Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rossland BC

I'd always wanted to ride the Seven Summits Trail in Rossland BC.  I first read about this trail in Bike Magazine a couple years ago as they gave it their Trail of the Year award.  My birthday was coming up and it was a no brainer....we needed to ride that on my birthday.  Its over 3000' of climbing and 20+ miles of singletrack.

We loaded up and said good bye to the coast that had been our companion the last six weeks.  We made a stop in Vancouver and found some really pretty country on the drive over to Rossland.

Rossland has billed itself as the Mountain Bike Capital of BC since 1993.  It has a fantastic campground right downtown.  You can ride right from the campsite and enjoy tons of singletrack along with two city owned mountain bike skills parks.  The downtown has everything you need from burgers to bike shops to a brewery.  The town is pretty quite though at night but I figured everyone is tired from riding anyway.  Talk to the city campground host if you want a cheap shuttle for seven summits.  He is definitely a character and nice guy. There are also tons of other trails to ride here other than the Seven Summits. Stop in at the bike shop and grab a map.

Rossland found itself in need of a boost after the old economy of the town (mining, forestry) slowed.  With a grant Rossland started building and improving trails including the Seven Summits.  The town even has a full time crew building and maintaining trails. The local economy has turned farther into tourism and now they are getting herds of bikers in town from Calgary, Vancouver, Spokane and beyond.  Its amazing to see how much mountain biking has done to this town.  BC definitely "gets" it in terms of what people value in a community.  Trails clearly being a top priority here.

We met a few people here who would become riding partners later on down the road all over BC.  People from all walks of life who share a love of singletrack, beer, and adventure. You know who you are and thanks for the good times!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Whistler 2010

Whistler proved to be one of the best weeks of our trip. The weather was perfect, Crankworx was going on, tons of riding in all directions, and we found a killer campsite along a roaring glacier river.  Life was very, very good.

We arrived just before the final weekend of Crankworx and the village was insane to walk around.  It was like a party I have never experienced and everyone was ALL about bikes.  The vibe was definitely could just feel the excitement in the air.

All my favorite pros from all the videos were everywhere.  In the evenings we would hang out in the village and watch all of them destroy the new slopestyle course (and film for their new video segments). Much of the new 2011 stuff was out and many of next years bikes were available to ride as well.  For us this was heaven.

We would wake up, roll into town, hang out in the village and get a good "stoke" going on and grab a bagel.  Then we would just go ride.  There was great riding for free all around us.  You don't even need to ride the lifts to enjoy what they have to offer.  Most of our favorite rides ended with us riding down to a gorgeous lake and swimming with our dog at the dog beach. Then after playing at the lake all afternoon we would head back into the village for dinner, beers and more people watching.

 Post ride lunch.

The week in Whistler probably stepped up my riding more than anything.  I've been lucky enough to ride in places and on trials that are considered highly technical.......and I can ride most of it. I'm talking about stuff like Holy Cross in GJ for example.  Let me tell you that the stuff in Whistler blew me out of the water.  The level of skill that is common on many of the trails is way more complex and challenging than anything in the USA.

Many of the technical features here come from the fact that they build much of the trail out of wood.  Think of trails covered in teeter-totters and 10" wide planks (or less) some over 6' above the ground.  And these are rated blue to single black here.  The double black diamonds are simply way above my riding.....but.......I worked on it and have since grown a spot in my heart for the "North Shore" style riding.  I'd end up spending the next month riding it all over Canada.

Canadian trail builders simply have a way more "burly" style of trail building.  And there is way more people building trails here.  More on that later. Though.

After the hype of Crankworx faded we started venturing up the lifts.  The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is well and above the best bike park in the world.  Its not hard to see why either.  The sheer amount of effort and money spent on building and maintaining it is into the millions.  It is like nothing I have ever ridden in my life.  I came here fully aware of how hyped it was and it still blew me away.  I can't wait to come back next year.  I'm sure its that mentality that keeps so many coming back every summer.  It also explains why the best bikers in the world call Whistler home in the summer.

Life's short.  Every Mountain biker needs to ride this place at least once.

**Due to user error I accidentally deleted the majority of our pictures from Whistler.  Bummer....I know.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vancouver Canada

We left Washington on a gorgeous bluebird day.  After having been rained on the last week it was nice to see blue sky's.  This would be our weather for the next three weeks.  Sunshine and warm temps.  We needed to get up to Whistler for the 2010 Kokanee Crankworx Festival. But we wanted to spend a day exploring the city.

I had never had the chance to visit Vancouver before, but the city is impressive to say the least.  Vancouver is a great mix of highrises and ocean.  I couldn't believe all the glass and steel in the sky around me.  It seems that everything was new and after the recent Olympics it made sense.

We hit up a few different areas including the beach.  We ran into a group of guys that wanted Claire to take their picture.  I had to take one myself of this interesting group.

The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is along BC Highway 99, or better know as the Sea to Sky Highway, is simply the most amazing drive I have ever done.  It has amazing views as you work your way from the ocean to the mountains. Being a fan of heavy civil construction makes it even more impressive when looking at the terrain they had to tackle to complete this monumental task.

We stopped in Squamish BC on the way (and also another day to play some more) which bills itself the "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada".  On all my travels I found Squamish to be one of the coolest cities anywhere.  I'm not going to go off on the town, but if you like the outdoors, this is your spot.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seattle and Bellingham

We rolled into Seattle on a rainy day in early August.  Claire's mothers good friend keeps a gorgeous apartment in the city over looking the bay.  She was kind enough to allow us a few days to use the apartment and explore downtown Seattle.  We shopped, ate and had a merry time.  It was great seeing old friends and just being in the city again.  If your ever in the Ballard district make sure to stop in to The Dray and grab a pint of their greenflash IPA.....fantastic!  We also took in a Seattle Sounders soccer match.  It was amazing seeing Americans getting so into soccer.  They play in the same stadium as the NFL team and believe me it was much louder than any Seahawks game I have every been too.

After a few days we decided to start thinking about Canada.  There is a huge bike festival in Whistler called Crankworx that we wanted to see.  We did want to make sure and ride in Bellingham, WA just a couple hours north of Seattle on the way though.  Our friends have all told us we must ride there so it was a no brainer.  We rolled into town and grabbed a trail map of the area.  We decided to explore the Galbraith area.  This was an amazing place and our first real experience of "North Shore" style mountain biking.  This means lots of wooden features and stunts really.  We were a little nervous at first but soon we were riding it like it was nothing.  It was also a great warm-up to our life in Canada.  Post ride we hit up the Boundary Bay Brewery.  They had some cheap appetizers during happy hour and a fantastic IPA that shouldn't be missed.

Next up is Crankworx and almost a month of solid riding throughout BC and even a little Alberta.  Even the weather was perfect for our stay in Canada. Stay tuned for lots more biking....this is a bike trip right?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Washington Coast

We left Hood River with our legs sore and our mind thinking back to the coast again.  We decided to take the whole coastline of Washington right into Seattle where we were meeting Claire's mother and some friends.

We again remembered why we love the coast so much.  Not much biking here but it was a great taking a few days break from biking.  Exploring the coast and rainforest's was spectacular and some of the coolest weather I have ever seen.

Some people have asked for a picture of our setup.  You can see the storage system I built along with the ARB fridge (amazing!) and our battery that we use for powering our life (we charge it when driving) and a glimpse of the 12volt power washer that we use to clean our bikes and ourselves.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hood River, OR

 Some places just have it all........amazing biking of all types, killer kayaking, deep pow in the winter, epic wind and kite surfing, and most importantly......very good beer (among a million other things)..... I hate you Hood River!  Plus if you want to bail to a "bigish" city Portland is right there and the coast is within weekend striking distance.  Not a bad place we thought.  Not sure how gloomy it gets in the winter as it was gorgeous the week we were there.

We had been enjoying our time on the coast but we began craving some time on the bike so we went a bit crazy here.  I'm not going to go into detail on the rides in Hood but if you get a chance pick up a copy of Kissing The Trail. This guidebook has everything you need to know for this area and many other areas in Oregon. Be certain to hit the high country classics like Surveyor's Ridge, but make sure to hit up the Post Canyon area.  I'm not going to ruin it for you, but this place is out of control fun.  There is a great trail map at many of the trailheads......go nuts and me....perfect for a early evening ride after a morning in the high country.

The town is very cool and worth a stroll.  Be sure to hit up Discover Bicycles downtown.  This is one of the nicest bike shops I have ever been into and the staff is wonderful.  Full Sail beer is brewed here, but don't wast your time.  Head directly to Double Mountain Brewery just a block or two away for all your post ride needs.  The Hop Lava is easily one of my top five beers I have ever had.  I still dream of that brew.  Also be sure to drive over the bridge to White Salmon, WA.  The bridge is very cool (look down) and the Everybody's Brewery is right downtown......very good as well.  I heard the brew master there was a head brewer for Full Sail.

We had a blast watching all the kite boarding going on here in the afternoons.  People from all over the world come riding here.  We met a ton of them at the brewery......lots of pro's that do nothing but travel around and kite board......needless to say lost of fun people around here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oregon Coast Part II

Bend was a bit too hot and dry for our taste and what can I say....we love the Oregon coast.  So we packed up and headed back to the coast to finish what we started.  We both love lazy days exploring the coastline and flying kites. Just pulling over on a Tuesday afternoon and making lunch on the beach by oursleves was simply a fantastic way to live......Kona agrees.

I'll just shut up now and let the pictures do the talking.....not a lot of biking going on here.



Plus we got to drink at the Rouge Brewery in Newport, OR.  Its right in the harbor and they had 42 beers on tap.....fantastic place!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bend, OR

We spent a few days exploring Bend, OR during the week of Claire's birthday.  Bend is a rapidly growing city of over 82k city and a metro population of 200k in central Oregon. It is located where the high desert meets the hills. The gem of the city though is its downtown area.  The river flows through here with numerous parks laid out along it.  The neighborhoods here are spectacular with a perfect blend of residential and commercial that makes this area very livable. There was no shortage of farmers markets, concerts, art walks, etc. while we were there.

We spent much of our time here just walking around the city.  There are numerous breweries here and we had fun sampling many fine IPA's.  I've been a fan of Deschutes Breweries Mirror Pond for some time now and it was fun sampling all their small batch stuff at the brewery.  I would suggest 10 Barrel also for a great brewery.....maybe even better?

If your in the area stop by Chow for breakfast. This is simply one of the best breakfast's I have ever had in my life and they are 100% committed to using all extremely local and organic food. Really one of the best places to eat....simply fantastic!!!  The sous chef is a new friend of ours and was kind enough to make Claire a spectacular birthday dinner at their home along the banks of the river right in town.....thanks again.

Bend was very hot during our stay so we didn't ride too much on the trails around town.  We did get out to west Bend and rode around Phil's a couple days though.  The network of trails out there were fantastic.  Lots of flow and you could tell it was built by bikers.  Bend actually reminded me a bit of Helena, MT in terms of their trails....mellow and flowy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

McKenzie River Trail (MRT)

We left Oakridge, OR and headed north to the famous McKenzie River Trail.  This ride has been rated the best ride in the country by the likes of Bike Magazine and others so it was a no brainer when we found ourselves this close to it.  Its a 26 mile point to point (AKA shuttle) that runs along the beautiful McKenzie river. This trail did not disappoint at all.  The water falls, old growth forests, log bridges and beautiful blue pools were simply spectacular.

The shuttle was a bit pricey, but was well worth it.  I also wouldn't call it the best trail in America, but it is definitely up there.  The trail can be ridden by just about anyone that can mountain bike.  The more experienced rider will love the flow of the trail, not boring at all.  This should definitely be ridden when close to Bend, OR or Eugene, OR as it sits about in the middle of both.

There are a couple very nice state campgrounds close to the trail.  One is right at the end of the trail which is nice if you want to roll into camp and crack a beer right at the end.  Bring your own food also as there really is nothing in town other than a gas station.  The trail maps are free also so no worries about that.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oakridge, OR...Loggers, More Hippes, Beer and Mountain Bikers.

Oakridge, OR is a logging town in central Oregon turned mountain bike mecca. The mill closed down and they decided to embrace mountain bikers rather than slowly decay.  The closed business downtown have started being filled with things we bikers shop....check......brewery...check......shuttle and guide music and pizza....check.....

....chicks on downhill bikes in bikini's...... double check!!!

We spent a long week here and biked our brains out.  We found a great camping spot along the river just north of town.  We had a nice trail that lead from camp along the river right to the brewery.  There is a mind blowing 400+ miles of singletrack that can be ridden right from town.....yes insane.

Ride in the morning, play in the river in the afternoon, then bike into town for a beer and some live music after dinner.  These are the lazy days of summer my friends.  The days we dream of when a long Montana winter sets in.  These were the times that I'll forever remember.....the times spent here were priceless.

We had the pleasure of riding a nice section of the North Umpqua Trail (better than the famous Mackenzie but that's for later) the day before before we arrived in Oakridge.  We also stopped at Oregon's only National Park (Crater Lake) which was something that I wasn't expecting.  The lake on that blue bird day was insane....I have never seen water like that in my life.  The color is incredible....I spent a half hour just staring at it in disbelief.

Next up is Bend, OR bitches!!!

*Post written from a killer brewery in White Salmon, WA....just across from Hood River, OR....Everybody's Brewing (That's their name).  Get a Big Brother Imperial IPA if you dare!