Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘imba’

Washington’s Plains of Abraham gives BI 11 IMBA epics

In Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on November 22, 2009 at 5:59 pm

The Plains of Abraham, a desolate, stark romp through the death zone of the Mount St. Helens inferno nearly three decades ago, is a miraculous testament to Nature’s ability to resuscitate itself. Now it’s an officially recognized IMBA Epic as well.

I’m happy because it gives me another epic to add to my IMBA quiver, putting me at 11, without even having to clip into my pedals. Seven Summits last year in Rossland B.C. gave me double digits. But that was a long day in the saddle, with lots of climbing and the euphoric suffering that goes along with it.

When I last rode Smith Creek (as it’s called by the locals), there weren’t the little trees you see in the IMBA photo. The whole St. Helens area is a natural laboratory for studying the recuperative miracles of Mother Earth. It may be time for a return trip next spring.

My 11 epics are:

Big Boulder (Downieville)
Bootleg Canyon (near Vegas)
Buckhorn (Santa Barbara)
Comfortably Numb (Whistler; the longest 16-mile ride you’ll ever do)
No. Umpqua (Roseburg OR; the longest 1-day ride you’ll ever do)
Henry Coe (Morgan Hill near San Jose CA)
Tahoe Rim Trail (my favorite place to ride anywhere)
South Yuba (Nevada City)
Skookum Flats (not Enumclaw as IMBA lists it but Greenwater; also not an epic imho but I’ll take it)
7 Summits
Plains of Abraham

IMBA Epics on my to-do list:

Eagle Ridge (Vancouver B.C.)
Edge Loop (Fruita CO)
Loon Lake (McCall ID)
Telegraph Trails (Durango CO)
Mid Mt Trail (Park City UT)

The IMBA list is hardly the final say on epic XC rides, of course. I can name half a dozen epics in Washington State that are far more deserving than Skookum Flats and Plains of Abraham. How Sun Valley/Stanley ID and Moab UT escape citation is beyond me.

But hey, this time of year any talk of MTB epics really gets my juices roiling for next spring!

The full list of IMBA epics.

Daily Roundup returns!

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 21, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I’m on the road to Interbike and have only sporadic connectivity. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

Anyway, the bike world’s big wheel keeps on turnin’ …

IMBA is coming to the Point Reyes National Seashore this weekend for trail work with Chris and Leslie Kehmeier of the Subaru Trail Care Crew. It’s always a great time with the IMBA gang, and there’s a ride scheduled for Sunday as well.

Bike magazine, the No. 1 in readability, will produce something big and fat and self-important that it is modestly calling “The Bible,” full of reviews and other mtb stuff. It’s a bit curious because Bike magazine’s reviews are not its strong suit, not nearly as technical and in-depth as Mountain Bike Action’s. Instead, we love Bike mag for its feature articles and ‘tude. But we’ll see. Good writers should be able to write insightful reviews.

And when it comes to descriptive bike prose, nobody can write quite like Cedric Gracia … which is probably a good thing:

“The race was really good! Even with the rain, in the final I was in a 2nd place but I try to hard in a corner, I lost the grip and crash.” More on Cedric’s Red Bull Road Rage exploits here.

Moment in the Sun: Ellsworth’s long-travel trail bike, the Moment, has nabbed “Best 2009 All-Mountain Bike” from Taking nothing away from Tony and the gang, I’ll stick with my Pivot Firebird in that category, thank you.

Huffington Post has an excerpt from David Byrne’s new book, “Bicycle Diaries.”

On a bike, being just slightly above pedestrian and car eye level, one gets a perfect view of the goings-on in one’s own town. Unlike many other U.S. cities, here in New York almost everyone has to step onto the sidewalk and encounter other people at least once a day–everyone makes at least one brief public appearance. I once had to swerve to avoid Paris Hilton, holding her little doggie, crossing the street against the light and looking around as if to say, “I’m Paris Hilton, don’t you recognize me?” From a cyclist’s point of view you pretty much see it all.

More here.

Tahoe unauthorized trail-building: The real story

In Bicycle advocacy, Mountain Biking, Trail Access on July 21, 2009 at 12:27 am

Lake Tahoe Forest Service officials are warning against unauthorized trail building, but they still don’t get it. They suspect “ongoing illegal trail-building has risen significantly with the increased popularity of mountain biking and newer, better equipment.”

While those are factors, the real reason trail building is increasing is because the Forest Service and other official bodies will not approve new trails. Any new trails. They don’t have budget, they don’t have builders, they don’t have a process. They do bone-headed things like spend $29,000 to “decommission” (block) rogue trails — money that should be going to building new trails.

So you get kids with time on their hands who see reality for what it is: They’re not going to be able to ride unless they build their own clandestine, off-radar trails.

(I don’t like to call any trails “illegal,” since legality is often applied subjectively and virtually never tested in court. It also is unclear what illegality applies to: The trail or the rider, or both. “Unauthorized” or “uncommissioned” seem more germane terms to me.)

It’s that simple. The solution is for agencies to get with the program and start opening up access. The first thing they can do is watch the film, “Freedom Riders,” which explores a cooperative approach between authorities and mountain bikers to expand trail access in Wyoming. Then they can work with IMBA and local MTB organizations to map out plans for additional access that involve the entire community. They’re doing this already in some places, notably Canada; let’s hope the ethic spreads quickly. For all their serendipity, rogue trails can be dangerous, poorly constructed and hard to get to in an emergency. There’s a better way, it just needs publicizing, funding and nurturing.

Paradise Valley: Where mountain bikes are free to roam

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Trail Access on June 5, 2009 at 10:11 am

Last night, as temps hit 94 in Bellevue, I went out to ride with IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) and EMBA (Seattle’s Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance) at Paradise Valley, the recently reopened Conservation Area past Woodinville near Maltby.

Back in the day I rode Paradise occasionally, recalling it as a cross between an Appalachian firing range and county dump. The hard work of Evergreen and the mountain biking community has really dressed the place up. Trails are buff, not yet suffering from overuse, there are a few techie stretches, and you can ride forever and never quite seem to retrace your steps. Of course you are retracing, but the 11-mile combination of loops and forwards-backwards-traversewards makes an endless series of permutations available.

Paradise found... Evergreen gang at the trailhead

Paradise found... Evergreen gang at the trailhead

To cram all this into a fairly compact riding area requires the Duodenal Technique first mastered on the Worm outside of Renton, where you take a small flat section of land and fold trail in with switchbacks, turns and near-circles so the leader of a 20-bike ride can practically brush handlebars with the sweep. It can be tricky, in fact, just keeping track of where you’re going. You tend to use the rider ahead as your guide, so when you see another rider directly in front you think the trail is going in a straight line. In actuality, the rider ahead of you is somewhere off in the ferns to your right.

We used to do night rides on the Worm just to get the serpentine illumination effect of bike lights in a row, winding around loops like some kind of alien spaceship landing. Wonder what that would look like from Google Earth!

IMBA's Inga and her multiple rides

IMBA's Inga and her multiple rides

Anyway, Paradise Valley (directions here) is a must-ride if you haven’t already. Thanks to Brian Crowley for leading a suddenly ballooned turnout of 20 mtbers through the twists and thickets, and to Jason Van Horn and Inga Beck of the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew for coming out with their Team Car and great stories!

IMBA's trail can't miss it!

IMBA's trail can't miss it!

“Freedom Riders” shows the wisdom and the way

In Mountain Biking, Videos on April 20, 2009 at 9:34 pm

“Freedom Riders,” a new film from KGB Productions and Gravnetic unveiled Saturday evening at Sea Otter courtesy of IMBA, represents a real step forward in mountain biking’s effort to gain the legitimacy it richly deserves. The film looks at compromise efforts in the Bridger Teton National Forest near Jackson WY to open hugely popular but unauthorized downhill trails constructed by a renegade gang of five mountain bikers.

What’s striking about the film is its wisdom (which appropriately reflects the wisdom of the effort itself). It doesn’t get defensive about our sport. It doesn’t point fingers at anyone, including the trail builders. Instead, it explores and explicates the many subtle and thorny aspects of trail-making. You come away with a good feeling about mountain biking and high hopes that ignorant and confrontational attitudes are a thing of the past.

In a nutshell, three trails — Ritalin, Lithium and Skullfuck — were constructed over a period of years by a local surgeon (hence their names) and his recruits. They were kept fairly secret at first, but word eventually got out and their popularity grew. They were challenging, steep, gnarly and jump-laden, but were not built to strict standards, and people began getting hurt. When people get seriously injured on unmarked trails, things start to unravel fast.

The Forest Service at first took the usual path, felling aspens across the trails at numerous points. The blockages were soon cleared. Then more felling, and more clearing. The tit-for-tat wasn’t working.

Finally an enlightened Forest Service manager, Linda Merigliano, issued a call: We need to resolve this impasse for the safety of the community. “But we’ll need the help of mountain bikers to do so,” she said.

As a result, negotiations ensued and mountain bikers agreed to give up access to Ritalin and Skullfuck in favor of preserving Lithium. Then work began to rebuild and maintain Lithium according to proper specifications from IMBA and others. Now the trail is still challenging, the fun factor is still high, but when someone needs help the Search & Rescue folks wind up doing far more of the latter than the former.

Partly because of the success of the Teton project, there is movement in this direction throughout the country. For the first time, officialdom is looking at increasing mountain biking access rather than shutting down unsanctioned trails. We have IMBA to thank for much of this, of course, but it can only succeed with grassroots support from the likes of local clubs and groups, including our own Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

It would be foolish to think that Forest Service accommodations will deter or end rogue trail-building. Life is too short, and bureaucracies move too slowly. But in sensitive and highly populated areas, the Teton model provides a great example of how to move mountain biking forward.

Beyond its lessons, “Freedom Riders” is great entertainment, with plenty of action shots from everyday riders like you ‘n me and lots of humor and goodwill. Five stars, five flamin’ red chilis, five bars — by whatever measure, this is a must-see. It’ll make you want to get out and ride as soon as the closing credits are over.

Video trailer from PinkBike here.

Daily Roundup: Lance “multiple” breaks, Sea Otter madness begins, Bike blogger gets Bicycling column

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling, Daily Roundup on March 25, 2009 at 6:45 am

New details keep surfacing in the Lance Armstrong broken collarbone mishap. Instead of the earlier reported “clean break,” it now appears the bone broke into “multiple fragments.” Lance is putting his best hype forward, saying he expects to … what? be ready? ride part of? win? … the Giro. It isn’t clear. But as long as he and the cycling community keep putting the words “recovery” and “Giro” together, we’ll all be happy as Pollyannas.

IMBA has issued an invitation to an organizational update and video premiere of “Freedom Riders” by KGB Productions for the Sea Otter Classic, starting in just three weeks. The madness begins…

Thanks to Bike Rumor for the pointer.

Bicycle Retailer reports that Bicycling mag will add two new columns, including one by a blogger, BikeSnob out of NYC. Congrats! Maybe they can do something to liven up motherly hubbardly Bicycling, which seems to be running the same articles on losing weight and chain care that I was reading as a youngun in the ’70s. (Now that’s just unfair! ;^)

Support Biking in National Parks

In Mountain Biking on February 12, 2009 at 12:34 pm

IMBA is rounding up the troops!

It always helps to personalize e-blasts like this. I favor a short and punchy sentence or two, showing you have some knowledge of the situation but not taking up too much of recipients’ time. Odds are every single email is not going to be read, they’re just ballot-tallying.

What I said was this:

Please approve RIN 1024-AD72. Mountain biking has proven itself as an enduring, responsible sport. Opening national parks to mountain bikers will prove a boon to national parks, because the mountain biking community is an organized, committed body of resources that can provide considerable human energy, goodwill and work toward supporting and maintaining our wonderful national park system.