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Another Day in Bellingham and an Adventure Somewhere New

The mountain biking in Bellingham is just too good. It's like riding at Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT except it's free everyday. I do need to venture out to different places, Port Gamble is on the list, but it's tough when I know I've only scratched the surface of what Bellingham has to offer.

July 18th, 2020

I rode Scorpion for the first time and for sure need a full face to take the A-line. Start out with a five-foot drop into a tiny catch berm which you could very easily have some issues with - I opted to avoid this feature due to the apparent high risk consequences. I honestly didn't even do a ride through on the A-line, I skipped that completely and stayed on the B-line which still had me spooked in a few spots. Super fun trail, certainly a bit more rowdy than Evolution, so it'll be a place I go to learn and get better.

Other than that, Saturday was for climbing. 4100+ vertical feet and just over 20 miles of riding according to my Suunto and Strava hookups. I was hoping to be closer to 5k vertical and 30 miles of riding but that'll have to wait for another day, my legs were spent when I made my last climb to ride Unemployment to A-Dog (Atomic Dog if you didn't catch the full name from my previous post).

I got a discount code through Strava for Skratch Labs a week or so ago for completing a challenge, pretty neat that Strava has so many of these now. Skratch Labs makes energy chews and granola bars, and they're mostly vegan, gluten free, dairy free...all allergens removed, dietary restrictions met, healthy snacks; ideal for people who are active. I've been eating a granola bar in the morning and then the chews on my last three rides and they are the best tiny little punches of energy. These things kept me going when I was doing my third full climb to get over the 4k mark. Sour cherry is my go to right now, they're nice because they aren't sweet. They also have some primo advice on their packaging: "Eat it when you're hungry. Don't if you're not. Repeat if necessary."

I made a quick stop off I-5 to take in some views. Mount Baker was out. It was a bit humid, ~80%, and with the high temps and the snow melting up high, there was this haze settled around the relatively inactive volcano. Found a field of wheat or barley for my foreground to contrast the rest of the landscape, although that haze made the sky a lighter shade of blue than what I was expecting through the camera. Tough for the photo to really show how incredible the prominence of Mount Baker truly is.

Mount Baker

July 19th, 2020

A new place has been discovered. That place is Raging River. The place where you will get all of the pedaling in.

Met up with a few guys at 06:15 at the trailhead. I met these guys a few weeks back at Tiger when they showed me around Predator. Being up that early is a total game changer; avoiding crowds and the late morning/early afternoon heat, was a key factor for what turned out to be a 6+ hour ride.

With it being my first time there, the mellow uphill pace combined with a bunch of breaks on the way were certainly nice, especially coming off my 4000ft day of climbing in Bellingham on Saturday. The Raging River climb is a two-way for most of the time up the mountain, but due to COVID, it's suggested that you climb up the fire road to keep as much social distancing as possible, so that's what we did. The climb was mostly in the shade which was a huge benefit as the temperature started to rise. The sun peaked through the trees on the ascent, the fir trees and moss had that vibrant PNW green pop with a little shimmer from the morning dew. It was beautiful.

The climb was a long one, but the view was well worth it. A clearing from a logging operation on Rattlesnake Mountain gives you a wonderful vista to view Mount Rainier.

Views of Mount Rainier from the top of the climb

On the way down, well, things got interesting. That shade was no longer a benefit, restricting the ability of the sun to dry out the downhill trail. Invictus was slimy and chunky up high. We didn't realize we ordered mud with extra grease and a side of wet tree roots - not a fast or stable combination. To give some insight, think of it like driving and hitting black ice. Every root would put at least one of my tires about 6" in some direction where I didn't want it to be, a very interesting wrinkle for an already steep trail.

Thankfully, once we made it down a couple hundred feet in elevation, the trail dried out and became very flowy and fast. Small jumps and rollers, smooth berms, it was fun. This section didn't last forever though. The last bit of trail was steep and switchbacked its way into the basin of a ravine.

At this point we were on the backside of the mountain and had one option: climb back to the top to go down the front side. All of us were already tired at this point. The sun was getting high in the sky and the temperature was rising with it, making this climb out a brutal one. It was one of those where you just find your happy place and don't think too much. We passed one guy who had broken his derailleur hanger off of his bike, forcing him to hike the nearly 1000ft of vertical back to the top. So, at least we weren't that guy.

The front side offered more flow and berms throughout, plenty of side hits built in to the trail to spice things up, as long as you keep your speed and watch out for the bikers coming uphill.

All in all, it was a good day. 3600+ vertical feet and 17+ miles. Not what I had planned as a recovery ride, but the only way to get in better shape for biking is more biking.

Bonus Content

If you made it this far, you get to see this photo of the sunrise over Seattle from Monday morning. Got up at 04:30 to drive down to the city before work and get a few shots and catch the sunrise. It did not disappoint.

Good morning, Seattle | 05:40, July 20, 2020

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