Mountain Flyer Content Trip- April 2012 Update 6

Mountain Flyer Content Trip Update 6

The prospect of riding fresh, highly-thought of singletrack seemingly propelled everyone out of their sleeping bags simultaneously in the morning as the sun broke-free of the clouds at the Phil’s Trailhead in Bend, OR. The now-familiar routine of packing tents, stowing sleeping bags, preparing breakfast etc, was run through with a new aire of excitement. A chilly start to the morning, gave-way to sparse high-clouds, temps nearing 50degs, and barely a breeze to keep things moving. We’d finally broken free of the murky damp conditions that’d shadowed us through our departure from Bend last time, and off into Washington.

We were excited to have dry weather and moderate temps for what we’d decided was going to be a ‘down’ day… less-work, more play. No riding with insanely heavy camera-packs. No humping lighting gear in its own gigantic pack uphill on foot… just good old fashioned fun for everyone (photographer included).

I did stuff a body and 2 lenses into my hydration pack, as opportunities seem ceaselessly to arise whenever packs are jettisoned. We wheeled across the parking area and oriented ourselves with the substantial trail-map positioned at the trailhead to Phil’s and Marvin’s on the West side of the parking area. We’d heard great things about ‘Whoops’ and Heli-Pad trails, but wanted to see for ourselves. The area is known in various circles for an assortment of things. Glancing at the competitive posted-frenzy that Strava seems to fuel, in hind-sight, you could easily find yourself caught up in competitive climbing-sessions, descending madness etc, but we knew nothing of this setting out. In fact, we forgot to even start the app until about a mile in, when Brian called out from the front, a quick reminder to ‘fire up Strava’.

'Whaaaaaa?' 'oh… yeah, Strava'.

Off into the woods we went. Mile after easy-mile unfolded before us; a beautifully serpentine flowy singletrack through what appeared to be a relatively young conifer-forest… a pine-needle carpet blanketed the ground, muffling our joyous passage as we climbed gently up Phil’s trail towards the far-side of the trail network we’d so eagerly poured over on the map in days-past. Thoughts strayed to the notion of riding the trail back down the hill we were ever-so-subtlety climbing, and eyes were diverted towards the ever so slightly bermed-out corners we found ourselves pedaling up… occasionally between a rock here, or a tree there. Never anything technical, never anything too tight. It was jussssssst right.

Well marked intersections appeared along our way up, demarcating both our passage up Phils and the progress of other assorted trails in the network. Not many landmarks existed, for those of us used to seeing giant rocky-peaks jutting skyward to serve as reference, for our ponderous progress up climbs locally. We ambled through the sunlight-spashed forest, enjoying shadow play among the trees, an easy gait, and some idle conversation about the loveliness of the dirt, the pristine condition of the corners, the friendliness of the locals, blah blah blah.

I’d pretty much given up any notion of an actual ‘climb’ in reference to the suffer-fests that abound locally in Colorado where we hail from, when the trail suddenly veered sharply skywards. We’d connected through several intersections at this point, and we’d decided that we needed to maintain our trajectory outwards to the outer-most portions of the network. We’d heard that Heli Pad and Whoops were under snow, but we wanted to investigate for ourselves (being a stubborn-lot and having also seen no snow anywhere of-yet).

Heli-Pad arrived reasonably quickly after a short series of moderate climbs warmed us up from the amble through the trees. The location signified by an ‘H’ arranged with stones in a perfectly round clearing of trees at the top of a ridge. ‘I guess this is the heli-pad’? We wondered aloud? Onward? What do we connect with? Michael pulled out the photo of the map he’d shot with his iPhone and we consulted with the group. Onward we’d push to another intersection where another decision would be necessitated. This was FUN! Nothing insanely technical. Nothing ridiculously steep. Just pure clean fun mountain biking distilled to its very essence. Twisty fun singletrack, moderate climbs, and then what was to come…

A bit more climbing, then a meandering downhill brought us to another decision-making point. We consulted the trail-head map that was posted at the intersection of the double track we’d descended on, and looked at the marker that directed us either up or down on singletrack that was calling itself ‘Whoops’. Was it for this my life I sought? We decided to climb, guessing that this was the intersection of Upper and Lower Whoops. We wanted to sample Upper Whoops, but after a quick probing-climb, we hastily ran into the snow-line and determined that we’d be better off heading down instead of post-holing upwards.

Upon crossing the intersection, the fruits were reaped for our efforts. What could arguably be THE most fun trail-jump-line ever unfolded before us. Smooth doubles, bermy grippy corners, occasionally linking s-turns snaking through trees, littered with a triple-option here and there to keep you honest. The shenanigans went on for miles. We were stupefied. ‘Should we climb back up and ride it again?’. In the interest of time, we continued down and connected another several trails to swing us back to the parking area. Wow… What’s arguably the most complete network of trails in a single-area that’s SUPER easily accessible and shredable in a reasonable morning of riding, that won’t beat you up horribly. What’s not to like?

Bend gets our double-thumbs-up, and we realize we haven’t even scratched the surface here yet! Amazing!

Lunch was a quick Thai meal locally, and then we hit the road. We had the longer-stretch of our way home ahead of us, and we wanted to make it to Boise at least by this evening to break up the drive. 7+ hours of highway ahead, no riding that we were opting-into, and we were still looking at yet another late-night arrival into another unknown campsite. That’s why we’re out here, no? Y e s… that’s why we’re here. It is our purpose.

Mountain Flyer Content Trip- April 2012 Update 4

Mountain Flyer Content Trip update 4

Today marks the ½ way point of our trip in a manner of speaking. The mission for the trip was to arrive in Port Angeles with Team Geronimo to report on the race and for the guys to compete in the DH. With the race-weekend over, we had a decision to make concerning return-route, the completion of our Ride Guide for Mountain Flyer was our priority on the way out, and as we were looking at a possible overlap-situation related to stops we’d discussed for our return-route, some further planning was required.

Brian and I had to retrieve and transport a vehicle for one of my clients from Renton, WA back to Grand Junction for us to grab at a later date for an automotive production project, so we needed to get to ARB’s headquarters in the morning. A drive back on the 112 across the NW corner of Washington State brought us to the Kingston Ferry and subsequently out of what was seemingly a rainforest-area in which we’d been dwelling since we landed in Port Angeles. The sun graced us for the first time in days, and I hadn’t really realized to that point, just how impacted I was by its absence. We drove down the slight hill into the quaint seaside village that is Kingston, its main street festooned with cute coffee shops and several bakeries. We’d been provided with some beta concerning a gluten-free organic bakery that we wanted to investigate, so we parked Samba in the lineup, and marched back up the hill in search of a cappuccino for me and some gluten-free treats for Brian.

Miracle Morsels delivered, with probably THE most amazing GF cookie and other goodies imaginable. The owner of the store proved to have some interest in Mountain Biking and sent Brian out the door with a bag of treats to fuel him for the rest of the day, with us promising we’d return again to shop further at a later date. Onward!

The ferry-shuttle deposited us about 20min north of Seattle, where we redirected ourselves through some mid-day traffic, and straight on to ARB’s HQ. I had some wiring-attention I needed to pay to my 2nd battery, mounted astern in Samba that powered my fridge and allowed me to charge lighting gear etc. Brian had to retrieve the 4Runner, and when I realized that I had more work ahead of me (under my vehicle) than just 30min-worth, I sent him on his way to Bend to meet up with the rest of the crew. I remained behind, and spend some quality time on the floor of the ARB warehouse/HQ in the bay, re-hanging my wiring, changing a fuse, and having my fridge tested and getting a warranty-replacement tent. Upon completion of the necessary work and reassembling the vehicle, I joined my friend there for a hasty lunch, and then re-set my course for Bend OR. I had 7+ hours to enjoy some jazz, a dinner in a grocery-store parking lot prepared with love in the back of the truck, and then a night-drive across the flanks of Mt Hood in a snowstorm.

We’ve grown somewhat weary and mindful of the late-night-pull-in for campsites, but this couldn’t be avoided. I descended upon the parking area at Phil’s Trailhead once again, this time with my group already long-asleep, yet not at a completely ungodly hour… doused my lights, and promptly set-about ripping the fly off my tent so I could get some sleep (w/o it flapping away in the breeze). We had some epic riding to enjoy first thing in the morning, from the reports we’d heard over the weekend up at the race. We’d seen parts of the area, but wanted to investigate further. Stoke was running high, and I anxiously forced myself to sleep. Tomorrow would finally be a solid riding day for me (sans 60lb pack of lighting/camera gear).