Archive for April, 2009

“Rocking In SoCal” Video

April 29th, 2009 by MTBBill

Okay I have been letting this footage pile for over a year so it was time to do something with it.  It is a locals rock hangout here in San Diego.   You can call it either the KTS #1  (Kinda Top Secret) Trail or the Ain’t Telling Trail.    It is really not much of a secret at all but I was asked not to drop the name so there you go. 

Right Click to download the 9 minute and 46 second video that will set your hard drive back 139MB.

Galbraith Mountain – Bellingham WA

April 27th, 2009 by MTBBill

Last Sunday I went up to Bellingham WA to check out Galbraith Mountain as I had heard it had the goods.  The folks who gave me that 411 were right on the money.  This place RULES plan and simply.    I got in a week’s worth of stoke in a single day.  This was a good thing as work this past week has been a real beater that consumed all of my physical and mental energy.   Luckily the tidal wave of work had moved on by this past Saturday evening.  This Sunday I found myself once again heading north to enjoy Galbraith Mountain once again. 

The place is sorta broken up into two areas, the Lakeview Drive side and the Galbraith Lane side.  There are miles and miles of good trails all over the place here with most of the XC oriented stuff on the Lakeview Side and the DH/Freeride stuff over on the Galbraith Lane side.

The weather on both days turned out to be killer but both started somewhat cloudy and progressively got better.   Once you get inside the dense forest it really does not matter wither the sun is out or not as the forest canopy renders the light in some spots just a few levels dusk.   Nothing but yellow or clear lenses if you are going to ride here.

The first day out here I started on the Lakeview side and rode a series of trails over to the Galbraith side.  One fun trail was call Bob’s Cedar Dust as there are a ton of skinnies of various difficulties to dare you into trying them.  You see so much of this stuff you just have to give it a try.

If you choose to, you can spent most of your climbing on forest roads and then catch a series of singletracks back down the mountain.  Getting to the top of Galbraith is where the real fun starts.  There are several north-shore style trails coming off the top that will get your fix on if you are into that kind of thing.  Most of the riders I met heading up to the top where on beefy downhill and freeride rigs.

The rewards for your efforts are some really killer black diamond level trails that will peg your stoke meter or scare the crap out of you.   There is a good chance that both may happen at the same time.   The first day out here I hooked up with a couple of local young guys.  They were too old to be “groms” but they did talk about calling there mom to come pick them up near the end of the day.  I’m guessing somewhere around 16-18.   I bring it up because following these fearless young bucks was feeding my mojo and I started hitting stuff I would normally balk at or stop and think about first.  Small to medium gaps, tabletops, kickers and 4 foot drops where just happening.  Now I was not transformed into some hucker that day, but a new level of comfort was obtained on this type of terrain.   Riding with these folks who were more than half my age certainly made me feel half my age.   Mountain Biking is just freaking great!

   

One of the most killer trails out here that I rode was Evolution.  It has an incredible mix of ladders, berms, gaps, log rides and other BC inspired stuff that just rocks!   The Korn song of that same name popped into my head and it has been stuck there ever since.

I’m pretty sure you can not get all of the trails bagged in a single day out here.  It would take at least three humps to the top of Galbraith to get in the really cool stuff near the top.  The last section to the top gets steep and it will put some hurting on you.  Granny and me had it going on during both of my visits here.

As far as what trails to hit, the general consenus on the All-Mountain scene are: Evolution, Mullet, Cheech and Chong’s Wild Ride, Not Shawns, Meth Lab, Scorpion and SST are “Da Bomb”.  I rode all of those and then some with the exception of SST.   On the cross country scene, the Whoopsie Woodle trail way in the Southwest back 40 of Galbraith is pretty darn cool.   Have no idea what I’m talking about?   Well when you roll into Bellingham swing by one of the shops (I hit up Fantik) and pick up a map printed on waterproof paper.  They were $8 and they are really nice and the profits help out the local advocacy group.  

Bellingham is also a really cool town with an awesome vibe.  The Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro is not to be missed for post ride goodness.   Thier IPA is killer and the Rueben sandwich is to die for.   Killer trails, Great Brews and Yummy Food  — I’m digging this place!

Whistle Lake Goodness

April 20th, 2009 by MTBBill

Saturday I ventured north to check out the Whistle Lake area of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.  I had been to the Cranberry Lake area the week before and I was ready to check out some more of the goods in Anacortes.

Man there was some fun single track out by Whistle Lake but there are no freebies.  You have got to earn them.   The good news is what goes up must come down.    The number of trails in this area is simply bewildering and it is hard to go more than a third of mile without having a trail junctions to think about.

While on one of the trails near the top of “Sugar Cube”  I had an incredible critter encounter.    As I rounded a corner a bald eagle flew up from the trail where it had recently whacked some small furry critter and had it for lunch.   It flew up into a nearby tree and started checking me out. 

While it looked concerned with me a first, it soon seemed to figure out that I meant it no harm and seemed rather comfortable with my presence.   Over the next five minutes I would go through a series of snapping pictures and moving a little closer until it decided it had better things to do.    

This eagle is bigger than it looks.  I’m guessing that those talons if out stretched would be about the size of an average man’s hand.  Simply impressive.

An hour or so later in the ride I would once again have another cool critter encounter.  This time it was with a spotted owl and the sequence of events was similar to that the eagle. 

I love checking out the “Back 40” wherever I go.  On this day that looked to be the south side of the lake.  The trails over here were much steeper and trickier with more roots and rocky sections.

It would be a really big feat to ride all of the stuff in a single day as it takes multiple loops of climbing to the top of several hills that can work the legs over really well. 

I did as many climbs up the hills as I could stand and still did not get to all of the trails.  I finished the day with my legs thoroughly shot and a big smile on my face.

Tree Farming in the Great Northwest

April 17th, 2009 by MTBBill

The weather for most of this past week has been “Bi-Polar” here in the great northwest.  It would be cold, raining and breezy and the next thing you know the sun would come out and the temperature would shoot up pretty much into the comfortable range.  Wednesday ended up being a rainless day and I managed to grab some late afternoon miles at the Armstrong Tract of the Pilchuck Tree Farm north of Arlington. 

The Pilchuck Tree Farm is a some hugh chunk of private land that is used for logging.  The company/land owners have allowed trails and public recreation on their land for over 20 years.  Of course patches of trail are going to go away from time to time as various segments gets logged over the years.  Despite the obvious bummage of this, the up side is the place is ever changing. 

One thing is for sure there is a bunch of miles out here.  I got in about 18 miles of rolling and mostly buff singletrack during my afternoon visit and I know I missed a bunch of stuff.  I had a very rudimentary map that was rather large scale which meant I was basically on my own.  I love solo riding like this as the miles seem longer and I feel more in tune with my surroundings as you have to paint your own mental map of where you are at and how you are going to get back at some point.

I was digging the rolling terrain and the aburpt transitions as you go from the unattractive barreneque clearcuts into lush forest. While the trails were for the most part buff there were some sections that were rooty with plenty of logs across the trail.  I got a really good skills workout in from the logs alone. 

There were more trail junctions in this area than I can count.  For the first part of the ride I took whatever option looked to go away from the trailhead.   When the remainder of the day dictated it was time to turn back, I took every turn that I thought would delay my return.  I did loops, backtracks and generally confused myself.  This was one of my adventures were I actually used my GPS for something other than a simple data logger.

I ended up back at the trailhead with some daylight left, so I decided to check out what was supposed to be a somewhat short loop nearby.  This loop was indeed short but it also ended up going through a low lying area that became more than a bit of a mucky mess.  Getting through this area took much longer than I thought it would and the waning daylight inside the moss covered forest looked somewhere between surreal and spooky.   By the time I got back to the trailhead, I could officially classify my day as extremely “efficient”.  I doubt I had more than one minute of daylight left.     Just the way I like it :) 

A romp through Anacortes singletrack goodness

April 12th, 2009 by MTBBill

Yesterday, I ventured north of Seattle to the town of Anacortes, where tales of miles single track goodness seemed to abound.   My first order of business upon rolling into the sound-side town of Anacortes was to pickup a set of maps from a local bike shop.  For $10 I got three great maps of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands. That was all I needed to get to the trailhead at Cranberry Lake.  

 

The weather forecast gave a 50% chance of showers with the temps in the low 50s.   It certainly looked like I was going to get wet today.   A few days ago someone said something interesting that stuck in my head.  “There is no bad weather, only bad gear.”  With that in my head, I packed up my gear and hit the trail.  Right from the trailhead I was on some cool single tracks that were combinations of loamy buff with some rocks and roots here and there.

Riding in an evergreen forest is just awesome.   Believe it or not these are multi-use trails.  Yes these twisty and flowing singletracks are open to hikers, equestrians and bicycles.   These are community trails and most of them are within the city limits of Anacortes.    The land managers and agencies of San Diego County could learn a lot from this place. 

Did I mention these trails rule?   The Anacortes Community Forest Lands has about 50 miles of interconnected trails with over 41 miles of those trails being single tracks. 

Got Beaver?  

Got Bald Eagle?

As the day went on the weather turned for the better and the sun even popped out.  I found myself openly giggling while I cruised and twisted through the forest.   On several occasions I could not help but to stop, grab a spot on a log and just take it all in.   I am one lucky bastard to get to ride stuff like this on a business trip. One thing is for certain, I am going back here at least once more on this trip as I have only scratched the surface of this trail system.

Welcome back MrMountainHop!

April 11th, 2009 by MTBBill

Four months ago a good friend of mine Bill O’Neil pretty much destroyed his left wrist in bad crash at Soquel Demonstration Forest near Santa Cruz.     His story of the crash as well as x-rays and operating room photos are chronicled on the SpokeJunkies forum.     Be warned there are a few pics not for the squimish.   

 

Like any good friend I made a point of sneaking in some comedy with my Beer Sherpa job opening.

Well it took four months but MrMountainHop is back on the bike and once again telling good stories about it.  Check out his story of the return to the bike.

Welcome back Bill!  We were missed.  Now lets go ride!

Japanese Gulch

April 10th, 2009 by MTBBill

By the end of the workday on Wednesday, I was dog tired. However, the sun was out and the weatherman was calling for rain and general crappiness on Thursday. I can rest when it is raining so I headed out to Japanese Gulch in Mukilteo. Lucky for me my hotel is in Mukilteo and the trailhead is just a few miles away.  I could have ridden the streets to the trailhead but not knowing where the trails would take me, I decided to drive to the trailhead and start from a known location. The trailhead also happens to be at the bottom of the trail system which could make for a quicker return should I start running out of daylight.

What a score this place turned out to be. There is a railroad track, that goes up the middle of the gulch and and on either side are steep wooded hillsides. There are trails on both sides of the gulch that loosely follow the top, bottom and part-way up the hillsides. 

The trails are almost exclusively singletrack with really nice flow.  There are also plenty of undulations in the trails so wither you are going up or down the gulch you will get to do some grunting as well as some grinning.   It is just a matter of the ratios between the two depending which direction you are going. 

 I started out climbing up the southside of the gulch on one of the hillside trails.   There were quite a few grunting sections as well as some tight turns.    It was all good by me as I was digging the loamy soil as well as the greenery.     Even though the flora has not broken out of winter mode yet, it was still pretty.  I had lots of oppurtunites to take it all in as there were numerous intersections were it was purdent to look around before moving on.

 I avoiding descending too much as I made my way up the gulch.  There are several trails that short cut between the high trails and the low trails.  It was on these short cut trails were I saw the remenants of a few hucker projects.   None of them showed much recent use and mother nature was working hard to reclaim them.

 When I got to the top of the gulch I cruised along a few trails before I popped out into an open area and HOLY CRAP I could see my hotel. Sweeeeeeeet!   Now I could drop into the gulch from almost right out my front door.   With this most killer info locked in my head I started back down on the other side of the gulch.

There were just as many twists, turns an general flowy goodness on this side of the gulch.   My daylight was starting to dwindle so I spent less time exploring and more time heading down.  I passed a couple of bailout trails were I could have dropped down to the railroad tracks and zipped right down the trailhead.   Even with the threat of darkness rising, I was not in enough of a hurry to pass up singletrack.   I ended up bobing, weaving and undulating my way back down to the trailhead on proper singletracks and arrived back at the car in the twilight.  An afternoon well spent in my book.

 The general consenus is that San Diego weather guessers have it pretty easy.  Sunny with temps in the mid-60s to mid-70s will be correct 75% of the year so we don’t attract the best and brightest weather folks.  It must be the same in Seattle except the standard prediction is going to be cool and gloomy with a good chance of rain.   So was the predications for Seattle on Thursday.   First thing in morning it was indeed cool and gloomy.   By lunchtime however, the weather turned pretty good with sunshine and brisk but not cold temps.  AKA Great!   I knew what I would be doing after work.

Within 15 minutes of getting back to the hotel room, I was out the door and on the bike.  A few minutes later and I am on my freshly found trail from the day before and headed back into Japanese Gulch.  Since I had rushed through the north side of the gulch the day before, I explored my way down the gulch this time.   At intersections I would often take all the turns figure out were they went and doubleback to try the other directions.   It was a good time for sure.

Once I made my way to the bottom of the gulch I started climbing up the other side, but this time I took different trails than the day before.  I was digging the quality singletrack out here and the amount of it.  I has missed some good chunks of stuff the day before.   

By the time I made it to the top of the gulch again my daylight was waning.   I did not have enough light for another run down the gulch so I cruised back to the hotel.    With the exception of a few built up stunts, my 6.6 is way more bike than is needed out here.  So I pay a little extra on the climbs, good trails are good trails and these goodies are rightout my front door.  This will not be my last ride here.

Seattle Area – Surprises On Day Once

April 7th, 2009 by MTBBill

So yesterday, I left SoCal bound to Seattle for a few weeks of work and if I got lucky, a little bit of play.  Of course there is a mountain bike involved.   I decided that the 6.6 would make this trip with me.  It is the first time I have flown with this bike and I was a little surprised when I went to put it into my handy dandy bike box.  It did not fit!   Being a long wheelbased bike both the bottom of the fork and back of the rear triangle were pushed against the ends of the box and flaring it out a little.  This was not the way I wantws to travel with this thing.  After many permutations, I finally had to take the fork out of the frame and lay it next to the down tube.  

After this the rest of the box packing when smooth.  Now there was absolutely no way to keep this bike and box under 50 pounds and avoid the overweight charge.   So I put a bunch of other stuff in there as well to get my money’s worth.

The flight went as planned and I was surprised to see awesome weather in Seattle.  Sunny and in the upper 60s, low 70s.  Freaking killer.    From the airport I went right to the job site, and did all my start day stuff: Check-in with folks, chase down equipment that was shipped here, smooze and talk up with the folks I will be working with the for the next three weeks, yada yada yada….   Several times when I was walking between buildings I was thinking this is too awesome of a day in Seattle to be working.  Surprising enough, before I knew it all of the stuff I needed to do and pretty much everything I could get done that day, was done.  

I get back to my hotel and looking out the window I could not help but think, man the sun is mighty high in the sky for this time of day.  Then it dawned on me,  the further north you are in summer the longer the days are.   Cool, I might just have enough time to squeak in a ride.   So off I went to whip the bike back together.  Before long, the big was built back up and I was rolling away from the hotel towards a perspective trail I had got some e411 on a few months back.

Well what do you know, there was a trail after all and I was surprised that it was not at all bad.  While on the short side, it was still dirt.  Dirt that I had not planned on being on today.   After riding this trail, I decided to poke around the various neighborhood streets. 

I was once again surprised when I managed to find a few neighborhood trails that meandered through the woods between the various streets and neighborhoods.  It was nothing you would want to drive but it was an incredible spring day full of sunshine, blooming flowers, green woods and I was on singletrack.   What a killer surprise.

When I got back to the hotel room there was still some daylight left in the day.  I was once again surprised when it did not get dark until around eight.   You gotta love the northern lattitudes heading into summer.  This was a mighty fine start to this trip.

Pulling the Trigger – Mojo vs Mangina

April 3rd, 2009 by MTBBill

This past Wednesday, I went out to Alpine for another lesson in my continuing effort to get comfortable in the air.   It is was nice day out and the signs of spring were all around.

 

I was feeling pretty good that day with some Mojo flowing and was interested in trying somethings that I feel I should have been hitting already but have just not done yet.  So I started off by hitting the “Satan” jump right off the top.  The run in has always given me some grief as you are turning and there is enough stuff that keeping some speed can be tricky.  After hitting this, I was thoroughly convinced that, yes I was a big wuss in the past for not doing this.  I had to hit it a second time just for good measure.  A good way to start off the descent.

Next on the list was Corndog.  If you have been following my blog, (Or my buddies post’s throwing me under the bus :) )you should remember that I taco’d my frontwheel on my last airing here.  I have balked at this jump a handful of times since then.  Today I finally hit this jump again, I flew well, landed fine,  and then got squirrely in the run out as I was off to the right put managed to ride it out enough to get to a stop without having a yard sale.  The good news was that I just rolled up and hit it.  No looking and thinking, just going.  It felt good.  I decided I needed another one and this time I ended up angled left.  In the air I could see that I was headed for the same spot I taco’d in a few weeks earlier.  The bike touches down, here comes the rut, and just before things were going to get ugly I managed to push the bike off the left while I lunge to the right.  End result, I’m a little dusty but otherwise a very successful bailout without so much as a scratch on me.  I have got to figure out my aim on this launch, I just have a hard time hitting the mark.  Not counting all the forfeits from not launching, the grand total for Corndog Launches is: 2 wins – 2 losses – 1 tie  

The Threesome.  This is a pretty big leap as it is not gravity feed.  You have to pedal as hard as you can to a very narrow, long and uphill tranny.  Adding to this you come off the rock long before the edge and you can’t see where you are going.  A real leap of faith.  The pictures do it absolutely no justice whatsoever.   Needless to say I’m behind the camera here.

This is called “The Threesome” as there are three lines.  The big huck, and big tricky roll, and a much easier roll.  The orignal idea was for the small roll to be a wall ride, but it did not pan out but the name sticks.   The tricky roll actually goes beyond vertical for bit so the easiest way is to roll and then give a little huck part way down.  Here is Steve on the way down, preloading before pushing off.

Gaps scare the crap out of me, even little ones.   Something about the upward trajectories required and the threat of casing that messes with my head.  The one above is one of those that I have looked at for quite some time but have never pulled the trigger on it, until today.  After hitting this I could not help but think, “I fretted over that for that long?”

The drop above is typically called the “Lake” or “Lake View” drop because you can see the El Cap reservoir from there.  I had hit this once before but had balked at least half a dozen times since then.  It is funny how something you have hit before and have never crashed on can mess with your melon.   I stuck this one and about 50 yards down the trail just as I started to mentally congratulate myself, I washed out in a rut and had to step off the bike.  Two steps away from the bike, I twisted my ankle.   It hurt pretty freaking bad and I ended up having to cruise down the rest of the way instead of getting “on it”.   It was still one heck of a fun descent. 

Overall, It was a  great ride and I was glad to finally get my mangina to shut up long enough to try some stuff.