Bubble Wrap!

Click image for larger map and GPS track...

Click image for larger map and GPS track…

Looking at the map above it doesn’t look like all that impressive a ride, but it took us 5 tries to finally link up all these trails. Two of those tries ended due to injury and one of them with multiple ER visits. For a while I thought we were cursed, but yesterday we got the ride done. We started with 9 riders and finished with 4, but no serious injuries were sustained! πŸ™‚

Trails ridden:

– Easy Rider
– Skull
– Inventive
– Little Face
– Centerfold
– Switchbacks
– Water Works
– Phase II
– Jelly Roll
– North Ridge
– Bubble Wrap
– Trillium
– Who’s Your Daddy!
– Nightshift
– Skull
– Easy Rider

This loop features a lot of sustained technical riding that is the hallmark of the Hartland Bike Park. Slower techy grinding up and steep twisty trails then Β steeply down with lots of rocks and roots to get through. The 12kms of riding will take between 2-3hrs depending on the group.

Joanne was happy to be part of the elite team that finally completed this ride...

Joanne was happy to be part of the elite team that finally completed this ride…

The main new trail for me was Bubble Wrap which is a fun old school technical trail. Slow, steep and chunky with lots of roots and rocks to puzzle your way through. None of it is crazy hard, but it’s sustained with just a few easy sections to give you a rest. Unlike a lot of the rest of the local trails Bubble Wrap breaks out of the trees for some sunshine and spectacular views.

Trailforks says:

“A very long (for Dump standards), old school all mountain trail with minimal flow and lots of technical challenges and a few superb viewpoints. Best ridden with a new-school AM bike. Some excellent open ridge portions with sparse vegetation and lots of fun on the rocks. Riding it south to north will put you in the extreme north end of the park and far from everything else.”

By connecting it up with the rest of the trails listed above you get to ride most of the best trails in the Hartland network. I’ve got some ideas for making up a bigger figure-eight loop by heading west and south to capture the rest of the primo Hartland trails. That would be one ride to rule them all. πŸ˜‰

Night Riding…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Moist…

It’s that time of year in Canada when night riding is a necessity if you want to get out on the trails regularly. It’s dark as you go to work and dark again when you leave. Bike light technology has evolved to a point where everyone can rock 1000 lumens+ at a reasonable cost so getting a crew out in the dark isn’t as hard as it used to be.

Now that my arm is back to pain free I can’t say no to a ride because it’s cold, dark and wet. I am feeling the long time I spent off the bike in terms of slow speeds and harder perceived efforts. That’s fine as long as I can get my normal fitness back for the spring when riding picks up steam on Vancouver Island. In the meantime I can sympathize with folks that suck wind at the back of the pack and at least the darkness hides my tears. πŸ˜‰

Some wet Hombres...

Some wet Hombres…

I’m really glad I switched back to the old bike when I look at how gnarly it is getting with so much mud flung up onto the drivetrain and suspension. The extra weight isn’t so welcome, but I keep telling myself it’s helping get fitter faster!

Those 1100 gram 2.4″ Conti Trail Kings ain’t light, but they do a good job of gripping the wet rocks and roots. Not to mention chew threw the snow we will hopefully get for a day or two before things warm up.

The Nomad may be old, but it still rocks! πŸ™‚

 

Birth Control

Eban and his Knolly...

Eban and his Knolly…

I’m at aΒ point with my local riding that stuff is starting to get boring. Part of that is my fault for not shaking things up more and part of it is the frequent necessity to lead a band of Dirt Hombres of mixed fitness and riding skill levels on group rides. Managing a group is much easier on trails you know well and they have seen before.

Click for larger map and GPS track...

Click for larger map and GPS track…

Recently I had a group ride that nobody showed up for. Riding solo I took every turn off my familiar trails riding where I had never explored before. It was super fun and got my juices flowing again.

Graham and another Knolly...

Graham and another Knolly…

So when the Wednesday group ride ended up small and made up of experienced riders it seemed like a good time to try some more exploring, but with company this time. Birth Control is a double black diamond trail that I pass often, but had never been down before. So it was time to check it out.

I heard blue was more Enduro so...

I heard blue was more Enduro so…

We started riding up it which ran the risk of many steep unrideable section heading in the wrong direction, but as it turned out it was still pretty fun going uphill. As a bonus it gave us a chance to scope out the tech section from the bottom so next time when we ride it the “normal” way we’ll have a good feel for the best way down.

Mike getting his Bronson on...

Mike getting his Bronson on…

Although we got a little lost [I had an outdated version of the trail map in my pack] we eventually were spit out into familiar territory.

Heckler Mike finding his groove...

Heckler Mike finding his groove…

One of the trails I explored on my solo ride was Organ Donor which at triple black diamond is the hardest trail I’ve been on. It only has one crux move that really gave me an OMG moment, but it’s do-able with some scouting and some finesse.

Always seems steeper in person...

Always seems steeper in person…

I’ve already got in mind a nice double loop that incorporates Birth Control and Organ Donor in a tough, but spicy mix of techy good times.

Wrong way...

Wrong way…

I’m happy to report that after plateauing for a while my riding is cranking up a notch or two. The more tech I can ride the more lines open up and things can stay fresh even in areas I’ve ridden a ton like Hartland.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Having a new mountain bike helps. Not only because it rides great, but also because it makes old trails feel new and encourages me to push my boundaries. A lot of the trail riding game is about breaking through mental barriers that limit our potential.

Miska says "That's crazy!"...

Miska says “That’s crazy!”…

Having friends who want to get out and shred is the other key ingredient in smiling lots on my bike. Getting to see the lines other people take and being able to share the ups/downs is great.

Eban agrees...

Eban agrees…

I’ve been playing around with a new prime lens [Canon EF28mm f/1.8USM]. It’s so much faster than the old kit lens I was using that it allows for shots that just weren’t possible in the past.

So many rocks to ride so little time...

So many rocks to ride so little time…

Not having a zoom requires more planning and getting fewer shots per setup, but it’s worth it.

It's one drop at a time...

It’s one drop at a time…

Not all rides allow for photos, but when they do I’ve got a good crew who doesn’t mind hitting features again and again in the name of mountain bike porn. πŸ˜‰

What's a Heckler to do?

What’s a Heckler to do?

The dogs don’t always understand why we stop and ride in circles, but they usually find something to chew on or to dig up while they wait.

Turk says "I can haz mor trailz?"

Turk says “I can haz mor trailz?”

Life is dirty! Life is good! πŸ™‚

I love enduroing!

I love enduroing!

The Heat is On…

It's summer time...

It’s summer time…

Our Wed Dirt Hombres club ride was met with the season’s first nice hot dry day. Trails were bone dry on the verge of getting all dusty. I love our 365 day/yr riding season here on Vancouver Island, but I do like being warm and dry the most bestest! πŸ˜‰

Click for larger map and GPS track...

Click for larger map and GPS track…

With only advanced and intermediate riders out we kept the pace up and had some fun challenging ourselves.

Nic is smiling because it's so nice out...

Nic is smiling because it’s so nice out…

Being able to ride up roots without planning for a slip and a slide is very relaxing. Plus the low traction skills we developed all winter make us feel like super heroes when climbing up the hardest tech sections.

Aaron thanking the Bike Gods he is not in Edmonton...

Aaron thanking the Bike Gods he is not in Edmonton…

One of the best things about the dry season is you can ride your bike all month with next to no maintenance. That means more time for hanging out with your friends and drinking beer! πŸ˜‰

Telling lies at the rest break...

Telling lies at the rest break…

Hartland Session…

Up and over...

Up and over…

The Dirt Hombres crew spent yesterday doing some skills building at Hartland. Stopping to session many features on a few of the lower trails.

Click for larger map and GPS track...

Click for larger map and GPS track…

Then we climbed up Lazy Line and Falling Satellites to put our new skills to work and rode Fun Trail/Shock Treatment back to the car without stopping.

Going the other way...

Going the other way…

It’s great to have the time to work on each feature learning some new and fun lines up and down.

Always a fun roll on this rock...

Always a fun roll on this rock…

Also nice to have the DSLR out on a ride and get some decent photos. With better weather here I’m going to have to just get used to carrying a small child on my back again! πŸ˜‰

Slab-alanche!

Slab-alanche!

If you want to see more ride photos go to the bottom of this Flickr set and work your way back up.

The forest is very pretty in the sunshine...

The forest is very pretty in the sunshine…

I hope you are getting out for some great rides in your neck of the woods this weekend! πŸ™‚

Spotlight...

Spotlight…

Today I have to do my taxes while it’s raining outside, but tomorrow we ride again!

Chilling in the Deep Forest...

Chilling in the Deep Forest…

 

Climbing Snakes and Ladders

Dirt Hombres! :)

Dirt Hombres! πŸ™‚

We are getting to that time of year when the Dirt Hombres Weekly Night Ride has to be re-named the Weekly After Work Ride with less darkness and more sunshine everyday as we roll towards summer.

Click for larger map and GPS track...

Click for larger map and GPS track…

Eban guided us on a new climbing route up Snakes and Ladders as well as Extension Ladder. I’ve come down those trails, but never tried to go up them. There were some fun challenging sections to conquer. FromΒ the top we rode South Ridge, Fun Trail and Shock Treatment out to the parking lot as darkness started to fall.

Eban trying to de-squeak Maude's bike....

Eban trying to de-squeak Maude’s bike….

I love having a regular mid-week ride on the books and a bunch of folks on tap keen to get out for a bonus shred. After a day of work I am not at my best in terms of bike riding, but it’s still good for my mental health just to be out turning pedals in the forest with people you like even if no PRs will be set.

The post-ride Crooked Goose feast is a given...

The post-ride Crooked Goose feast is a given…

Hartland Half ‘n Half Night Ride…

Some of the crew...

Some of the crew…

We got a nice crew of 4 guys + 1 gal out for one of our last weekly Dirt Hombres Night Rides. As you can see from the start photo above in a 2 weeks or so we’ll be starting this ride in daylight and ending it as the sun is starting to set. So by the first week of April we’ll change the name to the weekly after work ride. πŸ˜‰

Click for larger map and GPS Track...

Click for larger map and GPS Track…

I’m glad we got a weekly ride going. That means most weeks we’ll be out on the trails 3 times and even on a busy week we should get in 2 rides. 3 rides feels like I can build a good base and then keep adding to it for some peak performances come my summer adventures!

Still not night!

Still not night!

Now that things are settling in with my new contract out at the Victoria Airport I will aim for two 50km round trip commutes a week as well.

That almost sounds like a training plan! Gasp! πŸ˜‰

We ended at night...

We ended at night…

As per usual we ended up at the Crooked Goose Bistro for some beers and burgers post-ride. I think some people [I won’t name any names] come on the night ride primarily to partake in the eating/drinking side of things. πŸ˜‰

The most important part of the evening...

The most important part of the evening…

Ride Hard! Ride Spicy! – my friends!