The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with bike racer and brand team member, James Whitesides. Here James describes the fantastic “in-town” accessible mountain bike trails Bellingham, WA has to offer…
The legs are finally coming around! After a few weeks in what felt like the cycling doldrums I finally had a good week of riding that culminated in a long ride on Sunday. Mercedes, Mark, Jon, Troy, Nick and I from the uBRDO Team Project went for a ride in Bellingham that exceeded all of my expectations.
Trail riding in Washington has always been great but an explosion of trail maintenance groups, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and WHIMPS Club among others, have kept the trails that I ride open and in great shape. The trails I rode this Sunday are some of the best town accessible trails I have ever ridden. You might ask how “in town” are they? They are so in town I wish I had a picture of the transit bus driving towards the trailhead with three downhill bikes on the front of it. The great thing about Galbraith is that the city has planned parking access well enough to make it easy to get to the trail.
Then you start going up…and up….and up…and you get the idea. The trailhead starts at 200 feet above sea level and the top of the mountain is six miles distant and 1600 feet higher; as the crow flies. Not a spectacularly steep climb but it makes for quite an interesting warm up. Since Bellingham is so close to B.C. and the Northshore scene that several of the trails are definitely down-only affairs, i.e. elevators, with healthy drops and sustained stunts that are mind blowing. Since I don’t go downhill all that fast I focus on the uphill.
With my little Talon 5.5 filled with 70 oz of water and all of the riding essentials I was a little weighed down at first but hit my rhythm pretty easily. A dry spring has left a lot of our trails perfectly tacky and smoother than normal which makes for great rear wheel traction and a much more enjoyable day on the single-speed.
The long climb is broken by quick little rollers and doesn’t seem as long as it is. A quick break just below the last pitches to the top and we took off down the most exciting trail of the day; Whoopsie Woodle. Seriously, they are going to make a great trail and then give it that name? That consideration aside, the trail is amazing. A steep and fast entry immediately takes you 200 feet lower in a flash and you fly into a series of tight but smooth switchbacks. A quick roller with a tricky log that you have to flick your bike over and the roller coaster starts again, dragging you further towards the bottom of the valley that seems really far away. Then they point you straight down what must be a 35˚ slope. After a couple of suggestions of how steep it is you traverse out into an open space where the logging companies of old denuded the side of the hill. Views of the San Juan Islands, Mt Baker, and the very tip of Vancouver Island stretch out in a huge panorama as you flow through old stumps. When you pop out onto the fire road you have but one option…up!
Two more hours of great trails, one endo, one broken chain (and bruised knee), one flat and some really hammered rear ends (most of us were on hard tails) we made it back to the uBRDO Sprinter and headed home. In two weeks we are going to ride a long double day composed of a XC race in the morning and a trail ride in the afternoon. All of this in the name of fun and bikes!