When I booked my flights & started organising for the MVP Summit in Seattle, I contacted a buddy of mine from K2, who is now working for Kodak.
Jeff Shuey is a keen Mountain Biker – so I asked him if he knew any trails in the Seattle region – and he offered to take me out riding… AWESOME !
We had a few months of planning – lots of time to work how – and make it happen.
Bike hire – his LBS (local bike shop) is a dealer for Specialized Bikes – so he arranged for me to hire a bike. I had a friend come along as well (Ivan Wilson) – and he was needing a bike to rent also.
Being from Australia – we have the brake levers ‘swapped’ – with the back brake being operated by the LEFT hand – and front brake is the RIGHT hand.
Thankfully – Pacific Bicycle were willing and able to swap these cables – not an easy job in the end – I thought it would be a simple un-bolt + re-connect – but they had to drain the fluid for the hydraulic brakes – and THEN re-assemble/bleed in the new position (and they have to do the same to re-configure back to USA specs too !)
Thanks soooo much to Kristie – and the team at PACIFIC BICYCLE.
Where to ride ?? As neither Ivan or I knew the area, it was in the hands of Jeff – who took us to Tolt River John McDonald Park.
The weather was pretty damn cold – and lots of snow on the sides of the road as we were driving out of Bellevue. It turned out to be a “snow ride” – which I had been hoping to try.
I was wearing 2 pairs of socks, and plastic bags in between (to stop getting wet) – and long thermal pants, long biking pants and MTB shorts – and then a thermal long sleeve, t-shirt long sleeve and an MTB jacket – and a beanie under my helmet. And I was STILL cold…!
What to ride ?? Jeff & Pacific Bicycle had us kitted with Specialized StumpJumper Expert bikes – with the amazing ‘brain’ technology rear suspension. This can sense the rider input (from above) – aka pedalling – and doesn’t react – ie. no “up-down” bounce when riding.
But – the ‘brain’ can differentiate input from below – ie. over rocks/roots – and so the suspension works like a ‘hard tail’ when climbing – and a ‘full suspension’ bike when riding flat or down hill. It works amazingly well – great bike – my new favourite ride machine…
How was the ride ?? Amazingly – the levels of tyre GRIP on snow are great – not slippery or anything – like riding on sawdust – or mashed potato. The tyres actually had more grip that my old sneakers – I slipped over a few times when putting my foot down on the ground.
We did a climb up “IAB” (It’s A Bitch) – and then into the forest trails. We basically wove around in a clover leaf, and ended up at ‘5-ways’ junction a few times. Not sure on all the trails names, or where we went (!) – if not for Jeff, I woulda been lost in 5 minutes – it all started to look the same – incredible scenery – and great trails.
Unfortunately, we had a mechanical trouble with Ivan’s bike about an hour into the ride – with the rear ‘hub’ becoming frozen inside – mean that the chain would free-wheel forward AND backward…
He had to ‘Flintstone’ it out of there – and waited in the car for an hour or so, while Jeff and I rode on for a bit. Ellie the wonder dog was with us the whole way – she’s an amazing 2 y/o Golden Retriever who runs along behind the bikes – and darts in/out of the trees – she must’ve run 20 miles – as we’d ridden about 12 miles.
For me, it was an awesome riding experience – I’d always wondered about a ‘snow ride’ – and I got my wish. Such a different riding terrain – total isolation – we only saw some hikers as we started, and no-one else – riding in the fresh, cold air – and great scenery. THIS is what MTB’ing is all about.
AND – I cut together the video clips from the day :
After the ride. We dried off a little, and went for a drive to a burger shack in Fall City – called Small Fries. We chomped on a big cheeseburger and shake…
** Specializing in GREASE, SALT, SUGAR & CAFFIENE – LOL !!
The wind was blowing up from the waterfall – and the coldest I think I’ve EVER felt…! (teeth chattering)…
I’d been planning to buy some new MTB riding shoes while in America – so I wanted to support the LBS, and bought a pair of Specialized MTB Sport shoes + Shimano M-520 pedals – good prices too – probably $50 less than I would have paid at home.
Last stop off was to Jeff’s house – his neighbour’s barn had burnt down the night before, we had a quick look – it was still smoking…
His wife had make some delicious cookies to take over for them – so we had a quick ‘sample’ (taste test).
Such a great day out – thanks again Jeff – you can check out HIS blog from the day out – click here to see.
Back to the hotel – after we were done riding & such, Jeff dropped us off at the hotel in Bellevue – where I went over to register & collect badge/etc. for the MVP conference – and then to a drinks meet-up with the Australian MVP crew.
Needless to say, I was pretty tired – and headed off to bed – with a big THREE days of the MVP Summit 2011 ahead…
<more to follow>