Self-Supported Through Ride of LA’s Backbone Trail

“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home.  Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes.  They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.” – John Muir, The Mountains of California  

The Backbone Trail is a 70ish mile point to point route from Will Rogers State Park to Point Mugu State Park, heading up, over and through the magnificent Santa Monica mountains.  It includes appox. 14,000′ of climbing, and gains fabulous views of the Pacific Ocean and even makes the city look pretty in the distance.  It’s primarily a hiking trail and has recently become popular for trail/ultra runners.  Unfortunately, a few sections are closed to bikes and/or equestrians for various reasons (terrain, wilderness designation, etc).


Pre-dawn start – looking back at the lights of the city after leaving Pacific Palisades and Will Rogers State Park behind.

When I first got into mountain biking about 12 years ago, tackling the section from Will Rogers to Temescal Ridge (aka The Hub) left an indelible imprint on my brain.  This opening section climbs 2k over 7 miles.  It beat me up, and tossed me around in the pain cave.  But that sense of accomplishment.  Fighting through adversity.  The satisfaction of conquering the seemingly insurmountable – soaking in the glory at the The Hub.  That’s what stands out the most.  It was ear to ear grins descending back to my car.  That feeling of challenging myself, and pushing limits… that addiction still drives me today.  Singletrack is my drug.

So yeah, I’ve ridden most of the legal sections of the Backbone over time (and maybe even accidentally poached some of the hiking only stuff too).  I’m moving to Idaho in a couple of weeks, and decided to do it all in one go.  Kind of a “last hurrah” although I know I’ll be back.  Self-supported, with no outside help or caching of food/water.  One long grinder of a day on the bike.  Just me, myself, and I and some tunes.  Just how I like it!


Sunrise.  I am reborn.

Let’s go!  Draw a gpx track with ride-arounds.  Load to the garmin and phone/gaia as backup.  Pack 3 water bottles (only filled two for the start) on the bike and one fold up Platypus bottle in case.  Stash food and snacks, charge lights, ready to rock.

My amazing wife and kids woke up at the butt crack and drove me to Will Rogers.  5:06am. Rride away.  Bye traffic.  Bye smog.  Dark and quiet.  Smell of horses sleeping.  Listen to my misty breath.  Settle into a climbing rhythm.  Dismount for the bridge.  Buzz kill.  Ok, maybe being forced off the bik was OK.  City lights.  Drink.  Reflect. Snap photo.  5:38am.  Back on the saddle, rhythm.  Sunrise.  Unreal.  6:10am.  Dirt Church.  Reached The Hub.  6:34am.  Photo.  Warmed up now, legs feeling great.  Sun’s out, guns out.  Wow… that was pretty easy… much different than 12 years ago.  I’ve come a long way.  Long way to go.  Wordplay, much?


Temescal Ridge aka The Hub

Down to Trippet Ranch (ride around for the illegal Musch Trail section).  Around 7am.  Pass through an Xterra start/finish line… weird… people setting up tents, getting ready for the 8am race.  Stares and glares as I filled up my two empty bottles at the spigot behind the tables lined with Gu and Clif Bars.  Peace sign.  Onward.


Reaching Calabasas Peak Motorway from Red Rock Canyon.  Spirits high.

Froze my balls off on Old Topanga.  Inversion.  Bohemian homes.  Shivers.  Welcome the discomfort.  I’ve been too comfy lately.  Red Rock Canyon, top out at Calabasas Peak Motorway.  7:28am.  Bomb down to the Piuma Trailhead and rejoin the Backbone.  Brekky time, a yummy burrito from Trader Joes.  7:56am.  Hi to the hikers starting out.  Bathroom and sink, water you can drink.  It’s on the map and I called the Ranger in advance to double check – yes, potable.  Fill up 3 bottles.  Back of napkin calculations = 25 miles and 5k of climbing until the next water at Circle X Ranch.


The stone labyrinth. 

Belly full, hit the crux climb (longest/steepest) of the route.  Gain Mesa Peak fire road.  Ride the labyrinth.  9:06am.   Slick rock HAB.  Corral Canyon Trailhead.  9:17am.  Boom, biggest climb done and doner.  Burned out car.  9:20am.  Up and down, along the spine – wash, rinse, repeat.  Kanan Trailhead.  Brekky #2 – buffalo chicken wrap.  Not super into it.  A few peanut butter cups and trail mix, better.  Stoke level on high.


Trusty Dolphina in all her glory.


One can only imagine how this car got here.

Ah yes.  In the zone now.  Flow.  Approach Encinal.  10:58am .  My favorite section awaits. Legs are ranting, but climb to Etz Malloy almost effortless with the grade reversals.  11:43am.  Forgot to take pics on most beautiful section of trail.  4 miles of bliss after crossing Yerba Buena Rd and heading towards Mishe Mokwa.  70 degrees and sunny.  Views on views of the ocean and mountains while traversing luscious dirt.  Lost in La Mancha.  Blessed that I’m physically capable of days like this on a bike.  Human powered. Relish every minute.  You never know when it might be taken.  Rest in peace, Gabby.


Primo dirt heading towards Encinal Canyon


Fun times climbing to Etz Malloy

Pavement descent to the ocean.  Fly past Circle X Ranch – 1/2 bottle left, no need to stop.  PCH.  Neptune’s Net.  Don’t stop.  Keep on keepin’ on.  Wide shoulder, 4 miles of coastal pavement.  I’ll take it.  Sycamore Canyon.  Camel time, fill 2 bottles for last push.  Legs yelling like an old couple.    Reach Danielson Ranch, where illegal Backbone opens it’s arms to bikes once more.  Water by outdoor fireplace, no need.  Up Wood Canyon Vista.  Feels like I’m hammering.  Looking down to my cassette says otherwise.  2nd from granny.  Then granny.  Teetering on bonk vibe.  Fighting cramps.  Been here before.  Tingling.  Embrace it.  Mouthful of yogurt covered pretzels.  Gulp gulp gulp de agua.  Mouthful of sour patch kids.  Let’s go!  Meet Overview Trail, YES!  Let’er rip.  Junction of Ray Miller Trail.  3:17pm.  DONE.  Ray Miller is the last 2 miles of Backbone, but not open to bikes.  So this was my official end.  Relish for a moment.  Coast down Overlook to Sycamore campground.  Some hugs and fizzy water.  Hot shower.  Baja Fresh.  Coke and an ultimo burrito.  Thinkin’ about the next.


Junction with Ray Miller Trail.  The end.

Stats.  74.3 miles and 11,100′ climbing according to Mr. Garmin etrex 30.  Strava + iPhone says only 10, 321′ climbing.  Hmmm… backbone-strava

Drank or Drunk?  Approximately 6 bottles (24oz) agua con various electrolyte powders

Grub: Two bananas, 1/2 a clif bar, Trader Joes brekky burrito, Trader Joes buffalo chicken wrap, 2 peanut butter cups, yogurt covered pretzels, cashew/almond/chocolate trail mix.  I packed way more food than I needed.  Better safe…

Do this as an epic day ride.  Just enough water resupplies to do it without caching anything.  Hoot!backbone-map

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Sun Valley Bike Park – Opening Day 2019

I know I just posted about the sweet mountain biking in Hailey, which is only 12 miles down valley from Sun Valley/Ketchum.   But the quantity and quality of trails in this region begs for separate journal entries.  Even after this post, I’ll barely be scratching the surface of the endless singletrack that’s your ticket to the million dollar views of the Sawtooth Mountains and the Wood River Valley.


Taking the easy way to the top.

When Angela and I told our friends and family that we were moving to Hailey, ID, we got a lot of blank stares.   If we say “Sun Valley”, at least we get some recognition.  Most people have heard of the famed Sun Valley Ski Resort.  To help put it in perspective, here’s a map of the Wood River Valley: map-wrvalley

Now that the geography lesson is done, let’s get to it:

SUN VALLEY BIKE PARK = Opening Day 2019 / OuterbikeIMG_1742

It doesn’t matter if it’s for a sporting event, a museum exhibit, or a ski resort, etc – There’s something about the magnetism and electricity of “Opening Day”.  I was lucky enough to be part of the 2019 opening of the Sun Valley Mountain Bike Park – which was also conveniently doubling as Outerbike and tripling as the Summer Solstice 🙂  The stoke levels were pouring over and I was pumped to be part of the high fives and good vibes.


Trusty Dolphina sandwiched between a couple of Yeti’s

The crews were worked overtime to clear snow on the north facing upper section of  Saddle Up.  This was a bit muddy and slushy in a few parts, but after the first few switchbacks, it rode super swell..

There aren’t a ton of trails, but the quality and diversity is pretty stellar.  With the recent additions of Mindbender and Pale Rider (flow trails with great berms, jumps, and drops), your freeride dreams can now be attained.  If you connect Saddle Up to Mindbender to Pale Rider, you’ve pretty much got a top to bottom freeride / flow trail that gives you approx. 2,900′ descent over 7.2 miles and drops you right back at the gondola for your next lap.  Yeah, pretty kick ass.

You might be wondering… where’s the photos?  Well, these are all downhill only trails, with ridiculous amounts of flow and fun… so yeah, definitely no stopping for snaps… but here’s a link to a Pinkbike youtube video to get you fired up 🙂

That being said, I rode pretty much every trail I could on Opening Day.  In addition to the aforementioned, which completely lived up to expectations, I had a blast on Broadway and Lupine, which are a little more my style.  Alpine vistas, open views, and skinny cross country singletrack with a natural vibe rather than machine cut / manmade features of the purpose built flow trails.  I also climbed most of Bald Mountain Trail (uphill only) which is an asskicker that gains over 3k vert from the base to the summit.  There was a Memorial to Louis Stur and water fountain on the trail, super cool – although it wasn’t working, and I was thirsty!

water fountain

I stole this pic from Hiking Project since I didn’t take one

As you get higher, the views get better, but when you paid for a lift ticket, you definitely think why am I doing this? – So I bailed out early before hitting snow to ride parts of the Traverse Trail and then cruised over to the Roundhouse Restaurant for a break and to jump on Christmas Lift to keep sessioning Lupine!  I also hit the River Run Trail, which is the more mellow/xc option to Pale Rider to get to the bottom of the mountain.  It was fun, but I preferred the tech and chunk and gnar of Pale Rider.  My strava had some problems, and I think I forgot to turn it off on one of the rides up the chair lift  – but here’s the link.


Getting ready to drop in on the magnificent Lupine Trail

Unfortunately, the only two trails that were closed, were two I was very interested in doing.  Cold Springs and Warm Springs Trail.  They don’t open until July 1st for elk calving season.  Oh well, I’ll have to get them next time!!

I brought the family back to the resort the next day for some hiking and a scenic gondola ride.  It was pretty fun to experience as a hiker/tourist after mountain biking my balls off the day before!


Christmas Tree chairlift to the TOP of Bald Mountain!


Made it to the top!


Hiking down!

Din Din at the famed Pioneer Saloon did not disappoint either.  I read this was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite watering holes.  We scarfed down the complimentary chips/salsa while waiting for our table at the bar.  The crazy decor kept the girls entertained… and the great steaks and atmosphere made it a winner.


The Pioneer Saloon!


Yes, that’s a canoe hanging on the ceiling at the Pioneer Saloon.

Anyhoo… Super stoked I got a chance to ride the bike park back in June.  As I write this, it’s now November – how time flies!  Bring the snow!
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The Hills Are Alive – Sampling the Goods in Hailey, ID

IMG_0246Here’s what’s crazy.  I’ve been lagging hard on my journaling.  So hard, that we are about to head back to Idaho tomorrow (11/6/19), and I’m just now getting around to writing about the fun times we had there back in June.  Sheesh.  It’s a good thing I take notes on my phone as kind of a “pre-journal” as thoughts hit my cranium, so that even if I procrastinate super hard, the “experiential bones” are captured in the moment, and serve to jog my recollections later… so yeah, that’s my not so secret workaround for sucky memory syndrome …


Cruisin at the local pump track.  FYI, this no longer exists.  The local pool is expanding into a bigger aquatic complex and they’re building a better pump track by the new Quigley Loop Trail.  The new pool and pump track are already under construction and will be done for Summer.  Blaine County could teach Mammoth a thing or two… just sayin’

For fun, I”ll keep my original notes in bold for this post, followed by explanations from my freshly alerted memory.  Photos always help too.  Hoot!

wicked spud –  A kinda divey burger joint on Main St.  Good prices, kids liked it, fun and mellow.  We ate there a few nights and they had this kick ass poster on the wall that brought back some memories…C61CE230-7320-4105-854D-83B1BE070A6F

Pacific sock exchange poster – sf giants will Clark and Kevin Mitchell –  anyone else remember this throwback to the Candlestick Park days?  Will Clark had one of the smoothest swings I’ve ever seen.  Anyhoo… with cheap beer and burgers and that poster on the wall, how can you not love Wicked Spud?IMG_1730

Pinky promised Angela I’ll never order a salad there again and when we move to Hailey I get a chalice there – oh yeah, forgot about this… the salads at Wicked Spud kinda sucked, but they have these sweet chalices that you can buy and they keep for ya and give you discounts on your beer… yum…

hiking to the top of carbonate mountain with the fam bam – my 42nd birthday!!  let’s hike… it’s fairly short, but a butt-kicker with elevation gain, especially for the groms and our lazy bone dog with really short legs.  Miko was limping for days after that hike!!  Have you ever heard of a dog getting sore?!!  Lucy killed it, and so did Molly… she made it most of the way up herself, and I shouldered her most of the way down.  I won’t lie.  I wish I had my bike.  Great views of the valley.  We’re already talking about doing it again (this time without the dog).


Making our way to the top of Carbonate Mountain.


Almost there!


Luckiest dad / husband alive – hoot!

ketchum burrito, el toro, powerhouse, etc – some of the other grub spots around town.  I’ve always loved Ketchum Burrito since I came to Sun Valley with The Buried Life 10 years ago.  El Toro, however, is our new fav mexi spot.  Great prices, super low key, and super friendly service.  Powerhouse is a brewpub / bike shop that’s a little pricier, but oh.  so.  good.  They also host the Sheeptown Drag Races.  More on that later…IMG_1727

all over town , wood river inn pens –  you know those free pens you get in your hotel room?  Everywhere we went, every restaurant, etc – when it was time to sign, they all had the same pens.  We took a few home too… In fact I see one next to my laptop right now.

Two dog loop – this was my first taste of Hailey singletrack.  Part of the super fun Croy Creek Trail System that’s accessed easily from town.
Wildflowers smell so good.  Buff singletrack – Ah yes, I remember the magnificent scent and the gorgeous flowers lining the thin ribbons of singletrack.  Super buff, super flowy.


Croy Creek Trails


Rideable with gravel bike – yep, you could easily get away with a gravel bike in these parts.
Good amount of climbing but doesn’t feel like it- little ribbons of skinny singletrack just snake the way up and down gulches and ridges – trailhead is 4 miles from downtown Hailey but once u get goin it’s quiet and remote 
A few creek crossings/bridges – no tech but some fun berms and baby butt smooth xc riding
Lots of Moto trails but they stay on them and two dog is non moto

Buillion connector- two dog-next time I’ll do hidden valley loop too… Pretty much sums it up, I’ll leave it at thatIMG_1680

i did hidden valley loop too – even more amazing – with bertovich… that’s my go to ride for sure – Yep, I went back to Croy Creek.  My buddy Eric Bertovich from Mammoth, moved to Ketchum last year, so we met up, and that’s where he wanted to ride.  So stoked!!!  Can’t wait to ride this again this week as long as the weather cooperates!!


greenhorn imperial loop are you kidding?  best loop ever!  climb takes you to monarch crest like swooping vistas and flowy sound of music singletrack – oh my gosh, this ride blew my mind.  It really was like Monarch Crest once you get up high, and the hills are alive!!!


I stole this photo from the internet since my phone wouldn’t take pics on the ride… hopefully I can replace it with one of my own when I ride there this week!!

i endo’d into the water on the first creek crossing – hahaha!  my phone fell in… worked a little, but camera didn’t work for the whole ride… so no pics – but me oh my… was it a blast off! – Can you believe it?  The one place I REALLY wanted to stop for some photos, and no camera… At least it started working again after putting it in a bowl of rice back in the hotel room…


Another stolen photo of Greenhorn/Imperial Gulch

Smiling and laughing and singing country boy – Pauley shore movie – So yeah, somehow we wound up watching “Son In Law” and the girls loved it!  We’d also coincidentally been listening to John Denver on one of Angela’s old mix cd’s on the road trip… so when this scene came on, we were all singing and dancing and jumping on the beds… and the whole descent down Imperial Gulch I was grinning ear to ear singing “Country Boy” at the top of my lungs… YES!!!  this is why I take notes, so I can relive the magic!!  Here’s the youtube link of the scene in that movie FYI 

get pic of sheeptown drag races from Angela – as I mentioned above, these happen once a year out front of Powerhouse at sunset.  In a nutshell, a bunch of bike nerds like me get together and drink beer and attach logs to their bikes and light them on fire and drag race down Main St. in Hailey.  Yes.  It’s been goin on for years, and has grown into “a thing”.  The cops close a couple blocks of Main St for a few hours and the Fire Dept is on hand just in case.  There’s a legit dragstrip Christmas Tree in the middle too!!  Too bad I can’t upload videos on this site, this is one instance where photos don’t do it justice.  Next time, I will compete fo sho!


Total badassery

molly’s first tooth… lucy’s first time solving a rubik’s cube – other notable happenings on the trip to Hailey.  Molly lost her first tooth and Lucy solved a Rubik’s Cube for the first time.  She’s pretty fast now.


Molly lost her first tooth!!  Yahooooo


Lucy and her first Rubik’s Cube solve!!!

I’ve still got to catch up journaling about Sun Valley and Yellowstone and The Tetons and Grand Targhee… but at least I got this one in the can before venturing back to glorious Idaho.  See ya soon 🙂
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Oh Hi – Let’s Give Ojai’s Dirt a Try

I went to college in Santa Barbara (UCSB Gaucho pride, yo).  When I met and started dating my future wife, she lived in Camarillo.  In all that time, I never once visited the quaint “zen” town of Ojai (which btw comes from a Chumash word meaning “moon”) which is just a bit inland from Ventura.   Kinda bummed it took me so long, because it’s a pretty fun town…. Better late than never.


This fun little park was next to our hotel.  I heard it used to be a gas station and sat dormant for years before it became a park designed around native landscaping.  Hoot!

For our 14th wedding anniversary (OMG we’re getting old!!!), wifey and I decided to take the kids for a quick, midweek getaway – and man, it hit the spot.  Ojai is only an hour from where we are currently staying in Calabasas, but it could’ve been Sedona, AZ.  This short trip was all about relaxing at the pool, drinking beer and eating froyo, but I did manage to test the local trail dirt with an early morning sesh.


Lucy getting her bubble bath on at the in-room jacuzzi tub.  We all dug the Chantico Inn – quaint, good rates, dog friendly, great location

I did some research on MTB Project and found the “Ventura River Preserve Lollipop”.  As has become the norm, I also checked the area on the TrailForks app as backup and found some less known singletrack in the preserve.  The Ventura River Preserve is a pretty kick ass place to ride bikes, hike, or just hang by the river.  There have been plans to develop it into an exclusive golf course and condos, but luckily the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy fought to keep this hidden jewel the way it remains today.


Views from crossing the Ventura River at the beginning of the ride.

Just after crossing the river, I started the lollipop – but hit a little snag.  The Rice Canyon Trail had a bridge burnt out during last year’s fire, and there’s no ride around.  No biggie… I made up my own ride which wound up being super fun and rewarding nonetheless…


Climbing up Wills Canyon through an area affected by last year’s fire.


About a mile past this sign (at the top of the climb) I snuck off to the Friends Trail before reaching the missing bridge.  Friends Trail is so much better than doubletrack Rice Canyon anyway!! – BOOM

I warmed up on Orange Grove Trail, and climbed Wills Canyon Trail to Rice Canyon Trail from the other side.  At the top of the climb, I jumped on Friends Trail (not on any maps, but was on TrailForks).  This wound up being a super welcome singletrack surprise that was the highlight of the ride… and keeps you away from the poop that’s so prevalent on the main trails (although I never saw a horse, you could tell equestrian use is very popular).  Above it all, a glorious slender ribbon of brown love escorted me through ridge lines and saddles with open views to the valley floor below.  Simply fantastic!


Views from Friends Trail as you slither your way up and down the ridge lines back to the river.

But like most good things, this ride and trip came to an end way too fast.  Glad I got a taste for the local riding though.  I can’t wait to come back and explore more… I’ve heard good things about Sisar Canyon, Nordoff Peak / Gridley, Sulfur Mountain, etc.


A refreshing flight at Topa Topa Brewing

Another fun fact about Ojai – chain stores are prohibited by city law to promote small businesses and keep the town unique.  Pretty cool…

So yeah, no trip is complete without beer and tacos.  To fill that void, we hit Topa Topa Brewery which has Sama Sama Kitchen inside.  Angela and I shared a flight of the local brew (really dug the Casey’s Kolsch and Chief Peak IPA) and we all devoured tacos, tater tots, and “crack wings”.  BOOM!  Then a little froyo down the block for dessert.  LIFE IS GOOD!

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Coeur D’Alene, ID – What a Magical Spot to Camp and Ride Bikes


Gettin’ ready for s’mores at Camp Coeur D’Alene

Where to start!!  We love Idaho, and we loved our cabin at Camp Coeur D’Alene.  What a gem!  Just steps from our door we were riding bikes, canoeing, fishing, playing cornhole, you name it.  Also spent a bunch of time filling out “digital” escrow paperwork and the such as our house was in the process of selling.  Kinda weird using internet and docusigning from the bunk beds in our quaint cabin… as we were “getting away from it all”… but I’d take that over the alternative any time.  Anyhoo… Such a great basecamp for a few days.


Chillin’ at one of the community fire pits


Sitting on the dock 


Taking Miko and the girls for a sunset walk/ride

Spent a lot of time connecting with nature and enjoying my fam.  Between the ghost stories and fire pits and nature walks and seeing a huge MOOSE in the wild… I did make time to go check out the local singletrack.  Duh.  I found an area on MTB Project near our campground called Beauty Creek.  I pieced some trails together and they were better than expected.  Wound up having an indisputably awesome afternoon on my bike  – Strava Link Here.


Ticket to Ride – ready to drop in on Trail 257

The long, gradual climb up Beauty Creek Rd offers you time to reflect and relax.   You’re eventually rewarded with gripper zipper singletrack courtesy of Trails 257 and 258 which ebb and flow through a loamy section of forest before merging with Caribou Ridge Trail.  Shrouded in jungle and claustrophobic in spots, I was served multiple pimp slaps in the face and arms by damp and soft branches… keeps ya on your A game.  But mostly buff, non-tech skinny xc flowy singledingle.


Views of Lake Coeur D’Alene from Caribou Ridge Trail

Towards the bottom end of Caribou Ridge, the trail gets pretty techy, exposed and dangerous at speed – definitely more of a hiking trail.  But views of the valley and the lake made it all worth the effort.  After 20 miles and 2,700′ climbing, I was ready for hot dogs and beer back at camp with the girlies.IMG_9989

Not much else to say except we hiked the Mudgy and Millie Trail at Tubbs Hill, hung out on the longest floating boardwalk in the world, and had an amazing brekky at Ten/6 (seriously, the beignets and K-Paul burrito ain’t nuttin’ to mess with).  If the food’s not enough, it’s worth it just to use the restrooms.  I dug the diffuser shoved into the skull in the Pirates of Carribean themed mens potty.


Alice In Wonderland themed flowers in the women’s bathroom at Ten/6 (Yes, Angela took this photo).


Now that’s a hot chocolate!!  Ten/6


Hiking on Tubbs Trail


A little afternoon canoe ride.

We also scouted Schweitzer Resort, but it was rainy, and the bike park wasn’t open yet – bummer.  Next time!  Not hard to find a reason to come back 🙂  Until then, keep living the dream… whatever yours may be.


World’s longest floating boardwalk



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Bellingham’s Galbraith Mountain – How Now Brown POW

Tough to leave the goodness of BC behind… Some last minute Tim Bits in Vancouver, a quick passport check leaving Canada, and we’re back in the 42nd state.   Before heading east, I wanted a quick taste of the fabled “Galby” Galbraith Mountain, so we stayed in Bellingham (which is only 21 miles from the US/Canada border).

First thing’s first – Bellingham is a spread out, sprawling city of 92,000.   The historic downtown has some charm.  If you’re looking for grub,  I recommend Bellingham Cider Company which overlooks the up and coming Waterfront District.IMG_1600


A cider flight and a raspberry cider smoothing before the food!

Galbraith is on privately owned land.  But the local MTB advocacy group, Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC), has a recreational use agreement with the owners, and is responsible for all trail maintenance and construction.  This kind of cooperation between private land owners and a responsible recreation group is a fantastic example of how it’s done right!

Sooo… One day to ride.  Here’s how I did it.  24 miles of bliss and 3,400′ of climbing sprinkled in.  Strava link here.  Yes, it lived up to the hype.
I started on the “South Side” and finished at the “North Side”.


Climbing up Three Little Pigs was a blast – I loved the custom trail signs!

I got some ride beta ahead of time.  The “to-do” lap is Evo to Unemployment Line (U-Line) to Atomic Dog.  Too.  Much.  Fun.  U-Line is a perfect machine built jump line with smooth berms, tables, doubles, booters, etc.  Pretty much everything is rollable and has ride around options, so you don’t have to be “gnar-gnar” to have fun.  I’m kinda in the middle, and pretty chicken to damage myself these days… so I hit some of the smaller features, but didn’t attack the big stuff.  I’m still in one piece.
Personally, Atomic Dog was more my style.  Had a “natural” feel to it.  Not as perfect as U-Line, and the features more of the rooty and rocky type.  I did a couple laps and was in paradise.


I didn’t stop for photos on the downhill – too much flowy fun.  But this was climbing up to Wonderland

Of course, I love the ups as much as the downs… so I earned it by climbing Brick/Stick/Straw (Three Little Pigs) to Kaiser to Bottle Opener to Keystone to Naughty Nelly to Wonderland.  This was much more enjoyable than climbing the fire road to Whoopsie Woodle and Lair of the Bear (although the road was way faster, and I did that on my 2nd lap).
Such great diversity and specific character on all of the trails and some of the best handmade trail signs I’ve ever seen.  Between the quality of trails and fun signage, it’s quite apparent how much pride the locals take in this gem of a network.


Kaiser Trail – another great Trail Sign 🙂

I admit, I was a little bothered by the sounds of logging while riding, and seeing some clear cutting.  It took away from the “remote” vibe. Certain trails were closed (SST) because of tree farm operations… but word is it’ll be back better than ever.
Anyhoo… With a permagrin stuck to my face, I made my way to the North Side.  Dog Patch to Lost Giants to Mole Trap to Rock n Roll to Family Man to Intestine to Cleavage to Dragon Fly to Golden Spike.  Like I mentioned, SST was closed (bummer), but I hit Oriental Express and Air Chair to Back Door instead and was hooting and hollering and not a soul in site.  I met up with a handful of people on the South Side, but had the whole North Side to myself.


My favorite trail sign of them all – “Lost Giants” – and old beach cruiser hidden in the bushes with some custom welding.  Fantastic!!

I finished by riding down to Whatcom Falls Park and watched some local groms shredding the pump track.  The girlies met up for a little picnic and hiking around the falls.  Great way to end the day.


Lucy (rockin’ her Roots t-shirt from Canada) at Whatcom Falls Park

Pedal on.
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BC – Squamish and Whistler Singletrack Bash


Kventina Tarantina – Gotta love it.  Also love the phonetic spelling of “Bred Pit” 🙂

Quick Life Update:

So yeah,  I’m sitting here at the Square Nine Hotel in Belgrade, Serbia.  Will be here for a couple more weeks.  It’s really grown on me.  Nice people.  Tall people.  Fantastic veggies and salads, so-so beer, lots of MEAT and fantastic ice cream.  Such a beautiful city, culture, and construction and rebuilding everywhere… bombed out carcasses are still prevalent and a constant reminder of the sad war-torn communist history of Yugoslavia.  They are very happy to have Seal Team filming here, and we’re happy to be here.  Anyhoo…


Waiting for our drinks –  with Todd, Arturo, and Jessica at the rooftop Sinnerman Bar in Belgrade.

My whirlwind family roadtrip vacation from May –  July feels like ages ago… Since then, it’s been crazy times.  I even shaved my homeless man beard.  We’re already a month into Seal Team Season 3 – so here I am… a moment to breathe and reminisce about riding bikes in Squamish and Whistler over a month ago.  So much EPIC.


Do yourself a favor.  If you’re lucky enough to ever be on your way to Whistler, don’t overlook Squamish.  With the mecca of lift-accessed gravity riding only 1/2 hour away, it’s easy to get overshadowed… but Squamish has mtb trails to suit all-comers, and the town is super low-key, and much better bang-for-the-buck than resort-chic Whistler.  Save money on food and lodging and stay longer and ride more!!


Valleycliffe/Crumpit Woods

First up – Valleycliffe / Crumpit Woods area.  If you’re into a Lord of the Rings / Frodo-style environment, this is for you.  Super easy to lose your inner compass, and get lost and confused.  You 100% should have the Trailforks App or you will 100% will wind up scratching your head and wondering how you wound up wherever you’re not supposed to be.

No freebies here… you’ve gotta pay the piper with steep/techy climbs for every sweet rooty, rocky, chunky, bridge-laden descent you conquer.  So good for slow speed bike handling and skill building.  Hands down, some of the most original/maybe not so PC trail names I’ve ever come across.  Here are a few of my favorites: Endo, The Graduate, 3 Virgins, Sweeter Than Barry, Spencer’s Gay Ride, 7 Stitches, Hairy Bomber, etc –


Now that’s a trail sign!  Shout out to all the mtb movie buffs


Trail signs like this just make you take a break and crack a brewski, no?


My favorite trail in the network was Meet Yer Maker.. sketch balls in a couple sections, I had to walk a bit… but challenging and rewarding… maybe one day I’ll clean it all!

Next up: Alice Lake

Very similar trail character to Crumpet Woods.  The main difference was I went on a Saturday and it was much more crowded.  Still super fun and had a blast.  I rode Credit Line, Jacks Trail, Mike’s Loop, Mashiter, 50 Shades of Green, Tracks from Hell, etc.  Lots of roots and lots of tech on Credit Line.  You really can feel your skills boosting after a few days of BC riding.


I always love me the “burned out car on the trail” pic


Other notables in Squamish – Lucy lost a tooth.  Saw my buddy Robert Taylor (plays Longmire) on tv at the hotel… this old movie Vertical Limit was on… hilarious!  The indoor waterslide at the hotel was also a blast, as were the Dr. Ho informercials… Alice and Brohm Ice Cream was the Bomb!!


Again, when people speak of “Whistler”, mind-blowing, lift-accessed gravity trails come to mind.  But there are actually FREE local xc trails that are super fun and definitely worth getting into.  No body armor required.  The Zappa Trails – all named for Frank Zappa songs… (aka Lost Lake Trails) have all kinds of options and Lost Lake is fantastic for a post-ride dip and beer and people watching.


Hangin with the fam in Olympic Village

Some highlights – Toads of the Short Forest, The Torture Never Stops, Fountain of Love, Pinocchio’s Furniture, Molly Hogan, Grand Wazoo, Dwarf Nebula, etc.


Riding Lost Lake Loop with my girlies

Whether you ride the resort, or the local singletrack – it’s definitely worth hanging out in the Olympic Village (the Whistler Village puts Mammoth to shame… so beautiful and clean and the European vibe is super fun) and chillin with the polly wogs.  Also peep out the Passivehaus and ride Fitzsimmons along the aptly named Fitzsimmons Creek.  Lots of well-planned trails and paths everywhere, so you don’t really need to drive once you’re parked.  On this visit, only 25% of the resort was open, so I chose to hit the local freebie stuff and will come back for a bike park specific trip.IMG_1546


Chillin at the Lost Lake Beach – Miko was stoked!

After BC – we slipped back in to the US – Bellingham, WA is up next (then lots of Idaho goodness)… not sure when I’ll get a chance to update the journal… hopefully soon!!

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Road Trip Catch Up – Astoria to Victoria

SPOILER – No bike riding in this post!! Feels like forever since I journaled after leaving Hood River, OR.  Quick re-cap on the roadie trip, so these memories don’t fall through the cracks… sorry for the snorey bore, but gotta jot stuff down since my brain’s a sieve:

Astoria, OR (5/28/19 ish) 

  • After leaving John’s House, we had a gorgeous drive along the Columbia River Gorge.  Reached the Pacific Ocean and climbed to the top of the Astoria Column with Lucy and Molly while Angela waited below (claustrophobia and all that).  Carried Molly most of the way up and down.  Feel the burn.  Reminded me of climbing the spiral staircase up the Leaning Tower of Pisa (which I hear you now have to book at least 16 days in advanced).  Anyhoo… great views of the town.


    Yet another gratuitous group selfieze

  • We didn’t chuck any wooden airplanes off the viewing deck, but watched some other kids get their jollies.  FYI, they sell the little airplanes at the gift shop, and it’s totally legit to throw them off the top… I guess nobody’s been hit by one and sued yet…
  • Frolicked in the grass – Winning.


    This could be my favorite snap of the whole trip.  Pure happiness.

  • Super fun watching a family of Indian tourists taking a series of those cheesy “creative” forced perspective photos of the Column.  You know, the ones where you look like King Kong doing randomness with said landmark…


    Wanna have some fun?  Google “forced perspective leaning tower of pisa”

  • Dinner at Buoy Beer Company.  It’s on the water, and is in a re-purposed Bumble Bee tuna cannery.  Pretty awesome chowder and they had a couple great small batch sours on tap – boom!


    If you’re in Astoria, definitely hit up Buoy if you get the chance.  Great food and beer.

  • Back to the hotel room to watch Goonies with the girls!!!  When I met Angela, she had a nice Toyota Tacoma with a Goonies sticker on the back window.  Fast forward 15+ years, and that truck is now my daily driver with over 220k miles on it.  The Goonies sticker is faded and shredded but still there.  So yeah, Angela has Goonies in her bloodstream and it’s now in our girls DNA!!  The next morning, we went to the “Goonies House” and the “Goonies Museum”.   So much good!!!

    View off the docks in Astoria


    Out front of the Goonies Museum aka the Clatsop County Jail


    Filming of The Goonies in 1985


    Spending some time in the Goonies Jail


    Sad face.

After Astoria, we crossed the bridge and it was a beautiful drive up the 101 to Sequim, WA before catching the ferry in Port Angeles to Victoria, BC.


Sunset shell grabbing mission on the beach of the Sequim, WA / Salish Sea.

The girls were amazed when we drove the car on the ferry.  I forgot how fun this was!  Haven’t been to Victoria since The Buried Life… Secretly, I was craving some Timmy Ho’s.  I know, right?


Nothing like some Timbits to get ya going!


On the ferry to Victoria, BC

Boom.  Victoria, BC – such a gem.  So interesting how this tiny island is the capital of British Columbia, even though everyone seems to think Vancouver is.  Study up on Wikipedia…  Anyhoo…


Sunset stroll along the harbor by the Fairmont Empress Hotel

Butchart Gardens.  Checked it off Angela’s bucket list.  Amazing as ever.  Yeah, yeah, it’s a bunch of flowers, grass and gardens.  But it’s REALLY REALLY good flowers, grass, and gardens.


Some nice employee took this family pic


The Japanese Gardens were a favorite of ours


Syncronized ice cream eating World Champs

Okee dokes – now this fun little jaunt won’t get lost in time and I can sit with my grand kids and read this blog some day and laugh at the ice cream eaters like it was yesterday.


Saw this dude while driving through Van… forehead distance from windshield award

After Victoria, we took another ferry to Vancouver, and made our way up to Squamish and Whistler for some SWWWWEEETTT mountain biking… which will be my next journal entry hoot!! 🙂


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Boyz (and Girlz) in the Hood River

Man.  Just thinkin about how long it’s been since I last saw JK.  At least 4 years because Molly was barely born.  In that time, my good friend, John Kairis, left the “camera biz”, made the move to Hood River, Oregon, and started a small farm.


Playing with the chickens.  Miko kept running into the electric fence and jolting himself.  Pretty hilarious.

What a co-in-kee-dink… we just happened to be heading to Hood River for Memorial Day Weekend!  Wound up being a magical and memorable time for all of us… What an amazing experience for all the kids and adults as well 🙂


It had been forever since I’ve seen this guy.  Good times!!

Right off the bat, I had a PBR in hand and we were feeding chickens and grabbing eggs for next morning’s brekky.  He showed us all the fruits and veggies he was growing and we grabbed a fresh mango as a snack.  Elderberry, echinacea, you name it, he’s growing it.  John cooked us a meal (which was soooo nice after eating out every day) and we ate and talked and drank and man it was nice.  The next couple of days were non-stop madness.


Ronan and Lucy cooking us brekky.  YUM


Bountiful family breakfast

Ok, let’s fly the drone.  Oops, crashed it in neighbor’s orchard – grab the machete and forge a path to recover said drone.  Check.

Ever ride a “One Wheel“?  Nope.  Let’s go.  Round and round the driveway, endless fun.  Couldn’t get Molly or Lucy (or myself) off once we got the hang of it.  Ronan (John’s 8 year-old) had the One Wheel mastered and the girls just watched him in awe…  while Willow (John’s 3 year-old) cruised around on her scoot bike.  The fun was never-ending.


Everyone needs a One Wheel.  Gotta get one of these for cruising around set on Seal Team.

Drum set, check.  DJ booth with turntables, check.   Sitting on the back porch and watching the kiddos run around being kiddos = priceless.


These two were fast friends… Willow’s about to get the drone airborne.


Check out what we found in the backyard!

So yeah, even with all the activities at Camp Kairis, we still got the itch that needed scratching.  Gotta ride bikes yo.  I mean, JK is only a 10 minute drive from Post Canyon… It would be sacrilegious not to get our groove on in one of the OG gravity trail networks in the world.  Here’s the plan:


Following John through the damp, loamy goodness!

John and I jam up there in the truck and get riding first.  By the time we’re finishing the climbing up Seven Streams and Heart Attack Hill, Angela and the kids should be making their way up to Family Man.  We descend the goods to Family Man with a fantastic ride already in our legs and spend the rest of the afternoon riding with the Groms.  It wound up being even better than that!  John watched the kids so Angela and I could go ride together, ALONE.  Been so long since we’ve done that.  Forever indebted.


Enjoying the climb up Post Canyon

Here’s the Strava link to the ride.  So nice to not pull out maps or apps and just follow someone with local knowledge.  Always the best.  Up to the sky we climbed, chatting and catching up on life.  Then it was time for manicured flow trail nirvana all the way down to the pump track and skills course where we found the groms session-ing.  Lots of progressive jump and bridge line options – so cool to see all the kids gettin’ at it.


The kids built this fortress while Angela and I were riding.


Sure was nice riding with the wife!


Chasing Molly around the pump track is one of my favorite past times.

Since JK and I were parked at the bottom, and there was still about 4 miles of mad flow to be had, we brought Ronan and Lucy with us on Middle School, Float On, New School, and Kleeway, while Angela took Molly back to the farm.  This was Ronan’s and Lucy’s first time on any flow trails this technical.  They both killed it!!  It was great that they could “push” eachother, and super special daddy time for John and I, helping our kids progress on the perfectly perfect flow trails.  Smiles for miles at the bottom, and high fives all around.  Still stoked on that as I sit here writing!

IMG_1449 (1)

Jammies on.  Winding down and watching the sunset.

Kickstand Coffee for din din.   Burgers all around and a Pfriem Pilsner to wash it down.  Then some stick races in the babbling brook.  Off to “The Hook” to play in the Columbia Gorge and eat some Gelato a Cicci.  Back to the crib – jammies on… yes, Molly, we can hang out on the porch and watch the last of the ambient light disappear from the day.


Molly snapped this one at Kickstand


Cross-eyed Lucy

Thank you for your kind heart and hospitality, JK.  Your kids, like you, are beautiful and happy and selfless and we were blessed to spend three nights of mayhem with ya!


Hangin at The Hook


The Columbia River Gorge does not disappoint with its beauty.

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Bend, OR – Operation Pedal and Chug


Buck Norris

So much coolness associated with Chuck Norris.  I had never heard of Buck Norris (although I have heard of Huck Norris) – until my buddy, Mike schooled me. I met up with him Bend, OR.  We worked together on Longmire, and he’s an avid hunter.  Turns out Buck was a revered mule deer in Bend, and was off limits to hunters… but was sadly hit by a car and killed in 2015.  This is the kind of stuff you learn while dispatching beers and nachos at 10 Barrel Brewing after a day of slaughtering primo Bend dirt .IMG_1408

FYI – Tequila is vegan.IMG_1411

Soooo… to the mountain biking.  Original plan – Head up to Tumalo Falls with the fam. After hiking around for a bit, I would leave the girlies to fish then ride North Fork to Mzarek and have a super duper fun descent back to town.  Oops, didn’t even bother to ponder… that there might still be snow up that high.  Yup, after a mile or two of climbing higher and higher on North Fork… boom.  100% hike-a-bike deep snow.


Hangin with the fam at Tumalo Falls


Looking down on Tumalo Falls while climbing North Fork… which btw was an amazing trail, too bad I soon hit snow…


This was the beginning of the snow.  It only got deeper as I continued higher.

North Fork is a one-way trail for mountain biking.  You’re only supposed to climb it.   I was pretty intent on making it to Mzarek, so I kept pushing my bike for over an hour.  I should have aborted earlier, STUBBORN… and there were a lot of hikers out who I didn’t want telling me “this is a one way trail dude”.  After checking the clock, and knowing I’d never make it back to rendezvous with Angela at our stated time (no cell reception either), I finally pulled the plug and hiked down the way I came.  Bummer.


Pretty cool bike work station at 10 Barrel Brewing

Luckily, there’s no shortage of singletrack in that area.  So… I made lemonade by hitting some other fantabulous trails.  Jumped on South Fork, and started paralleling the water on Tumalo Creek Trail.  Spoke to some locals, got some beta – jumped on Skyliner to Whoops to Phil’s and got some cell service.  I wound up riding into town and meeting the fam at  Thump Coffee behind the high school.  A pesto chicken sandywich hit the spot!  Turns out Mike bought his house from the owner of Thump – small world…


Paralleling Tumalo Creek on the South Fork Trail


This lady gave the kids stickers as today and every day is “free sticker day” – Luckily, she had kid-friendly, non-political stickers too.

I didn’t stop to take photos (running late to meet the fam) – but Skyliner and Phil’s were great xc style fast and buff trails.  The terrain reminded me a lot of Uptown/Downtown in Mammoth.  For me, Whoops Trail was the highlight of the ride.  A Chutes and Ladders like man-made flow trail that was silky smooth if you kept your speed.

Bummed I didn’t get Mzarek as I’ve heard so much.   Oh well, glad I got a taste, and lots more riding to do next time I make it to Bend.


The girlies fishing at Tumalo Creek

Other highlights in Bend:

Hit the McD’s drive thru to get ice cream for the kids… after ordering, and getting up to the window to pay… the guy told us “The ice cream machine just broke.  The belt burned out or something.”  Are you kidding me?  The belt burned out?  Pure comedy.  Had to hit Burger King instead, but they don’t have hot fudge sundaes… first world problems.

Bend Brewing has great food and beer and is right on the Deschutes River – winning.


Fish Face


Hangin at the Deschutes River… it was a fish face kinda day

Pine Nursery Park: has a stocked fishing pond for kiddos.  Lucy caught two rainbow trout.  Score!  They were both pretty small, but big enough for Lucy to name Merida and Leroy before we put ’em back in the water…IMG_1412


Molly didn’t catch any, but still had a blast and was a good sport!

Can’t wait to get back to Bend and spend some more time… but for now… we got places to be… Hood River, next up – spending some quality time on the farm with JK – hoot!!

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