Friday, June 15, 2012

Epic Ride

Buggered Pig
For many weeks since I found out good the fortune to write my Government final Gas Fitter exam a day earlier than expected I had been planning a lengthy mountain bike ride. I tossed around a few ideas, one being riding from my house, across Bevan road to Comox Lake and up Forbidden Plateau, ride the trails back down, and home again. That would have been a huge day. Massive for me. I can ride a metric century on my skinny tires, but 20 plus kilometers on the fat tire, including half of those climbing, is tough. I was pretty keen on this ride. Then the thought of day tripping to Hornby to ride Mt. Geoffry came into play, but that was quickly shot down as too long of a time to be away, especially when there are kids to pick up from school. Getting Natalie to and from school is something that I am almost never involved in. It is nice to speak with the parents and see the kids. They are all growing and changing so much.
Great signage
So Russ and I decided that a ride in Cumberland would suit our purposes. Even though Cumberland is our home turf and naturally our most ridden trails, some new turf was opened up recently that we were stoked to explore. I accompanied Natalie on a bike ride to school in the morning, and once Russ arrived we made a stop by at Cumberland Chiropractic to visit with Dr. Colin Wilson. Colin is not just a chiropractor, he also is responsible for the maps that the local bike shops have of the Cumberland and Forbidden trails, proprietor of, the local mountain biking website, complete with forum, online maps and photos. He is the man in the know, and he invited us down to his practice to pick up a hot off the press maps. It had included the newest trail in Cumberland called Potluck. Colin had published a ride route on another user based mountain bike website called Trail Fork. The loop included a dozen or more trails and about 17 kilometers of riding and we were going to base our loop loosely on this one.We chatted for half an hour about different trail related banter and came back to my house to "release the hound". Marshall would never let me forget it if I left him behind again.
Great vista

I was so pumped about going for a long ride, the actual hard work of the ride was not taken into consideration. Straight away the lungs and legs were hurting. Catching my breath was not coming easy. Russ was feeling about the same way, but we knew that a lot of hard work to get up to see this new trail and enjoy the "fun" part of the day. The first trail we hit was "Missing Link" which travels through a few year old clearcut and has a flowy end section that dumps you onto the end of "Two and a Juice". This is the section where "Two" has two steep downhill sections. Take some care to ride down, with some flat rock and many roots. They are fun, take your time if you are not a confident rider. We had earlier mused about what our classification of beginner trail is in the Comox Valley. Many of our XC trails have steep decents that border on downhill, but the decents are mixed in with bridges, skinnies, roots and other technical ingredients. Our XC is a real mixed bag, making it  fun and challenging. 
Clever sign
Soon we were on "Buggered Pig". "Buggered" is another one of the aforementioned XC trails. It has a pair of steep technical decents as well as rooty climbs and elevated wood work. It has been one of the stand-bys in my riding in Cumberland, as well as one that I often walked before I had a bike. We were soon popping back out onto the main logging road again for the climb up to "Bucket of Blood" and "Bear Buns". This is an intense climb as anyone who has participated in the upper trails. It climbs approximately 300 meters in 3 kilometers. The views from the top are beautiful, showcasing the whole Comox Valley. I will admit that I left the saddle to walk up some of the steeper sections. My wind did not improve on the climb. And a never satisfied thirst. It took close to an hour to get to where we wanted to. And then we realized that we had ridden up part of "Bucket" so we turned around and headed back down. "Bucket" is classed on the map at XC but the upper part, in my opinion, verges on a DH route. A long technical decent had me back on two feet, and an intimidating steep bridge that I just couldn't bring myself to ride down. We had originally discussed riding back up the road and riding "Bear Buns", but we decided that it was too much time and energy to get back to Sykes Bridge and carry on to "Thirsty Beaver" and  "Potluck".
My pal in the creek
We crossed Sykes bridge and had a nice cold drink out of the creek. While I don't normally suggest doing this, the water was running cold and clear after the recent rains. And it tasted wonderful. Another five kilometers of riding, hike a bike and walking to get us up to "Potluck" via "Upper Thirsty Beaver". "Thirsty" was a mud hole and was going to be a challenge to come back down. We first rode "Thirsty" last season and it has quickly become a favorite. A nice mix of up and down, as well as skookum stunts and bridges. Many meters of bridge work ushers a rider over a wet section of trail that is particularly exciting. Once we hit Trent River main it was time to stop for a snack of apples and salmon jerky. Fulled up we carried on to the highly toted "Potluck" Built by a group called the River Rats, they have collectively created some of the most wonderful trails, including "Thirsty Beaver". "Potluck" didn't dissapoint. It was pretty sloppy to begin with, and soon we were rolling down fresh tracks, over so many meters of board walk, including one that I would estimate at over 300! So impressive. We even rode through an old first growth tree, that was burned decades ago. I have never experienced that before.
Sykes Bridge
Potluck ended back at the top of "Thirsty Beaver" and with a challenging decent down because of the mud, we were getting pretty worn out by this time. "Lower Thirsty" was less mucky and full of stunts, decents and more bridgework. I feel like this is my favorite section of the trail and worth the long ride up the hill. We dropped out of "Thirsty" on to the road we spun up to go higher, and at the head of "Teapot", a very fun trail with only a shorty up hill section. It is somewhat rooty, void of stunts and heavy on the flow. Some puddles got us really muddy, but considering the mess that was up higher, not too bad at all. "Teapot" intersects with numerous other trails along the way, and just before the terminus, meets up with "That Dam Trail" We have ridden "That Dam" several times, including once while the trail was covered in snow. That was a challenge! "That Dam" was carved from the forest this past fall and winter and has quickly gaining a following. I really enjoy it. A bit of a climb brings you up to the start of the flowy decent. The only stunt, besides a couple small bridges, is a long log ride. It is intimidating looking. The log has expanded metal on it and it is quite wide. I successfully rode the log this time, it wasn't that bad and I felt really good for it.

My rig

"That Dam" drops us out at Allen lake where Marshall was already in swimming when I caught up with him and Russ. We chatted for a bit and saw a lady come out of the trail, with a really small dog. It was terrier type dog, and I had never seen such a tiny canine out mountain biking. Good for them. It was covered in mud and having a great time. We agreed upon to head straight back to the house, as we were exhausted. And poor Marshall. By the time Russ and I hit the steep part of the main road, he could not keep up. I had to stop to allow him to catch up. That was a big day for all three of us. We finished our day with the pump track trail across from the chlorine shack. 

It was a great time today. Unfortunately I think that dehydration was the root cause of my challenged ride. That was probably the biggest day I have had on a mountain bike thus far in my involvement of this sport. Get out and enjoy Cumberland and all that the trails have to offer. Find Adventure.

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