You may have noticed the lack of blog posts over the last couple weeks. This is because I’ve been out of town! There were supposed to be updates from the road, but keyboard time was severely limited. Which is probably a good thing.
I spent the last week and a half exploring the Seattle and Olympic Peninsula, visiting with family and friends. I got to experience the craziness of downtown Seattle, where there are more restaurants and other things to see in a city block than in all of Carson City. To counteract the sensory overload of the big city, we camped on a remote beach in the rain forest, a place that receives 140 inches of rain per year, but where it didn’t rain a drop on us while we visited. We stayed a couple nights in Forks, the town where the Twilight vampire movies were filmed, and where every store was converted into a souvenir shop of sorts, and where gangs of visiting women scoured the town in search of a connection with their imaginary parasitic heartthrobs.
I also got to do some mountain biking! My friend Brian just moved into the Kirkland area, and we got to go out and explore some new trails together. We rode in John MacDonald Park above the Tolt River, a collection of singletrack trails in deep, dark woods. It was such a treat to get to ride something all new. Thick ferns lined the trails. The dirt was full of organic matter, almost like riding in packed coffee grounds. There were several log crossings, and some were hidden in the first leaves of Autumn. Everything was damp, moss covered, and slippery.
I didn’t bring a bike with me, so I had to use Brian’s loaner bike, a 19lb Niner single speed with carbon fiber forks and handle bars, and a lightweight American Classic wheelset. Not too shabby! I was thankful for the light weight, because Brian still had his Michigan gearing setup on the bike, a very tall 34×16! The gearing made the hill climb up to the trails a bit brutal, and some of the tight sections were a bit tricky. Getting that front wheel up over stuff was not a problem though with that carbon fork.
This was Brian’s first time on the trail too. He read the ride description and knew how to get up to the trails, but once we found them, it was all random exploration. Numerous trails branched off the main roads, and the skinny trails in the woods split into multiple trails as well. Having no real idea where any of them went, it was fun to just pick a path and see where it led.
At first we tried hard to keep our bearings, always mindful of how far away we were and which direction we were headed. After a while though, we just started having too much fun and let the trails take us to wherever they were going. Once we stopped to try and figure out a direction using the setting sun. This was difficult with the thick overcast clouds! We thought one way was west, but then decided the complete opposite direction was west only moments later.
We took turns leading, and the leader was put on “Spider Patrol”. Numerous spider webs were strung across the trail, and we were frequently wiping the sticky strands off of us. One time I rode right into the middle of a big web. It pretty much stayed intact, covering my face, with the spider still on the web, dangling right in front of my eyes! That made me stop quick.
The thick woods were very dark, especially under the overcast skies. I brought my light lenses that work so well in the trees around Tahoe, but they turned out to be useless and I stowed them in my pocket. Riding without eye protection proved to be hazardous. One time I rode through a mud bog and flung a chunk of earth into my right eye. I had to stop and flush my eye with my water bottle. A couple sections were so dark that lights would have been helpful. Photography proved to be difficult in the low light, and many photos turned out blurry if the subject wasn’t perfectly still.
Many of the trails had me wondering how the trail builders went about the construction. It wasn’t like you could look across the land and visualize a trail like we do here in Nevada. It almost seemed like you had to just start cutting your way through the jungle, making direction adjustments as you went. However they accomplished it, they did a fantastic job!
We only got to ride for a couple hours, but we had a total blast. The trails were the type of trails that you couldn’t master on the first ride out, and it would be great to go back and learn all the loops and practice all the obstacles. John MacDonald Park was definitely a place you could ride every day and not get bored. There were many signs of new trail construction projects along the way too.
If you’ve only ridden your local trails, I highly encourage you to do some cycling while on vacation. You’ll be surprised how different and fun the experience can be!