Saturday, June 11, 2011

Leave for RAAM in 1 Week!!

For those that don't know, I volunteered to be the bike mechanic for Team Laughing Dog (TLD) and their quest to compete in the Race Across America (RAAM).  It has been a year of planning, training, more planning, stratagizing, more planning, some beer drinking (we are sponsored by Fred after all), more get the point.  At this point, I'm ready to do this!!
Today our 2 support vans pulled out of Sandpoint for a road trip down to Oceanside, CA which is the starting line for the race on June 18th.  Over the next week the riders and crew will have bike inspections, van inspections, crew meetings, rider meetings, crew chief meetings...have I mentioned how much I love to plan...all in preparation for the big day.

As for me I'm heading down to join the rest of my crew next Thursday.  I will be out of the shop from June 16-28th.  A couple things to note: Greasy Fingers Bikes N Repair will march on with Jane, Dave and Kevin (and Shadow) picking up the slack while I'm gone.  Feel free to harass them a bit.  While I'm on the road, you can track the team's progress on our TLD website (we will be projecting gps updates every 10 mins), Jane will be updating a big route map daily in the shop and I will be providing personal musings on the GF Facebook ...when I'm not wrenching bikes or trying to get some sleep.

Oh, and a couple more links.  More about the race across america and the whole reason we are doing this crazy shit, to raise money for autism.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Moscow Mountain

Day 2 of our search for warmer weather took us to Moscow Mountain.  This trail system has a few entrances.  We entered off Lewis Road, just North of Moscow.

A little background on Moscow Mountain.  All the trails are on private property.  The trails were built by MAMBA, the local bike club.  The land owners don't want the trails publicized or marked.  Any of this sound familiar.  So how do you find your way around?  MAMBA has taken an interesting approach and put all the trails on their club website.  To access full details on the trails, you have to pay $15 and become a MAMBA member.  As for me, I like to know where I am going, so I paid my dues.

All this sounds good in theory, but the maps you gain access to on the MAMBA site are not topo maps with elevation lines, contours or geographical features.  They are characture maps or artistic impressions.  In addition, you can't print off a nice full-size map like you would get from a store, but things look real good on the computer screen.  Hmmm.  I printed off 3-4 pages of trails and away I went.

I started on the Headwater Trail with the intent of working my way over to the other side of the park.  I'd like to tell you what trails I did after Headwater, but I have little idea.  Besides for some "non-motorized" trail signs on Headwater (see pic below), none of the other trails had signs.  I wandered around for 3 1/2 hours and eventually did make it to the other side of the park where I met Nick.
one of the many trail intersections I contemplated
Nick, bless him, offered to show me around the mountain.  He stated that he rode the mountain all the time and was very active in the local bike club.  Good news for me.  We chatted and rode around for another hour as he showed me some of his favorite loops.  After which, we were both tired and ready to call it quits.  When you don't have to contemplate every turn, things are much more enjoyable.

I found the trails on Moscow Mountain to be very buff and well maintained.  The flow of many of the trails lends to the fact that they were build with mountain biking in mind.  There are lots of trails and miles of trails in the network, so the amount of various loops and routs are endless.

For me, I found Moscow Mountain to be like most bike parks/trail networks I've been too...think Syringa, Beacon Hill, Farraguat or Riverside State Park.  Trails are awesome, but somewhat short.  Linking is always fun, if you can find your way.  Many parks seem to have a hard time mapping their areas with all the pirated trails that seem to arise.  With trails/roads heading in all directions, with little signage and with very basic mapping, navigation can be a challenge.  Bike park maps become what looks like a big plate of spaghetti.  For locals that have spent the time memorizing their way, it is no doubt a valuable asset.

In conclusion, the Asotin Creek Trail and Moscow Mountain, taken in combination, made the trip down south well worth it.  After all, it is only 2 hours to the trailhead.  As for the $15 membership and access to the MAMBA website...that money might be better served on a 12-pack to con a local into showing you around the mountain.