Sunday, January 25, 2015

Wrong on Paper, but Right in My Head, or...

How Five Women With Four Maps and a Garmin Still Managed to Come to a Dead End

Last summer I did a gravel ride with Trisha, DJ, and Derik. In fact, it was my first ride in Capitol Forest on Mama Cass. Today, my plan was to recreate that ride, but without going up to the top of Rock Candy Mountain. I looked at the PDF map I have of Capitol Forest, and wrote down the numbers of the roads I thought we needed to go on.

We met at McLane Elementary. It was me, Jean, Jan, Chris, and Trisha. I was really happy to see Trisha because she had gotten hit by a car a short while ago, and it was good to see in person that she was okay. Also, since she had been on the ride in August, it was good to have her knowledge too.

It was foggy, but the temperature was already 50 degrees. Just after portaging our bikes over the boulders, I took the sleeves off my jacket. We did the long climb through the fog on B 8400. At one point, Jean asked if we were at the summit. Uh...no. We just couldn't see the road continuing up (after a short short downhill). 

In my mind, and on the paper, we needed to turn left onto B 8000. Trisha also remembered going that way. As we were climbing up B 8000, Mama Cass started to feel really bouncy. Uh oh, flat rear tire. At a break in the climbing, we stopped so I could fix it. I was a little nervous because the last time I had a flat on MC, it was very difficult to get the wheel back on with the horizontal dropouts. It is also hard to get the bead of the tire away from the rim. Trisha and I both wrenched on it until the bead came out. Then it was easy to get the rest of the bead off. Running my fingers along the inside of the tire, I found the culprit--a small piece of metal, probably from a car tire. I'm sure I picked it up on the road, and it took that long to work it's way through the tire to puncture the tube. Anyway, new tube in and inflated, it was time to put the wheel back on. Jean and Trisha held the bike while I slid the wheel back into the dropouts. I figured out that I needed to simply pull the chain back, put it on the smallest cog, then slide the wheel into the dropouts. Piece a cake! It's amazing how, when you figure out how to do something, it's really easy!

We continued on B 8000. We came down a very rocky, recently graded section, and popped out into the sun! Boy did that sun feel good! We continued riding. We came to B 8900. I looked at my paper. Nope, we didn't want that one. I looked at my Garmin. B 8900 was a dead end. We continued on B 8000. Oops, B 8000 also came to a dead end! What? Where was the turn for the B Line (the next road on my paper list)? Did we not see it? With nothing to do but go back until we could find the B Line, we pedaled back up that which we had come down. As I was slogging back up the rocky hill, I thought to put the intersection of Noschka and Sherman Valley Rds in the Garmin and see if it would give us a route. Sure enough, it did. We continued backtracking for a little while longer until the Garmin said to make a left onto B 8500. That was another climb, of course. But, we came out to some incredible views. I thought I remembered this section, but, then again, I wasn't sure. As we came to another fork in the road, it appeared we should stay left, because the alternative was, essentially, a trail. After much discussion, map looking, and Garmin checking, we decided we did need to go on the trail. I remembered doing a trail like this before, but I had no idea if it was the same trail. 

We pushed our bikes up the trail. It was too steep and rocky to ride. We met some hikers who were coming down. We asked them if there was a road up ahead. They said there was, but first we would come to a big mud puddle. We came to the puddle. It was, indeed, quite big. Trisha rode through a part to the right. I walked, pushing MC through the puddle while I walked on the edge to the left. As Jean came to it, I said to go to the left wheeling the bike through the puddle, meaning, to walk the bike. Instead, she stayed on the bike using her left foot on the edge to scooter through. That was going well, until the puddle got quite deep...about halfway-up-the-crank deep. Jean's right foot was now submerged in the puddle. We all had a good laugh. Good thing it was a warm day! Jan and Chris did the walk alongside method. 

One more push up to the top, and we were able to ride the remainder of the trail. We came out to the road that, if we went left, would take us up to the peak of Rock Candy Mountain. By this time, Trisha and I were certain we were on the same route we had done in the summer. 
The view just before coming to C 4000. The fog had NOT burned off below.

Soon, we reached C 4000. Now we were back on the paper list. As we came to a big 4-way intersection, I knew exactly where we were. I knew we needed to go left on C 8000, but the Garmin was saying to continue straight. I followed C 8000 on the Garmin, and saw that the Garmin route eventually came back to it, but further down. I also knew continuing straight meant another very steep climb (Geraldine and I had discovered this the first time we went this way). We turned left. The Garmin eventually recalculated. 

C 8000 was the super long downhill. Last time, it had been recently regravelled, and was a bit of a wheel sucker. This time, the surface was perfect and I was able to go a lot faster. At one point I glanced at my speedometer. I was going 25 mph! Woo Hoo! Trisha, Chris, and I decided that was the most fun of the day! Jean and Jan experienced tired hands from braking. I know exactly how that feels, because I had the same experience the first time I came down, riding Stella! 

The next obstacle ahead was the washed out road part. This was the part where DJ carried my bike across the log while I just had to walk across. We had determined we would use teamwork to negotiate the log with our bikes. As we came down, we crossed one bridge, and then we went across another bridge! Yay! They had fixed the washout! 

From there it was just a bit more until the pavement of Noschka Rd. We continued to Sherman Valley, Waddell, and Delphi. I left my intrepid pals at Delphi and 62nd, and headed home.

When I compared the route from today with the route from last summer, except for our going to the end of B 8000, and not going up to the top of Rock Candy Mtn, it was the same. So, although my paper list had a different part, what I thought in my head was the way I wanted to go. What should we have done to follow the paper? We should have not turned left onto B 8000, and instead continued almost to the Rock Candy Parking area to pick up the B Line. Then we would have gone to B 5000, which would have taken us to C 4000. Oh well, maybe we can try that way next time.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

If We Keep Going Straight This Way...

Said Geraldine as she was looking at the map on her phone while we were standing with our bikes amongst the bushes on what may or may not have been a trail.

Geraldine, Maria, and I met at McLane Elementary this morning at 10:00 for another gravel ride in Capitol Forest. Geraldine had planned out two possible routes. One was a route we did last winter, and part of one I did this last summer, and the other was something mostly new. Since I knew the first option might include having to hike-a-bike across a ravine while walking on a log (last summer DJ or Derik was kind enough to take my bike across), I suggested we do option 2. Afterall, if we wanted epic, what's more epic than unknown roads for unknown miles?

We came into Capitol Forest off Maple Valley Rd. Someone has placed a big pile of large boulders to block the dirt road. We had to carry the bikes over them. A short while later there was another pile, but it was easier to go around. Our guess was that they didn't want any motorized vehicles accessing the Forest there. Fortunately, we gravel grinders can manage.

We went up the first long steep climb with Geraldine seeming to climb like it was flat, Maria turning the cranks on her cross-bike (not the easiest of gears) until she couldn't, and me on Mama Cass bringing up the rear (thankful for that 23-34 gear combo--slow, but the pedals can keep turning). We had a bit of downhill, but then back to climbing. 

We reached the turnoff to go up to Rock Candy Mt. (to the left). I was thinking the next right turn would be the Rock Candy Rd that would take us to the entrance off Hwy 8. We made the turn, and started another steep climb, only to find out it wasn't the right way. At least we got to come back down! Back to the main road, we continued on until we actually came to Rock Candy Rd. There were a couple of trail runners that popped out onto the road right as we came by. Since we were climbing pretty slowly, we told them they could probably go faster than we were. I could hear their footfalls coming up behind us, but then we had a short downhill, and we stayed ahead of them. They also went off onto the trail.

We finally came down the big descent to the entrance at Hwy 8. We crossed the Hwy, and picked up the S Line. I had tried to do the S Line a couple months ago, but ended up going the wrong way and, coming upon an active logging operation, had to turn back. I had figured out which way I should have gone, but it was too late. So, today, I knew exactly where to go.

Of course, there was more climbing, and then...more climbing! Geraldine continued to exhibit her super-human climbing skills (I may be Super Biker Woman, but Geraldine is Super Climbing Biker Woman!), reaching the top of each climb well before Maria or myself. 

We knew the S Line dead-ended (according to the map). We were prepared to do the out and back, but we were hoping there might be a trail that would bring us out to Whittaker Rd. near Hwy 101. As we were riding along, we began to hear traffic down below. This sounded promising! Soon, we came to the end of the S Line. There were two options of less-travelled double-track. Geraldine surmised that the one to the right was the correct direction to come to Whittaker Rd. We rode on, dodging tree branches, until the double-track ended. Again Geraldine looked at the map and said, "If we just keep going straight, we should come to the road." There was a slight semblance of a trail going in the direction we needed to go. Well alright, let's do it! We wanted epic! What's more epic than bush-whacking your way through downed branches, trees, and brush while pushing/carrying a 30+ pound fat bike? Geraldine and Maria just slung their bikes up on their shoulders as if this was a cyclocross course. All the while, Geraldine is continuing the mantra of "just going straight and we'll come to the road."


We came to a pile of timber, and there we found a logging road that took us to...Whittaker! Woo Hoo! We did it! Now, which way to Hwy 101? Both Geraldine and I thought right, so off we went. Riding along, I mentioned how I'd always wondered where this road went. Turns out I got to see exactly where the road went because, we ended up at the end...the wrong end. Oops! Turn around! 

We came out to the Steamboat Island exit. From there we took Madrona Beach Rd to Mud Bay, and back to McLane. Maria and I said goodbye and good ride to Geraldine as we went left on Mud Bay, and she went right to go home. I left Maria at her car at McLane, and rode myself home. 

Now I can say I've done the S Line. Even with the bush-whacking (just maybe because of the bush-whacking), it was another great gravel ride with loads of adventure and the right amount of epic-ness! 


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Girls Go a Gravelling!

L to R: Sarah, Chris, Karen, Jean, Geraldine, Julianne, Annie, Cindy, Maria, and me (not pictured, our lone dude, Annie's dad, Andy)

I love gravel riding, and I go, even with the fast guys, and it's always great! But, today was extra special as it was an all gals gravel ride (plus Andy)! It was Karen's idea, and I just ran with it (or rode, as the case may be). I put out an all-call post for gals who have been wanting to do a gravel ride, but were worried they wouldn't keep up. There was an enthusiastic response, including some who wanted to come, but couldn't.

We met at the Mima Falls Trailhead parking lot. A Discovery Pass is required to park, and those who drove had their passes. Sarah and I rode with Karen, our three bikes fitting easily into the back of her truck. 

The weather forecast called for 10% chance of rain, but still cold temps. There was ice on the puddles, and the ground was still fairly frozen. We all dressed warmly. I knew we'd be plenty warm once we got near the gravel.

There were those on cyclocross bikes, a few on mountain bikes, and me on Mama Cass. When we headed out it became quickly apparent that the cross bikes were faster on the paved part. But, no problem, as we regrouped at the beginning of the gravel.

The E Line gravel begins with a long, rather steep climb. I may have failed to mention to the gals just how much climbing we would be doing (a total of 2,868 ft). Oops. But, we all made it. This was Mama Cass' first go on the E Line. With her tiny front ring of 23 teeth, and her big rear cog of 32, she goes up the hills pretty easily.

We regrouped periodically, but the faster gals on cross bikes were getting cold waiting for the rest of us to catch up. As soon as the last person would catch up, the front group would continue on. That was good because then they didn't get so cold, yet they didn't get so far ahead. I waited for everyone at the ambiguous turns to make sure everyone went the right way. Sometimes, it's hard to spot the signs.

We went up, we went down. We rarely went flat. Mama Cass did great. However, I noticed that even with the mud shovel fender, I still got pretty dirty on my legs. The Mucky Nutz front fender did a good job of keeping my face clean. Those without any fenders looked like their faces were suffering from some kind of black pox. At the end of the gravel part, some were sporting nice mud facial masks.

In the end, we did 27.4 miles in 3 1/2 hours. The paved D Line back to Bordeaux and Mima Falls ate up a chunk of those miles, but everyone was ready to get off the gravel (except maybe Mama Cass who does so much better on the gravel vs. the pavement). The D Line has it's own steep hills to contend with, but once you reach the top, it's downhill most of the way back to the cars.

We all made it back to the parking lot. Everyone had a great time (though some are saying they'll bring cross bikes next time). I suspect girls will be going gravelling again soon!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all who follow my bike ramblings! I managed to get in a Christmas morning ride with a few friends.
Thanks for the ride Cindy, Jan, and Chris!

In Christmas letter fashion, here's my year in review (if you loathe Christmas letters, feel free to stop reading now).

Racing

I had a short racing season this year. I did just 8 races before leaving for Europe in May: one time trial, and 7 road races. I won the first road race in Sequim. It's only because most of the Cat 4 women don't ride much in the winter, or the newbies haven't figured it out yet. Basically, I seem to "peak" in the first race. From then on, it's all downhill (figuratively, of course--if it was really all downhill, I'd do great!).

I also experienced my first crash in a race. I was lucky as I ended up in the ditch and only received minor scratches and a whole lotta mud in my hair. My friend and teammate was not so lucky. She ended up on the pavement with a broken collarbone and thumb. The next week, I raced the same course again. I didn't think I was nervous, until I got dropped and felt such relief. I knew I wouldn't crash if I was by myself.

Touring

I left May 19th for my longest tour yet. I started in Mainz, Germany with my friend, Christian. We rode north, visiting Berlin, then family, and friends (especially Alex and Markus in Bremen) before crossing into Denmark. After a couple of short days in Denmark, we crossed into Sweden. We rode the coast to Norway. We were in Oslo for the Summer Solstice (a very big deal in Scandinavia). There were parties everywhere, and it was light until the early hours with the sun rising again by about 4:30am.

Christian stayed with me until we got to Bingen, Norway to visit his friend, Jon. Christian had to return home and go back to work. I continued on the North Sea Route up the coast of Norway to Stavanger where I flew to Aberdeen, Scotland. In Scotland, I explored the ruins of Dunnotter Castle, and had to walk my bike up the steepest, most desolate (except for sheep) road I have ever been on. 

I ferried over to Northern Ireland, and worked my way into Ireland and over to Galway and the Atlantic. From there it was a straight ride across the middle of Ireland to Dublin. I had planned a day off in Dublin, but found no room at any inn (except the most expensive inn in Dublin). I stayed in the expensive room, but ferried the next day to Holyhead in Wales.

I followed National Cycle Route 5 up the coast, at one point, experiencing the most amazing tailwind ever! I crossed into England on a bike trail (there was even a sign). I met up with my friend Chris in Oxford. He gave me a local's tour of the town (the best kind of tour), where I saw the college used as Hogwarts in Harry Potter, and got to ride a double-decker bus! As I worked my way toward London, I spent a night in Slough with a great gal named Jane. She took me home when I couldn't find any place to camp in or around Windsor (doesn't Her Majesty want people camping around her castle?). 

In London, I stayed at Crystal Palace Caravan Park about 7 miles from the center of London. I spent 3 nights there, and rode down into London for two very full days of sightseeing. When I left London for good, I somehow ended up going to Greenwich (south of where I needed to go) where I cycled up to the Observatory and the Prime Meridian. 

I left England on a ferry from Harwich to Hook van Holland. In Hook van Holland I met Olga, a French gal on her first ever bike tour. We were going the same way toward Amsterdam, so we rode together on her last day. We finished at her friend's house in Haarlem where I was also invited to stay the night. Jonas and his parents were very nice!

Amsterdam, the next day, was not to be as there was a very bad storm that caused the storm drains to overflow and flood the streets with raw sewage. I reached the city sign for Amsterdam, and took a right heading back south without actually going into the city. Instead, I explored Rotterdam the next day, going through the Heinenoord Tunnel...twice. On my way across Holland back to Germany, I found the Hovenring elevated bicycle roundabout with a little help from Mariella and her cousin Daniella. 

I left Holland at Venlo, returning to Germany where I met up with Christian near Düsseldorf for the last few days of riding the Rhein Radweg back to Mainz. I flew home on August 6th. I had spent 2 1/2 months cycling 3786 miles around Europe.

Super Biker Grandma!

September 3rd, my oldest son and my daughter-in-law had their first baby. My sweet sweet Grayson! I'm not being biased when I say he is the cutest baby on the planet!!! I love being a grandma, and try to get to Eugene as often as possible to get me some baby hugs! I will be in charge of all things bikey!

A New Girl in the Stable

After returning from Europe, I turned my sights to the next couple of tours. These will be dirt road tours.  Joyride Bikes just happened to have the bike I wanted for them--a Surly ECR. "Mama Cass" is a mid-fat bike with 3" tires. I was fortunate to get to take her over to Twisp with my friends, Bill and Melody, to do some gravel/mountain biking. It was a blast!

So, that brings me back to today. I thank all of you for reading my blog. I wish you many adventures in your own lives in the coming New Year and beyond!

                                          Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Braver Than the Elements Ride, and a Moon Cycle Ride

It's December, and that means braving the elements, and riding to see Christmas lights. Actually, those were two separate rides. 

First, was the Rapha sponsored Braver Than the Elements Ride. Jean and I headed to Seattle for the women-only ride. This was one of several happening all over the country. The ride started at Cascade Bicycle Studio, a bike shop (and the only Washington dealer of Rapha apparel) in the Fremont District. We arrived much earlier than we thought we would, and no one was there. It was raining, so we just waited in the car. Bit by bit, women started arriving. The bike shop opened, and we all gathered inside to sign waivers, and find out what the plan was. Some gals were buying rain jackets and embrocation to help them stay warm and dry. Jean and I, being very used to riding in the "elements", were well prepared. As were our bikes. Jean was riding her cross bike, and I was on Star, my rain bike. Both our bikes have full fenders and long buddy flaps. With the exception of Mindy, the ride leader, we were the only ones with buddy flaps. Several had fenders, but without the long flap in the back, your "buddy" behind you is not really protected from the spray. Some gals didn't have fenders at all. Yikes! We tried to stay away from them!

Twenty of us headed out into the rain. We rode north, up and out of Fremont. Our turn around point was a cafe in Edmonds. For a good chunk of the ride, we were on the Interurban Bike Route, including a nice bike path. After getting off the path, we had to negotiate some busy streets, and then the hilly portion of the ride. We regrouped frequently, as there were several levels of riders from Cat 3 racers to a gal on a flat bar commuter carrying a pannier.

All 20 of us descended on an already crowded cafe (but, they knew we were coming). I had hot chocolate and a cookie. By the time we were ready to leave, some were not looking forward to going back out into the rain, knowing we would be cold because we were all wet. But, hey, this was called the Braver Than the Elements Ride! And, we had a big hill to go up (several, actually), so everyone would warm up quickly. As we were about ready to leave the parking lot of the cafe, one gal realized she had a flat. Emily (a Cat 3 racer) had the tire changed for the gal pretty quickly, but we were all still cold and ready to get going. Sure enough, no one was complaining about being cold once we were heading up the first hill (except for some cold hands).

We pretty much returned the way we had come. The last couple of miles were mostly downhill. We were going pretty slow (not sure why), but we eventually made it back to the start. We all received Braver Than the Elements patches for our effort. The ride was only 28 miles, but it was still fun to ride with and meet some new gals. Of course, they were all Seattle gals. I think Jean and I were the bravest of all, coming all the way from Olympia (so, okay, we drove to Seattle, but we still had to get up earlier than any of them)!

Ride the Night to Christmas Lights

Today was the Winter Solstice, and a group called Moon Cycle (they apparently ride once a month on the full moon) planned a ride to see the Christmas lights at Ken Lake. None of my Oly Chick posse were able to go, but I decided to go anyway. It wasn't raining, and the temperature was warm. Besides, after just 28 miles yesterday, and only a 5 mile walk/run today, I needed to burn more calories. 

We met at 5:00 at the Tivoli fountain at the Capitol campus (I rode Stella). Eight and a half of us showed up (the half was the little 4 1/2 year old son of one of the women). A few had decorated their bikes with LED battery operated Christmas lights. This was definately a group of commuter cyclists. Not a clipless pedal in sight (except for me), and only one other bike with drop bars. But, great headlights and tail flashers!

 No one seemed to know the exact plan to get to Ken Lake (a neighborhood on the Westside). Well, of course, I knew how to get there. They seemed to prefer I lead the way. Well, alright, that's fine with me! 

We worked our way at a leisurely pace to the Westside. We arrived at the Ken Lake neighborhood, and started our ride around the loop. Years ago, when my boys were little, we drove there to see the lights. I remembered there being several houses with fairly extravagant light displays. Now, there seems to be only one that is over the top. Oh, there were several houses with lights, but nothing huge. The one house is quite worth the trip though. The light display is set to music. The program is about 10 minutes long before it starts over. They accept canned food donations for the Food Bank. After the whole program ran through, the guy who owns the place took our picture in front of the lights.
I'm fourth from the right.

We rode back through town, dropping people as we went. There were a couple going to a cafe/bar, but I opted to head for home. It was a nice 25 mile ride at a very leisurely average of 10.8mph. It was fun, though, and I may consider doing more of these Moon Cycle rides!

The best thing of all? From here on out, the days will be getting longer!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Over-estimating Our Mountain Biking Skills

For our last day, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise! The mountains were bathed in a pink hue, and the sky looked promising.

We did our usual walk with the dogs, then came back and got ready to ride. Today's destination was the Bear Creek Figure 8. The first loop was a level 3. Okay, we had done level 3 yesterday. The second loop had some level 4 stuff. Hmmm...could be scary!

We rode from the house again (of course that meant coming back up the loooong hill at the end of the ride). We went out the same way as before. Although the sun was shining, it was pretty chilly in the shade, and we were in the shade most of the way to the beginning of the Figure 8. I looked at the temp on my computer. It was 36.6 degrees. But, that was okay because we were climbing. Only my toes were a little cold.

We headed up the dirt road toward Loup Loup Summit.
It was a very long climb, and I was very slow. Bill and Melody were great about waiting at every turn to make sure we all went the right way. 

After what seemed like a very long time, we made it to the double track part of the first loop...and continued to climb. There were tons and tons of larch trees (a needled tree that is deciduous). They are now golden yellow, and the needles cover the ground.

This one still has some green to it.

We reached the top, and the beginning of the singletrack descent. Here's Bill starting down.

Melody and I followed our fearless leader only to have to get off and walk about 20ft into the trail due to it being very steep and rocky...and Melody and I's desire to remain upright and uninjured. We seriously toyed with going back to the road and doing the Bear Mtn. Loop, then going back down the way we had come up. But, we decided to go a little further. Bill said it got easier. Welllll...not really. Clearly, in the exuberance of yesterday's Buck Mtn ride, we thought we were such accomplished mountain bikers, that we could handle this. Bill did pretty good (although he still had to walk a bit too). Melody and I would ride 10 feet, then have to get off and walk. In all fairness, I think Melody might have tried to ride more, but I was in front of her, and I was way too chicken. We did manage to ride some of the sketchier bits, but, for me that was only when I didn't feel like I was going to fall off the side of the mountain! And we also discovered that, although some of the spots looked absolutely terrifying, the more we rode, the braver we got...to a point. Fortunately, our caution paid off, in that, neither Melody or I bit the dust.

We came out onto a logging road (this after I rode down a steep, rocky bit, giving a running commentary while my life was flashing before my eyes!). At this point, the trail crossed the road, and continued down for another .8 miles. Looking at the map, Melody and Bill determined that the logging road would take us back out to the dirt road we had ridden up. It was 2 miles. Melody and I decided to abort the rest of the Bear Creek Figure 8, and take the logging road back. We'd had enough of death-defying singletrack. Bill opted to finish the first loop, but also bail out on the second loop that was supposed to be harder. Then he would go back to the yurt to finish the ditch digging before we left for home.

So, Melody and I took the logging road, and ended up coming out where we had started the double track part. That meant we had the entire descent on the dirt road back to the turn to Loup Loup Summit. WOO HOO! It was a blast! I got up to 30.6mph! Here's Melody finishing it!
Coming down with a big grin!

Since we hadn't really gone that many miles, and we still had plenty of time, we decided to go and do Pipestone Canyon (level 1) again. First we had to go up and over the ridge on the way to Campbell Lake. We tried, briefly, to ride a trail that went alongside the road, but it was too deep of a rut and my pedals kept digging into the sides of the rut. We returned to the road. 
Going up, so we could go down.

Pipestone Canyon was just as fun the second time! 
Looking back into the canyon.

We came back out to the road. We still had to ride back up the road to the yurt. Even though I told myself, again, that I could walk, I managed to ride the whole thing, albeit very slowly.

Melody and I showered, then took the dogs for one more long walk before they would have to ride in the car back to Olympia.

We came back and started the process of packing up and cleaning. We finished and were on the road by about 6:30ish. 

I had so much fun these four days! What great adventures in mountain biking we had! I loved the walks with the dogs, and hanging out with Bill and Melody. I can't thank them enough for allowing me to join them! WOO HOO! WE ARE MOUNTAIN BIKERS EXTRAORDINAIRE!!! (At least we like to think we are)







Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cattle Herding Mountain Bikers Are Us!

We started our third day with another great walk/hike to wear out the little man, Mariko, before heading out for another mountain biking adventure. It was raining just a bit, but nothing we couldn't deal with.

Bill, once again, loaded up the bikes (thanks again, Bill!), as we would be starting our ride in Twisp again. This time we would be heading into Winthrop, then up to do Buck Mtn., and Buck Lake.
Not a super clear photo, but this is the bike/ped bridge over the Methow River from Twisp over to Winthrop.

We had about 8 1/2 miles of pavement to get to the beginning of the Buck Mtn. Loop. Then we were on a dirt road for about three miles. Along the dirt road, we encountered some cattle being herded along by a guy on horseback. It appeared he could use our help, so we obliged.
Actually, we just rode behind them until they got to this spot where they could get off the road and we could safely pass them.

Continuing on, we climbed until we reached the double track section, then...we continued climbing...of course!
Following the little yellow bike signs.

As we continued climbing, the double track turned into singletrack. This was, for me, the most challenging singletrack so far. It was steep ups and steep downs, but we managed to negotiate most of them. Bill went down a steep hill that had a sharp right turn, then steep semi-off camber uphill. I heard him yell, "Sharp right!" When I got to the beginning of the downhill part, and saw the sharp turn at the bottom, I opted to avoid the likely crash by walking Mama Cass down. In the meantime, Bill had gotten off his bike, and slipped in the mud (the non-bike crash). Yes, this was much more challenging than our previous rides! However, the scenery was spectacular!
Beautiful vistas!
Melody on the singletrack.

After a brief wrong turn where the trail then disappeared, we got back on the main trail, and started a most incredible descent through the sage brush, and down the mountain.

Eventually, we popped out at a road. Bill and Melody were trying to figure out where we were in relation to how we would get to Buck Lake. Since they weren't sure, we just picked up the trail across the road and continued on. Then we came to another road that had a sign directing us to Buck Lake. 
Very nice Fall colors!

From the lake we were on a dirt road for a long descent. We didn't come out quite where Bill thought we would, but it was okay. We rode about 10 miles of pavement back to Winthrop, and then the short bit back over the bridge to the car. 

Today's ride was 36 miles. The singletrack was rated a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5. We now consider ourselves official mountain bikers!

When we got back, we took the dogs for a long walk/hike in the hills. I tell ya, if I did this everyday, I would be in the most awesome shape for road racing!