Newberry Hills

September 10th, 2011 by MTBBill

Here are a few pictures from one of the last rides I did while up in the Seattle area. 

This place was pretty close to Bremerton and was a mesh of tight and twisty XC trails.   

The trails were for the most part fairly atechnical  but I have to admit that muscling around my slack and long wheel-based bike around the twisty bits was a bit challenging ing spots.

The trail elves have been at work out here.

While I had a good time riding out here, I would have really loved to have had my snappy hardtail to flick around this trail network.   Right tool for the job or not anytime you can get out in the woods is a good time in my book.

Kachess Ridge, WA

August 17th, 2011 by MTBBill

This past weekend, I headed out over the Snoqualmie Pass area about 70 miles east of Seattle to check out the Kachess Ridge trail.  I have passed through this area a handful of times over the years between MTB and flyfishing trips and I had eye-balled the mountains through here on every occasion.  The ride is billed as dirt road climb that seems to go on forever followed by a singletrack that you wish would go on forever.  It was time to find out first hand.

   

The first part of the ride is along a mildly undulating dirt road that heads north above the eastern shore of Kachess Lake.    The lake is quite large but its rather difficult to see the expansive view due to all the trees.    It was kinda fun keeping an eye out for the open spots in the trees here and there than offered views of the lake.  This was a good mellow six miles or so of a cruising warm up. 

The cruise fest was soon over as I turned up onto a forest road that started working its way up onto the mountain.   The grade was fairly steep in places and I was reminded that my UZZI is optimized for festivities in the downhill direction.   I would gain around 2,700 feet in just under the next five miles.  There were numerous little brooks along the climb.  I’m nearly always surprised at how loud even just a little bit of moving water can be.  I couple of times I was expecting a torrent of water ahead only to see just a little spit of water in a real hurry.

The further up the climb I went the better views kept getting and with the lake as a reference below it was easy to see how much elevation you were gaining.  I’m pretty sure I was past the halfway point when the iconic Mount Rainer starting making an appearance above the far ridgeline.  While working up the climb and stopping here and there to take some pictures, I met up with a couple local riders, Mike and Justin, working thier way up as well.   I was pretty happy to see that they were also working some long-legged bikes up the ridge as well as it gave some hints that maybe the downhill had some terrain worthy of the rigs.

We would leap frog each other a couple of times before the forest road eventually went up to a saddle on Kachess Ridge.   The photo above completely fails to capture the true beauty of the landscape.

From the saddle it was time to the leave the forest road behind and hit some singletrack.  Here is where Mike and Justin’s local knowledge came in mighty handy as the published route does not include a newer trail that is more contouring and a good bit of fun. The kind of fun you have when narrow trails test your ability to stay on line while wildflowers brush your legs on both sides.  This first bit of trail was a sweet little descent  that all too soon rejoined the main trail and turned into a tough hike-a-bike over the 1/3rd of a mile or so up to the saddle between the spires in the photo above.

Above are some of the views along the hike a bike section.   The hike-a-bike was both steep and rocky with some scree to contend with.   Some of my best epic adventures ever have included hike-a-bike bits so I tend to view them with a sense of optimism for trail goodness to come.  Then again I have had some nearly former friends threaten to eviscerate me on the side of the trail for some “new stuff” exploration gone wrong.  

For this SoCal boy, anytime a hike-a-bike across snow in mid-August is required, it automaticaly puts the ride soundly in the cool category.  

Once over the saddle, sweet trail goodness was indeed in bountiful supply.     It was good.  Real Good.   So much so that I selfishly (and unapologetically) blazed past a ton of Kodiak moments as the trail shed elevation through alpine meadows and evergreen forest goodness.  

 For you SoCal Peeps, there were sections of rocky chunky bits that conjured up thoughts of Noble Canyon  while other sections would make you think of the steep hillsides of the Santa Ana River Trail except the trail was pointed in a much more downhill direction.   Of course this trail had the awesome Pacific Northwest forested feel to it with lots of greenery.   Yeah it was good!

The final section of the trail gets pretty steep as it cashes out over 1,000 feet of elevation in a little over a mile.   There are plenty of switchbacks through this section and some of them can sneak up on you.    Additionally there are a couple of these switchbacks where you simply do not want to blow the turn due to the  exposure.   I wish I had more pictures of this section to share but the little devil on my left shoulder was whispering evil things in my ear like “EFFF Everyone Else –Ride You Fool, Ride!”.  The only thing I was able to make out over all wind noise coming from angel on right shoulder was lots of giddy giggles and “Whaaat heeeee saaaaid!”     This was not a suckie day to be on a bike!

A Couple More Duthie Hill Pics

August 13th, 2011 by MTBBill

Ahhh more stuff from Duthie Hill

I was here earlier in the year and since then the trail elves have been busy working on Phase 2 of the Duthie Hill Park.   I like this over-under setup, cool.

The real reason for this post it that I did a tweaks to the blog software and only way to fully test it is to make a new post. 

So isn’t these much better than some “This is only a test” image?

Dirt Time in Washington

August 9th, 2011 by MTBBill

So I have been in Seattle for a couple of weeks on a work gig but just managed to hit the dirt.    Man can not live in the dirt alone so I have been enjoying some of the other wonders of the Pacfic Northwest, thier great microbrews.    In addition to the 10+ brewpubs in the Seattle area I have swelled hoppy goodness at,  I attended the Bremerton Beer Festival. The following weekend was spent in Portland for the 24th Aniversary of the Oregon Brewer’s Festival.    In addition to the madhouse that was the Brewer’s Festival some of the local goods were also sample directly at the source.  Deschutes, Bridgeport, Widmer, Tugboat and Amensia Brewing were on the “tour”.   Needless to I was stupidly happy about sampling some of the best beers around.    My liver on the other hand felt differently after taking more than one for the team.

As part of the MTBBill Liver Recovery Act of 2011, it was time to get some pedals turning.   The I-5 Colonnade MTB Skills Park is less than 10 minutes from where I’m staying so it is always good for a quick afterwork fix.

Working part of the weekend is part of the work gig for this project, but Green Mountain was close enough to where I was working to allow for some grunting and grinning in the dirt after work.

Air Time

Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park is the Seattle areas second MTB Skills Park and it is simply awesome.   With 120 acres to work with they are produced a trail network that caters to nearly all types of riders.  Wither you are looking to get your wheels in the air…..

Or wither you want to get that natural outdoor experience on a meandering trail through the trees.   This place has all of that right in Seattle’s backyard.

 

One of the lines I did not hit out here 🙂  I believe this trail was Semper Dirticus.     The freeride double black diamond trails here are quite impressive.  On this trip it was mostly from a spectactor perspective.   I got the bike, I just need to develop the skills and get some testicular growth happening.   I did hit some of the stunts and tagged my largest gap to date to thier is hope that I will get intouch with my inner hucker at some point.

One of favorites from a trail with features perspective was Ryan’s Eternal Flow.  It is more of XC trail with stunts and features more so than a series of features with a trail between them.  Considering how close this place is I will certainly be back a few more times before this work trip is done.

Japanese Gulch – Washington State

June 11th, 2011 by MTBBill

I’m catching up on some of pictures and such from my recent Washington trip.   One of the places I could hit up right easy from work was Japanese Gultch located in Mukilteo. Plenty of singletrack right in town and a good way to burn off the workday stress.

One of the things I like about this area, is minutes onto the trail and it seems like you are far away, even though you are right in town.

Yep there is narrow singletrack to be had.

Both hardtails and long-legged bikes can be enjoyed out here.

One nice thing about this right is that just a quick jaunt from the bottom trailhead is the Diamondknot Brewery which has some mighty tasty creations to finish off the ride with.  The Industrial IPA is mighty yummy and always ask if the they have a seasonal batch of the Shipwreck IPA brewed up.   It is not to be missed.

Views Off The Bike From The “Away From Home Office”

May 26th, 2011 by MTBBill

So I have wrapped up my work project in Everett Washington.  It took a bit longer than expected and I’m glad to be back home.   I did get in some tasty miles of singletrack during my stay but between the work, weather and a nasty bit of crud I had for a while,  I did not get my dirt fix as often as I would have liked.     So why do we ride our bikes?   Geez there will be just about as many answers to that question as there are folks who decide to through a leg over a bike in the first place.    I believe that is part of what mountainbiking so special in the first place.    One pursuit with countless permutations of living life and generally having a good time.     

One of those “answers” for me is seeing beautiful scenery and the occasional critter or two.    I was extremely fortunate to score a pretty awesome place to stay during my visit.  It was a quint little beach house on Possession Sound that simply was fantastic from an experience standpoint.   It made coming home from the “office” everyday seem like a mini-vacation.   When the weather was cooperating there was some incredible views to be had right from the dinner table and deck.   By the end of the first week I had adopted a routine getting up a couple hours earlier than I really need to just to enjoy the views and a few relaxing cups of coffee before starting my day.   In the evening the place just begged you to crack open a bottle of one of the Pacific Northwest’s tasty microbrews.   The views were often a daily dose of “answers”  if you will.

Whales…..Yes I said whales.   Whales were a common sight right out the front windows.   A few gray whales liked to come into the shallows and feed on whatever tasty critters where on the bottom here.   They would swim sideways and use their tails to stir up the bottom and then spin around and scoop up and filter out all of the tasty snacks.

They would work down the shoreline and eventually head back out to deeper water and off to the wherever the next buffet spot was located.  

They made plenty of noise with all of their activity and sometimes the sounds be the first thing that would draw my attention their “visit”.    Seeing these majestic critters was certainly a life enriching experience.

The tidal shift is pretty dramatic in this area.  The lines of  “puddles” you see in the photo above are the divots created by the whales when they are feeding at high tide.  They are typically 6-8 feet long each.  

It was quite a trip to walk out onto the beach at low tide and meander around where the whales were at less than 24 hours ago. 

Even when there were no critters close by, the views were often of the quality that many us pedal for miles to seek out.

I kept my camera nearby all the time as you never knew what was going to pop up on the beach at any moment.  This pair of otters were in hurry to get their take-out order home before it got warm.

So while I did not get in as many miles as I would have liked on this trip, I got of wealth of “answers” that I typically only find along quite singletrack of the backcountry.

Fort Ebey and Kettles Park

April 24th, 2011 by MTBBill

The weather reports were calling for clear skies and a warm day (that would be above 50 by Seattle standards this time of year) on Saturday.   In the coastal Pacific Northwest one should pay attention for such musings from the weather folks.  

 Saturday morning was indeed amazingly great looking and I wasted little time in getting packed up and headed out.  The destination today was Fort Ebey State Park combined with the adjacent Kettles Park.   After some nice scenery from the ferry over to Whidbey Island and a pretty ride through the countryside I parked at one of the trailheads at Kettles Park.   The plan was to ride some of the trails westwardly through Kettles Park over into Fort Ebey State Park.   I would try to do all of the Fort Ebey stuff and then work my way back through the rest of Kettles Park on the way back.  The trails of Kettles were mostly buff goodness with a combination of quick flowliness and tight twisty stuff that required a bit of shoulder tucking here and there to avoid the trees. 

The fun singletrack continued after crossing into Fort Ebey State Park.    I intentionally tried to stitch together the most serendipitous route possible to get onto as many trails as I could without too many loop backs.   The trails I took as I worked my way up to the west coast of the island and the Fort’s old gun battery were Grade A forested goodness that were a real cross country pleasure. 

Fort Ebey’s original purpose was to serve as gun battery defending Puget Sound during WWII.  Construction began in 1942 and the two gun batteries were placed in service in 1943.  In 1965 Fort Ebey started being converted to a state park.  Today visitors can walk through the bunkers and the foundation for the turrets now make a nice bench in which to enjoy the views.

The most popular and  iconic trails here is the Bluff Trail.   Its proximity to the edge of the bluff and stunning views offered of the Strait of Juan De Fuca and the Olympic Peninsula on clear days is truly an incredible thing to experience. Unfortunately bicycles are not longer allowed on most of the trail.  There are a couple of sections to the south of the battery that are still open to bikes and they should not be missed. 

I rode the open sections of the Bluff Trail in both directions just to get the full experience.       

At the south end of the park is the Cedar Hollow loop which also offers more of the killer views.   It is well worth some of the grunt work involved to get to the views.

After I got done looping in all the Fort Ebey trails I made my way back into Kettles Park and enjoyed some really nice singletrack through the forest.  I was feeling pretty pooped at this point, but the temperature had climbed to 68 degrees so it was pretty easy to keep on going despite complaining legs.  I pretty much rode all the trails of Kettles which brought the mileage up to a little over 20 miles before I called it a day.   A day that I call simply awesome!   Expect more information on this place the site in the coming weeks.

A return to the dirt in Anacortes

April 17th, 2011 by MTBBill

After a week full of mostly rain, chilly breezes and general ickiness, the skys started to clear up a bit on Saturday afternoon and by sunset I was optimistic for a bike ride the following day.

The Whistle Lake area of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands was the destination.   I had ridden here a couple of times in 2009 and I was really looking forward to getting back onto the flowling singletrack goodness of this place.

This was my first time back on the bike since the truck accident three and a half weeks ago and boy could I feel it.   The opening climb was steep and there was much more huffing and puffing than I had expected.     It was a quite brisk 47 degrees for pretty much the entire ride and the cool air felt really good.   While we SoCal weather weenies consider that cold, after a week of typically Seattle area weather, this was no where close to bad.   There is something about being out in nature of a trail that meanders through the forest is good chicken soup for the soul.   I am especially fond of the series of trails going around the lake with its numerous twists and turns coupled with short up and downs.   The trails on the north side of the lake is often perched well above the lake and sometimes is downright near-cliff like just off the trail.  

I did pretty close to the route I did in 2009 and by the time I was done I was pretty spent and my legs were complaining.  Obviously way too many tasty beers and no miles on the legs were issue.   I was nearly finished with my ride with the sun came out for good and the day was getting downright awesome.   I had plenty of time left in my day and I did not feel like leaving the trails just yet.

There is a also a series of trails in the Heart Lake area where I had parked.   I just had to go out and get some more time in the dirt even though I was “done”.   I liken it to having a yummy Thanksgiving dinner.  You are plenty stuffed already but you just have to have that extra slice of pie to finish things off.   So I headed off to do a loop around Heart Lake.    I ended up worked over and sore over the “extra slice of pie”   but it was well worth it.   

 

Less than a mile from Heart Lake is Mount Erie and there is an access road up to the top as well some viewpoints.  The views were quite amazing.

It was certainly a great day to be out on a bike and a particularly good day to be getting back on the saddle.

New Washington pages

October 19th, 2010 by MTBBill

While they are mighty slow in coming, I have added two new pages in the Washington section.

Devil’s Gulch and the Lower Dungeness – Gold Creek Loop.

Washington Riding

September 18th, 2010 by MTBBill

Man do I have a lot of catching up to do.    My six weeks in Washington went by really fast and I was really busy with work.   I did get in quite a bit of riding but much of my other work trips in the past, it is often tough to find time to work, ride and blog about.   I’m sure you can guess which one I set to the side.   I am going to get the story and pictures of   the cool rides I get in up on my site once my schedule drops back down to “normal” but here are a few pictures of these to come.

The furtherest trail away from my basecamp on the west side of Puget Sound was the Devil’s Gulch trail in the northern central area of the state.  It is often touted as one of the best XC trails in the state.  While I would have to ride all the singletracks in the state to be for sure, this is one really awesome trail.   I did about 14+ miles of mellow forest road climbing to get to the top of this trail and was rewarded with 12 miles of singletrack awesomeness.

Since I was in thea area I strung Devils Gulch and the Red Devil Trail together.   The Red Devil trail has a devil of some climbs to it and it fully polished off my leg after the Devils Gulch loop.   The grand total for the day was 36 miles,  4,500 feet of climbing and enough joygasm smiles to make my face hurt.

I made a total of two trips out to the “410 Area” east of Mt Rainier to ride the Palisades, Ranger and Noble Knob trails.  There is some stout climbing to be done but trail and the view are well worth it.

Got Wilderness?   The Noble Knob trail takes you right up to the edge some impressive looking wilderness.

Got Sunlight?   I could have used some at the end of this ride.

Google Duthie Hills, it is Seattle newest Mountain Bike Park.  It is a 120 acre park dedicated to mountain.  It offers something for everyone from tame,

to insane.  This place is a city park that is 100% legal.   Bottom line Washington gets it while SoCal is still in the stone-age.

Not everthing was an adventure to get to.  There were a handful of places that filled out the weekday ride schedule.  Like Port Gamble.

Green Mountain (Where is Waldo’s Shadow?) as well as other spots.

Like I said, I’ll get them up before long, but first I have quick work project to take care elsewhere.  I might get in some riding there too 🙂