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Mountain Biking and Bushwhacking Gales Creek

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Winter is just around the corner and the Pacific Northwest has been getting hammered with rain. Many of our weekends have been spent on the road bikes, looking at the weather and praying for a day to hit the trails. Just when it starts to get you down a window opens and your sitting in the back seat on your way to the trails. I am staring out the window. My eyes fixate on the clouds above. It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve been on the Mountain bike. The separation is sobering. I know next to nothing about where we are headed. It’s better that way.

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We’re in the Tillamook Forest at the Gale Creek trail head. It’s really cold out and we’re all trying to figure out how much gear to wear. The creek is a river and the it rose during the storm is incredible. From here things just kept getting more interesting.

We make our way to the trail head. The dirt is good and I am tripping out on how fucking beautiful the forest is. Trees are down on the trail. One after another; yet we push forward. There are some runners off in the distance. We’re not alone. As they pull into focus we learn that they ran into a avalanche up ahead and turned around. The trail is gone and theres no way around it. Still, we pedal forward determined to see this wash out ourselves.

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The creek is a river and we need to cross it. It’s cold out and no one wants to get there feet wet. I am indifferent and accept my wet fate. Michael on the other hand…. was determined to keep his feet dry. Soon after we find ourselves confronted with the washed out trail. Theres only one way around it and that way is up. This is the part of the ride where mountain biking turns into bushwhacking. Every mountain bike ride should be this awesome!

The bushwhack worked and we’re back on the trail. The rest of the ride was made up of incredible single track with dozens of water crossings. Too many to count. Jeff led the effort in clearing the trail with a packable saw and together we took care most of the down trees. I learned an important lesson on being a good trail steward and definitely have plans to start carrying a hand saw on future rides.

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You can download information and the trail map to Gales Creek here : http://tillamookforestcenter.org/resources/Gales_Creek_Trail.pdf

Velo Cult Team Ride : Rocky Point Road

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[sliderpro id="10"] Let’s face it. It’s been that kind of winter. The weather has been pretty rough. Even for the most hearty of cyclists who chant death before trainers…….. But what can usually coax anyone into the cold and onto the wet roads of the west hills? A great group of people who actually relish in the exact elements that will drive most folks to a spin class or a trainer (myself included). Thanks to Andy who was the organizer of Sunday’s ride and his choice was Rocky Pt. Road. Logistically we decided it best to car shuttle out of town as opposed to schlepping the sloppy dirty 30. Since it was a day where no amount of gear, no more how high tech or water proof, you were going to be soaked through.

This was a great choice, but it did mean we were in the ride the moment we shoved off and up the average 8% gradient for the first 5 or so miles, eventually reaching the gravel accompanied by steady rain with huge drops making visibility an issue. Everyone had their own pace and seemed to get out of the ride what they wanted. AS per usual with this group, there was no man or woman left behind. This is why I truly enjoy this group and everyone who rides for Velo Cult. It’s about being out there! Being on two wheels and just riding!

Finally at the top of our climbing, we stared down the barrel of a big descent. And once we did descend down the backside of Rocky Pont Rd, streaking by small piles of snow hanging for dear life, the rain cleared up and warmed up a bit making for a super-fast drop to the bottom…where we realized we had to now turnaround and climb up what we just bombed down. Well, some us didn’t realize it was an out and back. OOPS! So, with the same cheer and bravado we had at the start, we made the U-y and headed up.

At this point, I do think a bit of a “ok I’m super soaked and cold. Let’s get back to the cars” mentality set in. So the climb back up and over seemed to be at a quicker pace and we all found a pace that made the turn around feel a bit shorter in length. Maybe it was the cold and wet. Maybe it was a bit of suffering. Perhaps I was woozy from my own effort, but the return trip was a bit fuzzy….unmemorable even. And just like that another great ride was in the books. The hot shower lasted a bit longer than usual, my gigantic robe was oh so welcoming and the soup was steaming hot! SO! Thank you Andy, Adam, Jeremiah, Craig, Chris, Lee and (Bethany?). I cannot wait for the next ride!

Words : Matthew Barney Photos : Christopher San Agustin

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Oregon Outback : The Final Stretch

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I am awaken in the middle of the night by the freezing cold. I throw on my rain jacket for some extra insulation and eventually drift back off to sleep. I can hear Dave packing up as the sun rises in the distance. Our journey together ends here as he’s got to be at his sag wagon by 1pm. There has to be over 40 Outbackers sprawled out on the grassy lawn in Shaniko. With just over 60 miles to go it’s everyone’s last day on the Outback. We’re back on the road. The pavement points downward and my body feels surprisingly fresh. The road begins to roll and it stretches out as far as the eye can see. The ground begins to crumble as paved roads become gravel rivers rippling into the distance. My body is shattered and I immediately fall off the back. John and I unable to keep up the pace. We silently agree that we’d just take it easy and get through this together.

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Rapha Portland Trophy Cup Race 6 : The Finale

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It’s warm out as I cross the recently opened Tilikum Bridge. I am on my way to compete in the Rapha Portland Tropy Cup at the Portland International Raceway. It’s the last race of the series and I am feeling a little anxious. [portfolio_slideshow id=4810 width=1300]

The venue feels empty and I guess I imagined that there would be more people. Even the taco cart decided to not show up.

I took it easy over the weekend and my legs are free of any lactic acid. I am feeling good. Fresh. I am sitting in the 2nd row. Three minutes to go. Waiting is the worst. The whistle blows and the bunch is off. Theres a crash before the first turn and I make my way around it. Soon after I am forced into the tape. He apologizes but rubbing is racing and theres definitely no hard feelings.

I am back in the race and my efforts are sustainable. I feel strong and I am playing it smart. Two laps to go and I am on the wheel of 13 year old Nathanael Hart. He beat me last week and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to cross the line ahead of him. Its Nathanael and I on the last lap and we’re racing for 8th place. I make my move over the last set of barriers. It would have been over right then and there if it weren’t for lapped traffic. As we make our way onto the last straight away, the checkered flag in the distance, I watch Nathanael sprint by. I cross the finish line with a smile on my face and give Nathanael a huge high five.

What an amazing way to wrap up such an incredible series. Huge shout out to everyone that made the Portland Trophy Cup happen. I had a blast, my wife had a blast and I know everyone else has a blast. I am already looking forward to next year!

Check out the rest of the race write ups here :  Race 1, Race 2, Race 3, Race 5

RAPHA PORTLAND TROPHY CUP RACE 5

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I spent the weekend on the McKenzie River biking in the remote mountains in the Willamette National Forest. My legs are hardened with lactic acid, bruised from miles of single track and bloody from the unforgiving earth. I am on my way to the Portland International Raceway to race the Rapha Portland Trophy Cup. It’s my first race back since getting injured. My legs are dead but my spirits are high. [portfolio_slideshow id=4776 width=1300]

Cyclocross is kinda like going back to school after being on a vacation break. Everyone is grouped up and eyeing the new kids that roll up. One of the major differences though is how warm and inviting the cyclocross community is. I’ve always been an outsider and I imagine that will never change. But I’ve met a lot of cool people through cycling and it’s one of things that brings me back every week.

The B’s are called up and I am sitting in the second row. The race hasn’t even started yet and I am already being pushed around. At this moment I realize what my strategy will be. Ride a manageable pace, make no mistakes and try to see how many people I can pick off.

A whistle is blown and we’re off. I fade to the back of the pack. My breathing is good and I find my rhythm. The race strings out and I can see the lead pack far off in the distance. I am fighting for last place but I am ok with it. I am smiling and it shows in my riding. I am making solid line choices, my hands off the brakes, the barrier mounts and dismounts become fluid. I work my way into 17th place. I am smiling and honestly thats all that really matters.

It’s the last lap and I find myself on the the wheel of a 13 year old. He’s killing it. A rider off the back makes his way up and I witness him bully the younger rider. I wish I had the strength to chase him down. What a fucking asshole.

I cross the finish line with a smile on my face and It’s the first time I’ve consciously enjoyed a cyclocross race.

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Check out the rest of the race write ups here :  Race 1, Race 2, Race 3, Race 5