The rain had made traction near perfect. My tires dug into the soil as I sped down the trail. Up ahead a beautiful sweeping hairpin came into sight. Even with the berm built by motorcycles I had to decrease my speed a lot. The index finger of my left hand extended to the brake lever with the right shortly behind. With my right I simply pulled hard, locking up the rear tire in a controlled skid. On the left I modulated the amount of braking so as to keep from grabbing too much and going over the bars or washing the front wheel out. The brake bumps coming into the corner made this difficult. Now firmly in the turn, tires pushed up against the berm, I stuck my leg out like I was on a motorbike and railed around the corner. Brakes off now, I swept around the turn as if the bike had an engine. As quickly as my foot darted out to help with balance it was back in and applying power as I was now exiting the turn. Once again the trail went straight, cutting across the hillside until I got to the next hairpin and the cycle started again.
That is how my Sundaymy day two ridewent on this double header of a weekend. Sounds like fun huh? Well, before the guys and I could enjoy a nirvana-like descent, we had to climb, and I mean a lot. Just climbing out of bed was hard after listening to it rain for a good portion of the night and morning hours. Feeling good, I put on my skinsuit (a one piece cycling outfit consisting of a top and bottom) first thing. As we ate a breakfast of rice and eggs with some leftover salsa we decided to pack up and ride Nason Ridge which was on the other side of Lake Wenatchee. It was described as having rolling climbs in the beginning with a few short hike a bike (hike a bike is when youre forced to walk your bike over a section of trail) sections further up. This appealed to us after the brutal climbing we endured on Basalt Peak yesterday.
We found the trailhead without a problem and once again it was quite warm though it was still spitting rain every once in a while. The trail was flat for roughly a few hundred yards before it slanted upwards. This upward slant would last two miles before we hit the first flat spot and in the next 4 miles we only descended twice. The climbing was relentless. Nothing about this ride is rolling.
The first part of the climb was straight and barely turned at all, while the second half was filled with tight steep switchbacks through lush forests. Every once in a while we would hit an open area in a clearcut giving us limited views due to the low cloud cover. The higher we went the more rain fell and the colder it got. Clouds hung in the tree tops depositing their moisture as they worked their way through the forest. By the time we reached mile 6.5 we were all cold and wet and had enough. Despite the cold we all agreed we needed to eat some food before turning around for the day. No sooner than we stopped the extra clothes came out and layers were added. We huddled under some trees in a feeble attempt to keep dry.
Lunch didnt last long as one, we were cold and two, we wanted to experience the downhill back to the cars. Personally I couldnt wait to rip down the trail. The whole way up all I could think about was how sweet going back down would be. It made all the climbing worth it knowing I got to go back down it. As quickly as we started down we had to stop so Rob could put air in his front tire. He recently switched over to tubeless tires and was still having trouble getting the front wheel to seal properly. As Rob pumped feverishly with his small trail pump, James started to run in place. It was funny to watch him in his rain jacket and shorts trying to keep warm. James is quite lean and body fat is not something he has a lot of, so getting cold is not hard to do for him.
For my part, I was already in the zone and thinking about the descent and didnt even notice the cold. Rob finished and we were off. Left, straight, right, straight, left we went as we descended switchback after switchback. With each corner I grew more confident and my speed increased. In a Zen-like state I sped down the mountainside. We stopped just twice on the way down to regroup and make sure everyone was there. What took one hour and twenty-five minutes to go up only took 30 minutes to go down.
Saturday we were treated to the Chikamin Ridge descent and today it was Nason Ridge. I can say they are the two best downhills Ive ever ridden on my cross country bike. I can still see the turns in my head and feel the exhilaration of the descent. I cannot wait to go back next year!
Get out there!