pnw mountain biking

My first time in Bellingham

My first time in Bellingham

I've driven past Bellingham a dozen times but for whatever reason have never spent anytime there. So when my buddy Eric brought up the idea to go up for a quick mid-week three-day trip I had to jump on board. 

We stayed in an amazing farmhouse in Mt Vernon (Thanks Benny!) and got two solid days of riding in at the mountain bike trails on Galbraith Mountain.

Broken Shorts : Mt Tabor Trail Roast

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[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuDs1ZGzvEA[/embed] This is video number two of an on going series of shorts I am filming. The objective is simply to create a short that captures the ride. Before I moved to New York City and worked as a professional Motion Designer I was a filmmaker. It feels good to play around again even if it's just with my small point and shoot. I have no desire to purchase nicer gear but rather just focus on capturing these little moments out on the trail or the road. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for checking out Broken Shorts.

Syncline : My First Mountain Bike Ride in Oregon

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I spent all winter in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It was the worst winter the city had seen in over 50 years. Good things come to those who wait. New York is behind me now. I will never go back. I am back in Portland Oregon and we’re driving into Washington on our way to Syncline. This is my first experience mountain biking in the Pacific Northwest and it’s raining hard. I am assured that the weather system near Hood River will be perfect so I sit back and take in the amazing Columbia River.

Sure enough the rain fades into a brilliant blue and we’re bathed in sunlight as we pull onto Courtney Road.

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BlackRock

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The Blackrock Trail system is located three miles west of Fall City and just over 70 miles from Portland Oregon. The system is divided into four primary lines : Banzai Downhill, Sicker Gnar, Sunday Stroll/ Brake Check and Grannies Kitchen. The trails are maintained by the Blackrock Mountain Bike Association and each primary line has their own dedicated maintenance crew. The entire trail system is super dialed and the parking lot even features a changing room. [portfolio_slideshow id=4386 width="1200px"]

From the parking lot we pedal down a dirt road that is shared with a church camp. We stay left as the road points up. After 10 or so minutes of climbing we arrive at Basic Training. Basic Training acts as a staging ground featuring trail maps, bike parking and a port potty. It truly takes on the term basic training and is littered with jumps, logs, ladders and other obstacles that will be found in the more advanced trails.

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Here is a breakdown of the trails via BRMBA:

Banzai Downhill: Green Rating (Easiest)

Trail Overview: Banzai Downhill (BD) can best be described as the “bread and butter” experience at Blackrock. It is the most versatile trail on the mountain, allowing each rider to challenge him or herself according to their skill set, so everyone, from first-time to the most-experienced riders, will don a smile as they ride BD. This trail offers groomed dirt and wooden berms in addition to wooden features that meander through the forest. All features on BD have B-line ride-arounds, allowing riders to skip those features with which they are uncomfortable and add them into their BD experience with practice and time. First-time riders especially should scout all wooden and dirt features before attempting them. Individual riders can apply varying degrees of speed and select increasingly challenging lines, which may result in an experience that can be viewed from beginner up to intermediate and advanced.

Sickter Gnar: Blue Rating(intermediate)

Trail Overview: Sickter Gnar is characterized as the name implies, just when you thought it was the sickest trail you’ve ridden, you drop into some Gnar. It begins off the upper platform into a rock garden section and winds into a ribbon of sculpted berms, jumps including tabletops, doubles along with wooden ladders and technical features of various designs. Sickter Gnar is a blue rated trails and riders should scout each jump and feature before committing to riding it. Black rated sideshoots and alternate lines can be found within this trail. Sickter Gnar is a bit more raw than the Banzai Downhill trail and is best suited for intermediate/advanced riders to experts.

Grannies Kitchen: Black Rating

Trail Overview: If your granny had built a trail, she would have no problem pulling out all the tools she needed from the pantry and drawer’s in her kitchen. From the steep black rated roll in on GK1, the trail just keeps whipping up something new at every turn for your appetite. GK1 provides the riders who posses the skills required a variety of natural and wooden technical trail features. Infamous drops and stunts such as the meat clever, the cheesegrater, salad tosser,and disposal inspire riders to fly high in the magnificent understory of the Mt. Brown forest in it’s amphitheater style setting upon the hills landscape.

Other notable features on the grannies kitchen system include 2 wall rides, GK3’s section of grannie’s doubles, ET and the Halo’s on GK4. Grannies foot has some of the most technical riding blackrock has to offer. As with all blackrock trail systems, each trail section and its feature’s should be scouted before committing to the line.

Slayer: Blue Rating

Trail Overview: An intermediate line that began its life as a tribute to the freeride skill set that the northshore skinnies and platforms require. It is currently being revamped as a blue jump line that will help to develop/hone airborne jumping skills and trail flow.

Dino’s Runaround: Black Rating

Trail Overview: Dino’s Runaround begins at the base of the Bonzai Downhill 4. Originally developed for a New World Disorder film, Dino has revamped this trail into a high flying trail that incorporates wooden ladders, drops, jumps and natural dirt jumps and berms. Many of the features have b-lines but still maintain the black level rating of the trail.

This is an expert black level trail and should only be attempted by riders who have examined each of the natural and technical trail features.

Sunday Stroll/Brake Check: Black Rating

Trail Overview: Sunday stroll is just a stroll on the boardwalk, if the boardwalk was in the air and required jumping on and off ladders and jumps with mandatory gaps. This is not for the beginner and requires expert skills to perform properly. As with all trails on the mountain scout each feature and measure trail speed and risks involved.

Brake Check is a high flying jump marathon that is characterized by mandatory doubles with few ride arounds. This trail requires expert skills and proper scouting of the jumps and features.

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I definitely enjoy more of a back country experience when it comes to mountain biking but there is no denying that Black Rock is a blast. Head over to BRMBA to learn more.

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River View Natural Area

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Portland Oregon is an amazing city for cycling. It’s been awarded the prestigious Platinum Level Status from the The League of American Cyclists and it’s vast network of commuter routes is incredible. Yet Portland has severely underserved and blatantly ignored  a large community of citizens that love to ride Mountain Bikes. For a long time the River View Natural Area has been home to a small network of trails shared by both hikers and Mountain Bikers. Just five miles from Downtown Portland it’s the perfect place to get a quick ride in before or after work. Unfortunately the city recently decided to ban bicycles at River View leaving riders and myself no place to ride.

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Since I moved back to Portland just as the ban was put into place I decided to check it out and see what I’d be missing. First off the commute to the trails is great. I took the Spring Water Trail to the SellWood Bridge and rode up through the River View Cemetery. What an awesome way to get to some single track! After leaving the cemetery I made a left onto SW Palatine Hill Rd which quickly led me to the trail head. At the trail head I was greeted with freshly printed signs stating the new rules of the park. In fact the signs don’t even talk about cycling but they do state that it’s for foot traffic only. Bummer.

"River View is a formerly private 146-acre parcel jointly purchased in 2011 by the City of Portland Parks & Recreation bureau, the Bureau of Environmental Services, the Trust for Public Land, and Metro. The land was previously owned by River View Cemetery. While people have been riding bikes and hiking on the property for decades, that use was illegal but not often enforced. The City of Portland is now leading an effort to re-develop the land and make it a nature area and public park.” - Bikeportland.org

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From what I’ve explored there seems to be one trail that has some nice flow single track. Berms, Roots and all the good stuff to have a rad time just five miles away from home. I can neither confirm nor deny that I rode said single track. These pictures could have been taken way before the ban right? Anyways the rest of the trails are pretty mellow and make for great connectors to get back to the top. Everything seemed well maintained and the only visible trash was from negligent dog owners. In short I had a blast and look forward to coming back.

"The decision to prohibit mountain biking for now at River View was made in partnership with Commissioner Fish and the Bureau of Environmental Services, with due consideration of the reason for dedicating ratepayer dollars to purchase the site to protect water quality. We are not saying River View will never be used for mountain biking, rather just not now, before the citywide assessment of appropriate places for cycling is funded and completed. I encourage you to participate in the upcoming City Budget process, to urge funding for the citywide Master Plan for cycling that Portland Parks and Recreation and I have proposed in our requested budget allocations."

-Amanda Fritz, City Commissioner

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After seeing the trails first hand it’s really hard to see how the city could justify the bicycle ban. Honestly it’s just a kick in the face to a group of people that just want to have a positive place to enjoy Mountain Biking. The ban was the last straw for a lot of riders. There comes to a point where it becomes moral to bend the rules. That time is now. I’ll never advocate for breaking the “law” but your life is yours and mine is mine.

I say roast them! ATMO!