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The Sick Puke 101010

Pre-Ride Meeting

It all started with a simple email from a lawyer in Olympia known as the “deal breaker”. He request that I join him and some friends to ride a mystery ride aptly named the Ride Sick Puke 101010. He said that this was going to be an epic ride. It is very hard to say “no” to a mountain bike ride. So of course, I said yes!  For me, it was the last big ride of the year.

The six-annual Sick Puke 101010 mountain bike adventure took place on October 10, 2010 at 8 AM.  It is a loosely organized sick singletrack adventure through the back woods called the Capitol Forest near Olympia Washington. The Capitol Forest is riddled with hundreds of miles of singletrack, logging roads, ORV trails, illegal gun ranges and the occasional meth lab. The route covered a distance of 44 miles, which is a long way on a mountain bike.

A Muddy Bronto Reverend 29er on the Summit of Rock Candy Mountain.

It consisted of a mixture of singletrack, ORV trails, logging roads, 3 mountain top finishes and 12,000 vertical feet of climbing. The event even had some support, which consisted of a truck and trailer that was equipped with a portable generator, fire pit, A DeLonghi espresso machine, hot soup, tasty treats and bike tools to fix any trail induced mechanical issues.

Based on the ride description, I needed a light weight and fast rolling bicycle for the task at hand. So I decided to roll the Bronto Reverend 29er. It was perfect for the challenge. Unfortunately, the weather took a major turn for the worse.  Over 2 inches of rain fell the day before and night before the ride. As a result, the trails turned in to a soggy mess. An estimated 25 plus riders showed up for the ride. They say the puddles in the Capitol Forest can be bottomless and it was true.  These adverse conditions didn’t deter the Rev from performing her best.  In fact, the Rev performed like a rock star!

The Route

Overall, the ride was a blast and I am also completely sold on the 29er revolution. When the final Sick Puke ride numbers were tallied, we logged almost 9 hours on the bike including some short stoppage time for food, shots of espresso and some minor mechanical issues such as flats tires and the occasional occurrence of chain suck. Distance wise, we covered 48 miles due to making a few wrong turns.  From a vertical perspective, we climbed 11,240 vertical feet and consumed 9,600 calories.  Not bad for a hard day in the saddle. – IMP

Mark and Mike Sipping a Freshly Brewed Espresso.

Happy Grins On The Summit of Capitol Peak.

The Meat Wagon

The Gang

Rider In The Storm

The last day of the NUT.  Oh how we will miss you, sweet, seet trails.

On day 3 we woke to fatigue and eggs.  There was only about 15 miles left – the shortest day – to finish the nut.  We shuttled the cars and clipped in for a brutal day of climbing.

Huge climbs, with endless switchbacks, but we were rewarded with long, beautiful, technical descents.  The last 5 miles was a long, fast descent, peppered with short little climbs.  Each felt like a kick in the nuts.

But all too soon it was over.  Our 80 glorious miles of singletrack had come to an end.  After a dip in the North Umpqua river, we headed to Roseburg, loaded up on carbs at the burrito shack, and headed north.  First Bronto adventure in the books!

The second day of our NUT adventure, we awoke to Wesley’s french toast and Jim roasting bacon.  The more clever among us combined these two for a delightful sandwich..others were more conservative and kept the bacon and syrup far apart.  We decided to keep the same campground and shuttle after the day was done, so while the cars were being put into place the rest of us got our bikes tuned up and ready to go.  Already after day 1 there were some issues – Matt the brewer had brought a 36-tooth front ring on his single speed.  Ouch.  DA had made a huge crash and crushed his arm, Troy was retiring for the day…after some part and bike swapping we were good to go.

In case I didn’t give a good enough account of the trails that run along the North Umpqua River, allow me to elaborate.  Like most river trails, the NUT is an endless series of climbs and descents – mostly descents, but no shortage of climbing.  Off-camber, tight, twisty, bermed, smooth, rocky, there is everything on this trail.  Long descents that will keep you smiling.  Beautiful, tight Oregon singletrack, loose and rocky in some sections, but beautifully groomed, as if Carl Spackler himself was in charge of the trails.

The second day started out with a big climb, ouch, but we were rewarded with smooth, flowy trails at the top, a killer view, and a superb descent.  At the bottom of this descent we saw that the trail was closed due to construction blasting.  After some heated discussion, the group split and the braver ones may or may not have poached the closed section.

Regrouping, we all finished the last few segments of trail – Todd running out of water and pretty much everyone burning through their stock of Clif Bars.  At day’s end we hopped in the waiting van, stopped by for some cases of Hamm’s and PBR, and back to camp for some swimming, hot springs, and bacon cheese burgers.


Next up – day 3!

What a weekend.  80mi/120km of some of the best singletrack on the planet.  About a year ago, a small group of us rode some sections of the North Umpqua Trail, just as the discussions for Bronto were getting started.  So we thought it would be a good idea to come back and do the whole thing, point to point.  Thus was born the Bronto NUT.

14 people, camping, food…much more of an undertaking than we had anticipated.  We left Seattle with 2 hour delay.  Stopping in Portland to see Dunn & Co at the brewery did not speed things up.  But we got there, or got to Springfield anyway, and everyone crashed on the floor or the grass.  After a few morning technical and logistical delays, we were off and on our way to the trailhead.

And we were riding!!  The first section, Lemolo, was 6.3 miles of flowy, dusty fun.  A nice warm-up.  So far, no problems.  The next section, Dread and Terror, was going to kick our ass a little bit.  Multiple flats, a broken chain, a good crash or two, and some tough, technical, undulating terrain.  Huge amounts of water were cascading down the cliff, dripping from moss and branches, and running down the trail.  It was dirty but fantastic.  The last section of trail, Hot Springs, was smooth as carpet and super fun, a nice ending to the day.

Camping at Toketee lake, we set about to drinking as much Schooner Exact beer as we could (7 growlers in one evening) and carbo-loading for the massive 2nd day.  Wes cooked up sausages and chili.  The morning brought french toast and bacon, and soon we were clipping in for day 2….

Riding in Retie

My buddy Jan has lived in Retie almost all his life, and when he hasn’t been living in Retie, he’s been a permanent resident of the bars there.  So Retie is ok by me.  Unfortunately, being right on the Dutch border, it’s flatter than flat.  Flatter than a euro XC carbon handlebar.  So when Lockwood and I decided to go do an organized ride there…I had my doubts.

Sure enough, it was absurdly flat.  Jeff with his IF ti single speed, and me with my steel single…it had potential to be a long day.  And so it began, spinning out the legs for a good 1-2km on normal roads.  Until we got to the forest, and found out it was pretty righteous!  Fun swooping singletrack popped out of nowhere.  And quite a lot of it.  A bit sandy in places, but fun.   We stopped at the halfway mark to take in some waffles and sports drink before continuing on to the main prize -the bar at the end.

Orval

So I’m not exactly how this ride came together, but in any case it ended up with myself, Jeff and Maurice from Dirt Rag, and 2 ex-pats living in Belgium, James and Dave.  I think Dave had downloaded a ride off the O2 bikers website, and it promised to be some ok riding in the very southern tip of Belgium.  Starting (and ending) at the Orval monastery and brewery.  So you can basically imagine how this is going to end.

Three of us were on single speeds and there was a nifty little climb right at the start.  Followed by possibly the longest downhill in Belgium.  For sure the longest I have ever done.  My hopes were high for some tasty singletrack, such a rare creature in Belgium…and after just a few km there was indeed a little stretch.  But for the most part, it was double track and dirt roads.

But it was all good.  Nice to ride with a relaxed group of guys rather than the usual bunch of flemish racer-wannabes.  Yeah, we pedaled around the Ardennes, back and forth across the French-Belgian border.  Somewhere around the halfway mark we ran into the picture-perfect town of Willers, in France.  To top it all off there was an open cafe with outdoor seating.  And an outdoor bowling alley.

Some time later, we dropped back onto the trail and continued the search for singletrack.  Very little to be found.  We soon forgot, however, when we ended back up at the Orval cafe.

A meeting of Bronto conspirators in Seattle.  TG drove up  from Springfield for some trail riding, some “strategic meetings”, and who knows what else.  The weekend started, as any good weekend does, with huevos rancheros and chorizo.  We met up with our web guy Matt at Grand Ridge in Issaquah.  It was the first sunny day in Seattle for months, we were told, so although the weather was beautiful, the trails were sloppy.  No problem, we clipped in an began the long singletrack climb.  Fabulous trails, even wet.  Ask Todd about wet, he fell into the bog.

We rode all the way up Grand Ridge to Duthie mtb park.  A man-made trail center known for its free-ride trails, there is also a XC loop with some baby stunts.  We rode part of this, managing not to injure ourselves too seriously.  This was an out and back, so after our “stunting”, we crawled up and over Grand Ridge and then back down the brilliant final descent to the car.
Post-ride tacos and margaritas with Bronto designer Troy.  Who, by the way, has a pretty righteous Ford truck that I just KNOW he is waiting to sell me.  We set up an impromptu photo shoot for the latest Bronto frame, a sublime shade of blue.  Thanks Troy!

The plan for Sunday was to ride Fishhook Flats up past Cle Elum, just over the mountain pass.  To facilitate this we slept at GG’s cabin up in the mtns.  Said plans were foiled by a huge rain in the early hours of the morning – trails east of the mountains don’t do well after heavy rains – so we headed back and rode Tapeworm, which was pretty ok.  It was Todd’s first run on Tapeworm, and it can be a pretty treacherous trail, but we all made it.  Bronto mission accomplished.

While Todd toils away building frames…the european Bronto contingency decided to take advantage of the hottest spring weather in the history of Northern Europe.  No better way to do this than with a road trip and some trail riding.  So off to Wales we went, with the Tachelet brothers (who have themselves visited Todd’s shop, ridden in Oakridge, and been bitten by Todd’s dog).

Wales is, as it turns out, a mountain bike mecca in the UK.  Just 3 hours west of London, it has multiple (government-funded, thank you big government!!!) riding centers with marked courses.  Many of the centers have bike shops, cafes, and sometimes even showers.  It’s as if they were trying to promote awesome trail riding as a legitimate activity!  So you just show up, pick your level of difficulty, and off you go.  We picked black level trails, because we think we’re hard men.

Yes, hard enough that we even ate English breakfasts for 3 days.  Not easy, I can assure you.  Anyway.  The riding was brilliant.  Peter and Stijn are racer-types so they dragged my soft behind up the hills with their foam grips and straight bars.  But it was me with the last laugh on the descent!

First day was at Afan, probably the most famous riding center in Wales, and home to the legendary Skyline trail.  We opted for W2, a 44km loop with heaps of climbing and seemingly endless singeletrack.  Looooong singletrack descents.  So tasty.

The next day we were off to Brechfa, a smaller and lesser-known trail center just an hour away.  It was brilliant, felt very similar to west coast riding in the US.  We pedaled up I don’t know how many climbs, tore down the singletrack descents, taking advantage of the man-made and maintained berms and booters.  I was constantly reminded how very few things there are in this world that can bring as much pleasure as riding a mountain bike.

And so it was, onto the last day at Cwmcarn.  We had to make it early and short due to a ferry reservation, so we woke up at the crack of 6, forced down our fried egg, and were clipping in just after 7.  It was a gorgeous morning, birds were chirping, and we were the only ones on the trail.  And what a brilliant trail it was.  Very technical singletrack climb up, and brilliant descent back down.  I can’t think of many better usages of 1.5 hours of my life than riding that trail.

So Wales, highly recommended.  Go to www.mbwales.com for more.  For me it was maybe the best riding I’ve done to date over here in Euro-land.  For those looking for some tasty euro trails, look no further than the UK.