Part three of my Western Washington mountain bike stage race, named, for now, as the Masters Grand Master Flash Series, took place today on the John Wayne/Iron Horse trail up past North Bend. Our STP training team, Team Testostrogen, showed up with our MTBs and kicked it old school all the way up that silly grade. I believe we set a new record, certainly on the way up, and would have set it in toto (… Latin for “I’ve tasted rain down in Africa”) had we not run into this washout not too far from the tunnel:
KonaLad tried to jump over but thank goodness for his Evil Knievel parachute, whew. So we stopped for a little repast and chain repair (I still don’t know how Surlylady managed to knock her chain off at a rest stop…) and headed back down the mountain. KonaLad says we were getting up to speeds of 23mph which is wild; that gravel-packed trail and the knobby mountain tires, even with the slight downgrade, never feel ‘that fast’ but I guess we were cooking. In fact overall I’d say we kept up a pretty good pace going both ways.
And of course it was as pristine and lovely as ever up there in the mountains. There were remnants of snow beside the trail in some spots. Here’s a muddy-leg shot to prove we were there in case you think this blog is totally made up.
Lots of fun today. I couldn’t help grinning on the ride back down, like a little kid, even though the knee was hoyting and Hemi Moore has come back, to star in a production called “Hemi Moore: This Time It’s Impersonal.” But I was grinding and grinning because I knew this would be the last bike ride I’d have for a week. That’s right. Partly as part of my training, wherein I ‘taper’ a bit, and partly to spare the knee and mssr HemiMoore, and partly because the Group Health Commuter Challenge for May has been cancelled for June. No bikes. None. I can do this. I just have to focus on the Flying Wheel Century in two weeks. There’s no reason to hy…hy…hyperventilate. We’ll see how long the vow lasts. Surlylady has side bets it won’t last the week.
In the meantime I plan on doing gym work and hiking at St. Ed’s with the ‘Lady. It’ll be so much (grit teeth) fun without wheels!
Friday night, for part one of the weekend Series, I cleansed my system of its singletrack jonesin’ with my brother, his wife and my nephew ‘V’ on the Banner Forest Trails over in Port Orchard. Bro had come up with a serpentine and flowing route that maximized the network of mature trails close to one of the trailhead parking lots, wherein we basically did huge looping figure 8’s back and forth across the hillside. Even though it was all in the same square mile or so, I felt totally lost and just grinned from ear-to-ear from my position as Tail End Charley. He has a knack for putting together a flowing, exciting trail sequence, and it’s even better to follow a trail guide like that and just enjoy the show. There were lots of log ramp jumper things and I tried every single one. There was one teeter-totter contraption that I stayed away from; too many childhood bully memories.
As the sun was going down my sister-in-law and nephew headed home as they were tuckered out and then the brother and I (he has a new Specialized Hardrock by the way and is so pleased with it, esp. the disc brakes) were able to crank it up several notches and just flew around the trails, basically reprising our circuits from earlier, but at a I’m-about-to-bust-a-gut speed. Wow. Then off to their homestead for some barbecue and later, as the sun finally went down, smores. What an awesome family they have. So cute and fun to be with.
The next day it was just brother ‘R’ and myself as we hopped in my truck and sped off for Green Mountain, a trail system roughly NE of Bremerton. Neither of us had ever been, and we picked a more southerly trailhead which, upon reflection and investigation later in the day, was probably not as good as the more northern one. However, there was an entertaining and shirtless chap at our parking lot, with that deeply bronzed look that said he was often shirtless, surrounded by Bud Lite bottles on the bench next to the bathroom, who very kindly gave us advice on the best ways to get to the top. Essentially, there were two, and they were equally tough and onerous, it seemed, but from his 10 minute tirade which included rants against the park management etc you would have thought it was the most intricate trail system ever, designed to lure virginal Greeks to their death at the hooves of the Minotaur or something. We thanked him and took off after he replied that “He’d be there when we got back.” Sweet! Now all we need is a motorcycle camera crew to follow us and we have almost an official ‘crowd’ for Part 2 of the… what was the name of the Series I came up with? Something about Masters, since we’re old. Maybe it was the Kitsap Masters Clydesdales Series or KMCS. Speaking of motorcycles, as we ground our way up the dusty hillside we ran into one, on an old school unpainted 70s Honda trail bike. This was definitely a ‘multi-use’ trail as we soon learned. There were high school javelin practices, rodeo clowns, vegan hunters, out-of-work Republican fund raisers in suits, a multi-lingual finger-painting championship, little kids with sparklers, tap dancing lessons, old dogs too tired to move out of the middle of the trail, and a plague of frogs. Well it sometimes seemed that way. The park is lovely, make no mistake, and I’d go back, it’s just I think I’d try to go back really early or on a weekday, to avoid the hikers and equestrians. When we finally made it to the top of Green Mountain (look, there’s Seattle, all tiny looking) and started back down on some super fun singletrack full of bermy banked curves, we had to stop every 50 yards or so for other people. Such a shame to waste all that flow and momentum. Oh well. At least all the people were super nice, or were after we were super nice.
On the fireroad back down the mountain we must have hit 30+ mph, maybe even more than that, to the point where I could smell my disc brakes getting too hot… yikes! There was one point where brother ‘R’ got into sort of a series of directional bumping to the point where he started drifting off the road toward the rock-strewn gutter; I was only able to look back and watch him put out a foot to barely correct his course… too much foot and he would have toppled. My heart stopped, but like a true flat-tracker pro he seemed to only put down enough to stave off disaster and then we were both back to rolling downhill at super high speeds. Never gone that fast on the Kona before. Crazy stuff. In hindsight maybe a little stupid. But we’ll be back there, I have a feeling! I think Brother ‘R’ wants to conquer that mountain (he had, well we both had to do a lot of hike-a-biking). I think it was a 2400 foot elevation gain or something? Numbers.
And that’s one of the beauties of mountain biking, especially if you’re trying to lose weight: that measurable, objective sense of improvement. Had a hard time going up the mountain today? Well, maybe next month you can do it in half the time, or in a harder gear. Same applies to our Iron Horse foray. When we first did that trail, late last summer I think it was, I almost literally couldn’t make it to the tunnel. The last three or so miles were excruciating. The sort of tearing a hole in your soul excruciating. Today I was keeping up with the others as we were making record time, and none of us were hardly breaking a sweat. Which means, of course, next time I need to go even faster. Got to get to that sweat point more often. Sweet sweat saturation.