Sunday, June 28, 2009

You don't need an adventure race to have an adventure!

You don't need to adventure race to have an adventure; this Saturday's ride was absolute proof of that. Dave from Redstone organized the ride, which was billed to be an all-day death march, 6 - 8 hours of riding. Eight brave souls showed up for the ride (Lee, Brian, Dave, Doug, Rob, Don, Jesper and me).

Me and 7 fit guys head out from funky little Jamestown - not a bad view!

The plan was to ride a large sampling of the trails up near Jamestown in the Roosevelt National Forest, starting out along James Creek, heading down Bell Gulch, around Gold Lake, up and along a ridge line with views of Gold Hill and then down, down down back to Jamestown. Despite a few obstacles and a major mechanical, the plan was realized almost to a T!

Jesper and I have done the ride along James Creek many times. It is an old road that has been closed to motorized vehicles for years, becoming more and more single track every year. In the spring and early summer, one section of the trail is usually covered in water. We've had a lot of rain this spring and the result was that a significant portion of the entire trail was under water.

The one section that is often wet was a raging river. Most of us opted to climb up over a steep scree field to get around it. Yay - the adventure had started!!

We usually ride this section, but not when it has white caps! (photo cred Dave Chase)

Jesper and Rob crossing the scree field

Dave decided to forge through the water, practically freezing his nuts off in the process (that water is COLD!).

Dave opting to take the creek route while the rest of us scrambled over a scree field

It wasn't easy either way. We rode along the trail/creek for awhile, the deafening sound of the supercharged creek filling our heads. It was a hot day, so the splashing and wetting of our feet felt good. The trail eventually crosses the creek and ordinarily this can be easily walked (and sometimes ridden). Not this day. Jesper and Dave waded into the creek, at this point a raging river escaping its banks. I walked in until the water was knee deep. Dang - It was COLD, so cold my feet hurt! The current was also amazingly strong, even at knee-deep depth. I watched as Jesper and Dave struggled in water almost to their waists to make their way toward the middle of the creek (er, river).

Jesper forging into the raging creek

It was pretty clear to me that, at my size, I would not be able to cross the creek without being swept downstream, probably losing my bike in the process. So I headed upstream to the slippery log that lays across the creek. Some of the other guys were there and already crossing it.

Doug crossing the slipperly log

Jesper and Dave soon abandoned their attempt to wade across the water and joined our group, deciding the log was a better option than the creek. I've crossed the log before, even wearing my biking shoes and carrying my bike. But this time, the water was so close to the log and moving so fast it made crossing on the log 'seem' more sketchy. Since half the guys were already across the log, we implemented a little team work to get the remaining bikes safely over. Then the rest of us walked or scootched our butts over the log. Yay - more adventuring!

Making me feel like I was on tightly honed adventure racing team! (photo cred Dave Chase)

I checked my Forerunner - we had gone about 3 miles in one hour. Scree fields and raging river crossings tend to slow a group down! We continued up, up, up, finally reaching the top of the first big climb of the day (there were more to come). After a little snack, we took off, or at least we tried to take off. Lee made it about 50 feet before a rogue rock bounced up and completely sheared his derailleur off! The part was jammed tightly into his cassette. Oddly enough, his replaceable derailleur hanger wasn't bent in the teeniest bit. As the guys tried to extract the derailleur from the cassette, I kept going to let the front of the group know that there was a major mechanical and that Lee would be turning around to walk his bike home.

Lee was BUMMING, not so much because of his bike being broken, but because he was having such a good time and the day was so pretty - he hated the idea of not being able to finish the ride. Jesper, Doug, Don and I hung out and ate some more, waiting for Dave, Brian and Rob to rejoin us. Imagine our surprise when the group came into view with Lee riding along! Brian had masterminded an amazing zip-tie repair that allowed Lee to ride, albeit with only 3 gears, but it was still riding. Our group of eight was still intact!

Lee's zip-tied derailleur

This is where the GPS tracks start to look like an etch-a-sketch doodle (although we never repeated any section either direction except maybe one little tiny connector)!

BLOG EDIT - I had a route posted here, but apparently it caused some controversy among the local ride scene. None of the trails we rode were illegal and all of them were on published maps. Nevertheless, I have removed the image to keep the peace.

We descended a super fun section to a point we had been to before and then pointed the bikes back uphill again for a grueling jeep rode climb I am all too familiar with, except it didn't seem so bad this time. Then we headed down into Bell Gulch on a trail that is labeled as a 'road' on the maps but has reverted to overgrown singletrack over the years. The descent just kept going and is the kind that makes you think, "Hmmm... I'm gonna need to do some serious climbing to get out of here!"

Jesper and I did something like this ride last summer. At that time, we continued on the 'road' west all the way to the Nelson Mine and then hooked back to the east to encounter Gold Lake. For Dave's ride, we took a spur trail almost directly south of Gold Lake and headed north up a stupid steep jeep road. Lots of hiking, which made Dave happy, although no one used his name in vain.

Jesper smiling even on a monster hike-a-bike! (photo cred Dave Chase)

We arrived at Gold Lake and cruised some up and down rollers at around 8,700 feet, hitting a ridge line trail I had not been on before. We stopped once again to put down some food and enjoy the fantastic views.

Not a bad place to take a break (photo cred Jesper Kristensen)

After the ridgeline we had over four ripping miles of endorphine enducing downhill; rocky terrain through the woods and buff super-skinny singletrack through wide open meadows. The amazing beauty reminded me of how fortunate I am to live in this piece of paradise!

Skinny singletrack on a ripping downhill! (photo cred Dave Chase)

After over six hours out on the bikes, we were ready for a beer and excited chatter about the day's events. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day - great ride, great weather, great friends and a great adventure! Who needs racing?!?!?!


Carey said...

Looks like you had fun Jen, the riding up there is nice and feels remote, glad you got to ride some new dirt..however the GPS map of the route is a little disconcerting to see..

Itty Bitty Betty said...

Gone before you posted; all on published maps, but gone nonethelesss....

rozydesouza said...

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