Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pee Wee Ride Report

Priest Lake overnighter on tap.  First up, thought I would hit up the Pee Wee Trail network on the way.  Low lying trails, often frequented by horse backers and ORVs, meaning should be free of snow and downfall.

Now Pee Wee is one of take the good with the bad rides.  Awesome views up top and killer downhill singletrack.  However, the loop up to the top is on some rather steep and nasty atv trails.  The climb can really be a real killer early in the season before you get your legs.

Oh, I forgot my camera for this trip, so here are some even lower quality pics than normal.
And then see the reward for all your effort?  Ran into a couple motorcycles who happened to be carrying a chainsaw.  They were making all the loops and cutting as they went.  Perfect timing on my part.  Didn't have a single downfall, and trail was damn near all dry.  Had to cut the ride short though, as Zags were playing in the afternoon, and beers were definitely in order after that climb.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bikepacking Lewiston/Winchester

Remember last year how I injured myself?  It was at the beginning of the Fall, which is when I actually have time to ride and do the bulk of my mountain biking.  Dr. said no biking (and absolutely no mountain biking) for a few months.  It was shortly after that, some friends asked if I wanted to go with them on an overnighter.  I thought, what the hell, why not.  Pack stuff on your bike and head on an adventure with friends all sounded pretty good.  Even though it did kinda go against Dr. orders.  I have done a lot of different biking, but never really any bike packing.  That trip was a blast, for a lot of reasons, but it really turned me on to a new thing to do with my bike.

All winter I have been scheming of ideas to go on another bike overnighter, or as some refer to as a "micro tour."  Plans were hatched.  We packed up and drove down South to Lewiston.  We hit up the local brewery, Riverport Brewing.  And also hit up the bike shop, Ride on Bikes.  Remember, when visiting a new town to ride, these are 2 places you should always hit...the exactly order does not matter.

Anyways, we stayed the night in one of the cabins at Hell's Gate State Park.  Hmm, coffee in the morning overlooking the river...
Next morning, all packed up, we headed out the bike path and eventually connected to Lapwai Road.  There we did a little gravel grinder and finally ascended on the small town of Lapwai.

After Lapwai, it was Hwy 95, where we got our one and only flat (I think that is pretty good for riding down there).
It was a short stretch on Hwy 95 to the Old Winchester Grade.  This old road has become somewhat of a famous hill climb, and is 1 of the 3 major Lewiston grades.  Beautiful views of the patchwork like farmland abound.  The road surface is great and looking back on it, it looks like a big tapeworm...I mean that in a good way.  The grade is steady and never breaks until the top.  You are looking at 15 miles to the town of Winchester from the turn off.
We ended the day at one of the yurts that sit next to the lake at Winchester Lake State Park.  Weather was perfect that day.  We logged 45 miles and 4,100 vert.  I slept like a baby that night as rain pelted the canvas.  I woke in the morning to the wide open glass dome in the top of the yurt, which featured some rather white looking stuff on it.  Yes, it was 36 degrees and snowing for breakfast and coffee outside.
It was kinda hard to get motivated, but we packed up, said good bye to the warm yurt and headed down the Hwy 95 grade in the pouring rain.  We stopped in Culdesac for some soup and warmed/dried out.  After that stop, the weather started to break and it was blue skies and warmer temps for the rest of our ride back to Hell's Gate.

It was a grand little overnighter.  We had a little bit of everything thrown our way, which only added to the adventure.  I can't wait to pack up my bike and head out on another micro tour...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hoarfrost not whorefrost

I heard some chaps went to ride Bernard Peak the other day.  Lots and lots of trees and bad hoarfrost.  All typical for this early.  Did you see the previous post on Bead Lake?  Some trails are gonna take some more time.

Hoarfrost is a weird thing.  It appears in the morning and can disappear as it thaws in exposed areas.  Shaded areas can maintain throughout the day.  The season for hoarfrost on trails seems to be short.  It never really hangs around for long.  But it can be a real biatch to ride!  My advice for tackling hoarfrost?  Avoid it.  By that, I mean look for the ice crystals and broken ground in the trail and steer for hardpack.  Usually, although not always, there is a path through or around the hoarfrost in the tread.  Hoarfrost tends to cluster near the upside of the trail, as moisture runs down the hillside.  That means, often times, your best path is a narrow strip of tread on the downhill side of the trail.

One last note, it is "hoarfrost" not "whorefrost."  Although it has been said the the term originated from scantily dressed prostitutes who died from exposure to the cold.  Or at least according to what I read on google.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bead Lake Ride Report

Just a little FYI, our trails are opening up about a month ahead of schedule.  Yes, typically, Syringa, Gold Hill, Mineral Point, etc. would not be clear and rideable until at least mid to late March.  So, you might go ride those trails and think, "dude other trails are probably open too!"  I would say no, you see we are a month ahead of schedule which means it is gonna take a few more weeks (or several) for other low lying trails to open up.

I went out to Bead Lake, it is typically one of the top 5 I ride at the beginning of the season.  I started to get some signs I might be a bit early in the season though when I saw a tree down on the upper road, snow covering the main parking lot and half the lake still frozen.  I could have turned and went back down to the logger bar and had a cold one.  But, I figured I come all this way, so I would give it a shot.

I had my saw and cleared trail as I moseyed around the lake to the back side.  There is where I turned and headed back.  I was cold.  And the hoarfrost was really beginning to wear on me.  It made climbs challenging to maintain traction.  Descents felt like an endo waiting to happen every time your front wheel would break through.  All in all a good day, but I would wait a couple more weeks before I hit this trail up again.