Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Interior British Columbia Van-cation: Favorite Trails

There are a lot of topics I could cover about a no-frills extended mountain bike trip… Like, how to live in a teeny-tiny van for 3-weeks without killing your partner; or, personal hygiene and how to successfully poach showers; or, how about favorite trails of the trip? Although the first two topics make for good stories, the later might be most useful – so I’ll start there. 

The Itinerary 

Northern Idaho: Coeur D’Alene and Kellogg 

British Columbia: Fernie, Nelson, Rossland, Vernon, Revelstoke, New Denver

The Idaho Favorite: 

No doubt about it, Silver Mountain Bike Park in Kellogg is super fun and well worth checking out – especially if you don't like standing in lines or dealing with other people on the trails, period. You can make your way down the mountain mixing a number of beginner thru advanced trails, “tech” or “flow” – with 3,400’ vertical drop per run. Not kidding.  A beefier all-mtn/trail bike seemed to be the perfect choice here for maximum fun times. There wasn't really one trail that I liked best at Silver Mountain. Honestly, all the blue's and black's were pretty fun. As far as Coeur d'Alene goes, Trail 257 on Mt. Coeur d'Alene was a good time. Very Oakridge-y, mild and playful with smooth, dark dirt.

The BC Favorites

Canadian Trail Ratings: 

I can’t talk about the BC trails without first mentioning the level  of difficulty ratings system. I think a coffee analogy explains it best…  In the US we have the “Americano” which is hot water and two shots of espresso. In Canada, the equivalent is the “Canadiano” which is two shots of espresso added to drip coffee.  Get it? Yes, ratings varied from town to town, but overall certainly more caffeinated than our general Yankee standards.

Fernie Favorite: 

My first run down Project 9 changed my life – it was that f*#ck’n fun. Essentially, you haul ass through a somewhat tight forest, flying over roots and rocks. Small drops give you a little air time and a stretch of multiple big dips/g-out formations make you hang on and giggle. There is a climb in the middle, however, but whatever – this trail still kicks mega ass.  Other fun ones: HyperExtension, Swine Flu, Slunt. Note: the climbs here will give you the quads of a T-Rex (aka: horribly steep and painful).

Nelson Favorite: Feeling G-forces in massive fishbowl berms is addicting. Hands down, the new Turnstyles trail on Morning Mountain is like no other jump trail I’ve ever experienced – except maybe A-Line in Whistler. The use of gravity is perfect (fast!), massive berms, fun jumps, cool berm to berm transitions, fun step-ups, and it’s in pristine condition – not one hole or brake bump. The ultimate trail bike jump trail.  Beyond Turnstyles and most (but not all!) of Morning Mountain, I should mention that Nelson took the difficult rating to another level, in my opinion. So, if you like old skool super steep rooty/rocky nastiness  that will make you pee yourself a little – this is your spot. 

Rossland Favorite: WHHHHISKY!!!!! Honestly, after riding in Nelson, I felt like I could do anything – which made these two trails super, super fun. Whiskey on the Rocks is a bit challenging and connects into Whiskey which is faster mix of flow and tech. Whiskey on the Rocks is made up of multiple rock outcroppings that you ride up, over, and down – some more steep and techy than others. And Whiskey is where you pick up speed and fly over small jumps, around berms, and down rock faces. It’s an absolute blast. Another favorite: Seven Summits Trail – It’s an IMBA Epic and rightfully so.

Vernon (Silver Star) Favorite: This bike park is killer. I would go back in a minute and ride Rockstar over and over and over. Again, I felt like a beefy trail bike was more fun than a DH bike, although there were still a few people here riding DH bikes – which I’m sure are choice on some of the double-black runs. Similar to Silver Mountain this bike park had something for everyone but on a much more expansive scale. In other words, you could easily spend more than one day here.

Revelstoke Favorite: Ah Revelstoke. If I could go back to one place, it would be here. Mainly because we got rained out... and the one trail we did get to ride/slide (in the pouring rain) was AWESOME. That was Ultimate Frisby DH, not to be confused with the very popular “Frisby Ridge”.  With 2,000' of descending, which by Revelstoke standards was short, this loamy trail flew you through lush forest with roots and rocks, and had amazing flow but without man-made features. A number of steep loamy, rocky, or rock face sections throughout the lower part of the trail kept things exciting and challenging – with some “I got this” stop and start overs.  Or not....

New Denver Favorite: I'll be honest... The Butter Trails we rode in New Denver were not favorites. It's not that they sucked by any means; it's when you compare them to other trails we rode...well, they just  don't compare.  The loamy-ness was awesome, but the slow nature of the trail due to features spaced too closely made it a bit awkward to ride. Just my trail snob .02. Regardless of the trail, the view was amazing.

In the end, 3-weeks just wasn't long enough to explore Interior and Eastern BC. We had so many other trail and bike park suggestions from so many people that we would need an entire summer to get to them all. Time to start saving up the precious vacation time again. That or quit, sell the house, and live in the van full-time. Anything is possible with some sacrifice, you know. Dream it, do it! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Is Running Good For You?

So anyone who knows me knows i love bicycles. Like to ride bikes, think bikes, look at bikes, at talk about bikes and well ride bikes. A recent injury tho has had me looking at other forms of recreation and running happens to be one of them. 

Doesn't that just look like fun?
I mean here in the rogue valley we have plenty of people to run with. There plenty of races and group events for what looks like a good time. Looking at you SORE (southern oregon running enthusiasts) And heck its even something I could do when i have a bike in the shop or lack of use of my upper body. 

These bipeds know how to go hard. 
Now much like biking. Watcing and doing are two different things. My first set of runs were not the most inspiring. 

This first attempt resulted in a 10:37 mile and a whole bunch of dissapointment. I was a cyclist I should have killer cardio. Cardio I had, musculature i did not. I ended up feeling like a fool. My second attempt was not any better.

So here i was feeling like a fool running 23 min miles and hating every minute of it. 

Thats how i felt trying to avoid all the traffic
and fellow pedestrians
A constant question I ask myself
every time I run. 
I even had let myself succumb to the idea that "Nah running not for me its not funner nor cooler than cycling" I mean who needs to run when you can ride a bike. I bought a bike and spent a whole bunch of money to avoid the act of running. 

Who needs running when you've got a crew on two wheels. 

Yep i really do enjoy riding with friends and the effortless joy that is riding a bike. 
And you can't jump like this without a bike so there's that. 

And you can really get your blood going riding a bike. Way better than the plodding boredom associated with that running fad. 

But where there's a will there's a way. Or in my case a Ben 

This is my buddy Ben looking down on the rogue valley 

So although my passion for running was pretty much gone. I do have a friend named Ben who does not ride bikes and really enjoys the running. So i figured maybe I've been going about it all wrong. Maybe  I need a real runner to give me a pace and give me some motivation. And that's exactly what happened.

It was crazy sure we averaged a 14 min mile ish. But we also climbed up Roxy Anne. That's a hill I know and I had a proper motivation to keep going. I couldn't believe it. Having someone out there to show what a good pace is and what different techniques there are is invaluable. Before I knew it we were at the top and I actually felt like this is something I enjoy. 

Although its hot August having a friend to run with makes it worth while. 

Like running with scissors. Taking photos while running doesn't work either. 

Ben explaining the glory that is the run.
 I think nature would agree with him at this point

I couldn't believe i had made it to the top without a bike.
I was also thinking about the run down and the blister that was starting to form on my foot

All in all a good time.
 And what good time doesn't end with a well deserved beer. 

So yeah I run now. Don't think for a second that i'm abandoning bikes in anyway. but adding running to my arsenal of fun things to do will certainly help me to improve my riding and fitness. I'm amazed at the amount of calories you can burn just by plodding along. also the sore muscles I never knew i had. So if your a fellow cyclist looking to improve your fitness I would suggest you try running. And don't be shy most of these runners are actually pretty relaxed people that just like to run in the woods. And if your a runner, I wouldn't mind showing you the ropes on a bike if your ever interested.