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Ride Report Archive June 2011

Thursday ride with George at Stella.

Thursday 6/30/11
We hit the Haryu side and repeated the climb we did last week. It started off wet, the flat portions of the track were slick and sloppy for the most part but the climb held up well.

Rode a loop around on a ridge trail built by Vaughn and Ed, then backtracked to hit the Lakeside trail. The line was very muddy. The ride started out wet with a few bursts of sunshine.

We rode the Lakeside trail out to the last descent and dropped back to the road. The descent on this line is a smooth flowing track except for one spot toward the top, right before a board over a small creek. The approach is through a large dip that tweaks your line enough to make hitting the crossing difficult. I rode through the creek.

Back on the gravel, we ran into Bob Keeney and Ken Roberts, along with a young guy; Gary.

We climbed the gravel to the pipeline and soaked our shoes in tall wet grass before hitting the single track.

Bob lead us on a squirrelly twisty romp through their favorite trails. Pin Ball, Supply and Demand, the Chicken trails and others that I do not remember. I found myself chattering over washboard root systems, bounding over old logs, ducking wet hanging branches, bouncing off trees and pumping through large old stumps.

Bob stopped at one point to show us a very large old stump, at least 8 feet high with an opening in the middle where we walked through. One side of the stump had a full sized tree growing on top, the roots of which snaked down the outside of the stump into the ground. The other side hollowed out and blackened. He told us he had only cleared it once in several tries. Looking down I noticed the remains of a rabbit spread out at our feet, seems someone else may find this a nice place to hold up and have dinner.

Bob is a very strong rider; he was constantly stopping and waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

After a couple of hours, Bob, Ken, and Gary were ready to head out, we did carpel tunnel and the Gateway trail to finish the Stella ridge trails.

Then George and I rode up and backtracked our way across the Haryu on the Lakeside trail. We caught a great run on the ridge portion of the Lakeside, where large sections of the track deliver up some great pump action.

The final line downhill, hitting a couple of good root drops followed by a small hop, my breaks making a smooth hum zing sound under the light pressure. Splashing through a large mud pit where the key is all about the right gear and rumble across the network of exposed roots, to finally spill out into bright sunshine on the gravel road.

Tilly ride on Sunday 6/26/11

Sunday morning I drove to Barry's house where Barry, Corey, and I piled into Barry's SUV along with Lucy and headed for Tilly.

We arrived around 9:30 and were cranking our way uphill before 10:00.

I have ridden this route one time a few years ago when the NWTA (North West Trail Association) was called PUMP (Portland United Mountain Pedalers). It was a group ride that took in some of the same route we were doing.

About 30 seconds into the trail and it started to climb, the creek dropping further away below the trail with every pedal crank. In my foggy memory, I didn't remember a lot of climbing along the connector trail that ran from the parking area over to the junction with Story Burn and the Reehers Camp section of the Gales Creek trails. I stood up and cranked as the trail tracked along the face of the hillside, bending away into the woods allowing me to see just a short ways ahead.

I dropped the front ring gear into the small ring and left the rear cluster in the third gear. Pumping hard and expecting the trail to level off soon, but it became evident that the line was teasing me with a short bench before presenting a climb that put me into low gear and tested my endurance for the next ten minutes. I relaxed my cadence, leaned forward and fell into a climbing pace.

My breathing and heart rate running near max and still the trail climbed; another steep around every bend.

Finding a flat where the trail rose to cross behind a large tree, I stopped, struggling for breath, collapsing forward to lean against the seat and look back to see Barry, pitched forward and balancing his weight between keeping the front wheel on the ground and enough weight on the back to maintain traction. A small hitch in his gate at the top of each pedal stroke, he pushed down and lurched forward to gain another foot of track until he came to a stop behind me, gasping for air.

Around the next turn the trail turns down for a teasing little blast to be followed by just as quick a return to the grind the front wheel switching back and forth as I worked to maintain my balance while crawling up the next grade.

The track along here is high on the hillside; the sound of the creek has faded as the trail continues to climb. A track that is wide enough, with a slight pitch toward the edge of a very steep hillside.

The crest is finally reached and the trail turns downhill with as radical a pitch as the climb.

Since I did not know the trail I tried to maintain a speed that gave me enough control to keep me on the track but still allow me the freedom to hit any features that might present themselves, mainly root drops.

A few quick switchbacks, then around a ridge, through a valley and across a bridge to follow the line around one more ridge and find too soon the end of the track, crossing a bridge and a long climb of over two miles commences.

The Story Burn trail has some very steep pitches on the ascent. We made most, but a couple were just a little too long, reaching a turn to find, not a bench or flat track but more and increasing ascent that forced me from the saddle more than once and anyone who knows me knows I do not like to hike a bike.

Still a fairly wide track but the side hill was very steep and a couple of areas seemed a little exposed with lose gravel under the tires, forcing me to climb a little harder across these open spots.

We finally gain a peak and glide down into a ravine and cross a small creek, then to take on another steep climb that is followed by a couple of switchbacks, the first of which would be hard to make on the uphill, even if I had not just dumped every bit of my energy on the steep uphill climb.

That followed by a second very easy to make switchback and finally a little flat or slight uphill, interspersed with shorter climbs, climbs we could just dig in and grind out.

The trail here nice and wide and running across the top of a ridge, past a huge moss and fern covered house sized boulder (well maybe a small cabin sized).

The line drops over the edge of the ridge and runs back into a ravine, where a small creek runs down a rock face some twenty to thirty feet high, the small creek dispersing into rivulets of water running through the cracks and crevices, forming small waterfalls with thick green moss and ferns growing on either side.

The crossing at the creek looks do-able, the climb up and out is another issue. The line drops with a quick slip across a muddy little traverse to land almost squarely in the creek, facing a very steep ascent out the other side. The alternative is to dismount and walk an old log that has seen many footsteps and just push your bike up the other side, my choice.

The track out of and beyond the ravine is a steep climb, a slow grind across loose gravely stone in front of a rock face and atop a very steep hillside. To gain some firm grip-e dirt as the trail returns to the woods, yet maintaining this stupidly steep ascent.

We crossed a couple of small valleys as we approach the top of the ridge bringing the climb to an end. The blue sky visible through the timber clearly defines the ridgeline just above us and path started to level out and even break into a downward slope along the last section before breaking out onto gravel.

The track crosses the road and runs a short distance to a large gravel parking area. A sign board is standing on the south side of the parking area, with the trail head just to the left.

There was gun fire off in the distance and Lucy started panicking, running around the parking lot then heading out onto the gravel road and heading out of site. We all called at her, Barry finally chasing her down and literally having to wrestle her to the ground to get her under control, and not without consequence as she took a nip at him and left a small cut on his chin.

With Lucy under control and between Barry and me we continued down Story Burn trail.

A faster line with steep side slope in most places along the trail. The track is a little narrower but good and solid as it passes under the tall timber and runs through thick patches of ferns and salmon berry bushes.

We encounter a couple of short climbs but the upper section of the trail is relatively swift as we cross over several ridges before the line turns down and we start a much more exciting descent.

The track drops swiftly, lower on the hillside. I could see bright sunlight illuminating the trail at the next corner. The line turns and runs across a loose gravel slide, an exposed area on a very steep side hill. A place where nothing can distract your focus, your attention fixed on picking a good line.

The line runs back into the forest but the side hill remains steep. A few feet down the track and the trail presents a large root drop. The drop is followed by a loose gravely descent that I balked at and almost slipped and fell on my ass as I walked by bike over the drop and down the slippery slope.

The trail continues its descent with some very good track, widening back out for most of the run through the woods. There are several small creek crossings and little swales that increase the fun factor as the line dips through these areas.

There are several exposed areas on this trail but I think the couple along the descent are the most exciting.

While standing at the bottom of the descent, I had to point out to the others that we were now on the other side of Highway 6. A most unbelievable observation since none of us remember crossing the highway or going through a tunnel or anything else. Barry refused to believe it until we were back on gravel and the highway was in front of us.

This just shows how focused all of us were on the track. When I reviewed my helmet cam video, I can clearly see a huge green bridge support structure not twenty feet away from the trail.

The bottom of the trail crosses a wet area. The trail runs through thick vegetation, tall grass, nettles, salmon berry and Ferns as high as your handle bars. I ran into Fred MacGregor later at Rogers Camp and he told me that this area was sloppy with deep slick mud just a week or so ago.

A nice steep climb up to the gravel road that lead out to the highway.

We discussed our options when we hit the gravel, and decided to take a lunch break over at Rogers Camp.

Our new course was going to be to do the Nels Rogers Trail over to Beaver Dam Road and ride the gravel back to Highway 6. Then cross over to take the Gales Creek Trail back to the car.

We took the new section of trail from Rogers Camp up a few switch backs and over to the OHV trail, while dodging quads and dirt bikes we crossed the OHV track and started a good climb. Primary problem with this little section was the air reeked with the smell of exhaust fumes and the rattling ying sounds of the off road vehicles.

After about five minutes of steady interval climbing, the trail starts a nice downhill section that runs across and down the ridge. There are plenty of small to moderate root drops to hop off and some gentle twist and turn along a wide track that ends too soon with another climb.

Another couple of minutes of climbing and then a real nice downhill run with a couple of drops and simple features to be dumped out on to Beaver Dam Road.

We rode the gravel back to Highway 6 and cross the road to drop down the Gales Creek trail.

The trail head starts with a steep drop off the gravel and down through the thick foliage on solid single track.

A nice line that runs at a moderate grade for the first few hundred yards, then into a steep grade, steep enough that I was off the saddle and weighting the back wheel through a couple of steep turns. Looking ahead and using the skid marks as a guide.

The trail has a few steep ascents thrown in to spice up the action; the key for me was to use the small and middle ring gears and leave the cluster gear set in the second sprocket. Familiarity with the trail would go a long way in improving the attack. There were ascents that looked like I could make them in the middle ring gear to find that just on the other side of a break or around a large fern overhang the trail continued to climb and I was out of juice.

There was a new section of trail that has had a lot of bench work, followed by some rolling track with mellow twists through the timber then merges back into a mature line.

There were spots along the trail covered in thick foliage, the salmon berry and ferns so large that you latterly have to duck and dodge to keep from being smacked in the face. The line almost obscured.

Over half way down the two mile descent there is a little valley with a small clear creek running through it. The trail winds its way down, around and through the trees to cross the creek on a couple of well worn logs that form a solid bridge.

A bit further on the trail and there are a couple of sections with steps, about 8 to 10 steps in each section. Fred told me that the steps are starting to fill in with dirt and are much easier to ride now. I didn't try riding them. I did talk to a rider just past the second of these steps that told me he tried to ride them but ended up doing an end-o.

The trail starts to level off a lot more in the last half mile, none of the real steep stuff, just a few up and down runs on smooth single track.

After 15 minutes of steep downhill riding, Barry checks his breaks for grease and oil?

Tuesday 6/21/11 George and I ride Stella

Ride at Stella on Tuesday 6/21 with George Barnett.

I posted up to my Facebook page that I was going to be riding at 12:00 noon, assembled all my gear and headed out to Stella where I was going to meet George.

We were rolling on the gravel just before noon. George asked if there was any where I wanted to ride, so I told him I would like to ride to the Pit Stop area since I had heard the name but had never been there.

George said that we could do a loop, up through Haryu, and then do Gateway and some of the Stella ridge trails. I interjected that I would like to do the Canadian trail in the reverse direction from our last ride, since I knew that we would exit the trail close to where we wanted to be to ride down through Pit Stop.

We rode past the first of the Haryu trails, and started up the steep gravel road that bisects the Haryu. We rode less than a hundred feet up the hill and took the trail on the left.

A little over a month ago I had been riding up here on a solo ride, I had taken an exploratory run down a trail that crossed this line, and I remember wondering at the time where this line came from. It had been very wet on that day. The tread today was much better, a few mucky spots, creating a tread that was between tacky and slick.

I was surprised when we crossed the trail I had come down on a month ago, the line started to climb and then took a sharp switchback that swung around to end on the trail we had just crossed. The switchback cut out the steep and made the trail a very good climb.

We ground out each foot of elevation gain in low gear, except for a couple of small lifts with a steep face that required a quick gear change to improve the torque and increase the power potential to quickly ascend and bounce over a couple of root wads.

We quickly reached the lower traversing trail, the Haryu hillside is traversed by two basic lines, one that runs within a few hundred feet off of a clear cut. A clear cut that runs across almost the whole top of the hill. The upper line is called the Lakeside trail and the other trail, the one in front of us, the one that I don't have a name for, runs lower, crisscrossing an old spur road.

We turned right and headed for the Lakeside trail.

We followed that line, a good solid line that is well developed with some very nice features. We followed that line through the section that loops out and back on the top of a ridge, a great track for pumping out with all the energy you can commit. The track is best ridden from the other direction for speed, but still a great ride from this direction.

At the end of the ridge run, we took a line that headed back out down to the other traversing trail.

I have ridden this a few times now and knew about where I was when we picked up that track. Just a few hundred yards from the little backwater pond created by the spur road. From here George told me there were three trails that all headed down to the road side trail.

The trails had been put in by Ed and Vaughn years ago, as can be said for almost all the trails over in this area. Ed, Vaughn, and George are the primary trail builders in the Haryu area.

There are three trails at this point that all go down to the road trails, Ed's trails 1, 2, and 3. I had done trail 3 when I had wandered through the area a month ago on my solo ride so we headed down trail 1.

Trail 1 is the best line for climbing. Trail 2 and 3 are best for descending and I understand that trail 3 is the most challenging, that is the line I had followed previously.

We hit the road side trail and I hammered my way down a now familiar track until I was back at the road, just before the bridge.

We rode the gravel up and across the bridge to access the Gateway trail, just off to the left after the junction where most riders turn to ride up the gravel and gain access to the Stella ridge.

Gateway was very slick. A tough climb that had me dabbing down or stepping off a half dozen times as I lost traction on a corner or a slick spot in the dense network of roots.

Once gaining the top of the line, we worked our way through the maze of trails until we reached the infamous 7 trails, 8 trails, and now called the 10 trails area.

We took a little break at 10 trails then headed out for the Canadian trail; I wanted to ride it in the reverse direction from what we did last week.

The Canadian trail, in my opinion, is best ridden from the 10 trails end or from west to east.

It is a much better ride this way. The downhill section is steep but very ride-able. The one turn that is so hard to make going up caused both of us to slip the rear tire a little to maintain the line. A few tight spots and some roots to negotiate, then trail breaks out into the clear cut meadow.

After crossing the open area, the trail is not an easy line to spot. The tall grass and black berry bushes make every game crossing look like the line.

The climb is a low to mid range climb. I kept the cluster gear in second or third and shifted the ring gear for climbing and cruising.

From the Canadian trail we headed down a pretty straight line that traveled through small timber with little sections of broad leaf forest, very characteristic of the area. Vivid green patches thick with clover and broad leaf ferns giving way to the brown hue of the carpet of needles under the fir trees.

We finally arrived at the Pit Stop area, not much to note except the area was completely void of any understory. There was nothing green under the canopy of fir trees, other than moss. Indeed there was a distinct line, on one side a lush green rain forest, on the other...

The Pit Stop area was a very active area at one time, with trails running all through it, an easy place to build trails since there was literally no brush to deal with. The area appears abandoned now, the trail we traveled, littered with dead limbs and sticks.

As we headed on down the hill, the track took us to an abandoned gravel road; the road that once serviced this area has been decommissioned. The culvert in the creek at the bottom of the road was removed, effectively isolating the area to mountain bikers and hikers.

We finished out by trying to ride some road side trails but they were so chewed up that many sections were un-ride-able.

Horse riders have effectively taken over most of the old road side trails in the area, destroying the once smooth rolling track.

That is too bad. We had a very casual ride, covered some new trails I had not seen and some that are now becoming familiar.

Saturday 6/18/11 Tour De Gulch

I pulled my Subaru up to the curb, the slapping sound of the windshield wipers ceased as I turned the ignition key to the off position.

We sat and waited in the steady rain for a short while, the sight of a car or truck attracting my attention to the mirror as they appeared then passed by.

Then I spotted a white Subaru with three mountain bikes on the top. I jumped out of the car as it pulled in behind us.

It was Paul Norris and he had "Seattle" Fred in the front passenger seat.

I grabbed my gear and dumped it in the back of his rig, the spot reserved for a couple of mutts that would not be joining us on this ride, kissed my wife good bye and we headed for Longview to pick up Shawn.

We pulled off Melton Rd onto the forest road and into a caravan of cars sporting Mountain Bikes on roof racks.

When we arrived at the intersection there were probably a dozen vehicles lining the road and riders gathered in groups. Over the next thirty minutes the group would grow in size as more cars and riders arrived and started getting ready for the day's event.

There were a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new faces as I rode around the group shaking hands and meeting people.

The week had been dry and sunny for the most part and I kept thinking that the weather guys prediction for showers might come true. That it would not be like last year where every inch of my person was wet.

My group, the Fun Bunch (which we decided later that our group should be called Not Normal) took off about 9:00 am and headed down the gravel. Our ride leader Paul was guiding us to the Creek Trail, which we were going to ride backwards, that is to say in the opposite direction to its normal flow.

The line was an old skidder road and in good weather conditions it is somewhat slick in places, today it was very slick. This line turned onto a single track that is a benched line that has been carved into the hillside. I was cautious here staying away from the outer edge of the bench because I knew it would cave under the weight of my wheel.

Down across a couple of log features and on through a section that is always slick and muddy, but today the muck and mud was especially deep. The only line was down the middle.

The descent through here was touch and go, the buildup of needles and leaves over the slick surface turned breaking into an immediate skid; clumping debris under the wheel, creating a frictionless interface between the wheel and the trail. The only control was to tap your breaks, trying to modulate them as the descent went in and out of control.

We followed the line to the bank above the creeks edge and began the gradual climb toward Peace and Pound.

We rode through large patches of clover, their leaves folded down like little cabana umbrellas waiting out a tropical storm.

Since we had ridden the Creek trail in the direction that was counter to the normal flow, Paul suggested we do all the trails in reverse. So next we would take on Pound and Peace.

It was a good idea that gave us riders that were familiar to the trails a different perspective.

We left the confines of the deep forest and gained the gravel. We rode up gravel to the exit from Little Sister where Paul leaned in and turned his bike back to the track.

Sister Little had an exit that looked a little dicey so I shifted up a couple of gears to give me more power for ratcheting and pushing through the choppy stuff at the beginning. The strategy worked until the slope increased and I hit a mound that was just a little too large for the gearing.

Sister Little was a good climbing trail up to the spur road, from there on through the next section by the road, the dips and bumps were so close together is was hard to maintain good momentum.

Once on the Rail Road Grade, we decided to do CBA (ABC). CBA was a very good ride in the reverse direction. There was only one spot where we were stopped. The quick descent from the intersection onto what I think would have been the C trail was too steep and slick to make that day but if the surface were a little dryer, it is do-able. There were a number of places that were great fun hitting the log features in reverse and a couple of sections that were naturals for pumping.

We crossed paths with Jeep's group at the intersection, where we posed for a group shot.

We ran into Denise's group on the B loop, there were a number of them sporting special attachments to their helmets, namely a scrub brush turned bristle side up and a couple more with colored plastic squiggly things sticking up from their helmets. They may have been making a statement but I missed it.

Our next ride was on Spade of Ace. I did this in reverse a couple of weeks ago when I was riding with Guy Smith and Jessie Lopez so I kind of knew what to expect. The reverse ride starts with three very large rollers along the upper section before descending down around a banked corner that does not work real well on the descent but works real well on the ascent.

We followed the line staying true to the course for a reverse ride, a line that was nice, rolling with a good track. We passed the log ride, where I learned latter; Bob Hornes had taken a pretty good fall. I talked with Bob later and he confirmed the fall and showed me some scratched up marks on the side of his head and a dislocated finger which he told me he had done while attempting to surmount a different feature.

Along the middle of the Spade of Aces loop, Dave's group screamed by us to blast down the steep section we had just pushed up. Our strategy of doing a reverse route caused us to cross paths with a lot of groups.

After we hit the normal exit intersection we continued on to the new bridge and rolled it with ease, the damn thing is as wide as a picnic table (I'm not complaining, I like it) to scramble up the couple of switchbacks and over the ridge.

The quick descent on the back side of the ridge leads to a short climb over some big rolling mounds. Two of which I clipped a pedal on, one I was able to push off but the second had me dismount, just as Jack Barry and his group was starting down the line.

We rode the gravel to Knoll Grass and the JFK. I have ridden this line many times in the reverse direction and prefer it that way. The profile would show a longer downward slope from this direction.

We didn't exit from JFK but instead bushwhacked an old trail to pick up Mile Miracle to reverse that line also. Some of the excellent features of this trail lose their shine when riding it in reverse. The double hump where the second hump is that split stump is just not as fun going on an upward slope. It is very hard to make the hump after the stump.

We ended our ride with a final descent down Jekyll the normal way. The line was as sloppy as I have ever seen it. If it were covered in a light dusting of snow that was just melting would be the only way that I can imagine it could have been wetter or slicker.

At the intersection of KMA and Jekyll, Carla's group came screaming by on a descent from upper KMA. I dropped in behind them and blasted down the slick surface; very squirrely.

The approach to the big banked corners on the exit was well ridden in. It was a sloppy slide down the slippery descent that had me drifting the back end around when I touched the break, I released the lever as I slid almost sideways into the banked corner and recovered as I ran wide on the line just before I hit the last bank.

It was gravel back to the parking area and I was as wet this year as last year. There was not one centimeter on me that was dry. Although I was wet the poly wear clothing kept me warm and comfy.

We all changed and headed for Porky's to grab a burger, and an IPA (provided through negotiation by Paul and Melanie) and talk about the adventure each and every rider experienced.

Kelley Fred Vaughn Paul

Check out the changes I have made to my Build a Bike pages.

Saturday 6/11/11

It was about a quarter to twelve when George pulled up. I was ready and waiting so we were on the gravel before noon.

George asked if there were any trails I wanted to ride. I suggested riding out to where the Golden Spike crossed the road and then back.

George wanted to get off the gravel and suggested we take a trail on the other side of the creek and work our way out to Golden Spike.

A short ways up the road was a spur road that had been decommissioned a few years back. The logging company had come in and removed the culvert, leaving the road on the other side abandoned. Since there were trails along that road, a couple of guys, Bob and Ken, built a plank bridge across the creek. The bridge is a little sketchy. Accessible only by foot, you have to carry your bike across. One end has the foundation of the bridge anchored in the base of a large deciduous tree. The bridge, a 2x10 mounted on a couple of 2x8's turned up to form a structure that is firm in the middle but a little wobbly at the edges.

We made a safe crossing and started up the rocky steep in front of us. The area around the bridge and the approach to the bridge was chewed up from horses using these approach trails and crossing in the creek. The trail system has taken a lot of abuse from horses this spring.

After a steep bit of climbing, we turned off onto a track heading away on the right side of the road. The course of this trail was intersected with a junction, which George told me would take us in a big loop to the area known as Pit Stop. We opted to stay the line we were on which very quickly took us back to the climb on the road.

A short bit later and we picked up a trail on the left. It was a moderate climb through some timber that looked to be twenty or so years old. It was a nice track that varied through long sections of moderate climb to short burst and little technical sections.

After about ten minutes the terrain leveled off and we started riding a section of track that rolled and snaked its way over the carpet of fir needles that had formed under these non-deciduous trees, broken up by thick patches of clover and ferns that grew under short sections of mixed timber or Alder.

George told me we were now on the Ken-Bob or maybe it was the Bob-Ken trail.

We came to another intersection of trails. George tried to explain to me where each one went and a little background on their development. It will take a few trips and some repeating to get a somewhat firm understanding of the system in this area.

We headed off on the Ed, Vaughn, and George trail to eventually end up taking the George trail down to a line on the Skeleton trail.

We rode up this line to the Canadian trail. The ground had been chewed up and spit back out in clumps with crescent shaped holes up the length of the track. It would not take too many trips down this line on a horse to make it un-ride-able for us mountain bikers.

From my vantage point, it appears that any trail that is somewhat straight has a high potential of becoming a horse trail in the near future.

I have ridden the Canadian trail a number of times now. It takes off from a double track across the top of the ridge to drop down through a couple of switchbacks that set it on a course that runs along just down from the ridge line on a moderate sloping side hill.

As we rode along, George pointed out a very large old broad leafed tree. He told me that it was a maple tree and according to George that is how this trail became known as the Canadian trail.

The line ran mostly flat for the next few minutes until it reached the gas line, parkway. We crossed the parkway and headed on an easy downward slope for a short ways until we hit a junction.

At this junction we have always taken the high road which pushes through to the trails surrounding the ten trails area. I do not recall which trail the Canadian trail intersects I think it is Six Pack. Someone will straighten me out on that point.

We dropped down the hillside on a moderate grade through some very thin, young timber mixed with large patches of broad leaf trees. The area was radiant green when just the smallest amount of sun light hit it.

We crossed a double track into a thicker denser forest of timber, continuing on at about the same grade for a ways to finally flatten out. This would be a hard line to follow without a guide, there did not appear to be any flags and the track is not well defined.

The trail gets even sketchier for the unguided rider as it breaks away from the timber and enters an old clear cut. The line disappears into tall grass mixed with a variety of ferns and wild blackberry bushes. The tall grass and ferns studded with old stumps, rotting logs, and piles of bleached out limbs.

George told me that he encountered a lot of blackberries while building this trail and also had a lot of flat tires.

Down the middle of the clear cut was an old double track that was easy to ride. The trail ran down through the meadow like clear cut to pass an abandoned camp. A folding ladder tied to a tree, a collapsed tent lying on top of a ground cloth, a very rugged table made of 4x4's and plywood that resembled a butcher block and a large fire pit made out of red bricks.

The line headed up a small grade to turn and pass through a thick blackberry patch. Again the track was hard to follow as it headed into the timber, passing by a couple of large cedar trees and across a root covered off camber section that was a little technical.

Back in the woods, the trail was much more defined and soon took a turn up hill to climb in earnest. The climb leads off very steep and was soon followed by a tight uphill turn that George told me he has only cleared a couple of times, this time being one of them.

The climb was a consistent pace in low gear; I leaned forward to maintain my balance as I ground out each foot of elevation gain for the next couple of minutes.

The trail hit an intersection at the top of the climb with the Six Pack trail. This is a spot where I have been told by a couple of different guides that the downhill here is gnarly and may not be the best choice. I said something to George about that and he told me that going down, there was another line that headed off to the right and it was very steep and covered with blow down, that would not be a good choice.

We followed Six Pack until we hit the double track and headed west, past the Chicken trails, past the Battery, and on until we hit a line on the south side of the double track.

We followed that line out until it crossed the 660 spur road, where we turned around and headed back.

When we hit the double track again we headed across that line to pick up another trail that wandered around through the woods on almost level terrain for quite a ways, a very clean line, with hardly any debris on the track. We followed it until merged with another track just before the 630 spur rode.

From the 630 spur road it was all familiar track to me, a flash down Fast and Furious back to Ten trails then out the Main line to Gateway and down to the road.

We headed down the road and slowed just after the bridge to both look up toward Haryu, but I told George that my rib was just too sore and I thought I should head back on the gravel.

We heard a couple of hoots as we rode down the gravel and back at the parking area, we were soon joined by a couple of young guys, Joe and Lance. They had been up on the road trail and said that the track was still a little wet and rough, Joe had taken a little tumble that could have been worse if not for the location.

They told us that Joel had been by, on mile 62 of his ride that was going to take him back to Growlers.

Just as I was leaving the parking area, Ken Pearson showed up and we talked, he said he was on mile 60 of his ride. He was going to meet his wife to refuel then head back over to Growlers where his truck was parked.

Ken told me he was getting ready for the Cream Puff next month, a 100 mile mountain bike ride.

I did a lot of complaining about my rib. It was painful on the extended climbs and I felt it on every sharp dip and root along the trail.

The track was excellent, a few areas still a little wet but overall the trails were in great shape.

Thursday 6/9/11

I decided to go check out the Rocky Mountain bikes that Highlander Cycle was demoing up at Growlers.

I parked at the gate around 1:30 or so and thought I would take a ride before the demo guys showed up.

Inched my way up the hill, trying to see how slow I could ride up hill.

I headed for the exit from Predator because the last time I rode out on Predator there were a bunch of limbs piled on the trail. Someone had already taken care of that so I trimmed up some of the vine maple and rode toward the junction where the demo guys were going to show up.

As I approached the junction I could see some rigs already there. Jack Barry and the van with the bikes were there.

Jack was going to take the guys, Eric and John, on a tour of some of the lower trails and suggested that I join them.

We started by riding Predator, going down the road to the entrance at the top of the hill. Eric told me he had not been riding much and wanted to ride last so we hit the trail with Jack leading.

It was a fairly fast paced ride. I ripped the trail for all I could get out of it, pushing as hard as my lungs would allow; I stayed right on Johns back wheel.

Jack had out distanced us by quite a ways, as I heard him shout out to take the turn. I directed John and looking back over my shoulder came to a stop to wait for Eric. As I waited a few seconds for Eric, I remembered the first time I rode Predator on a Tour De Gulch ride. Cautiously bouncing over every root and rolling through the dips, not knowing what to expect.

We head down through the woods on one of the great standards of the trail system at Growlers, a trail that every rider who has ever ridden at Growlers has rolled tires on.

We regrouped at Cousin Eddie and blasted down through the woods to make the ten minute loop around and back to the road.

Jack was going to take them up Beauty and down Belly before guiding them down the road trails to pick up a downhill run on Bitter Bitch to Secret Garden and return by the ridge trail, except that when we got to the top of the hill, Eric came to a stop and was unable to unclip. He just fell over and in doing so, dropped into my back wheel, taking out a spoke and breaking his glasses.

I could tell he felt terrible about the damage but it happens. He told me that without his glasses he didn't feel comfortable on the trail and would ride back by the road.

Agreeing to meet back at their van, I rode out and dropped down the first line on Beauty, a nice swift line with some great whoops and rollers up near the top and finishes out with a couple simple log overs and a stump ride at the bottom.

Back at the van, Eric fixed me up with a demo bike, a Rocky Mountain Altitude 29er.

The first thing I noticed was the breaks, they were so active that the slightest amount of pressure and the wheel locked up.

This would be my first ride of more than a few feet on a full suspension bike.

I cautiously headed down Walk in The Park to get a feel for the bike, a quick out and back. The handle bars, shorter and much lower than my bike. The sensitive brakes making me keep my hands off the front brake completely, not wanting to take a chance on hammering that cracked rib again with a spill over the front.

I hooked up with Jeep and Travis back at the van and we headed down Predator again. Travis was riding the same model as me and Jeep was on his Sultan.

We followed the natural course and picked up Cousin Eddie.

Jim stopped at the big climb on the back side to work with Travis on climbing technique and strategies. Then we stopped again at the log ride, where Jim showed Travis how to roll the end of the log and not do a face plant. Travis did a good job of staying on his bike. I have to admit that I have not dropped off the end of that log and it will probably be a while before I try something like that, small drops more than a few inches make me acutely aware that I have a rib on the mend. (video of Jim's technique)

The 29er was a good ride but the geometry did not fit me well. The stem length, handle bar positioning and highly active brakes all distracted from the experience. It was different then my old hard tail, the bumps were much smoother because of both the 9er wheels and the four bar suspension, but I was ready to try something else.

While talking with all the new arrivals back at the van, I picked up the Element. A carbon framed bike with all the high end components. The thing felt like it was made out of paper; so light.

I headed up the road and picked up the first couple of road trails. The geometry fit me better, the handle bars had a little rise to them and set squarer, closer to horizontal. The brakes were softer, I could squeeze them without having the back wheel lock up, in fact if anything their performance was on the opposite end of the scale; too soft.

I hammered down and over the big rollers on the first section and did the short climb to see the performance on the uphill. It was good, the suspension was a little stiff so after hitting Carnage for the return trip, I asked Eric to relax the rear shock a little bit.

I tagged along behind Vaughn and Bob Hornes for another slamming run down Predator. This bike was performing very nicely. Not a lot of give in the suspension but enough that I could tell I was not riding a hard tail and it climbed like I was riding on the back of a goat.

We headed across the road and up to the top of Beauty and Belly again.

At the top, a couple of dirt bike riders came ridding out of the woods. They came to a stop, the noise from their bikes drowning all sound and the exhaust fumes replacing the fresh clean smell of the woods. Trying to speak loud enough for them to hear me over the rattling noise, I asked if they knew it was illegal for them to be ridding in the woods on motorized bikes. With one replying with Oh, and the other kind of shaking his head no, I told them it was posted at the entrance.

Next we hit the mini downhill and the Element screamed on the whoops and banked corners. (Video)

Then back up to the top of Beauty and Belly to swoop down the outside line and cross over to do Cousin Eddie in reverse.

Bob Hornes and I took one more run at Beauty and Belly, Bob ridding the log on the bottom a couple of times. Ken, a rider I had just met, showed up and after he did the log ride, he attempted to do a log over on it, rolling across the top on the large chain ring and his wheel hit with just a little turn. Just enough to turn the bike as his weight came down on the frame. Over the bars he went to a hard landing. He jumped up just as Bob approached to try the same over, Bob's success was impressive.(Video)

We made one more loop around the Beauty and Belly then returned to the van where I dropped off the Element and jumped back on my old steed. What a huge difference in fit. My old bike was so tuned to me and I sat so upright compared to my form on the Element.

The trails were in such good shape, good bite and only a few mucky spots still remain.

Saturday 6/4/11

Growlers ride 6/4/11

I woke up in the middle of the night with my rib just killing me. I swear that I heard an audible crack when I woke up.

Last Monday I had taken a fall and bruised it badly, and then Thursday when I was riding with Vaughn and George, I took one of those simple dives over the front and rolled when I hit the ground. I tucked my arm and rolled across my arm, up against that rib. It hurt like hell.

I was about to call Barry and cancel. But I took a couple of naproxen and in a while was feeling better.

I met Barry DeSemple at Growlers gate. Still a little sore but everything I have read indicates there is nothing you can do except live with the pain while it heals. I have also read that you should keep active and not restrict your breathing because that can lead to complications like pneumonia.

Barry and I left the gate at 9:30, rode up the gravel and hit Predator, followed by all the road trails.

Then we were back on gravel to climb up to Hyde. Just as we hit the intersection to start the climb, Lance Brigman came along, riding up the road from the Bitter Bitch trail. He said that Jim LeMonds, Jim's brother Dave, Mike Van Hoose, and Jason Moon were right behind him.

Jim and the crew showed up while we were stopped at the KMA crossing. We joined them for the ride up Hyde.

Barry and I took an energy break while the rest of the riders disappeared into the woods.

After climbing Vortex and the alder spur road, we ran into Jim, Dave, and Jason at the WTF trail head, Jason was heading back down.

We followed Dave and Jim to the top of Legacy where we could see the Olympic Mountains off to the northwest, and all the major peaks in the cascades to the east. The view was spectacular.

View from Legacy View from Legacy View from Legacy View from Legacy
We descended off Legacy and hit WTF, then rode up the gravel to Creation.

After the descent on Creation we flew down Double Down and headed up the gravel spur road toward Ace of Spades.

Just as we arrived at what I thought was the entrance to Ace of Spades, Jim and Dave came riding out. We talked about the trails and the Tour De Gulch ride next week. Jim and Dave headed over to ride out on the new trail while Barry and I headed down the Ace of Spades trail.

Ace of Spades is an interesting trail, a real interval trail. Like Jim commented when they rode out, there is no elevation gain but it sure makes you work like there was.

The start of the trail has some large rollers, very large ones that you need to be prepared for if you are going to clear them. One is especially difficult because the track runs through some alder brush on top of the roller.

Then the trail makes some swooping turns on the descent with a real sharp banked corner right at the bottom, just before a short steep climb up the hillside. This is followed by a cruise through the woods to an abandoned spur road.

Across the spur road the trail splits and goes in both directions. This is where we got confused when I rode it Monday with Guy and Jessie. We took the same route this time as when I rode it with Guy and Jessie, heading to the left and then taking the upper line at the next junction, just a few yards in.

From the junction the trail makes a big loop back to this spot, which you don't recognize when you are on the return loop.

The upper track is a good mid range climb that takes the line up through the forest to level off next to another spur road and then makes a sharp turn around a large fir and down a screaming descent into some swift rolling track that doubles back to again put you into a midrange climb back to the spur road. You don't even see the junction as you pass it in this direction. Part of what makes this a confusing trail.

The trick here is to not miss the trail by turning back onto the spur road. The track continues on straight ahead, rolling through the woods until it drops down off of a ridge and across a creek. This is where a new bridge has been put in, a nice wide bridge that is easy to roll. Don't make the mistake of going up straight ahead, that is not a trail.

Turn left when leaving the bridge and shift down into a low range for a good short climb.

The track climbs up and over a ridge, then down a short run and back up the back side of the ridge. This is a somewhat difficult short burst rolling sections where my pedal hit the ground going over one of the mounds.

A short ride along through the woods and we exited onto the gravel spur road just beyond the exit from Double Down.

I think we exited where most riders enter. I think we basically did the trail in reverse, at least the second part of it, from the spur road to here.

We discussed our options for riding out, and Barry said that any time he has the option to ride KMA, that is the option he chooses, so we headed up the gravel until we hit the KMA trail head.

A couple of sharp off camber switchbacks that are always a little gnarly and bomb down the line to a couple of big swooping turns. Across the hill side, past the little ramp, it goes up a few feet and drops you right back on the trail, I have gotten so I always hit it. Then the trail crosses a bumpy little section to a sharp decline down and around a big switchback.

The track runs across the face of the hillside, crossing a little rock garden with a stream flowing through it. That is followed by a short climb and then some more descent to a switchback through a little gully.

Now the line heads for yet another fast descent, crossing around the ridge and across the hillside to make a turn that feels straight down over a couple of roots. A descent that is best done with light breaking so that you are not skidding but still feel like you are in control.

The line benches out from here to descend on a much simpler grade but still with lots of root drops and rolling terrain until the line drops over a small ridge to hurtle you through a couple of nice banked corners and the end of the trail.

We crossed the road and finished our ride on middle KMA and back to the parking area via the road.

Lucy was beat, we had been riding for almost 4 hours.

Thursday 6/2/11

COB ride on secret trails.

I met up with George Barnett at Home Depot in Longview, he directed me on how to get to the secret stash of trails.

As we drove to the undisclosed location, storm clouds continually passed overhead releasing downpours followed by short sun breaks.

We met up with Vaughn Martin and I followed him down some country roads onto gravel roads then up to a brightly colored gate where we parked our cars.

There was a break in the rain but the ground was saturated as we road through some muck and mud to the gravel road and took a short ride up past the gate to what looked more like an elk trail then a bike trail.

A quick turn and up a bank on to a twisting turning trail through closely spaced timber.

A rough, undeveloped track that was vaguely visible. It doesn't look like many tires have rolled this way.

A line of opportunity, thinned out timber strewn randomly through the forest, the trail weaved in and out down passageways produced by the selective cut of the forester.

Our path took us across the top of a small hill, where we slipped and slid down through a series of short drops and benches until we reached a small creek. The ground was very soft and gave way to the force of our wheels, where too much breaking action would create a clump of material under your wheel as you skidded down the slope.

We crossed to the other side of the stream and made our way along the lower edge of the thinning, the stream, an inaudible flow through lush green foliage, below us.

The stream soon turned into a very large pond, probably several acres in size, formed by what had to have been a beaver damn.

We followed the same coarse along the edge of the pond, with most of the thinned timber fallen away from the pond, it provided a somewhat natural route.

As we traveled the length of the pond, our track wandered away, up the hill and further into the timber, then back down to the edge where the pond was near its widest point.

As we started to approach the upper end of the pond the line started climbing up a wide ridge for a distance then descending on a moderate grade off the back side.

We continued our riding through green undergrowth thick with nettles, I was glad I had decided to wear my knee high smart wool socks. The trail following a line that looks like it could have been a skidder road many years ago, just by the width between the trees how smooth it was in comparison to the terrain in the timber.

The trail turned back into the woods and continued to climb through a stand of timber that looks maybe ten years older than the last timber we were in, the remains of the thinning through here, rotting and covered with moss. The track is soft like a new line.

Vaughn got a call on his cell phone from Bob Horness who was down at the gate; he will try to catch up with us.

Finally we hit an old logging road and Vaughn points to a trail almost directly across from our exit. We'll pick that line up a little later.

We climb on gravel for the next 25 minutes.

The sun disappeared and the rain started heavy for about 5 minutes. By riding close to the edge of the road, under the fir trees, I was able to avoid most of the rain. I got a little damp, nothing compared to the sweat Vaughn had worked out of me.

From the clear-cut we could see for miles, a spectacular view of the valley laid out before us.

Bob Hornes arrived as we were admiring the view; Vaughn introduced us with a remark about Bob's ability to crash numerous times on a ride. Someone said Bob was the King of Crash. (Video of Crash)

I was not to be disappointed, Bob took a couple of good falls on the ride back, the real problem is that he is using clipless pedals and they are wore out, he cannot disengage quickly so the only other option is to fall.

We rode through the clear-cut on a line that was almost nonexistent. If there had not been riders in front of me I would never have believed there was a line. The only real indication was the hacked notch on top of each log we crossed, a trail blaze for mountain bikers.

The small fir trees and thickets of alder forced me to duck and would cause me to close my eyes as the limbs slapped me in the face. I found it was even more difficult to ride with my eyes closed.(Hidden Trail Video)

We finally hit gravel. Rode a bit up the hill until Vaughn pointed to a berm alongside the road and told me that was the downhill trail back. The trail was an old skidder road. The line was very wet, steep, and covered in decaying vegetation mixed with mud to form a very slick muck that was almost impossible to maintain control in, very exciting.

We skidded our way down the skidder road until we turned on to a different skidder road and continued on the very steep descent, which finally ended at a trail that traversed the hill side until it turned down a ridge through the forest and back to the gravel road where we had started our ascent.

Bob was leading the descent and when I exited on to the gravel he proceeded to show me why he was the King of Crash. He was pedaling around in circles waiting for all of us to exit the trail, he made too sharp of a turn and lost control. He started to lean sideways and since he was unable to release his foot from the clip, he went down.

We rode the gravel for a very short ways until we were back at the point where we originally hit gravel. Bob took a left onto the trail and we were back on single track.

It is a very busy trail that starts with a nice little descent and then wanders up and down along the hill side.

There are lots of slick roots and muddy sections down toward the small lake formed by the beaver dam. One such slick spot caught Bob where his bike slid out and he was dumped into a hole along side of the trail. I rode up to see a couple of shinny wheels sticking up out of the tall vegetation and Bob still attached.

We circled around the pond and back to an intersection on the trail we came in on, and then back over the ridge and down the line to the gravel.

The day turned out to be excellent for the ride and the weather, one small rain shower and lots of sun shine.

The trails here are soft. Not ridden a lot. Lots of tight twisty stuff with some wild down slope thrown in for effect.