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Out of town MTB stoke (warning: LONG and LOTS of photos!)

Discussion in 'California & Hawaii' started by jimw, Oct 28, 2005.

  1. jimw

    jimw Monkey

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    (I know many of the typical posts here seem to contain about 3 words, with 2 of them misspelled :), but I thought I'd go out on a limb here and write some narrative... might want to go grab those reading glasses.)

    Over the past month, I've been lucky to get to ride in some fantastic locations outside of my stomping grounds of Santa Cruz. My eyes have been opened to a whole new realm of riding. I thought I'd share some of the stoke I got from these great areas.
     

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  2. jimw

    jimw Monkey

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    Stoke #1: Whistler

    First of all, a big thank you to the RM peeps who offered advice for a Whistler first-timer. Between that and additional searching here, I was able to have much more fun than I might otherwise have had.

    OK. So this is probably old news to most of you, but in case you haven't been to Whistler...

    YOU NEED TO GO!!!

    :)

    Every mountain biker should experience the thrill of hauling ass down A-line on a downhill bike, floating over perfect jumps and railing berms, at least once in his/her life. I was blown away. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

    I went up with a pseudo-random group of 8 guys. Most folks were more into XC, so for the first 2 days we rented XC bikes and rode the local XC trails. Cross-Country Connection hooked us up with bikes, and a part-day guided tour. The first day, we arrived in Whistler in the early afternoon, so we just went on a quick ride on some random trail right behind the rental place. The trails were in great shape, as it had rained shortly before we arrived, but was sunny and perfect the entire time we were there. The XC trails there are great. Compared to Santa Cruz, they are more rocky/rooty, and longer.



    On the second day, we did a guided tour in the morning on a trail called "**** Happens". Jerome from Cross-Country Connection was a great guide. He has a rough life - mountain bike guide in the summer, heli ski guide in the winter... Anyway, **** did, in fact, happen. At one point, 3 of us descended a steep rock face. The 4th guy, who shall remain nameless (and didn't have as much experience with that kind of riding), then proceeded to pull a low-speed endo to back plant on the rock face. Jerome's face went white. I believe at that moment he was thinking something like this: "... life-flight chopper... Americans... lawsuit... ****..." Somehow though, the guy was OK - a little scratched up but that was about it. We continued on and had a great descent. Along the way there were several fun obstacles (which guy #4 wisely avoided).

    Random little rock drop:


    John on nice rock roller:


    Near the bottom we got to this section with a few skinnies. John tried this one about 4 times and kept bailing. I was taking pictures, and each time his bike was upright on the skinny, so we kept giving him a hard time about it. "Dude, your bike is fine, it's YOU!" Here's a great shot of one of his bailed attempts. I don't know how he didn't get hurt. He landed flat on his back in the creek bed a few feet below. Fortunately the creek bed was soft and his backpack absorbed the rest.


    Later that afternoon, we went off on our own and rode a trail Jerome recommended, called Billy Epic. It seemed like we were climbing forever. He said that the descent started after the "lookout". We came to about 4 locations that could have qualified as a "lookout". Here's one with a nice view of Wedge Mountain (need to come back in the winter for some backcountry boarding!):


    We finally arrived at the real lookout, which also happens to be a spot where locals parasail from. Note the windsock.


    The descent was fun, but at some point we somehow ended up on the wrong trail. Oh well, it was fun anyway. The trail came out at the start of another trail that came highly recommended, "A River Runs Through It". Local SC bike shop ABS was well-represented:


    A River Runs Through It is a totally fun trail. It's flat and twisty, and is basically just a bunch of manmade obstacles. There are tons of bridges, ladders, skinnies, etc. A serious amount of work has gone into that trail. Here are just a few shots:


    Cool "platform double teeter thingie"


    Mike's Garage (the hole in that tree has about 1 inch of bar clearance)


    There are enough lines in there to provide many days of fun. After about an hour we had to head back to the village since it was getting dark. We passed by the bottom of the bike park lift and got a glimpse of the Boneyard. My plan was to hit the bike park for the next two days (Sat/Sun) before heading home Monday. Looking at this, some of the other guys weren't so sure it was a good idea.


    To get mentally prepared, we decided that a trip to The Boot that evening was in order. I have no comment on the following photo, other than to say that I was sufficiently mentally prepared.


    As it turned out, most of the guys gave the bike park a shot, but only a few of us rented downhill bikes. The guys on the XC bikes were done after a few runs. I was glad I rented a big bike. John and I rented Demo 8's from Evolution, while Larry rented a Norco from Cross-Country Connection. This was my first time on a real downhill bike. It was quite a difference from my 5" Enduro. I was glad I didn't have to pedal it uphill, and once we started going down... I realized why big bikes are cool. Man what a thrill!! I'm totally hooked.

    This lame pic is actually the only photo I got of myself riding the whole time. This is on the tiny little drop at the top of A-line. There's a sign saying something to the effect of "This drop is indicative of the stunts on this trail. You should be comfortable with this before attempting this trail." With a DH bike you can pretty much just roll off the end of the ramp. If you go fast you can just launch off the upramp and it becomes a double.


    Riding A-line on a DH bike was simply amazing. It was so much fun it's hard to describe. The jumps are all perfectly sculpted, the berms are perfect. It's way too much fun. We rode it several times. John and Larry are big into XC, and weren't sure about this whole downhill bike/park thing, but by the end they were both talking about buying big bikes. Everyone stepped up a notch. Here's John on the main GLC drop:


    Larry was even hitting some drops. Oh, did I mention he's like 57 years young?? That was one thing I thought was cool about the bike park. You see all kind of people there. Kids, parents, men, women, old, young.


    At the end of the day we took the Garbonzo lift to the top of the park. We saw a black bear on the way up. The views were amazing. Here's a view from the chairlift.


    And a view from somewhere on one of the trails near the top:


    I gather that most of the trails on the upper mountain are more of the super-technical, rooty, rocky type. That's certainly what we were on most of the time. We ended up on one called Goat's Gully... I was definitely appreciating that extra travel for that one. We connected to Fatcrobat, which had a really nice log ride section with about 6 full logs connected together. Unfortunately I didn't get many pictures up there, but I did get a ****load of helmetcam footage. Probably a couple hours worth from the whole trip, which I haven't had time to go through and edit yet. Someday. Anyway, here's a representative shot of some spot on the upper mountain:


    After the upper mountain, we hit A-line one more time, and I got a flat right at the bottom. Both John and Larry continued on past me, saying they were going to catch the last lift up to get one more run in. They're hooked. :)

    The next day John had and earlier flight out, and Larry decided to hang with the XC crowd, so I went to the park on my own. I was determined to check out all the trails on the lower mountain, and get in a full day of riding. There are so many fun trails, I can't even remember them all. And of course you could play in the Boneyard for days. Here's a cool stunt called The Octopus:


    I think the upper drops were closed off, but there were some fun options on the lower drops. I did the one with two ladder drops to a dirt drop. That links up with a double afterward, and it's totally smooth. The whole area is so well built and maintained. Then I went off to find a trail I had heard about:


    Punkassean had told me about some "big drop" on this trail that I would have no problem with on the big bike, so I went to check it out. The trails starts with some super tight technical riding, then there are some ladders and skinnies, and then a big ladder drop. The first time I went down the trail I was alone, so I decided to skip the big drop. The next time I went up there were some kids there, and they were going to hit the drop. I asked one of the kids about it. "Oh, it's like the drop on A-line." I had done that one, so no problem I figured. Here's a picture of the kid hitting the drop:


    So then I hit it. I don't know how far down it is, but I was in the air for a long time. The big bike just sucked it up though. What a rush! Hopefully the helmet cam footage came out...

    On the way down I hit the lower Octopus drop again with the following doubles, after which I was pretty stoked from a fun run. I was "just riding along" on the flat part in the Boneyard, right under the lift, when I fell over for no reason. Very entertaining from above, I'm sure. It actually turned out to be one of the more damaging stacks of the trip for me oddly enough. The worst part though was that I stupidly had my camera in my shorts pocket, and even though it was in a case, it broke.

    So, no more pictures from Whistler. But hopefully some video when I get around to editing it!
     
  3. jimw

    jimw Monkey

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    Stoke #2: Bend Slalom

    My folks live in Bend, Oregon. About a week after the Whistler trip, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a trip up to Bend, and telecommute for a couple weeks. I brought the bike along, figuring that I would do some XC riding while I was up there. Bend is well known for its great network of XC trails. CogWild has some great tours in the area. What Bend is NOT well known for is great freeriding, but I think that may be changing soon. I asked around at the local shops if anyone knew of any areas with jumps. I didn't get much response, except from one guy who mentioned something about a "slalom course" and gave me some vague directions. I headed out, thinking I would never find the slalom course, and planned on doing a normal XC ride. So I left my pads in the car. And for some reason I forgot my gloves.

    Well, of course I found the slalom course right away. It was really well built. Here are a few photos (yeah, I had to fork out for another camera... doh!):








    After seeing that, I just HAD to ride it a couple times!

    Note to self: don't ever do that again without pads. Naturally, I stacked hard. So I limped back to the car, grabbed my pads and found a pair of work gloves, and came back and rode it some more. In terms of tecnicality I guess it's similar to Sandhill, but it's not a dual slalom, and it's a little wider.

    I hit it up a few more times over the 2 weeks I was in Bend, and gradually got the hang of it. I'm certainly no slalom expert, but here's a short vid that will at least give a feel for fun this little course is.

    Bend slalom video
     
  4. jimw

    jimw Monkey

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    Stoke #3: Post Canyon

    A few of the riders that I actually know in Bend kept telling me about this great freeride spot up in Hood River called Post Canyon. So when one of the guys decided to take a trip up there on the weekend, I jumped at the chance to tag along.

    And I sure am glad I did! The place is amazing. It really is a freeriding mecca. There are tons of skinnies, log rides, ladders, drops, jumps, you name it. All the stunts are very well built, and get this - it's all LEGAL!! Now there's a concept.

    I met up with my riding buddy from Bend, Lev. It turns out he's from Santa Cruz, so we got to talking about the local SC trails. I was telling him how one of my favorite UC trails is Dead Campers, and he stopped me and goes "dude, I built that trail!" He and a buddy built the original trail back in the 90's. He told me the story of how it came to be named "Dead Campers". You know the big redwood circle kind of off the right of the trail about a third of the way down, where the big drop is? People were living there back then too. Apparently, when they were building the trail, a guy who was living there somehow set his shelter on fire, and ended up dying. Thus, Dead Campers.

    Now you know.

    So back to Post Canyon. There ended up being 5 other guys besides myself and Lev, and I'd never met any of them before. They all lived closer to the area and had ridden there before, so they were great to have as tour guides. Here we are loading up the shuttlemobile. I should have realized something was up when everyone else had their big-travel rigs.


    We drove a long ways up a series of roads, and when we unloaded we had some nice views, since we were right at the fog/sun junction.


    It had rained the night before, so the dirt was tacky but not too slick. Good condition for riding the trails (but not for the many wood skinnies). We started down the trail, and this was the very first jump. At this point, I realized this was going to be a day for going big.


    Post Canyon is a place that can be hard on bikes. Here's Lev's makeshift brake lever repair. Zip ties and duct tape can fix anything!


    I was worried my Enduro might not be up to the task, but it held out well. In the first part of the downhill we encountered lots of fun jumps and log rides. There were plenty of skinnies and bridges too, but many of them we avoided because of the rain. Here are a couple shots to give you an idea though:




    Then we got to the big doubles. How big?


    The first one was known to have a 35 foot gap. The second one was even bigger, we estimated around 45 feet or so. They were built like motocross jumps, with big wooden takeoff ramps. Here's a better perspective on the first jump:


    And the second (we're standing on the landing looking back at the takeoff here:


    I didn't think anyone in the group would be crazy enough to hit these... but I was wrong. Here's Jesse hitting the first one:


    And here's Damon on the second. He went so high he got cropped out of the photo!


    Those guys had some serious balls! It was unreal.

    We kept going, and hit several more stunts that are accessible to mortals. Lev kept telling me about the "barn door" drop, and that it was "more our speed". Once we got there I was wondering what he had been smoking. Here's what it looks like standing at the end of the drop:


    Notice that after the drop, there's another ramp to dirt gap jump. I think that one was around 25 feet or so. Here's the barn door drop from the side:


    Everyone was hitting it and making it look easy. Of course, Jesse and Damon also hit the big gap afterward. Here's Jesse on the gap:


    After some coaxing from the other guys, I finally grew a pair and tried the drop. And you know what? It was smooth as butter! You're in the air for a while, but the transition is perfect. I had to go back and try it a few more times.


    A little while later we hit a sweet road gap. The first time I tried it, I landed a little nose-heavy in the tranny and rode a nose wheelie for a while (till I washed out and ate it nicely). The next few attempts went smoothly though.


    The stunts just kept on coming. I was blown away by both the quantity and quality of the stunts. It's definitely an area worth visiting.

    I like to give a shout out to the guys - Lev, Eirik, Jesse, Damon, Leo, and Jason. They definintely showed me the goods. Apparently there's another area called Falls City, also in Oregon, which is similar to Post Canyon. Here are a few links with related info:

    http://blackrockfreeride.org/mx/index.php
    http://www.gfra.org/
    http://www.santiambicycle.com/
    http://trails.mtbr.com/cat/united-states-trails/trails-oregon/trail/PRD_169811_4571crx.aspx
     
  5. jimw

    jimw Monkey

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    Stoke #4: Bend Big Fat

    Every year there is a mountain bike festival in Bend called the Bend Big Fat. I'd read about it but had never been in town when it was going on. Well that was my excuse anyway. This time, it just so happened that the Big Fat was happening the last weekend I was in town. Coincidence? On Friday, there is an epic near 100 mile ride that is just nuts. I opted to try the Saturday "recreational" 45-mile ride. It was beautiful on Friday, but that evening some weather came in, and it was unclear what it was going to be like on Saturday. The ride is a shuttle ride. You get dropped off at the parking lot across from Mt. Bachelor, then ride back into town (30 miles on its own) with an additional 15 mile loop thrown in for good measure. Here is the shuttle in town on Saturday morning, about to leave town. The weather is fine in town, but we can't see Mt. Bachelor. Hmm.


    And here we are at the drop point.


    Not quite what I expected. Everyone else was acting like this was completely normal, so I played along. I was planning to ride at the back of the first group with my buddy Paul, who was the "cleanup" guide for that group. The last time he was on his XC bike he was in some kind of event dressed as a knight in shining armor, and the bike was still in costume:


    I discovered that harsh conditions (such as 3 inches of snow on the trail and more coming down) tend to increase the odds of Murphy's law. We were about 100 yards down the road when Paul looks over and says "dude, there's something wrong with your shock". I looked down and the thing was fully compressed, and stuck there. Here's a photo of me in the parking lot, and you can kinda tell that the bike looks funny, as if, oh, say the rear suspension were fully compressed. I guess I was too cold to notice right away:


    Apparently what happened was that one of the seals failed for some reason, and the air escaped into the negative chamber, so the shock basically reversed itself - the air pressure was now keeping it compressed. Naturally, I didn't have a shock pump (never needed one on the trail before), and it probably wouldn't have helped anyway. I did have a CO2 pump, so I tried that. I think I ended up pumping a ****load of pressure into the shock, basically turning it into a bomb, but I had to do something in order to ride it out of there. This pushed the shaft out maybe halfway, and there was hardly any travel, but at least it was rideable. It was gave the bike a nice choppered-out geometry, perfect for the big climb at the start of the ride.

    I also found out that my particular tires (Michelin Comp 16 S downhill tubeless) are not ideal for an XC ride in snow. Why wasn't that on the label?? For some reason the snow liked to stick to these tires, while Paul's tires were basically clean. Here's what my back tire looked liked most of the time:


    I would have to periodically stop and clear out the snow because the wheel would just get stuck. It felt like I had my back brake on the whole time. Not the ideal tool for the job at hand:


    Somehow, though, I was still having fun. Even if it was just because-you-can-tell-a-story-about-it-later type fun. Here I am, riding along with an expression that can only be described as a low-temperature, insanity-induced, ****-eating grin.


    Here's Paul riding a nice snow-covered rock.


    We actually rode snow-covered skinnies and bridges. We were already riding in snow, so any misgivings about safety had gone out the window long ago. Once we started going downhill, it was actually pretty fun riding. But lay off that front brake...

    There were probably a good 10 miles of snow covered trail. Eventually we started to break out of the snow and into the sun. At that point we had some great lighting. Doesn't this look like a nice cross-country ski trail?


    We even got treated to a nice rainbow further down:


    Around this point, the snow had melted, and the trail turned into a miserable combination of mud, water, and slush. I was getting passed by people in the next group that had started an hour after we did. My feet were frozen. It was one of those "tell me again - why do I like mountain biking?" moments.

    A little further down, I reached the aid station. They had food, and a portable heater. One of the things I actually did right on this ride was that I brought an extra pair of gloves and socks. I put on some dry socks, threw some of those disposable heat packs in them, and then put a plastic bag over each foot, secured with duct tape. It didn't look pretty, but it worked for the rest of the ride:


    There was an additional 15 mile loop that started and ended at the aid station, so given the state of both my bike and my mind at that point, I decided to skip that and just ride the rest of the course back into town. I had lost all interest in photography at that point, so no more pics.

    It wasn't what I expected, but it was still fun. I definitely recommend it to anyone who has the chance to do it. How often do you get to ride in snow anyway? :)

    Here's one last look at the chopper-mobile, after a thorough cleaning. That poor shock is in at Fox getting repaired. I don't think it's very happy with me after all I've put it through in the last month!
     
  6. BillT

    BillT Monkey

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    Great post, great pictures! Thanks for sharing!
     
  7. Total Heckler

    Total Heckler Beer and Bike Enthusiast

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    Wow. I know where I must go riding now. Awesome photos etc. Man we should meet up here in SC sometime. I am going to UCSC today after 5 if you are game.
     
  8. El_Chimichanga

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    What are you guys doing this weekend? I can't ride today but I plan on riding Demo on Saturday....
     
  9. Scarpa

    Scarpa Chimp

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    Great post and very inspiring! I can't wait to get up to speed on the jumps and stunts.
     
  10. Scarpa

    Scarpa Chimp

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    ... impuslive clicker ...
     
  11. surfinguru

    surfinguru Turbo Monkey

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    Jim, GREAT photos and write up! Whistler rules doesn't it? That Post Canyon stuff look really sweet as well. (Damn, why can't we build stuff like that around here?!? ie., UCSC, Demo, etc.) Way to step up on the Barn Door drop man. :thumb: That road gap was pretty sweet looking too. 3 more weeks and I'm back on the big bike. (Training for a century ride in Tucson next month and can't risk injury.)

    We should get a group together and hit up UC one of these days.
     
  12. jimw

    jimw Monkey

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    I'd love to go riding, but I'm about to leave town for a few weeks. I'll be back around Thanksgiving and ready to ride... winter riding here we come!

    Hey Rich, how's it going? What the hell are you doing with almost 1000 posts on RM?? :) Good luck in Tucson. We'll definitely have to hook up for a ride soon. Looks like we'll be getting back into town around the same time. Yeah, I was really amazed in BC and Oregon at the extent of *legal* trails/stunts that were being built. It's just crazy compared to here.
     
  13. kidwoo

    kidwoo Celebrating No-Pants Day

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    I'm sitting here at work vibrating in my chair after looking at those post canyon photos.

    I have to go there now before I explode.

    Thanks for the writeup and pics.
     
  14. chicodude

    chicodude The Spooninator

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    sweet.
     
  15. surfinguru

    surfinguru Turbo Monkey

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    Jim, it's been good man. Did my 1st trip to Whistler this year too. Sooooo much fun! Dirt Merchant --> A-Line --> Big GLC drop = Heaven!! The helmet cam is a must for next year for sure. Unfortunatly, the weather was a bit rainy for us the whole time and the upper part of the mountain (Gabonzo) was just too sloppy to make it worthwhile. I swear, I progressed so much in the 3 days we rode the park than a few months riding here.

    Hey where you at the NWD show last week? I thought I saw you at one point.

    Anyway, let's hook up and ride when we get back.
     
  16. oly

    oly skin cooker for the hive

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    Awesome pics and write up.
     
  17. Jeff 151

    Jeff 151 Monkey

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    Quality pics, and narration, almost like you're a travel agent trying to book trips to BC & OR. You got that 6th sense with the lens.
     
  18. punkassean

    punkassean Turbo Monkey

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    Damn Jim, so you pretty much had the ideal summer, eh!?

    Awesome pics, awesome narrative, awesome stoke! :D
     
  19. Acadian

    Acadian Born Again Newbie

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    I got stiffy in me pantalon!!

    Great pics an write up mate!! :thumb:
     
  20. aggrorider

    aggrorider Monkey

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    cool riding pics...