Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sabotaged trail?

Normally I try to keep my posts positive, after all, most things relating to bikes and the act of biking are good.  But after my ride on the White Mountain Trail was cut short and my day marred by the acts of some thoughtless individuals, today will be different.  If you are opposed to ranting and raving, mild negativity and the threat of might want to skip this one.

A little history on the White Mountain Trail.  This trail is on the Apache Ridge and originally connected Dodge Peak to the White Mountain Trail and then traveled down the East side of the ridge to eventually end at the back side of McAurthur Lake.  Due to a lack of use over some 50-60 years, much of the trail is difficult if not impossible to find.  This section of trail is part of the Idaho Centennial Trail, a 900 mile connection of trails and back country roads that weave through the heart of the some of the most primitive and beautiful country the state has to offer.  Here is a map of the White Mountain Trail and if you are interested you can read more here.

Let me also be right up front, the White Mountain Trail is in my back yard.  I've spent a lot of time trying to find the entire trail and clear/maintain what is still visible.  It has been a major challenge.  I have been deterred by storms, lack of info, disparity between maps and the actual and most recently sabotage.

Let me now explain.  I was excited to have the day off and took off to drive up the East side of Apache Ridge, parked a few miles below Dodge Peak and biked to the White Mountain trail head. 

the goal: Dodge Peak in the distance
I hadn't biked 30 feet on the trail when I noticed a very fine nylon string strung along the side of the trail.  It was a foot or two above the trail tread and hung in the brush lining the trail.  After following it for several hundred feet, I stopped to investigate more closely.  I followed the string back to it's beginning and found it was tied to a piece of brush.  There went my thought of this being some sort of accident.  It hadn't just gotten hooked on some brush as someone walked the trail.  It was tied in with knots.  Maybe it was some sort of trip line for a game camera left by some hunters?  Nope, I followed from end to end and both ends were attached either to brush or branches.  Hmmm...

This stringing of the trail continued for a mile and a half.  Sometimes it ran along the trail.  Other times it zig-zagged across the trail.  It was obvious someone had spend a lot of time creating this web.  As I rode I tried to keep my distance from the string.  At some points I did have to ride over string that was strung across the trail.  After a mile and a half, I stopped in a meadow to talk to a hiker who was taking some pics.

He said he had noticed the string, but had no idea of its purpose.  He claimed he'd never seen anything like it.  We exchanged stories and he continued up the trail.  I turned to go back down the trail and noticed right away my bike was not right.   I was pedalling but had no freewheel.  My chain kept getting sucked up.  Upon closer observation, I noticed that string had gotten wrapped around my rear hub.  It was wound so tight between the hub and cassette that it had disabled my drive train.  It was also wrapped around the disc side of my hub and in between the bottom bracket and cranks.  I guess I hadn't done as good a job of avoiding the string as I thought.  Son of a bitch!  It now occurred to me that the string was laid to disable mechanized traffic.  Probably by some hunter who didn't want to have his prime spot disturbed.  The intent was to limit trail traffic to hikers only.

note string wrapped around both sides of the hub

I tried to pull the string out, but it was wrapped too tight.  It kept breaking off.  I was screwed.  I was gonna have to walk my bike back to the truck.   I coasted on the downhills.  And walked the flats and uphills.   I fumed the whole way.  Yeah, it was a beautiful day.  Yeah, I had some amazing views, particularly of Roman Nose.  Yeah, I was out in the woods getting some exercise.  BUT, I couldn't get over the fact that someone purposefully created a situation that would damage someone's property.

one of the many great views of Roman Nose...yes I need a better zoom
There was some obvious evidence of a conflict between motorized vehicles (4-wheelers and motorcycles) and hunters in this area...wild, wild West.
one of the many shot up signs in the area

far sign reads, "Warning, 4 Wheeler Nails"
I made it out fine enough and I also learned a lesson.  However,  I spend a lot of time in that area, so a word of warning to the individual(s) who sabotaged a public trail: don't let my find you engaging in any activity like this or I'll put a Marine smack down on your ass!  Over and out... 

Monday, September 27, 2010

POP Year End Party

Last Sunday was the year end party for the Pend Oreille Pedalers at Chris and Leah's house.  The day started with a planned group ride at 11 o'clock.  However, at 11 it was pouring rain.  As we sat under Chris' carport contemplating weather forecasters and their ability to be so wrong, we all expressed a desire to ride regardless of the weather.  As 12 o'clock neared the rain started to let up and we saw a sucker hole appear in the sky to the West.  Being the suckers we are, we jumped on the bikes and headed out.  We started with about 15 riders and with 2 different ride options.  One group rode the Wylie Knob loop clockwise while the second planned to do the Cowboy Trail out and back.

Larry and I discussed our ride options earlier in the week and had decided that we'd done Wylie several times before and it lacked much interest.  Neither of us care to do a lot of road riding on our mountain bikes and the climb is not fun.  Even though there was some group pressure, we stuck to our plan and hit the Cowboy Trail with the group.  And it was awesome!  The trail was nice and tacky from the recent rain.  However, there were also some wet and muddy spots.  The dichotomy between tacky/good traction and slimy/slick on the same sections of trail made route selection very important.  I think it was probably the best conditions I've seen on Cowboy as summer often brings a lot of loose silt to that trail.  Technically, all the challenging sections of the trail were ridable.

Cowboy group getting ready for the fun
Once we got to Grouse Creek and the planned turn around, things got interesting.  Leah threw out a challenge and asked if anyone wanted to wade the creek, climb up Wylie and descend a new trail she'd heard of.  That's all I needed to hear.  "Challenge" and "new" in the same sentence locked it for me.  Larry was not so easily convinced.  However, he and Ted ended up shedding their shoes and socks...but not with some grumbling.

The ride up Wylie was as usual.  "The Nasty" as it is known, is a 25 minute climb up an old washed out road.  The surface is often loose with lots of rolling rocks.  The grade is steady and relentless.  The top is always a pleasant sight.  I splashed my face in the creek.  We all reminded each other of how the climb "really wasn't that bad" and continued over the top and down the other side.

This "new" trail Leah referred too, really wasn't really a new trail, but a very old series of trails/roads and that have started to get some use.  Although the word was that they had been cleared by the horseman, no work in fact had been done.  The Hobbit Trail, as it is referred to, has a lot of potential.  I'd actually ridden it before 2 summers ago.  It's current state is very rough though.  There are lots of down logs and brush growing into the trail.  Stay tuned for possible POP work party to open this up.

We made it back to Chris and Leah's right at 4 o'clock for the start of the BBQ.  Chris and Carlos smoked a couple of lambs and Fred from Laughing Dog supplied brews.  It was an awesome time of grazing, drinking and socializing.  Paula and Arlene gave out some year end awards; the biggest award going to Chris for Member of the Year (great job Chris!).  We had a big fire to gather around.  The weather continued to hold.  Things couldn't have turned out better.

Oh but wait, things did get better with a little game of extreme croquette that went into the dark of the night.  It was a challenge.  Ted took top honors, but we all had fun.

yeah, pretty much what you see is what I could see during my shots
If you aren't a member of POP, check out their website and consider giving $20 to support your local bike club.     

Monday, September 20, 2010

Share the Road?

Some of you may of seen this pic before, but it is worth a second look.  This is the bike of one of our POP members that was run over by a crane on Sagle Road.  Amazingly, it turned out alright for her, but could have been much worse.  The driver of the truck got off with a driving infraction.  We ALL want cars to share the road, but please do your part and wear a helmet and ride defensively.

See you out there!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall Rails to Resort Hill Climb

This will be a somber post.  The Fall Rails to Resort Hill Climb was scheduled for today.  We started our normal routine with setting up road sign at 8:30.  As happens half the time for the Fall climb, weather was iffy.  This morning was no different as he weather radar showed a big bank of moisture headed our way.  No sooner did we get to the top of the mountain and it was raining.  Registration started at 9:30 and guess what?  Yes, it was pouring by then.  We stood under the tent and waited for riders to brave the downpour.  At 10:15, no one had showed and we figured no one was going to, so I headed back up the hill to pick up the road signs.  It was pouring all the way up the mountain. 

While 4 brave souls did show up 10:30, half hour before the 11 o'clock start, they were none too bummed to learn the event was cancelled.  It just wasn't meant to be today.

Adding to the darkness surrounding today, we were also informed earlier in the week that organized events are not allowed on the Basin Trail.  The City called and advised that the Basin Trail is in the same basin as the City of Sandpoint's water drainage/plant and we could not have our dirt portion of the Hill Climb on it.  I of course told them we would respect their wishes.  While the City seems willing to turn a blind eye to people riding on the Basin Trail (as of today), they will not tolerate organized/publicized events any longer.  Had I know that last Fall, I would have made our last Hill Climb more memorable.  We could have went out with a bang!

As I collected the signs in the rain, I recalled all the times I've raced up the trail.  It wasn't always fun...actually it was never very fun until I was sitting in Pucci's with a cold one.  But the race up the trail was definitely a test of your resolve and allowed you to gage your skills among your peers.  It has been a long standing community event organized by many different individuals through the years. 

Although we may be able to still ride the Basin Trail today, racing up it looks like it is done for good.  Thanks to all those that have participated in the past.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

24 Hours for Hank Recap

92 riders and 2 runners participated in this year's 24 Hours for Hank bike race.  Jacob Styler put the smack down with 19 laps!!!  If my math is right, that is 361 total miles.  All the riders did an awesome job.   I snuck away from my bike stand for a few laps and everyone was in good spirits on the course.  This is such a great cycling event for the community, I felt a real positive energy.  Not to mention all the money raised for cystinosis and Hank in the process.  If you couldn't make it this year, mark your calendar cause it's well worth it.

From my perspective next to the bike stand, it was a fairly uneventful 24 hours...that's actually a good thing.  Except for a flat, some minor adjustments and lots of computer issues we only had to put 1 bike down.  It was on life support as we frantically tried to get the old and much neglected road bike back out on the track.  But in the end, it's injuries included a broken chain and 2 failing shifters, and those were just too critical.  Luckily for the rider, someone had an extra bike to loan them for the rest of the race (thanks Sharon).

Big shout out to Kirk Johnson for his help wrenching.  We worked in tandem to keep the 2 four-person RAAM teams up and running, all while tending to the other riders at the event.  Yes, I was double booked, but it all worked out great.  I had a blast!  I love this event.  Here are some pics...
getting ready for the start with my one of many cups o'coffee
mass start...yes, that is a runner and not someone looking for their bike
new this year, kid category...Max Meredith did 21 laps!!
couple shots of RAAM members coming around

here I am working...just in case you thought it was all relaxing
my buddies Dave and Heather Lein took top 2-person, good job!
 If you'd like more info on the race, go to      

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

24 Hours for Hank Race

24 Hours for Hank is this Saturday, September 11-12, 2011.  This is a road ride relay and can be done solo or by team.  Race starts at 11am and each lap is 19 miles on paved county roads with little elevation gain.  It;s a great course!  For more info go to

Event is to raise money for cystinosis research.  Hank Sturgis is a star for the day.   

Even if you can't race, stop by and check out the event and watch some laps.  If you'd like to donate, you can do it right on the 24 Hours for Hank website

I'll be front and center in the action with my bike stand and box o'tools ready to help any riders in need.  Somehow I volunteered for double duty, providing general support for the 24 Hours for Hank riders and for the Team Laughing Dog Team as they train for RAAM next year.  I already have the espresso machine packed.  Hope to see you there!