Sanders: Riding in reverse
Mountain Biking with Keith
We are lucky that we live in a mountain bike and trail paradise.
If you are visiting here then you will soon realize the vast amount of trail diversity that we get to use almost daily. It could be an easy roll down the Fraser River Trail or an exhilarating ride up to Rogers Pass which gives you that feeling that you are on top of the world.
Often we tend to get stuck in a rut and ride the same trails the same way. I found a great way to mix things up is to ride some of the routes you go by in the reverse direction. Often this gives an entirely different experience to ride. Hard climbs become fun descents, technical features that you ride around going up may become a fun challenge when coming down. You might just be able to give the legs and lungs a real test and feeling of accomplishment.
I have a few trails that I ride both directions which gives them an entirely different experience. One of my favorites is Twisted Ankle in the area known as Idlewild. Twisted Ankle was a social trail that was converted to an official USFS System Trail a couple of years ago. The conversion took an heavily eroded fall line trail (places were a couple of feet deep from use and water) to a sustainable trail capable of riding up and down. Since the trail was rerouted use has increased by a substantial amount. The climb is a challenge with a few tight switchbacks and narrow singletrack. As hard as the climb is it has enough spots that let up a bit to allow the legs recharge for the next section. The descent is one that is simply a blast to ride. Great flow with bank turns at the top. As you descend the trail becomes more of a classic cross country ride. Narrow and fun with a few challenges to keep you on your toes.
Another trail I love to ride in both directions is Broken Thumb. Broken Thumb is just down the road from the top of Twisted Ankle. Ridden from the top down this starts out with a bit of trail erosion then continues onto a slightly downhill two track. From there the trail tips in pitch and surface. Smooth compacted dirt gives way to looser rock. It’s steep enough that you need to watch the speed a bit. More loose rocks throughout the midpoint and then you traverse to the final descent which is a fun steep singletrack, tight to the trees full of roots and just hard enough to give you the challenge that test your skills.
Broken Thumb ridden in reverse or uphill will work you. If coming down was good then going up is evil. The bottom singletrack will challenge your steep climbing skills as well as your legs and lungs. You can recover a bit on the traverse which takes you to the main climb. The main climb is hard. If you make this entire trail without putting a foot down or stopping then you have some bragging rights. The main climb begins on loose rock and is aggressive in pitch.
Thankfully there is a bit of a break from the lower pitch just before the main middle section. It is important to look ahead to find the line through the loose rocks. The line you took yesterday may be different today.
The middle section has a few false summits just to mess with you mentally. As you top out you get to ride on a gentle grade. Ranch Creek flows just below you and is often missed when you descend. A meadow just above the upper bridge is seldom seen when riding down. This is a great place to watch for moose.
You have one last hill and of course it is not easy. Water tends to run down the main track which keeps makes it even harder. You will have to dig deep to make the final climb. Once to the top take a breath and enjoy your accomplishment. I often just turn right around and reap the rewards.
Next time you go out, try some of your favorite rides in the opposite direction. you just might find that you may like it even better than before.
Beavers Sports Shop next the Best Western Hotel does a group ride Friday night at 6 p.m. This ride is for the intermediate and above rider. We will explore the local trail system as a group. For more info call the shop at 726-5988.
Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker. Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!
Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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