for Travis, and was surprised when he came cranking by me, not that I am that strong of a rider but Travis just didn't look like...anyway.

As soon as we hit the incline I could hear the shifter on his bike clacking and rattling and he was soon off his bike, walking the hill. He made a second attempt then, finished the hill by walking.

Of course at the speed I was riding, he almost beat me to the top. Love that 34 gear.

I looked at the gear cluster on Travis's bike when we stopped and suggested he replace it. It is one of those clusters that I have seen on a lot of lower end bikes, it goes from something like a 26 to a 32, a huge step so there is no mid range in the low range of the bike. I think they put them on, ah commuter bikes?

We started on Predator, and Jim took sweep.

Just before the trail junction for the road I stopped and waited. Jim showed up and a few minutes later Travis. As we started down into the forest, Jim suggested that Erick and I might want to do a lap on Beauty or Belly before they got there.

At the gravel we all talked about our experiences on the trail, and techniques for handling all kinds of trail conditions, especially those we were encountering today.

After a run at Beauty and Belly we crossed the gravel to ride Terminator.

When we hit the top of the run for Terminator, I tried to give Travis a few pointers on handling the big rollers that we were about to take on, I have to admit this is one of my favorite trails just because of the quick rollers but for a novice rider I was sure it was going to be challenging.

After my run, I heard Jim shout back some directions. I stopped and looked across through the woods just to in time to see Travis take a spill.

I turned around to start back but he was up and headed my way. When I asked how he was doing he replied that it was a little harder than it had looked on my video.

We finished with new guy and the ride back to gravel.

After riding the first section of the road trails, Jim and Eric rode Ally Op while I volunteered to take Travis down the next section of road trails.

I made an effort to insure that he was right behind me in the hopes he could pick up on what I was doing as I rolled the humps and hit a couple of small banks. I think it paid off for him because when we got to the bottom, he made a comment that he thought he might be picking it up and that was the best section he has done all day.

We finished by riding back on the road until we hit Mr. T. Travis rode strong when we were on the road, just a newbie to the adventure of single track. Keep at it Travis; doing the road trails Beauty and Belly and Walk in the park will help you build confidence and improve your single track skills.

At the end of Mr. T we stopped and talked for a minute, Travis said he was a little intimidated by the steep little drops and the very pronounced side hill next to the trail.

Travis needs to get this gear cluster. I didn't notice if his bike could handle disk brakes. If they can a good starter choice would be these.

Saturday 4/9/11

Big day at Growlers

Guy was sitting on his bike looking down over the edge at the drop in front of him. I could hear the metallic clack as his foot twisted and his shoe locked itself into the peddle. Balanced, his arm out stretched as he leaned against the large fir tree, his right hand clamped around the break lever. His bike made a ratcheting sound as he spun his peddles backward to stop when they became parallel. He dropped out of sight in an instant.

This morning when I pulled into the parking lot of the Oak Tree restaurant, Barry and Lucy were there waiting for me. I loaded my stuff into Barry's rig as Lucy, his dog, watched intently.

When we arrived at Growlers there were only a few cars there.

As I was changing into my riding gear the sound of a vehicle could be heard faintly, down through the valley. In a few minutes, Greg Ogden, Miles Olen, and John Kowalski piled out of their truck and started getting ready to ride.

Soon there was the sound of another rig, and then another and another as they started showing up and getting ready for the days ride. Melanie Norris showed up with another of the ladies who were riding, Guy Smith and Jesse Lopez followed by Lee Lemons and Gabriel.

There was an overcast sky but not too cool. It has not rained in a couple of days so we were anticipating some good tread running through the woods today. We were not disappointed, there were only a few places where there was still standing water, a few more places where there were puddles of thick goopy muck, but most of all, the track was firm and tacky.

After grunting my way up the power line hill, we started our ride by slamming all the road trails and followed that by climbing the road until we hit Jekyll. The track was so tacky I was able to climb Jekyll without spinning or slipping. It has been months since the track was this good.

We transitioned form Jekyll to Vortex, the trail climbs under a thick canopy formed by young trees. The trail is new, with lots of unseasoned track. It has to have been the wettest trail of the day. But even with that there was only one feature, a big roller that was still too slick to clear.

Once we reached the top of Vortex we continued up the road until we reached the spur road that leads to the Legacy trail.

After a very humpy bumpy looping ride around and up to the top of the Legacy hill, the reward was in sight! It was a screamer coming down from the top of Legacy and the session work I did up there last week paid off, I was able to clear everything.

We pounded across the rock garden at the entrance to WTF. It was fast, and it is starting to develop into a premium trail, especially the bottom portion. Ryane and Miles Olin, Greg Ogden, and some of their friends have done some great work on this section.

As I was rolling the bottom part of WTF, my weight, like the counterbalance on an old tractor, hanging back over the rear wheel. I started hearing voices, damn! Lots of voices.

I had read on the Northwest Trail Association web site that there were going to be a couple of groups coming up today. A men's group, lead by Cage Aaron and a women's group ride that was posted by Debbie with NWTA but lead by Melanie Norris.

After I rolled out on the road and started ridding toward Creation we could see Cage Aaron's group, there were about 25 of them. After exchanging greeting and some social time, we all rode up the road.
The Cage Aaron group from NWTA at Growlers with Jeff Muldoon lending support
We split off at the Creation trail head and worked it through the technical roots and logs in the short section under the tall timber. After crossing the road the flow improves for the first few hundred yards with some nice rolling action into smooth turns. Then after the first creek crossing, the knarl begins for another short section of knocking down over root drops and tight spots down onto the big log ride over the creek. Barry and Guy made the hard break at the end of the log, most people don't.

We hit the road out of Creation and headed for Double Down.

From the gravel it's a big roller followed by a log drop onto the trail. The trail immediately offers a left or right choice. Almost everyone takes the right choice and rolling over a couple of root wads and through a couple of pockets to pass over the top of a huge mound. The trail across the mound is a narrow rut, from locked wheels skidding to the bottom, where the track breaks into a fast paced run through the trees. Every time I ride this section my ears pick up the rushing sound of the creek off to the right as the line straightens out and blasts through the trees. A very nice change from the twisting challenges presented to us on Creation.

We hit gravel again and rode up the road for the next 6 to 7 minutes until we hit the KMA trail.

The top of KMA was a little sketchy. The slightly off camber trail had my back tire slipping while it bounced over the roots and negotiated the tight double switchback. The nice tack to the trail grabbed and held as I hit the steep screaming downhill that runs across the face of the hillside.

The light pressure I applied to the break lever resulted in a solid buzzing sound coming from the brake rotors. As the descent started to slack up I eased up and start tapping the breaks now and then, trying to work the trail for every reward.

Upper KMA is a long descent that winds back and forth several times across the hillside. After the initial couple of rushes the trail levels out and crosses a bench. This is followed by another short descent onto another bench which has the trail winding through the woods until it finally ends on the main gravel road we had climbed earlier.

From the road, Barry, Jesse and I followed Guy over the edge.
Barry ready to drop into lower KMAGuy waits for everyone to get it together
An instant rush, the trail falls rapidly, straight down the face of the ridge. The contour of the ridge dictates the path of the trail as it sweeps off to the right and around a couple of lightly banked corners. To cross a small valley and do a short climb along the edge of another small ridge.

A couple of more quick descents, followed by a short mid gear climb, put us on the edge of the last descent. A steep quick drop punctuated with a couple of big banked corners. A great finish on the big banks thanks to the hard work of Ryan McMaster.

Considering how many vehicles there were at the parking area, they were parked on both sides of the road down the hill and around the corner. I was surprised we didn't run into more riders on the trail.

We did come across Bryan with his family; the kids were tearing it up around Beauty and Belly. When we arrived at Growlers, there were three rigs parked at the end of the road. One of the rigs was decked out with bike racks on both the front and back. It was capable of handling ten bikes. That was Bryan's rig.

It was a great day with outstanding trail conditions.

Ouch! $300.00 in part failures on Thursday and Friday
Replacement Derailleurs and Cassettes

Friday 4/1/11

The April Fools Ride on the Post Canyon trails (25 min Video - Get some Popcorn).

It was a beautiful almost cloudless morning as the shadow of my car rolled to a stop on the thick tire tracked mud. The sun was shining down through the naked trees on the first day of April. Just a few feet from the information board there where keep out and private property signs posted high in the trees on either side of what looked to be the trailhead.

As I sat in my car wondering if this was the trailhead a woman walking two dogs came down the trail and walked past the car. A few minutes later a couple of mountain bikers exited. Ok maybe those signs are meant to keep riders on the trail.

By the time I had gotten my gear on and my bike off the rack, my riding companions had shown up; Paul Norris, Guy Smith, Jessie Lopez, and Andy Crump.

Andy had ridden here before, although it had been awhile, he was going to act as our guide.

Within the first hundred feet or so, the track was very sloppy; a mud pit covering large portions of the trail, but it disappeared and firmed up very quickly.

A screamer on the way back, the well developed trail going up was accented by short bursts climbs on to moderate grades sections that were followed by small rolling sections. Small drops, kickers, and chuts, rollers into banked corners and flashing past skinny's that cross the creek highlight the return run. Skinny's that require total commitment in an instant, a moment's hesitation is paid in the currency of pain.

The main path is perfect - firm and well developed. The trail tracks high above the creek for a ways, then drops and follows the course of the creek to cross again and again on small wooden bridges. The bridges just wide enough for comfort and sketchy enough to require you to focus and maintain good speed just like anywhere else on the trail.

Trail 100 is called the seven creeks trail, named that because it crossed the creek seven times. I counted six crossings between the lower parking area and the official trailhead at the upper parking area.

The small wooden bridges crossing the creek have real character, chicken wire on the approach for traction, ramps and/or angled ramps onto and off of the bridges.

Trail 100 heads away from the road to follow Flume creek on the west side for a short ways through some vine maple. The trail quickly broadens and is surrounded by large fir trees. The trail climbs at a moderate rate for a mile or so then takes a serious turn for some huff and puff action climbing up the hillside. At the second switchback out of three, there is a divergence of trails, one that goes straight on up through a narrow valley and one that switches back to continue the climb.

We continue to climb. Lowest gears and maintaining a steady pace gets me to the last switchback, which doesn't conform to the normal switchback. Instead the trail goes straight up. So I get off and walk for about fifty feet. Guy on the other hand, powered his way straight up the face of the mountain.

Turning again to the south the trail is a hoot, rolling along just below the ridge line until we get to "Family Man" riding area.

Family Man contains a large number of features such as long log rides, a long series of rollers, a pump track, and numerous small railed sections with a variety of shapes. Designed as a training area, a place to hone your skills and build confidence. All of the features are low to the ground.

In the middle of Family Man is a pump track, a series of dirt mounds and banked corners that have been laid out so that (in theory) you can ride around without peddling, just from the momentum created by pumping the front of your bike while passing over the dirt rollers.

After a few passes on the pump track, Someone told me to lock my front shock down, which made a significant difference in what I was able to do just using a pumping motion (I still had to peddle).

The log rides are made of logs that have been split and the natural curve of each used to form a twisting line that snakes through the trees. The first of these is a good foot or more in width and about that off the ground. There is a second that is more challenging a little higher off the ground, narrow in some places and a section that requires a step up from one level to another. Andy was on this log ride and when he went to make the step up, his back wheel spun on the power stroke. This caused his front wheel to fall just short and threw him off to the side. He clipped his shin on his bike peddle and ended up having to go the hospital for seven stitches.

I always carry some first aid supplies and Andy also had supplies. We were fortunate enough in this first aid emergency that a rider in the area was a doctor. He helped us by cleaning the area on either side of the wound with an alcohol wipe, then having Andy hold the wound closed while he applied paper tape, followed by another layer of tape and a 2x2 gauze pad. Then someone had a stretchy expanded plastic tube that Andy was able to slide up his leg and secure the dressing in place.

Andy had been leading the ride and didn't want us to turn around so Paul gave him his keys and Andy rode back to the car and headed for the Hospital.

It dampened our spirits for a while but we continued on.

I was carrying a map I had secured off the internet and after ridding another section of small table tops and large rollers called "Middle School" we headed off on trail 100L.

The trail heads west out of Family Man and follows just below the ridge line until it enters into a new growth of trees.

As the trail winds its way through the new growth there is an intersection with trail 106 but we continue to follow the ridge line on trail 100L. The new growth gives way and we ride back under a canopy of fir trees. Trail 105 branches off 100L which starts descending down into the valley below.

The track is well developed and after crossing a spur road the trail starts to descend, now traversing somewhat below the ridge line.

The trail merges with another track that is labeled 158 and descends past a gap jump that looks like it has been abandoned.

The descent begins to intensify, I start pumping my way over some big rollers and then into a sharp switchback. The grade increases and I start picking up more speed, the calm rolling ride is gone, replaced by the rushing sound of the wind and snap of small sticks under my wheel.

The transverse is punctuated with a set of small rollers that look like they are spaced so that a couple of power strokes could kick up the speed enough to launch the gap between them. For me it turns into a bobbing pumping motion as I swiftly roll them into a big banked curve. Turning 180 degrees the trail drops like a chute that screams for this trail to be ridden hard down the hill.

The trail starts narrowing up a little and begins to follow the terrain a little more, leveraging the natural features as rollers.

The next switchback is very sharp and would have a pretty big penalty for missing it. The trail drops from behind a large fir tree into this corner that has been built up using log supports.

Following that switchback the trail is more developed; benched with of a lot of whoop rollers and some fast corners. There is a series of larger rollers before and after each of the next two inside corners with a table top as you coming out of the second corner. Even with these features this is still a cross country trail and does not require an advanced skill set to ride.

Finally a sprint through the timber as the trail starts weaving in and out while rolling and dropping at the same time, some great flow that just feels natural, exiting down across an old skidder road and to a wooden bridge that crosses Flume creek.

The sign post here indicates this is an intersection and we are merging with trail 116. The name of the trail is "Spaghetti Factory".

Spaghetti Factory started vertical, straight up. As we leaned into the hill and pushed our bikes I could hear a lot of lamenting, fear that we would be doing this for the next five hundred feet. But no, a few more feet and the trail turned a sharp right and is very ride-able.

The Spaghetti Factory trail takes advantage of the terrain. It climbs up and threads around switchbacks to gain some elevations then levels out or even descends at a slight angle long enough to recover and attack the next section.

Trail 116 chases the top of the ridge until it crosses the Post Canyon Rd. Shortly after crossing the road it turns into trail 114 for a very short distance and that ends at trail 110.

We become disoriented along here, there was a large tree down across trail 114 and we saw trail 117 heading down hill. As soon as we dropped down over the ridge we could tell we were on an ORV trail.

We made a couple of descents then started questioning our decision to take this trail. We could see another line above us and decided to bushwhack our way to that line. It too was an ORV trail, which we followed back up the hill to the location where we had gotten diverted.

Back on trail 114 we made our way around the downed tree and soon found trail 110 in a very short distance.

Trail 110 is the Mitchell Ridge trail and it started out as a double track but quickly became a screamer. The double track is right on top of the ridge; the timber along here is marked with signs indicating a timber sale which means the hill side will soon be denuded.

Following the top of the ridge, the trail was the steepest stuff we had seen all day. I would call Mitchell Ridge a primitive trail. None of the nice bench work and banked corners that we saw on trail 116 or trail 158. Instead this appears to be following portions of an old jeep track.

I don't recall seeing any trail markers and there were many places where the trail would split and drop over the gorge side of the ridge and then re-merge with the main line.

The trail has lots of places where the track is heavily rutted. That and the muddy condition caused me to slide out of control on a couple of occasions.

I have been on lots of trail like this and I am not suggesting this is not a good descent, it is but it is probably best done when the weather is a bit dryer for more control.

We hit the power line and took a look at the view. The trail was not clearly marked from here. There was a steep descent, which after reviewing Paul's GPS app looked like it would drop us right on trail 100 at the upper parking lot.

There was a jeep road that took off up the next ridge but was steep and slick, we did not see any bike tracks. We did notice a track in the woods between the jeep trail and the power line but it has not seen any use for some time.

We opted to descend and we were able to pick up trail 100 right where we thought it would be. The downhill run from here was optimal. It was so fluid that everyone had big grins at the end of the trail.