Playing Hooky at Blackrock-2/1/13

Rock out with your shock out

Rock out with your shock out

With Beth Ann and Audrey both starting a new job in a few weeks along, they have some free time to head out of town for a day trip of mountain biking. I took the day off work to join them and we set off on a Friday with Beth Ann driving the giant white whale of a pick up truck that her fiance’ Matt has owned since high school.  An hour and a half south of Portland,OR there is a freeride bike park called Blackrock that is fairly new in the last 5 years, located in Falls City, OR. This would be a new ride location for all of us. 

Camp Tapawingo-Gateway to Fun

Camp Tapawingo-Gateway to Fun

Gearing Up

Gearing Up

The sun was out for us even though there was still a slight chill in the air when we arrived at Camp Tapawingo, “A place of joy” according to the words etched in wood at the park entrance. Only a couple of cars here on a work day. Hitting the trail, we passed a large group of guys doing trail work and building more freeride ramps. A small fire was burning at the work site but I’m not sure if they were discarding the old ramp bits or burnishing the new ones.

Trail work in progress

Trail work in progress

The climb to the first GREEN line trail was 3 miles up. Beth Ann was chatting along with Audrey and I but once the trail got steeper, Beth Ann and her mighty quads of power were a little too much for Audrey and I to follow at the same pace. Bonzai Downhill was the first run down. We had options to go around the freeride ramp features but the trail still held some up and over options you could roll or catch air on. A tiny water crossing and one small wood bridge with a broken slat in the middle offered a few challenges. Trail conditions were pretty excellent and only a couple of boggy spots on the way down.

Better check the map

Better check the map

Working on Skillz

Working on Skillz

On run #1, we came upon two narrow log ramp ups, one with a drop but opted to walk it this round. The run was fun but too short for such a long, steep climb. This trail was listed as the most versatile run of the bunch.

Take a ramp to the wild side

Take a ramp to the wild side

Run#2 we climbed up even higher, and steeper, with amazing freeride features like gaps and huge jumps and big, scary looking ramp things that probably have even cooler names. We found an eyeball in a tree (painted basketball) watching out trailside pit stop. After more photos, we dropped in to a series of banked turns, table tops and a few small dirt jumps. Skirting around the bottom of the wood ramp jumps, we continued on to connect up with Bonzai Downhill again but this time, we knew what was coming. I took on the log ramps in one shot and cleared it, followed by Audrey.

Up and over on the first try

Up and over on the first try

Beth Ann decided those would wait for another day. At the bottom, the three of us debated another run. The climb was steep and while Beth Ann had been doing nothing but ride her bike every day for the last few weeks, Audrey and I did not share that much bike time.

Audrey riding into beauty

Audrey riding into beauty

EYE SEE YOU!

EYE SEE YOU!

Run#3 we pass our trail building boys again, fire still blazing. Climbing up again, we check out the sign markings and trail map we have. We took on a different trail that was marked as more challenging-SICKTER GNAR. I’m sure it means something to those that named it but once again, I’ve not a clue. This was by far my favorite. It most resembled the cross country racing conditions we have in Oregon. Rocks, tight descents, roots and switchbacks. Cruising along with Beth Ann leading, she stops suddenly without warning. “WHOA!”. She has come to a steep drop and opts out, taking the slightly less steep B line to the right. “I’m riding it” I say and let Audrey and Beth Ann watch me walk my bike back up the hill so I can remount and enter the drop with some speed. Beth Ann was coaching from the sidelines, yelling “WEIGHT BACK WEIGHT BACK!” I am off the back of the saddle, hovering over my rear wheel as I work my way to the bottom of this steep hill.

Bottom of Bonzai Downhill

Bottom of Bonzai Downhill

More-Better-Funner

More-Better-Funner

The funny thing is I had no fear about this run. For me that is a good sign. Just try something new and see what happens. At the bottom I hollered some expletives and my cohorts commended my efforts. As we dropped down into the lower forest area, we were stunned by the beauty before us. Sun coming through the trees, illuminating thick moss that hung on branches like tattered sleeves. Breathtaking. A short , punchy climb up takes us by a long ramp and then back to the connection to Bonzai Downhill. There was quite a bit more to explore here but we called it a day as the sun was starting to dip and legs getting tired.

Back at the parking lot, bikes are loaded and clothes changed. Key in the ignition, all we hear is ” rrrhhhhwwwwooorrrrr“.  Uh oh. “rrrrbbbrrwrroorrr“. Crap. “Dead battery. Did you leave the lights on?” Beth Ann gave me that  oh shit look. Being a very old truck, the lights are on a push/pull button. No magic bell to remind you when you leave the lights on for 3.5 hrs. No cell service and the ride out to the main road would be 3 miles and another 7 back to town.  Luckily, the guys were still working on the trail at 4 pm. Beth Ann road back up to find help and lucky for us, the big white truck came with jumper cables.

Trail builder Patrick saves the day

Trail builder Patrick saves the day

We were rescued by Patrick, a very nice trail builder that was happy to come to our aid. He chatted us up about our trail experience and what our interest in a freeride clinic would be. Patrick also wanted to know if we would be more comfortable with a male or female instructor. We agreed that the sex of the instructor didn’t matter as much as making sure the clinic was women only. Generally a more comfortable learning environment when dealing with a variety of women and skill levels. I did tell him about our own pro coach, Angi Weston/Kona as a possible instructor.  Thanking Patrick for his help, we were on the road, well before dark and plenty of time to stop at the bakery in Falls City for some sweet treats for the road. Freeride day for the Les Femmes may just be in our future!

Blackrock Mountain Bike Associationhttp://brmba.org/

Sunshine faces in February-Beth Ann, Mielle and Audrey

Sunshine faces in February-Beth Ann, Mielle and Audrey

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: