I decided to do a training loop for the 5k up at Growlers.
My goal was to take a couple of laps around the bottom of the course, make the Bitter Bitch switchback climb twice before making the main body of the climb. Then take a couple of laps around the top, the Legacy trail before bombing it all the way back down to the bottom.
I cranked my way up from the parking lot and took the alternate climb up Heart Attack Hill.
That dumped me right onto the Predator trail, seems that there have been a few predators spotted on the trail, I'm not sure what kind of predator though.
After a good warm up on Predator I crossed the road and picked up a couple of the road trails, slammed the first trail, shooting over the rollers and whipping through a couple of turns to drop down to the bottom of a great short intense climb that requires low gear, strong grinding and soft tires (low air pressure) to clear it when the tread is wet.
After exiting onto the gravel, I picked up the second road trail and passed the official entrance to Big Wow to opt for a short roll down the Ridge trail to drop in on the alternate Big Wow entrance. Even at that the alternate entrance is steep, slick and had me skidding all the way down to the turn, which I just made by locking up the back wheel and sliding around the corner.
On the main line, I bounced through the first couple of rolling turns and feathered my breaks to keep from skidding down the trail as I wound my way down the steep descent.
After a couple of quick ups and downs I hit the junction with the bottom of the Ridge Trail and made my way out to the skidder road.
A quick ride down the road, picking a line that tried to avoid all the limbs and branches lying on the ground or at least cross them at right angles to my tire.
I hit the entrance to Bitter Bitch and focused on making the climb in the right gears, each time I ride this trail I seem to find another spot where I need to ether gear up or down for the best attack and get the most climb for the energy output.
Around the first switchback, a spot where the trail goes around a log and I shifted into low range but not the lowest gear I had. After climbing a bit and bouncing over a small log, the trail takes a short descent to present a very steep shot; you have to be in a low mid range gear to clear it. The short quick ascent is all about gearing. If your gearing is too low or if it is too high you will stall out and be off your bike to push it over the rise.
Some more easy climbing and the trail makes another short descent, this one caught me numerous times before I realized I have to leave it in low and flow through the descent without pedaling, then be ready to start spinning as you quickly lost momentum. It is the big crunch just before reaching the intersection with Secret Garden.
After rounding the corner at Secret Garden the climb is mellow, a low gear push that can be made slowly, conserving and recovering before the next big push just before the switchbacks start.
I was maintaining a nice even cranking motion when I heard a pop come from my bike like I had missed a gear. Then there was a rumbling sound on every couple of pedal strokes, the sound coming from my tire rubbing on my derailleur.
Confused, I stopped and picked up the back of my bike to spin the wheel. The tire wobbled wildly to rub against the derailleur on every revolution.
I spun the wheel and held my finger tips against the spokes, they melodically sang as the wheel spun around. Switching hands I spun the wheel again as I reached across to the other side of the bike and let my finger tips dance on the spokes until one spoke clattered as it bounced off my fingers and into other spokes.
Damn, a broken spoke and the wheel so far out of true I would never be able to climb the hill in the small ring gear.
The adjustment on my derailleur was so tight that I could not turn it out even a quarter turn before it started rubbing on the chain. Bummed I tweaked the derailleur back and shifted into the middle ring gear (I don't have a large ring, not that it matters).
I pushed my bike up until the trail flattened out a little and hopped on. Standing and cranking I powered through the first switchback then eased along and powered into the second switchback, a little wide and I had to dab but I kicked off and kept riding.
I worked my way up through the switchbacks and only had to get off a couple of times to walk a few feet; this was not the strategy I would want to use to make the climb on the 5k.
Finally back on gravel I headed back to the car.
When I got home I checked to see if Universal Cycle was open and if they had spokes in stock.
I was surprised at how many 29er spokes there were, they seemed to come in one mm increments. Not satisfied with the measurement I got with a ruler I decided to pull another spoke and take it with me.
An hour and a half later I was back in the shop. Since I did not have a truing stand I put my wheel, minus the cassette, the rotor, and the tire back on the bike. Clamped an angle on the frame and mounted a dial indicator to run against the rim.
I spent a couple of hours that evening with a beer and my wheel to true it up to within about twenty thousands. Every tweak on the spoke nipple seemed to affect the whole wheel.
Tuesday I took my bike up to Stella and rode with George Barnett for four hours to test it out. We climbed up into the Haryu and cranked out the Lakeside trail. It was wet and muddy, there was a thick fog, thick enough that the trees would drip like rain but it did not rain.
We rode down out of the Haryu and climbed up the Gateway trail onto Stella ridge, where we rode out to ride Tire Bite and Fast and Furious in both directions, using the new cut across trail that Brian had shown me last week.
A quick break at the ten trails area and we dropped off the back side of Stella ridge on the Canadian Trail. A great descent that has some good steep and a few short side hills to dump you into a clear cut, then a great climb back out, a climb that can be done all in a low mid range gear combination.
After breaking out onto the fire road we shot down through the woods to pick up the Skeleton Trail and climb back up and over the pipe line to pick up Gateway again on the descent.
Back on the gravel we decided to finish it up with one more good climb up through the Haryu on Georges Trail. Georges Trail is one that most people don't know about; it takes off of the skidder road just after entering the timber. The trail has half a dozen hard climbs, lowest gear climbs that have you hunched over and cranking hard. The front wheel light on the ground, bouncing slightly back and forth with every turn of the cranks.
The trail follows the edge of the clear cut and finally turns to drop back down the top of a ridge and dump you onto the Lakeside Trail, just before the pipeline crossing.
We finished the ride out on the same line we came in on and rolled down the gravel back to the parking area.
Brian Mohan shows us his new trail and I find out why he named it Spanky!
Bob sent me a text asking if I was up for a ride tomorrow. What a silly question. He was riding with Brian Mohan and wanted to know if I wanted to tag along.
I pulled up and parked alongside the road, just in front of the gate at about a quarter to nine. The gate was open and there was some logging activity going on just up the road.
Since the neighbors have been displeased with the mountain bikers recently, Bob and Brian had parked down Harmony by Eufaula Height Rd, to reduce the amount of vehicle traffic.
We headed up the road, past the logging operation, where they had punched in a new road, which seemed strange to me because there was a road going up the hill just a couple hundred feet away.
Bob suggested taking the trail up into the Haryu but Brian had a route in mind; we rode a little farther up the road and dropped down next to the creek.
The creek crossing is always sketchy so in the summer and fall I will dab my way across the creek instead of using that narrow little plank. The structure, when viewed from the end looks like a T. It is a two by eight board with a couple of other two by's under it, turned sideways and running down the middle to make the plank ridged.
The plank-way is fixed to a tree on the one shore; the tree is hanging out over the bank with the water about four feet below. There is another tree right at the end of the plank so access to the plank-way is gained by leaning out and grasping one of the trees while slipping around another. Once on the plank, you shuffle out until you are at arm's length then take half a dozen well placed steps to the other side.
Brian crossed quickly, carrying his bike in one hand and quickly dancing across to the other bank.
Bob approached the plank-way with his bike over his shoulder, the bike on the same side as the trees, I am not sure how he even got onto the plank but he charged forward with a couple of steps then leaped from the plank to the bank on the opposite side.
Once we were all on the other side of the stream we started the climb up an old gravel road.
We were heading into the Pit Stop area and would take a trail about a half mile up the road, the trail was a part of a network of trails but over the last couple of years this connector trail seems to be the only one that is being maintained.
We climbed until we reached the Jeep trail, which we did not ride but instead turned on to the Ken, Bob, and George trail; a nice level grade trail with lots of up and down motion as it winds through the woods.
A short while later we picked up what Brian called the Fossil trail but that I recognized right away as the Skeleton trail. The trail got its name from the full Elk skeleton with an arrow still stuck in its back bone that was found when Bob and Ken were putting the trail in, a few years back. Now all that is left are a small pile of bones.
We made a 180 and followed a trail that took us down and across the pipeline to the Mainline trail.
Brian wanted to take us to ride the trail "Don't Ask Don't Tell" a twisting line that goes round and round in circles. This is a very common approach to trail building up on the top of Stella Ridge.
We turned and headed down an old overgrown skidder road, a straight line that ran down hill at a mild grade until Brian pulled off into the timber. Now most of the time I can see the line on a trail, even one that is not used much, just because of the fact that the limbs on trees next to the line have been knocked off.
Then I saw it, there was a red flag hanging on a branch as we rode by, then another and in spots I could see the faint line of a path through the ground cover.
The serpentine line ran through the timber in an attempt to go over every stump, log, and system of exposed roots in a five acre square.
There were places where evidence of trail building and maintenance were visible in the form of a small downed tree which could not be incorporated as a feature in the trail, having been cut to clear the path.
The trail twisted around back and forth so much that soon I had no sense of direction. I could not tell you which way was out or which way was north or south.
It was a tough course that had Bob on the ground a couple of times, Bob's clip less pedals put him down more than anything. While I have platform pedals and cup sole shoes and when I see I have a challenging feature to attack I will drop my saddle a couple of inches to give me a little more clearance.
After about ten minutes or so we hit a junction with another trail and headed up to the ten trails area.
Brian told us he had put in a new line that he had named Spanky.
We rode out of Ten trails toward the east and headed down to the end of Fast and Furious. We rode the trail backwards to its normal flow for a few feet to a point where again, Brian turned off the track to start riding off through the woods, I could see a few red flags but the trail was non-existent.
The line was fairly straight but the terrain was just a series of root wells and mounds. The path was like a kiddy roller coaster, if the mounds were a little closer you could have pumped them.
After a couple of minutes we reached a point where Brian told us we were starting a loop that was best ridden counter clockwise. Brian pointed to a red beer cozy that was hanging on a tree limb and said this was called the Budweiser junction.
We headed off down the trail, twisting and turning around through the trees in an apparent attempt to find every obstacle we could find to ride over.
The main difference between this and the last trail we had ridden was that we were now attacking the features on more of a hillside, we would ride downhill, bouncing over logs and swooping through small swales to rumble through a section of forest where the roots were expose, a twisted knot of wooden tendrils running across the surface.
In places the trail was evident; there were crushed sections of rotted logs where the line crossed, the red chunks of wood trailing off on either side of the log. There were groves and narrow tracks cut in and around the tops of mounds.
But most of the line was followed by spotting the small piece of red ribbon hanging from branches.
We reached a point where I had to get off and push my bike up and over a large mound (this would not be the only time) and as I came around the end of a large old log, the trail turned down a very steep hill.
We rode down the hill, my breaks rumbling, modulating as I weaved through the trees and around stumps to be dumped into what could best be described as a little gully filled with rotting trees. The track going up and over a solid chunk of half buried wood to climb sharply back up the hill, pulling me from my bike to push for a few yards.
A sharp serious climb that again had me off my bike, not to push but so I could get it shifted into the lowest gear and start grinding my way up through the loose detritus.
Huffing and puffing my way up and over mounds and again through small swales until we reached a point where we turned back to following the hillside on a leveler course. There was one old log lying on the ground among a widely dispersed group of trees. The line followed a large arc around and over the log.
A turn downhill put us on a track that maneuvered its way over still more rotting fallen trees and root mounds until we reached another low point on the trail and turned to climb again.
We wandered around up and down until I realized that the downhill slope was no longer on my right but was now on my left, which lead me to the conclusion that I was completely turned around.
As we rode, our line brought us close to a nice smooth single track running through the woods, the Fast and Furious trail which was one of my favorites was just a few feet away. Oh!
Pushing on through the woods, over the soft surface and bouncing over every feature that presented itself to us, we rode.
The return line was a track that maintained more of an even elevation, with just small challenges and it finally brought us around to a short downhill run that ended back at the Budweiser junction.
The loop had taken us just at twenty five minutes and was appropriately named; "Spanky"! Cause it spanks you over and over.
Brian led us downhill through some more of his trail to wind around and end back at Ten trails.
After a short break we took off to ride Tire Bite and were going to follow that with Fast and Furious. Brian was going to show us some connector trails that ran between the trails when I got a flat tire.
I had slime in my tubes and thought maybe I could pump it up, after a good forty strokes on the pump we took off.
Half a mile more and the tire was flat again. I had a spare tube so I pulled the wheel and removed the old tube, pulled the one from my pack and went to put some air in it. I pumped it up just to turn around and pick up the wheel and find my spare had gone flat.
I was the only one riding a 29er so I put the wheel back together with the original tube and pumped it up again, hoping the slime would eventually seal the leak.
We did the loop around Tire Bite and I had to pump it up a couple of times, it was weird riding because it would start off feeling good and firm then at each turn it would get a little sloppier.
I finally gave in and told the guys I was going to head out, Brian said that we had been out over three hours and he was ready to call it good so we decided to ride single track out with me stopping every half mile or so to put some air in my tire.
I asked Paul Norris last week if he was up for a ride next weekend and he said he was going to Barbie Camp.
I had never been to Barbie Camp so Paul told me to check it out on the Disciples of Dirt website. The DOD being a mountain biking group based out of Eugene Oregon.
After checking the site and logging in I signed up for Barbie Camp.
This was a weekend campout up in the Sisters area. The campsite was a dispersed campsite that acted as the base for the Peterson Ridge trail system and was located about three miles south of Sisters.
We arrived on Thursday evening to find Ken Pearson and Lee there setting up camp.
Friday morning found one other camper had shown up in the night, Davie Sprocket.
Davie and the DOD had started Barbie Camp back in the early nineties. They had been grousing about the weather in the Eugene area, rain, and had decided to take a break from it by doing a campout on the dry side of the mountains. As Davie described it, the official campout name came from his daughter wanting a full sized Barbie Doll, which after an extended period of pleading and begging she got. Then within a very short time, she was bored with it and tossed it onto a pile of Goodwill donations. Davie saw this and decided Barbie would make a good mascot for the bi-annual campout, hence the name Barbie Camp.
I was eager to get a ride in, so I jumped on my bike and rode down to the camp fire ring to see if anyone was going to ride today. I found Davie, Lee and Ken putting up some banners for the DOD and Ninkasi Brewing (they provided a keg of beer).
The four of us headed out about 10:30 and followed some double track for about a mile to an intersect with the Peterson Ridge Trail at trail marker 15.
We started with a short little loop that was probably a couple of miles.
The trail was a mix of smooth single track, very slick mud, and short sections of embedded lava rock.
The temperatures in the area were into the low twenties over night which made the muddy spots extra slick since the mud still had ice crystals and the ground underneath was still frozen.
There was easy to moderate climbing through a couple of series of switchbacks.
At one point the trail leveled off and a large tree had fallen a few feet from the trail, the tree had been turned into a log ride with a ramp built over the root section. None of us attempted the ride on that Friday, but on Saturday there were a half dozen riders that took a shot at it in both directions.
When we reached the top of the climb, there was a rock wall that formed a circle, Davie stopped to point it out and ask if we had any virgins to sacrifice.
Our route up and around the loop went through a short rocky playground, some very large smooth lava rocks with a few strategically placed rocks made a feature that was reminiscent of some of the rocky features I had been riding in the southwest, Arizona and the Tucson area.
The first line is marked by a row of stones laid out as a guide. The tread is a large slab of lava tilted downward with the mud tracks of the other riders painted across the top to a narrow transition over a couple of boulders to a lower lava slab that dumps you out onto dirt.
The feature presented a short intense climb back up to the top of the rocks, a climb I was never able to clear.
Then there is an alternate descent down over another point on the rocky feature that dumps you out a few feet from the trail that runs around the feature. The line not as easy to spot on the approach, the tread a tight packed stone and dirt path that pours out onto a lower lava slab. The line rolling down the face of the slab and off across a large boulder onto the dirt.
We circled back around to trail marker 15 by hitting a short connector along a double track and descending through some chunky lava sections and some fast single track.
We made another loop to the north of marker 15, a route that would take us up and over Eagle Rock.
The climb up to the saddle on Eagle Rock was a good challenge; I was unable to clear it on ether day. I take some consolation in the fact that the rider in front of me on both days, bobbled on a section of flat rocks that were loose and laid out to form a path a couple of feet wide. Both riders encountered the same problem, a pedal strike on a rock that skirted the trail along a very narrow section of the line.
From the saddle on Eagle Ridge we took a short hike up to the top of the rocky outcropping. There was a 360 degree view which was highlighted with snow covered mountain peaks from north to south.
While on Eagle Ridge we were joined by a couple more mountain bikers who had set up camp and came looking for us.
The descent was through a couple of switchbacks but only had one very technical spot that pulled me from my bike on both attempts. It was a large step up over some boulders that were wedged between a tree and rocky outcropping. I think that if the tree was not there I could clear it but the tree, my angle of approach, and my wide handle bars foiled me on both attempts.
We looped around from the base of Eagle Rock to return to trail marker 15. This time we headed up the way we had come down.
The line we rode was a very low grade climb that took us across a few short stretches of embedded lava rock but was mostly a serpentine line that ran through the small pine up past a couple more trail markers to marker number 19.
From trail marker 19, we made a loop that followed a ditch for a short section, and then climbed through a large switchback to swoop back and forth across an abandoned irrigation ditch. It was a fun run even though we were climbing; it would be a real hoot on a descent.
We continued to climb and follow the meandering trail up to trail marker 22, where we made a turn and rode a few hundred yards to trail marker 21 and the middle overlook. This was another large rocky outcropping that presented a view of the mountains.
The view was panoramic; the blue sky dotted with gray and white clouds and a flurry of dry white snowflakes flashing through the air all around us.
The trail back to camp started with some smooth single track following a mild descent. The line is broken up in a couple of places by some challenging rocky features, the first a big lift with a second chunk of rock behind the lift and the second feature a rock garden with multiple lines.
After a quarter mile or so the trail takes a big switchback to rumble across some rocky tread then it makes a right turn to cross the upper ditch. The ditch turns into a jump if you hit it hard but is also very easy to roll.
A short blast from the upper ditch to the lower ditch with a couple of water bars that work as small kickers then the line drops through the lower ditch and that completes the loop.
The trail we took back was the same as the one we rode up on.
Back at camp, there were people arriving all afternoon and that evening.
Lee had gone back to camp and was busy all afternoon gathering fire wood, there looked to be enough to build a small cabin.
That evening around the campfire, that was a good four to six feet high, there was lots of discussion about the trail conditions and lots of introductions to new friends.
Saturday morning brought a bright sunny day. The cloudy patchy conditions of the day before were gone. It was cold but clear and crisp.
The schedule was for everyone to get together in camp at ten o'clock. Then we all rode out to the trail head and broke up into three groups.
One group took off to ride all the trails with a goal to accumulate fifty miles of trail.
Another group took off on a mellow pace with a goal to enjoy themselves.
The last group, the one I went with was going to ride up and across Eagle Ridge, then do a loop out and around Peterson Ridge. The route would take the East trail out and the West trail back.
This was an interesting group, they were all strong riders. We didn't do a lot of waiting, with the exception of a couple of mechanical issues, the group was tight and cranking it out at a solid pace.
After enjoying some of the same features we had done the day before, we headed out the East trail.
The tread was muck! The ground was thawing and the mud was very sloppy. This is unusual for this area, most of the time the tread is dry and dusty.
At one point I think I had probably picked up five to ten pounds of mud, I could hear it grinding away in my chain and it was coated so thick on my frame that my back tire was constantly rubbing against it.
After a mile or so of a track that meandered through the pine, we crossed a gravel road and the group stopped at an unmarked intersection.
Davie pointed out a line that ran down the back side of a ridge or rim and said that if anyone wanted to do a little technical riding this was an opportunity.
Paul Norris was the first to take off, and then a couple of others followed. I stood there with a hum and haw, couldn't make up my mind when Davie and Ken both shouted encouragement, so I took off to follow the line.
The trail started out following the top of the ridge line for a few hundred feet, then turned away from the ridge to roll out and turn back down over a few rocks and bumps through sage brush and grass as it descended.
The line descended to the bottom of the ridge and followed very close to the rocky face, presenting lots of challenging step ups and rocky features to maneuver as it made its way back to the main trail.
We rode on through the mud and muck for another couple of miles or more until we reached the Far Overlook.
The Far Overlook was a rocky outcropping that presented some more of the fantastic views of the snow covered Cascade Range. I can't remember all of the mountain peaks; Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt Washington...
After a break, the group started the return ride on the West Trail.
Not as much muck and mud, although there was plenty, but lots more rumbling over rock gardens and technical features that raised the fun level by a notch or two.
It was probably about three and a half miles to the middle overlook, where we picked up the same return trail we had ridden yesterday.
Then we took the same route back to camp that we had taken the day before, or at least I did. I lost the others after a mile or so, one of the guys bobbled on a rocky section and the rest of the group rode the return at a faster pace so I ended up riding the last couple of miles by myself.
Back at camp, we had a potluck that evening. There was lots of good food and more of the free beer provided by Ninkasi.
There was a huge fire with everyone gathered around for a raffle. One of the local Eugene bike shops had provided electrolyte drinks and other odd stuff to be given away. The final raffle was for the coveted Barbie Bike.
The Barbie Bike is another tradition that I unfortunately didn't get the detail on. At each of the biannual camp outs the bike, a pink single speed with pink wheels and pedals, is raffled off. The winner gets to use the bike for six months, until the next campout. Then they return the bike to be raffled off again. And as I understand it there is usually some type of improvements made that are consistent with the Barbie bike theme.
It was a great time, the rides were fun and the people were great.