Sunday, 28 October 2012


It's almost the end of another year's riding. Downieville, Whistler and trips to Northstar are fading into fond memories. A few pictures and one or two scars are all that's left. It'd be easy to think the best of it is over and done with. Just get on with the weekly rides on the local trails until next year's season kicks in. But northern Cali' still has some real treats to offer, and this weekend they were indulged in. The tinder dry, talcum powdery trails have been doused with some intense, but scattered rains to create the best, cake batter-like singletrack. Mix this with some loamey earth and a carpet of fallen leaves and you have a recipe for some epic riding.

It won't be long before the woolly thermals are needed and more rain turns the cake mix into muddy goop. Then we'll be grinding the fireroads of Tam' as we wait for the usual haunts to dry out. Until then, we've got a few more solid sessions in perfect conditions to enjoy. Gotta love California riding!

Sunday, 7 October 2012


That's how I feel. Like I've been out too late, indulged a little too much and got beaten up on the way home. Fortunately, I escaped a rough night on the tiles and instead spent the day at Northstar. Me, Chris and Dave headed to NorCal's downhill mecca for the final weekend of the season, eager to catch the last dregs of dirt before the snow comes and we have to sit and wait patiently for next year's mayhem.

Burly bikes at the ready, we rode the first chairlift through to the last. A full day indulging our passion for the gravity end of the sport. Me and Chris had rental Glorys. A little rattly, worn and somewhat worse for wear after a season's abuse, the stout beast still did me proud. I'm a big fan of the Glory. Simple, tough and built like a tank, yet floaty light once you get it airborne. I think I'll be investing in one of my very own next year.

After a couple of warm ups on Livewire we decided to explore some of Northstar's other black and double black runs. I typically shy away from double black diamond (or "expert" runs.) I find myself playing mind games and creating fear instead of flow. But after a week at Whistler, and knowing this was our last ride of the season I summoned up the sack to have a crack. First, we hit Boondocks a few times. Steep, extremely rocky and full of nerve testing features, I didn't manage to clean the whole thing, but I definitely made progress over the course of the day.

After hitting a few double blacks, the single blacks suddenly felt a little smaller. A sensation we exploited on Gypsy, Little Trees and Pho Dogg. I hit drops that I'd never attempted before and flowed through the rough stuff with less of the usual adrenaline heightened hyperfocus and more of a fun induced grin. Progress indeed since our trips earlier in the year. I do want to step things up next season though. I'm not quite where I want to be (for a start I'm usually a decent click somewhere behind Dave and Chris!) My jumping confidence needs work and I want to clean the bigger stuff on the double blacks. But I shouldn't ignore the progress I made this year - especially on the technical riding. It's been decent, and a huge benefit to the regular trail riding we do.

At the end of a fantastic day I was just about done. My wrists and hands were battered and screaming and my weary legs were about to give way. Dave suggested one last run. The lifts were closing. Something easy.... like Boondocks top to bottom! The sensible me wanted to return my rental steed and call it a day. But I couldn't resist sealing the season with one last rip down a gnarly trail that, only a few months ago, I was too scared to attempt. So we rode it - I almost rode all of it. A little frustrated at myself for walking the steeper stuff, I vowed to come back next year and hit it harder.... hopefully on my very own brand new downhill bike!