Friday, July 25, 2014

Buckhorn Saddle

When we took off to ride there were only three of us, and I was creating a whole blog on a Three Musketeers theme which would have been great since in coincided with the birthday of Alexandre Dumas.  I was good all the way the searing heat on wet facing climbs and I was good through the rumble of Thor's hammer higher up. I was even good when we reached the saddle, took a break and started the last climb to the ridge.  At that last moment Dean and Jeff caught up, and my post was screwed. One more person I could handle since there are four friends in the three musketeers, but two, nope.  My whole theme blown to crap.

So I guess instead I'll poach some links.  July's epic fails.  Makes my glad I've gained I small amount of wisdom in my old age.  Butte Urban Downhill.  Too bad I'm working today.  Electric mountain bikes?  Hey, I don't mind the occasional shuttle, and I'm not crazy about forest service road climbs, but I still a believer to earning your downhills

Bald Top update. Last weekend we detoured to Bald Top during the Tour of the Bitterroot, and Dean is finally free of his curse.  He made it down in daylight and without a mechanical, and wearing Tevas to boot.  Joel paid for his three week layoff, and promptly returned to his layoff for this ride.  Sorry I missed Sean's half braked idea to also ride Bald Top later the same day.

Palisades Update.  Vince missed the arrow for the short cut last week, probably since I put it there after he had already passed by. Instead he made a visit to the Willow Mountain Lookout and visited with the lookout. I hope she was cute and lonely.

Lost Trail Bike Fest is coming up. Time to sign up.

 I know who hasn't renewed with the BBC and I'd hate to start naming names.  Support mountain biking in the Bitterroot.  More members means more influence with the Forest Service. Want more trails? Want to make sure trails stay open?  We need to be organized and we need your help. Now that we are part of IMBA, you can even get yourself some socks, a T shirt, or a jersey if you donate enough.

How was the Buckhorn and Brennan Gulch. It started hot and I was looking for every bit of shade I could find. Some thunder later on, but no rain unlike town.  Brennan Gulch and the new straight shot to the parking lot need to be ridden in.  The grass was so high in Brennan  Gulch that the kelly humps were hidden and caution lead to a lack of epic fails.

Tired of the long road climbs on the last three rides? Me, too.  Jeff is out of town and appointed me as the picker of the ride. With a predicted heat wave on tap for next week, I'm in no mood for baking in the sun on an east side ride. Calf Creek will be a sandy hell. Instead we will be doing Blodgett.  Letting everyone know now, since I've heard rumors that some Teabaggers may head our way.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I was about to give out either the first FI or WTF award of the year, but decided that would be too harsh. Instead yesterday we had our first Oopsie Daisy award, that I'll give to the group. Yesterday was another one of those long rides where no one wants to linger at the trailhead waiting for the laggards so everyone took of on their own as soon as they were ready to ride.  The effect of this was there were two main groups and and one loner stuck in between.  Unfortunately for the lone V, this was his first attempt of Palisades, a fact not known to the lead group.  So stuck in the gap he missed the gated road short cut and ended up alone on the fire road.  No one saw him for the rest of the ride and when the groups reassembled at the top he was missing with no one having passed up.  After a long wait we hoped he turned around since we were burning the remains of the day, and had to proceed on. On our return his car was gone.  If it hadn't been, a FI award might have been in the offing.  In the future, keep an eye on your buddy, and if this is your first time on a ride, even if seems like a straightforward road climb, make sure you have a buddy.

A bummer that V missed the fun part of the ride.  Having been previously cleared, the trail was in prime condition after the previous day's rain had left the dirt optimally tacky.

Hard to believe, but I used to hate this trail, falling in the mud, walking my bike out in the dark with Dean making sure I made it out alive.  Now this is one of my favorite local downhills. Amazing what a little confidence can do.  Short report today. Go ride.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bald Top

OK everybody, everything is all right. Chad can get out from under the covers and and let go of Tracy's hands. Warwick can open your eyes, get your hands off your ears, and stop saying, "Na na na, I can't hear you.  Joel, unbolt the doors and take the magazine out of your AR-15. The ride to Bald Top is over and no one is going to make any of you go.

We managed to find five brave souls willing to confront this menace.  So feared is this ride that it has been at least seven years since anyone has ventured onto its forsaken terrain on a Wednesday night.  Memories of bloodied faces , thuds and grunts just of the trail on moonless nights, and the possibility  of spooning with Shrek still haunt many of our dreams.

Climbing fifteen miles of fire roads is enough to depress anyone, well anyone not named Beau or Dean, or Fitz-Barn participants, or the Montana Hell Ride organizers.  I guess quite a few people like it, but in the words of Rob. "I don't do roads. I do singlet track," and that is how the Wednesday night ride rolls.

I know I was fearing a searing ride up south facing sun blasted Two Bears road.  I filled my water reservoir to the brim, brought a filter and electrolyte tablets and ended up barely drinking half the water. The clouds that rolled in for the afternoon turned Bataan into a pleasant jaunt.

When I started the ride I had a fantasy, several actually, but only one that applied to the ride.  I had discovered that some Missoula scumbags had come down and created a Strava segment on our turf. One that happened to coincide with the ride, all the up Two Bear to the saddle, and I hoped maybe I could reclaim the KOM for the Bitterroot.  Unfortunately those interlopers were of the fast Thoroughbred variety on skinny tires, and I'm at best a fast donkey. Plus they weren't saddled with one of Leon's lambs that I had borrowed from my pasture (It's not stealing if they are on your land is it?) and now had slung over my shoulders as a sacrifice to the Bald Top Demons.

So when everyone else stopped at the usual pullout on Two Bear to recover, I plodded on, failing to redeem the Bitterroot trailing the KOM by a little over 4 minutes.  If there was any satisfaction was the knowledge that if John or Travis were being timed they would have taken the honor back for us.  John started after me, caught up, took a break, passed  me again and was long gone before anyone else reached the saddle.

Once the rumors of our successful ride and return permeated through the community, people sidled up to me and whispered, "What was it like?  Would you do it again?"  If my name was Dean, probably not.  I would be three for three on coming back out in the dark.  While the lamb seemed to satiate the demons and allowed the rest of us to pass unmolested, Dean seems to have his own personal curse.  Not sure why maybe he used to rock a mullet or has contemplated hair plugs.  This year atop a new Horsethief on it's virgin ride he managed to flat and then puncture the spare tube while attempting to fix the flat.

For anyone else, I'll be honest.  I'll ride it again as long as it has been cleared, maybe not right away, but it is worth a repeat.  On top the trail is sweet between the false summits, and would have been more fun if I hadn't toasted my legs chasing the Strava KOM on Two Bear.  The top of Bald Top has some of the best views I've seen in awhile.  It appears to be the high point of the Sleeping Child area with great views of the Bitterroots to the west and the Kent, Congdon, Fox collection on the Sapphire crest to the east.

The main downhill is one steep mother.  IMBA recommends a grade of 10% for flow trails, and I was recently working on some mapping of our trails and for the ratings a difficult trail (black diamond) has a 15% grade and an extremely difficult (double black) has a 20% grade.  Bald Top maxes out at 40% and averages somewhere around 25%. The last half mile reminds me of the switchbacks at the end Buttercup except looser and steeper.

While hanging my ass way back over the rear tire is fun for awhile, I could have used a few more chances to let my rotors cool down and maybe the chance to make a few turns in the last 2500' vertical.

Next week, another chamois cream ride, Palisades.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

And... Loving It

Would you believe what a fantastic ride we had yesterday on Railroad; plenty of sunshine, mild temperatures and cleared trails? No? What was your first guess? Railroad Creek?  Yeah, it has a notorious reputation, entirely deserved, but not the whole story.  Railroad has a Janus personality and I have ridden it on weekends after it has been cleared and I keep thinking how great a ride it is, and wonder why it so unpopular.  Usually when Jeff suggests this ride, which has been his personal project the last few year he gets at most one taker.  After this week's ride that may be all gets in the future.

At the culmination of the ride, the dreaded word epic was bandied about.  Most of the criteria were fulfilled: inclement weather ( well not great weather, drizzle and a little chilly),  obligate head lamp use, flailing around in the dark, catastrophic mechanical failure.  Still I think there are three more criteria of which at least one of which is obligate to be classified as an epic.  First, no crimes were committed. No breaking and entering cabins. No trespassing.  Second, no bodily injury. Simple, no blood, no epic.  Third, no Shrek. Self explanatory.

So what we are left with is a top 10 Wednesday ride adventure.  Maybe not a bald top, but probably edging out the previous Railroad headlamp ride and a toss up with the White Stallion fiasco.

So what happened?  Much like the White Stallion fiasco it all starts with trees, downed trees, lots of downed trees, lots and lots of those nasty dead half burned overgrown matchsticks. Like nearly every other ride so far this year, we seem be spending more time drawing that riding.  I beginning to think we need to reclassify  our Wednesday night rides as Logger Days training. After clearing the remainder of Weasel and a half hearted effort on #313, we began am aggressive clearing of Railroad, but it was 9:15 before we even began down, and the farther we dropped the more the trail was littered with the remains of a giant's game of Jenga. With that came the realization that the lights would come out, with the only question being how far could we get first. The answer is the end of the worst of the downfall and the beginning of the lower technical drop to the creek.  Two thirds of the way down came the mechanical, my maxle rear axle gave up the ghost and left my rear tire with only a tenuous connection to the remainder of my bike leaving me a hoofing it for the last bit of trail and 3.5 miles of Forest Service Road. Well that should have been the worst of it, except that by the time we reached the short cut at the creek crossing we were far past twilight and well into complete darkness and just "missed it by that much".  After finally gaining the road and waving goodbye to the fading headlamps  I began my nature commune until the rescue was mounted and John's Subaru returned me to the trail head at 11:00 with the lum cooked and grey poupon dijon awaiting.  No epic can end with grey poupon of a grilled dog.

If a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is the whole post in one shot.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Warm Springs Ridge

I think for this ride I'll let my models Sean, Corey, and Cassie tell the story with their action shots.  I'll just share two comments that summarize the various opinions of the ride.

 "The only thing hard about this ride is getting here on time."

"Fuck You. Fuck All Of You."

As usual context is everything and if you don't know the context, then where the hell were you for the best pure single track ride we do Wednesday nights.

Did you know a bull's penis is also known as a pizzle, which when dried can be used as a whip or as dog treats.  I guess you can also diddle your pizzle, and if you have been bitten by a radioactive spider, you can diddle your fissile pizzle, which sometimes fizzles if you spend too much time on a bike saddle.

We just missed the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland