Monday, October 24, 2011

Mountain biking love

There's something extra special about mountain biking.  I mean, road and cyclocross are fun too, but they will never take the place of mountain biking in my heart.  It all goes back to my roots, I guess.  As a kid I would watch the same mountain bike movies over and over again, then go outside and rip around the local trails, crashing left and right as I tried to impersonate what I had seen in the movies.

My favorites films(and maybe the only mtb movies at the time?) were the early Kranked and New World Disorders.  The best scenes were the "North Shore" segments, where Dangerous Dan, Wade Summons, and other legends would ride these crazy wooden stunts with huge drops to flat.  I just read this article on NSMB that brought back a lot of these memories.

A classic North Shore clip from "Kranked 4:  Search for the Holy Trail."  

There were a couple years as a kid when I too would build ladder-bridges and skinnies high in the trees.  Instead of in North Vancouver, however, my trails were in my parent's front yard.  I really scared the neighbors when I tried to ride one stunt for the first time and ended up tacoing my front wheel and face-planting.  I never did end up riding that one successfully, despite the whole summer of work spent building it...

I feel good knowing that I got all my crashes done early, while I was still made of rubber!  The "North Shore" era of mountain biking may have come and gone, but it will always be an important part of the progression of the sport.

If I keep going on awesome mtb rides like I did yesterday in the Chuckanuts, my cross bike is going to feel very neglected...

Classic under-the-log, through-the-rocks section of Hush Hush trail.

The new Raptor Ridge trail is superb.

 View from Raptor Ridge with Blanchard in the distance.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall mountain biking at its best

I had the mountain biking itch this week. It felt great to get out on my Noble a couple times. Steve Fisher and I rode Blanchard on tuesday in short sleeves. After riding the perfect dry trails, it's hard to believe that it's nearly November. On wednesday, I checked out the new and improved SST on Galbraith. Wow, so much fun! People have clearly put in a whole lot of time on the mountain rebuilding and repairing the effects of the logging operation.

Felt great to ride my Noble after all the recent cyclocross riding.

Chuckanut and the San Juans as seen from Oyster Dome.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bellingham Double-Header Weekend

I am thoroughly wrecked after racing back to back days at home in Bellingham this weekend.

Friday night I helped Ryan Rickerts setup the cyclocross course for saturday's "Killer Cross" event. Motivation to race the next day was not high, but I figured I should give it a go since I helped put the course together. Plus, Whitney and I were able to ride to the venue from home. It's not often I can be a good hippy and not burn a bunch of gas driving somewhere so that I can race my bike.

The race itself ended up being a lot of fun. The sun was out and the lengthy lap had a lot of variety and funkiness, something Ryan's courses are known for. My favorite part was the "bark chip mountain" run/ride-up. Steve Fisher and I battled for most of the race and were evenly matched, as usual, but he had a bit more snap in his legs than me in the end.

Following Steve up "the grassy knoll." Photo: Ryan Rickerts

Today's race was the Lake Padden mountain bike duathlon sponsored by Klicks Running and Walking(formerly and still the best place in town to buy running shoes and apparel). For those who don't know, a duathlon is a triathlon without the swim(I can barely swim without drowning). The order of tri's are: swim, bike, run; but in a duathlon it goes: run, bike, run. I used to run track and cross country for fun back in high school and I still like to get out to some running events every once in a while. I had previously raced the Padden mtb duathlon in 2008 and had a great close race with one of my roommates at the time, Charlie Sunderlage.

The race started out hard, but I used some self control and held a maintainable pace. I'm not a serious runner by any means, but I knew that the strategy of trying to stay with the leaders for as long as possible was not going to get me far like it would in a bike race. The first 2.6 mile lap around the lake went smoothly but I had a lot of time to make up on the half dozen guys in front of me.

I started off on my Noble, legs feeling like lead, and one by one caught and passed people. Now I was in my element. The mtb leg followed the same super-classic course as the Padden Pedal mtb race. Having raced and ridden out there for years, I knew all the secret ninja lines on the descents and exactly where to punch it and where to recover. My F4 felt like an all-mountain rig after riding my cross bike the day before!

I came into the second transition with a healthy lead, but knew that the second run was where it would all go down. The pain of the next 2.6 miles was a foreign feeling after so much bike racing the last few years. At about 400 meters before the finish I glanced over my shoulder and saw someone about twenty seconds back. He came by me with 200 to go and I tucked in behind him and and held on for as long as I could. In the end he finished a couple seconds ahead and set a new course record. Turns out his name is Dusty Caseria and he's a damn good runner! I guess he ran a 1:51 half mile recently in college. Wow.

I really wanted the coveted first-place beer pitcher for winning, but I guess I'll have to train harder next year!

Bellingham Herald article here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Enchanted Traverse

Loren, Mark, Mike, Travis, Eric, Toby and I hiked through the amazing Enchantments area in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness last saturday. It was an amazing day. The Enchantment Lakes area is notoriously difficult to gain access to, both physically and legally(overnight permits must be obtained far in advance). We parked a car at each end-Colchuck Lake and Snow Creek-and hiked the route as a 20 mile point-to-point one-day thru-hike. The golden fall colors of the Larch trees are spectacular. Not many people see such a sight.

Colchuck Lake and Asgard pass-the back door into the Enchantments.

Asgard Pass.

Colchuck Lake.

Sudden hail storm at 7000+ feet elevation.

Upper Enchantments basin.

Toby and golden larches.

Prusik Peak in the distance.

Mike and Travis.

The crew minus Toby - he wandered ahead for a bit.

Snow Lake far below us.

Nada Lake.

Check out the strange water jet below Snow Lake. I have never seen or heard of anything like this before, especially not in a wilderness area. Powerful is an understatement.

More photos on my Flickr page.