Paul Andrews

Today’s Ride: Lower Woodland Mellow

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Today's Ride on February 22, 2009 at 11:24 pm

I’m fortunate enough to live close to Green Lake and Woodland Park, so ride time is just about any time. When the weather is threatening, I stay fairly close to home and practice stuff. Lower Woodland Park, with some rollicking trails, a jump strip and log rolls, is a good place to get in a workout and work on skillz. Since I no longer do the annual Chilly Hilly (having put in a good half a dozen years in the ’80s when I was road cycling), I missed the Bainbridge Island festivities today. The Seattle P-I reports things went well.

With light rain falling, I cruised on over to the park for an hour and a half of fun. There’s a drop-in above the jump strip where you can do a couple of ledge hops and pick up good speed, then fly off a lip on the upside. I really nailed one run but got a little higher than usual and almost nosed the landing. Fortunately I kept my tail end back far enough to maintain control. It helps to have a coil shock, too, on my Intense 6.6. I’ve got good pre-load and the bike tends to stay put even on off-camber landings. The rear shock, a Fox DHX 5.0, has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

On a little grassy knoll I like to practice manuals, track stands and hip turns. This is harder than it might seem. You need a measure of upper body strength to maintain control of a mountain bike, in addition of course to balance. Doing these drills keeps you on task for when the challenges come.

Then I dropped down to the jump strip. I’m not a great jumper, partly because I’m too big and tall, and too old. The reflexes aren’t what they used to be, and I can’t afford broken bones. So I keep things pretty tame. There’s a lower-level run that I like to do, but the big stuff I lay off of. I will say that the Lower Woodland jumps aren’t the greatest. Only really good jumpers can maintain enough momentum to clean the whole line; most mortals run out of speed mid-stream. The runs at Sea-Tac are much more gravity-driven. At Lower Woodland you have to pump way too much.

If you want to see it done right, here’s Kyle of Transition Bikes nailing a run.

Wish I could do that! Still, it was a lot of fun. There were a couple of other guys there feeling their way, so we compared notes and commiserated on not being better. The point, though, is to leave with a smile on your face, and that we did manage to pull off in spades.

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