Friday, September 14, 2007

Waldo Lake Inaugural Ride

Today was my first experience riding the Waldo Lake trail. What an experience it was! This has to be one of the most beautiful trails, scenery wise, I've ever been on. It is also a superb ride. 22 miles of rolling singletrack through the forest, as you parallel the lake's edge.

I began by driving out to Oakridge, where I hit the Willamette Mercantile bike shop to pick up a forest parking pass, as well as the USFS map, which has a lot more detail than the Tread map. McKenzie was there, and gave me some good tips on the ride. He and another guy suggested starting at Shadow Bay, instead of the North Camp, which I'd planned to. This was a much better choice, as it was a fair bit less driving.

Upon arriving at the Shadow Bay boat launch parking area, it was a rather chilly 43 degrees! I quickly suited up, and went looking for the trailhead. It was actually right across from the parking lot, but then that teed into another trail. A bit of map and compass work and I figured out the particular point, and headed out, looking for the next important trail junction which was the key to getting started properly for a counter-clockwise ride.

Once on the trail, it was a joy. Buff, yet frequently rooted singletrack, all rolling. I don't think I did a climb all day that was more than probably a 50' elevation gain. In the 22 miles of riding, it was a mere 1670' of ascent. I turned the gas on, to get warm, and to keep the pace high, as I knew I was pretty time limited today.

I made it up to the North Camp in 45 minutes, at which point it was another bout of exploration to find out where the trail continued. Weak signage, and I had to guess a bit, but it worked out. Interestingly, in this area, the sun peaked out briefly, which was quite welcome. Into the large burnt section of forest I went. This was a real change, and felt desolate. This section started to have a few more technical sections. Nothing overly hard, but kept it interesting. I ran into some hikers here who I talked with for a while, and then another rider. I motored on.

The burnt section ended, and I was back into some truly beautiful areas, right along the water's edge. So peaceful. If it weren't so chilly, I'd have gone down to the water, but I needed to keep going. I then came upon Day Camp, and this cool little bridge crossing a really nice little creek. At this point, I said to myself I had to take some pictures, even if it was just with my camera phone. Also popped a Gu.

Continued on, and not too far after this was this sweet section of shale. It reminded me a lot of Glass Mountain in Tahoe, but not as challenging to ride.

I cranked on for a while, and then came across the most technical section on the trail. The pictures do NOT do it justice at all. This rock chute/slot was very much like the rock slot area on the Watson Lake section of TRT, but I'd say harder. There were two tough drops, but making it harder, was how to make the turn between them.

I had to try this four times, and was feeling like it wasn't going to happen. My fork is also not happy with me, as I managed to scrape a good chunk of paint off of it, as I ground it across one of the large rocks during a failed attempt. On number four, it came together, and while I had a foot out at one point, I rode it all, including having to hop the bike around a bit to make that turn. Sweet!

There was an alternative line that involved going all the way down on the right side, but when I tried it, my rear tire wanted to make sweet love to my ass in order to let me pass, and, well, I wasn't into that.

It turned out that the next about 4 miles included a bunch more technical sections. Nothing anywhere as challenging as this one, but it was a really killer few miles, both of techy descents, and some tricky climbs. Rode it all!

From there, it was a couple miles of, quite damp at this point, singletrack back to the car. There was one climb I was unable to ride. It was very steep, and by now I was feeling the ride, and just couldn't swing it with the 1x9 (it'd have been a trick with a granny gear too, but rideable).

At the car, I quickly stripped off my wet clothes, and donned a nice toasty hoody, and headed off to Oakridge. When I left Waldo, it gotten up to about 46 degrees I think. Arriving in Oakridge it was completely sunny and 68 degrees! I stopped off to quickly thank McKenzie, and ask for a burrito place. Hit Mazatlan, for a bit more than your average take out burrito (burrito on a plate, smothered). Scarfed half that down, and headed home. Awesome day.

Ride stats... 22 miles, 1670' climbing/descending, 2 hours 37 minutes of ride time, about 3.5 hours of total time. Complete set of full size photos here.

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