Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Missing: Two Inches of Knee Skin on the Alpine Trail. Reward if Found.

It is only appropriate that my favorite section of single track during Mountain Bike Oregon ("MBO") was the Jedi Trail, because so much about mountain biking is letting go and using the Force. And because I spent most of the weekend feeling like a fucking Ewok on an out of control jet scooter.

(So I tried to use Google to find a picture of an Ewok on a jet scooter to post here. I didn't find one, but DAMN, people sell some weird shit on the internet.)

MBO involved three days of camping, sweet Oakridge singletrack and beer. I had the distinct honor of camping with the Portland Velo crew. Sal and Kender scored a great camping spot next to the river:
(Shade, good company and the finest HUB and Ninkasi have to offer.)

Sherry and I rolled into town around 3:30. It took me three beers and almost an hour to set up my borrowed tent and camp cot. Tents are frustrating. The poles need to be numbered or something to help the camping-impaired. Or there needs to be instructions, with pictures. Some things just aren't self-evident to city folk.

"Fun with Tents" was followed by a Bortnem-led trip to a secret swimming hole. This involved drunk mountain bike riding, pissing off some locals and throwing a lot of rocks. Throwing rocks is just as fun when you're 32 as when you're 12.

Ate some food, drank some more beer and I went to bed at 8. Yes, 8. Nature is hard work, people. It takes a lot out of you.

Friday: Alpine-Tire-Cloverfield. I decided that if I was going to do a big ride, Friday was the day. Fresh legs, maximum enthusiasm.

I can't say that the maximum enthusiasm (i.e., two thermoses of coffee) had kicked in at this point.

We signed up for the 25-ish mile ATC ride. Here is the elevation profile of just the Alpine Trail:

I think the ATC ride broke off of Alpine at about mile 6 or 7, then there was a lot of up, then down down down. Then up. Then more down.

Here is the meadow at the top of the first climb. I had brilliantly stuck my glasses in my helmet on the climb up to this meadow and they bounced off two-thirds of the way through. This sucked for numerous reasons (1) The glasses were green with green lenses. Notice the abundance of green in this picture. This did not make for easy searching; (2) The glasses aren't mine, so it wasn't as though I could leave them lost and (3) I completely fell off the back of the group after taking fifteen minutes to find said glasses, then having to stop to buckle my helmet. Then again to fix my cleats. Then again to fix my seatpost.

It was gorgeous trail and due to the almost 4000 feet in elevation loss, we passed through several distinct ecosystems, including some old growth forest.

The worst part of the ride was the halfway point, where I hadn't eaten enough and was having a really hard time focusing and keeping my eyes up trail. I ate it two or three times at really stupid places and reopened several of the scars on my right knee.

But I survived the 18 or so miles of singletrack mostly intact and tacked on another 15 miles for good measure with the three mile ride to the shuttle and, after deciding that riding home from the trailhead would be a great fucking idea, twelve more miles of road back to camp. That last twelve was a great fucking idea. Note: hope you didn't miss the sarcasm in that last sentence. Note 2: if Sal and Kender make a gentleman's agreement to take it easy back to camp, they are lying sacks of crap.

That night I barely made it through dinner and two beers with my eyes open. Was in bed again by 8:30.

Saturday: Alpine Top. This means we rode the Alpine Trail from start to finish. See above for elevation profile. This ride was my favorite of the weekend, even though Aunt Flo made an unexpected, and very unwelcome, appearance mid-ride. Which was TOTALLY AWESOME, by the way. Mountain biking is all about focus, and its exponentially harder to focus with Rage Against the Machine playing in one's belly.

Heidi, Kristin, Sherry, Stephanie and I rode with a slower paced group led by Tori Bortnem. Less uphill, more swoopy downhill, including the aforementioned Jedi Trail. Although this picture hardly does the trail justice, this is what much of it looked like:

I would pay someone to shuttle me up and down all day, just to ride this trail over and over again. It was THAT good.

Here we are taking a short breather mid-ride. Me, Heidi, Kristin and my very angry uterus.

Wisely took the shuttle back to camp.

At this point in the weekend, we are 48 hours in and I haven't bathed. This suddenly became unacceptable. So we threw on the bathing suits and headed upriver with some beer and Dr. Bonner's peppermint soap.

The beer did nothing to take away from the fact that the middle fork of the Willamette is FUCKING ASS COLD AS HELL. But it did make the whole hair-washing, Tecnu-rinsing experience a bit easier to bear.

Heidi and I then headed into town on a beer/Dairy Queen run. Here is a haiku in honor of the Dairy Queen run:

Blizzards are awesome
When you have spent the whole day
Dodging poison oak

Did some more reading, some eating, some Hard Lemonade drinking (nothing says white trash camping quite like Mike's). Back in bed by 8:30. Feel like I'm turning into my parents.

Sunday: North Fork and the Pump Track. Having nothing to prove and feeling grateful to have escaped any major debacles thus far, we decided on an easy Sunday ride. North Fork runs along, you guess it, the North Fork of the Willamette River. It's a Sunday drive kind of trail. No major climbs or descents.

Heidi and I rode the six miles out, and decided to take the road back after I noticed that my knee had started to swell again and had never really loosened up that morning. This gave us around 45 minutes to play on the pump track at the trail head. Rode some skinnies, hopped some curbs, took a nap in the sun.

The drive home was a frustrating reminder of why I bike commute. As in, I HATE being stuck in traffic. More than I hate bananas. Or Fox News. Or Jack Johnson's music.

My MBO bike assessment: Definitely worth it, especially if you've never ridden Oakridge singletrack. Rides are guided, trails are beautiful and challenging. I was tested the entire weekend. Granted, simply riding a switchback without face-planting is a test for this roadie. But the weekend was the perfect opportunity to practice the skills I learned at camp and my confidence improved each hour we were on the trails.

My only regret was not having the energy to drink enough beer to justify the entry fee. But there is always next year.

1 comment:

Cramps said...

Jack Johnson ROCKS!!! and you know it. F'ing ROCKS! Flip flops, Pineapples and Surfboards ALL ROCK!