Paul Andrews

Archive for the ‘Multi-Day Trips’ Category

Bike Intelligencer Ride Classics: Pot Peak — Not what you might be thinking

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on January 3, 2010 at 10:33 am

In which our intrepid duo climbs the world’s longest, most boring fire road, traverses the Talus Field From Hell, and finishes in complete darkness, riding by Braille. Was this fun or what?! This btw concludes our holiday “classics” series. Happy 2010, ride safe out there!

Still basking in Sun Valley’s halo, Jim Lyon and I headed off for another multi-day adventure, this time in the Washington high country. Neither of us had ever done the Devils Backbone-Pot Peak epic, so we pointed Moby Dick toward Chelan and cruised on over. Before leaving I did a search on my BBTC [Note: Now Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance] database, dating back to the late 1990s, for tips on the ride. I was surprised to find almost no references. Jeff Mack did a partial stab last year, but this obviously is not among the club’s more popular excursions.

We got what I thought was an early start, but it took us four and a half hours to get to the Snowberry campground and mount our bikes. It was a late start, but Zilly puts the ride at between 6 and 10 hours. As long as we were on the short side, we’d finish before dark.

[Before I go further, I’d like to thank all the BBTC (Now Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance) folks who responded to my wife’s plaintive pleas for information by phone and e-mail. I have a pact with Cecile: I can pretty much go anywhere as long as I report back in after the ride. Not all post-ride environments offer cell or phone service, however, in which case Itry to remember to alert her that I won’t be able to follow the drill. In this instance, I dropped the ball. I didn’t realize how far from anything civilized we would be.

When it got late and Cecile still hadn’t heard from me, she went to code orange. I have the BBTC Web site and Yahoo! address on our bulletin board for her to check in an emergency. She started clicking away and soon had talked to half a dozen or more regulars, who thankfully reassured her that Jim and I were probably OK. Art was most helpful, telling Cecile that Jim and I had “done a lot more dangerous rides than Devils Backbone.” While this led afterwards to cross examination worthy of a John Grisham novel, it was definitely the right thing to say at the time. I should apologize for any inconvenience to club members – since obviously we’re both fine – but by the same token am encouraged that the unintentional triggering of the system worked so well. Talk about having our back! You can’t do better than the BBTC.]

The big loop begins with a long, 13-mile fire-road climb of around 4,000 feet elevation gain. That’s right, 13 miles of dirt road. Zilly suggests at least a partial shuttle, but as regular readers of these missives know I hate shuttles. Although on the long side, the ride up seemed innocuous enough on the map, and fire roads by nature aren’t all that challenging. By mile seven, however, I was beginning to question the wisdom of the long slog. Unlike most fire roads, this one had virtually no level, or “rest,” sections. It was unrelentingly up. Not steep, really, just unremitting. Think five continuous rides up Tiger and you have an idea (except that Tiger, like most normal fire roads, does provide some respite sections). [Note: What were we THINKING??]

– Keep reading…>

Bike Intelligencer Ride Classics: North Umpqua River Trail

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on December 31, 2009 at 2:46 am

[Note: Continuing our holiday series of Bike Intelligencer’s past Classic Epics, we hearken back to a memorable triptych in 2003 covering Mt. St. Helens’ Juniper Ridge, Oregon’s McKenzie River Trail and, further south, Oregon’s North Umpqua River Trail.]

Finally the big day was imminent. After getting back to the Smith River reservoir on the McKenzie Trail I drove back to Eugene, sat in rush hour outside of Springfield, called Mire to apologize in advance for being late, and motored down to Roseburg to find the BBTC Three relaxing in the 98-degree shade outside the Bureau of Land Management headquarters. We caravanned upriver to the Susan Creek campground and found the next-to-last spot, cramming all three vehicles into one space.

Doing the full North Umpqua trail, 70 or so miles in a single day, requires a sound body, an unstable mind and a loathed shuttle. At 5 a.m. Tuesday morning Mire tapped on my window (I sleep in the van) and it was time to roll. I had pretty much packed everything the night before and was thankful for one thing: The great white whale was staying put. We would shuttle up in Peter’s 4-by, then Anthony and Mire would run him back up at the end of the day.

Mire Levy and Anthony Cree

Mire and Anthony at the top

To complete the full ride in daylight we would have to average 7 miles an hour, which seemed doable albeit rushed. “Dude,” Preston had told me before departure, “It’s a river trail! Do it in 2 days!” For Preston anything shy of a couple of hours of hike-a-bike is a river trail, but he had a point. Just because a ride is doable doesn’t mean it should be done.

Still, it seemed worth a try. Something to tell our grandkids about. Assuming we got that far. To having grandkids, that is.

– Keep reading…>

Bike Intelligencer Ride Classics: The McKenzie River Trail

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on December 30, 2009 at 9:18 am

[Note: Continuing our holiday series of Bike Intelligencer’s past Classic Epics, we hearken back to a memorable triptych in 2003 covering Mt. St. Helens, Oregon’s McKenzie River Trail and the North Umpqua River Trail.]

Anthony, Mire, Gonzz and I had talked about doing Oregon’s legendary McKenzie River Trail after — not before — Umpqua. But life is uncertain. Better carpe limitem — to seize the trail, as Jim Lyon says. Better yet if I could cram the McKenzie in on Monday, do Umpqua Tuesday, then skeedaddle back to Seattle on Wednesday for a Microsoft briefing.

During my post-Juniper Ridge sleepover in Eugene, I talked with Mire by cell phone, and was glad I did. She suggested that I drive upriver from Eugene/Springfield about 60 miles to the Smith Reservoir, and do an out-and-back on the McKenzie’s more tech upper section. Usually you shuttle and ride the McKenzie top to bottom, around 26 miles. But I hate shuttles and in any case, with only myself on the ride…well, you do the math.

McKenzie River lava trail

Where ripping and shredding have a whole new meaning

Never having done the McKenzie before, I figured it to be a pretty tame river trail from all the publicity and tourbook talk I’d encountered over the years. But I was surprised: It’s got a lot of technical stuff, including a lava field unlike anything I’d encountered since riding the Haleakala volcano on Maui several years ago. And the sights are spectacular: a truly remarkable, glass-clear-to-the-bottom, crystalline pool that, Anthony later told me, is 60 feet deep despite looking about 3 feet shallow; a series of crashing waterfalls, and the recreational flair of Clear Lake on top. There’s also old-growth forest along the way.

At the reservoir a pickup parked alongside my van with a guy and three young women. Trail runners! They flew off before I could even say hi, but I ran into them on the way back. It was in the 90s and they were running in short shorts and jog bras, which were the only part of them working really hard. Glistening with sweat, bodies rippling, they looked like forest nymphs flitting through the Oregon grape. Maybe they were distance runners, maybe they were supermodels. Maybe I was just hallucinating from heat stroke. At the top a tourist asked me if, in my Oregon travels, I’d seen The Three Sisters yet. “Certainly,” I said. “They’re running down the trail as we speak.”

– Keeping reading…>

Bike Intelligencer Ride Classics: Mt. St. Helens’ Juniper Ridge

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on December 29, 2009 at 1:11 am

[Note: Continuing our holiday series of Bike Intelligencer’s past Classic Epics, we hearken back to a memorable triptych in 2003 covering Mt. St. Helens, Oregon’s McKenzie River Trail and the North Umpqua River Trail.]

After a rest day in Seattle it was time to hit the road for Mount St. Helens. I hadn’t explored this area much beyond the standard BBTC [Note: Now Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance] routes, Ape Canyon, Plains of Abraham, Smith Creek and the Lewis River treks. And to be candid, I hadn’t really wanted to. It always seemed to me too remote to be worth the 3 to 4 hour drive, even before you hit the dirt roads and feeder routes. If you’re gonna go, it’s best to plan a 3-dayer at least.

You WILL bring enough water or...

Endless singletrack from Sunrise Peak

Preston had not done his usual bang-up sales job on Juniper Creek, and there’d been quite a fall-off from the original signed-up crew. Typically Preston dryly understates the brutality factor with throwaways like, you might want to bring an extra water bottle, and there may be some climbing. Oh and don’t forget the sunscreen. Translated, this means: You will enter multi-stage dehydration unless you have adequate water; you will carry your bike up loose rocky embankments for a mile or more; you will arrive home with with full-bore melanoma unless you wear sun protection.

For the Juniper Ridge epic, though, Preston was being downright portentous. There was something about water filters… and being in shape for an 8-hour ride … and “more than average” elevation gain.

Translated: We were all going to die!

– Keep reading…>

What Happens in Moab Day 7: White Rim and it’s a wrap!

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on December 28, 2009 at 2:45 am

[Note: When the holidays slow news down, we reach into Santa’s bag of tricks for a hearkening back to our favorite rides. This week we’re featuring a 2004 expedition to Moab, Utah, America’s mountain biking mecca and an international magnet for mountain bikers everywhere.]

Planning our trip to Moab, Jim and I had talked about doing White Rim in a day. It’s about 100 miles on the full loop, but mostly fire-road flat. Doable, yes. But we’d have to get as early a start as possible, and it would be a long, grind-it-out day. Chances were it wasn’t in the cards this time around.

We checked with Poison Spider, where a wrench told us to take it out to Musselman Arch and see where we were. The arch is a great gathering place and turnaround point if you’re so inclined. So that was the plan.

We debarked from the tourist-packed Island in the Sky Visitor Center parking lot. You descend fairly gradually down toward the valley floor, where signs direct you to Moab and the prosaically named Potash, a town built around whatever commercial value potash has.There are big ugly holding ponds which have to be toxic as all getout, especially threatening to the Colorado River.

– Keep reading…>

What Happens in Moab Day 6: Moab Race Loop (Jacob’s Ladder)

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on December 27, 2009 at 2:34 am

[Note: When the holidays slow news down, we reach into Santa’s bag of tricks for a hearkening back to our favorite rides. This week we’re featuring a 2004 expedition to Moab, Utah, America’s mountain biking mecca and an international magnet for mountain bikers everywhere.]

You might think that after riding 32-plus miles and climbing 4,000-plus feet on Porcupine Rim, a rest day was in order. But this is Moab, we’re here for only eight days, we can rest when we’re dead and besides, there’s a loop with the word “race” in it still awaiting our inspection.

The 26-mile Spring Race Loop has been around for awhile but I’d never dreamed of doing it. The high point, literally and figuratively, is Amasa Back. So why not just do Amasa and leave it at that? You can look out from Amasa and see a sizeable portion of the race course on the valley floor, and in the heat of the day it looks like something hospitable only to Ali Baba and his 40 thieves. Whenever I’d asked about it on previous rides I got blank stares.

But the word “race” is like waving a checkered flag at Jim Lyon. And this being his first trip there, he didn’t know enough yet to know that in Moab, “race” has its own idiosyncratic definition.

– Keep reading…>

What Happens in Moab Day 5: Porcupine Rim

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on December 26, 2009 at 2:24 am

[Note: When the holidays slow news down, we reach into Santa’s bag of tricks for a hearkening back to our favorite rides. This week we’re featuring a 2004 expedition to Moab, Utah, America’s mountain biking mecca and an international magnet for mountain bikers everywhere.]

Porcupine Rim ranks second, behind the Tahoe Rim Trail, as my favorite ride anywhere. No matter how often I do it, I want to go right back the next day and try all those places I didn’t ride quite the way I wanted. If I lived in Moab, I’d be riding up on the danged thing every day. I mean, I love Tiger Mountain and all the Cascades rides we have in summer here. But for grandeur, technical challenge, endurance, speed and just plain fun, Porc Rim is in a class all its own.

I like doing it as a loop, admittedly not the preferred method. Most people are going to shuttle up Sand Flats Road to the trailhead, then ride down to the river, where another shuttle vehicle awaits. I like doing the ride as a loop from town. Yes the road climb up is a chore. And boring. Often there’s a headwind. But we’re talking process here, earning your verts, paying your dues. Heck, folks, it’s even paved now. The first times I rode it back in the ‘90s it was dirt and gravel most of the way. As for the river side at the end, yeah you’re whacked by then. But it’s a fairly gradual grade back up toward town. By the end of the day you’ve chalked up epic numbers, more than 5 hours on the bike and 4,000 feet of climbing. You feel like you’ve accomplished something.

I’d tried to talk Jason into doing the loop, but he was having none of it. He wasn’t big on doing Porc Rim anyway, so we waited till he left town for his grandmother’s funeral. Jean-Pierre was back with his family, so it was just Chance Richie, Jim Lyon and myself. No problem: We had lots of company on the trail.

– Keep reading…>

What Happens in Moab, Day 4: Sovereign Trail

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on December 24, 2009 at 2:15 am

[Note: When the holidays slow news down, we reach into Santa’s bag of tricks for a hearkening back to our favorite rides. This week we’re featuring a 2004 expedition to Moab, Utah, America’s mountain biking mecca and an international magnet for mountain bikers everywhere.]

The Sovereign Trail

When we picked up our bikes at Poison Spider Bicycles, I’d noticed on the guide rack a new map called the “Sovereign Trail System.” I got to chatting with one of the wrenches, who said it was well worth the trip out, and made a mental note to follow up. In plotting a week’s rides in Moab, every day’s decision affects every day after that. I was thinking latter week, but when Jim got stirred up after his Moab Rim encounter, he was ready to rock the next day.

– Keep reading…>

What Happens In Moab Day 3: Moab Rim

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on December 23, 2009 at 2:27 am

[Note: When the holidays slow news down, we reach into Santa’s bag of tricks for a hearkening back to our favorite rides. This week we’re featuring a 2004 expedition to Moab, Utah, America’s mountain biking mecca and an international magnet for mountain bikers everywhere.]

Moab Rim

What happens in Moab, in case it’s not blindingly clear by now, does not stay in Moab. My Turner XCE still has traces of red dust, which I hope will remain there through the summer. The frame also sports my mascot kokopelli and Poison Spider stickers, but the dust makes it truly organic. I’ve also got a kokopelli ring, two t-shirts, a baseball cap and various other remembrances, including these musings. Fortunately, what happens in Moab does not need to stay in Moab either…most of the time.

– Keeping reading…>

Ride Classics: What Happens in Moab

In Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on December 21, 2009 at 8:21 am

[Note: When the holidays slow news down, we reach into Santa’s bag of tricks for a hearkening back to our favorite rides. This week we’re featuring a 2004 expedition to Moab, Utah, America’s mountain biking mecca and an international magnet for mountain bikers everywhere.]

What Happens in Moab: Getting Oriented

When Jim Lyon first broached the subject last fall of going to Moab in the spring of 2004, I was less than eager. The last couple of times I’d been to Moab had fallen short of expectations. You get locked into a way of doing things and I felt I’d been just going through the motions. After half a dozen visits to Moab over the past decade I thought I’d been there and done that. This psychological block may be what Bob Bournique is getting at with his challenge for us all to do new trails this season.

But one thing about riding with the Lyon King – you learn to expect the unexpected. This time around, eight days from April 10 through 18, 2004, just about nothing happened according to plan. Which was good. Well, in most cases it was good.

– Keeping reading…>