Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tire Mountain

My last ride in Oregon was up to Tire Mountain, sometimes referred to as Tired Mountain. To start I had the option of backtracking on the road or taking a singletrack shortcut. As is the tradition with shortcuts I think I would have been better off going the long way around. The trail started off going up, and continued going up for almost 2 kilometres. Then I hit an intersection, turned left and bombed back down for 2 kilometres to the road. The road followed the Willamette River for several kilometres before turning away and climbing up into the hills.

After few more kilometres on a logging road I reached the bottom of the Cloverpatch Trail. This was a pretty nice trail which climbed about 4 kilometres up to a ridge. It had several nice sharp switchbacks and was a bit loose in a few places, which lead to a bit of walking. At the top of the ridge the trail descended through an old clear cut, which wasn't so clear anymore. I got soaked from lots of wet leaves and cut-up by some nasty blackberry bushes. The trail eventually left the clear-cut and went back into the forest. From there it was a really nice descent to the junction with the Tire Mountain Trail.

The Tire Mountain Trial was beautiful. It is part of the Eugene to Crest Trail network. This is a system of trails which connect the town of Eugene with the Pacific Crest Trail. Unfortunately the trail led back up the ridge I had just descended. Just as the track finally gets back up near the ridge a short side-trail leads to the top of Tire Mountain. I left the bike and walked up the trail hoping to get some nice views,but that was not going to happen. There was a nice clear spot up at the top, but tress had grown up all around to block any views. I felt a little disappointed, but I was still pretty happy knowing that at least the rest of the ride should mostly down hill.

I got back down to the bike and took off again. The trail went up and over the top of the ridge and continued along the much drier, southern side. It is pretty amazing when the trail pops out of the trees into these clear areas with pretty funky rock formations.

After continuing along the ridge for another few kilometres I finally intersected the Alpine trail, which is best known for its inclusion in the Cascade Creampuff 100 mile race every year. From here I had about 10 kilometres of amazing singletrack ahead of me. Even better is the fact that there is almost 1000 metres of descent, as well. There is just something about flying down the side of ridge on a strip of dirt about 40-50 cm wide at speeds up to 40 kilometres per hour that just blows me away. It is such an incredible feeling.

I made safely back to the car in just under 4 hours after riding nearly 44 kilometres. The bike is now boxed and with UPS. I fly down to Phoenix on Monday, and will hopefully get the bike back on Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

McKenzie River Trail

Today, I was back up in the mountains. I was a little worried, because it was only about 4ÂșC when I left the house. It is getting pretty late in the year and the mornings have been getting cooler and cooler. Autumn colors are beginning to appear all over.

Lava flow by Clear Lake

By the time I reached the trailhead and got myself ready it had warmed up considerably. I started just below the lava flows, about 18km from the actual start of the trail. My plan was to ride up the trail to Clear Lake, ride around the lake and back down the trail. Starting out in the lava flow is a bit masochistic, but there is a good place to park and it makes for a good length ride.

Typical lava flow section

Family Weekend

I spent most of the weekend hanging out with my family. Friday night I went over to Craig and Dawn's and watched my nieces while they went out for dinner to celebrate their anniversary. Saturday, I went back over to Corvallis and rode up Dimple Hill. In the evening we went out for Mexican food. Sunday, we drove up to the Evergreen Air Museum. It is the home of the Spruce Goose, which oddly enough is made mostly of birch.

Spruce Goose

Friday, September 21, 2007

Waldo Lake

Finally a nice day! Good thing too, because I headed up into the high country. Waldo Lake sits at about 1800m in elevation. There is a track, open to mountain bikes, that circumnavigates the lake.

I started riding anticlockwise from the North Waldo Campground. The track went straight into the Taylor Burn, an area affected by fire in 1996. Not long after I started, I came around a corner to find a doe in the middle of the trail, and her fawn not far away. She wasn't too shy and I managed to take a picture.

The Taylor Burn and Waldo Lake Trail

I had some company on the trail today

The trail rolls along beside the lake for more than 30km. There were a few climbs, but nothing particularly long or steep. It did have its share of rocks and roots to keep things interesting. I managed to get some good views of the nearby volcanoes from various spots around the lake.

Middle and South Sister

Diamond Peak

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hardesty Mountain

I took the day off from biking yesterday. The last few weeks before leaving I was snowboarding and recovering from snowboarding, which has left me lacking in cycling fitness. A day off was required to rest some aching muscles and take care of a few errands.

Todays ride combined a couple of newer favorites, Hardesty Mountain and Goodman Creek Trails, into a fairly lengthly loop. The track down Hardesty Mountain is probably the most amazing descent I have ever ridden. It drops over a 1000m in 8km. Goodman Creek Trail is a fun trail that rolls along the side of Goodman Creek.

To get to the top of Hardesty Mountain I rode up Goodman Creek Trail to where it meets Goodman Creek Road. I turned left and continued up the fireroad to the Lost Creek trailhead. I should have paid more attention to the trail description which said technical climb up the ridgeline. Switchbacks & views. This trail turned into a brutal climb up some pretty amazing switchbacks. It didn't help that I climbed up into the clouds and got pretty cold and wet.

Climbing up Last Creek Trail

Switchback. The track continues downward in the right half of the picture

I finally reached the top of the ridge and turned left onto the appropriately named Sawtooth Trail. This track followed the ridgeline and went up and down like riding along the profile of a saw blade. The nice thing was that the ridge had some southern exposures which were warm and dry. I was getting pretty cold, tired and wet by this point and the brief bit of sun and warmth perked me right up.

Sawtooth Trail

From the end of Sawtooth Trail I picked up the Hardesty Mountain Trail. From here it takes about 30 minutes to ride back to the car. In that whole time I think I had pedal about two minutes. The track is not very technical and flows, which makes it very very fast. However, there are a few rocks, roots and switchbacks to keep you on your toes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Marys Peak

Today I headed up to Marys Peak. This was another regular ride when I used to live in Oregon. During the summer of 1993 my friends and I came up here at least twice a week. Back then we were shuttle bunnies and would take two cars so we wouldn't have to ride up the hill. I didn't have that luxury today so I had to do things a little differently.

I parked at the bottom of Marys Peak Long and Technical (aka North Ridge Trail) and rode an old fire road over to the bottom of Marys Peak Fast Trail (aka East Ridge Trail). As I started riding up Marys Peak Fast Trail I thought to myself "this is not nearly as fast going up."

I did however have more opportunities to enjoy the views. The track climbs gently up the ridge through a massive Douglas Fir forest. Everything was still pretty wet from the rain the night before and the smell was amazing. The track seemed to get rockier and steeper as it climbed up the side of the peak.

Marys Peak singletrack

The track emerges from the forest at a parking lot near the summit of the peak. From here I started down Marys Peak Long and Technical. This track got its name from the fact that it is longer than Marys Peak Fast Trail and much more difficult to ride. It is littered with rocks and roots which are nasty enough, but when they are wet they are completely diabolical. I managed to make it down in one piece, but I had to get off and walk several sections.

The track goes between the two trees in the center of the picture

I was amazed at how many times I thought to myself that this or that section looked familiar. I haven't been on this track in maybe 10 years, but parts of it felt like I had just been on it last week. Funny.

Silver Falls State Park

Sunday I drug my family to Silver Falls State Park for a picnic lunch to celebrate my birthday. It is one of my favorite places in Oregon; you can do a nine mile hike and see 10 different waterfalls. Most of them fall over outcrops of Columbia River Flood Basalt. In some places the trail even goes behind the waterfalls.

The weather Sunday wasn't too good. It was sprinkling lightly and it was a bit chilly. After we had lunch and cake we went for a short walk around South Falls.

My brother Craig, his wife Dawn and daughters Kortney, Emmalee and Brittney

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dimple Hill

I headed back over to Corvallis this morning to ride another old favorite. I started out in Chip Ross Park and rode up to the summit. It is a pretty quick trip up a wide singletrack. It is a good thing the tracks are wide in this area, because it is infested with poison oak. When we used to ride around here when I was younger I would come home covered in it.

A short track down the other side takes you down to an intersection. I continued straight through it and into an old orchard. The track drops down to a logging road and then continues upward on a singletrack named Horse Trail. This track climbs up the side of Dimple Hill. It doesn't look very steep but it sure feels like it its. Horse Trail eventually dumps you out on a another logging road which leads to the top of Dimple Hill.

From the top it is a Dave Osmond 'all downhill from here' back to the car. Basically that means that it has several climbs along the way, but nothing too nasty. The The track isn't very technical, but it is pretty fast. Speeds of 40km/hour+ are common. I am really bad at stopping to take pictures when I am riding. I lost all my momentum on a sharp turn so I stopped take a picture.

These guys were heading up the track and added a nice bit of action to the photo.

Friday, September 14, 2007


I arrived in Oregon yesterday. The trip was pretty uneventful and I only had a slight delay leaving San Francisco due to fog.

Today, I managed to get the bicycle assembled and and take it for a test ride. I even had everything I needed, except the front brake, which arrived (via UPS) around lunchtime. After I got it all sorted I headed off to MacDonald Forest for a nice little test ride. Everything worked pretty well except the rear dérailleur - it is toast. I rode up a fire road for about 3km, which led to one of the first singletracks I ever rode. I don't really know the name of the track. My friend Casey and I always referred to it as 'The trail we rode twice that one time.' Because, the first time we rode it, we liked it so much we rode back up the hill and did it again.

The best part of the test ride was that my body even managed to work pretty well. I still feel pretty tired, but managed to get up the hill pretty comfortably. My knee felt a little funny (I smacked it pretty hard on our first trip to Ruapehu), but I was forced to take it easy on the climbs (because the chain kept slipping) so it should get eased back into use.

The weather has crapped out a bit. It even rained a bit today. It wasn't bad though. In fact it was probably pretty good that it was a bit cooler.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Were off!

Helen and I are both off on new adventures. Helen left yesterday on the Tangaroa for her first work cruise. I dropped her off and got a tour of the boat.

The Tangaroa docked at Burnham Wharf

Note the car for scale.

I leave tomorrow for Oregon. I will try to keep the blog updated with tales of my family and mountain bike rides.

Anniversary Ski Weekend

Saturday was our second second wedding anniversary. Since we didn't do much for our first second wedding anniversary (except move into the new house), we decided to head up to Ruapehu again. We had planned to leave early on Friday so that we could get a few runs in before the lifts closed, but unfortunately we weren't able to get away as early as we wanted. We did get to see a pretty amazing sunset though.

Ruapehu just after sunset.

Saturday the weather wasn't great and the mountain was ridiculously busy. The snow was a bit softer than last time, which combined with sharpened edges on my board made turning much easier. I was finally starting to get the hang of things by the end of the day.

Sunday we got up early, hoping to get a few runs in before the masses showed up. We were on the lift before 8:00am. The weather had cleared up considerably and there were only a few people there. Helen was back on her skis (which also got a sharpen) after boarding yesterday. We had a great time. There were no lift queues and we had probably done as many runs by 10:00am as we did the whole day yesterday. We stopped for a break and some hot chocolate.

It got a little busier after 10:00am, but the place was still pretty empty. We heard that the forecast was not very good, which may have kept people away. Also, the All Blacks (NZ rugby team) played their first match of the World Cup the night before. People may have stayed upto watch that and were just slow to get going.

We kept going until about 1:00pm when we finally ran out of energy. Plus, we still had a 4.5 hour drive back to Wellington and Helen was leaving for her cruise the next day.