Friday, July 29, 2011

Now I Get It

I am for sure a novice mountain bike rider. The last time I did some real mountain biking was back before there were tracks for mountain bikes and before there was even front suspension. Then most of the riding was dirt roads and no big thrill. I think that speaks for itself as to what I thought about the thrill of mountain biking. A big grind to get uphill for a brief thrill. I didn't get it. Earlier in July, I was at a medical conference at the Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try some mountain biking and learn why so many people are so excited about it.

Once in Leavenworth, I asked around. At Das Rad Haus, the mountain bike shop for Leavenworth, they mentioned Freund Canyon, as did a couple others that I asked. It seemed easy to get to, just a mile or so out of town, so off I went. Starting in town, meant going uphill, (Duh! It's called mountain biking) I obeyed the sign pointing me to the right for the uphill.

It was slow going. In fact, I was going slow enough that I fell over 3 times. Twice I dropped a wheel into the gully in the middle of the double track, which brought me to a standstill and once was my fault as I spun out my back wheel when I stood to pedal. At multiple times on this, I wondered about the wisdom of my route choice and the allure of mountain biking in general. 

I did not know this trail at all, but had read  it was a loop.  After climbing for what seemed like forever and always away from town, I was beginning to wonder if I had somehow gotten off the track. I continued to see tire tracks, so continued on. Finally the trail switched back, but did not start to go down.

Oddly enough I heard a motorcycle close by and shortly two motorcycles passed me. At least I knew I was on the right path.

Finally, I was clearly topping out. Then came the downhill single track run for 4 ½ miles. What a hoot.

Now I Get It. No crashes and I am sure almost anyone could have done it faster, but Now I Get It! No air for me, although there were clearly some ramps that had been used by others.

Even some water hazards. It is a lot steeper gulley than it looks in the photo and I was not sure how to navigate this. I ended up walking my bike across (chicken) though I am sure there are riders that would bunny hop it without a thought.
And some spots to just let the bike run.  I forgot to check the max speed when I finished, but anything down a tight single track can seem pretty fast.

And some nice views. I knew I would like that part, the peace of being off road and up in the hills. Someday I would like to do a back country multi day trip. But I was totally surprised at my reaction to the downhill. Now I get it.

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