Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Crawfish Trail, OR (9.29.12)

Deciding to actually stay around town for a weekend, I was fired up to hit one of the local mountain bike rides, which I hadn't done much of this season. A plan had already been set in motion to ride both Goodman Creek and Hardesty -- which sounded just right to me. Unfortunately the day of the ride (last Saturday), plans started to unravel a bit, and we ended up deciding on a different destination, Crawfish Trail, in the area of Brice Creek, OR. I was even more excited about this agenda, since I had not done Crawfish before and I had heard that it was one hell of a downhill. The rumors also stated that the climb up the dirt road was a real ball buster, but the weather was supposed to be mild so I wasn't too concerned, since usually my biggest issue on rides is overheating.

Our ride

We ended up having four in the crew, Roman Androsov, Jason Snook, Emily (my wife), and me. After meeting at LCC and consolidating into my car, we headed ~1 hour southeast toward our newly planned ride. Pulling into Cedar Creek Campground, where we'd be starting from, the temps were indeed on the cool side (~60 degrees), but the sun was shining bright, much like our spirits. We quickly changed, jumped on our bikes, and headed back 1/4 mile on the road we had just driven in on to reach the gravel road climb, a.k.a. Adams Mt. Road (FR 2234).

The climb started immediately and continued along at a pretty consistent grade. It certainly forced me into my small ring but at the same time was very manageable. Once again the cool temps were a big help, and with it also being mostly shaded, I wasn't sweating like a pig, which is usually the case. The other three had jumped out well ahead, mainly since I was grinding along at a relaxed pace and taking lots of photos along the way. The real hero of the climb was Roman, who was doing the damn thing on a singlespeed. It'd be one thing if he was an avid mountain biker who rode every weekend, but he's usually kayaking with me somewhere else instead. They did wait up once at an intersection, which was good since I really didn't do any research on the ride beforehand and wasn't really sure where I was going.

Startin' the climb

Mid morning sun

Beautiful skies along the way

Typical section of along the climb

Are we there yet?

Em enjoying a mid climb break

Back to the races

On the second part of the climb I stayed a bit closer to the rest of the crew, only stopping briefly here and there for a photo op. The last bit of the climb did begin to wear on me a bit, so I was pretty happy to see Jason and Em, sitting down on the side of the road checking out the view from the road summit. We had just climbed about 2,800' in six miles, and it was nice to take a bit of a breather before the descent. None of us really felt like riding up to the summit of Adams Mountain, so instead we headed down the road another mile to the start of the Crawfish trail, where the real fun begins.

Taking in the view at the road summit

Roman joins the party

Roman probably explaining how awesome it is to singlespeed the climb

The signage at the trailhead

Since I wanted to take some shots of the crew, I rushed out ahead while they were still prepping for the singletrack. The first part of the trail traversed along the ridge, with intermittent sections of large loose rock. I was really liking my 29" wheels, which allowed me to crawl through most of the sections without much issue. Before long I found a nice sunny spot to setup and wait for the others. A couple of minutes later they came flyin' past where I was able to grab a couple shots.

Jason starting off the ride

Emily rides through a loose rock section near the start of the trail

Em, happy to be riding her bike.

More loose rock

Once the rocky bits had subsided, the trail ducked into the forest and started off with some fun swoopy sections, small drop-offs, and steeper pitches. I ended up eating shit at one point, where I flew off the trail, after carrying too much speed off one of the drop-offs. Eventually the trail made its way down/around multiple rideable switchbacks, which were a real hoot. One notable switchy had a couple of line options, by either going high or low. As I came into it with some speed, I heard Jason yell out, "Go high!", which I did. Coming out of the turn it was pretty steep, but luckily it had a nice straight run-out. All too soon, the trail ended abruptly at a road crossing, signaling the end of the first section of trail. It should be noted that there is a hard left turn just before it drops down to the road -- carrying to much speed here and missing the turn could send you off the trail with some big air and a bad landing, which I'm sure has happened in the past.

Emily finds some techie bits near the start

Roman, trail blazin'

Threadin' the Salal

Lots of fun switchbacks

Emily takes the low/tighter line

The author goes for the high/steep line (photo by Jason Snook)

Exiting the turn (photo by Jason Snook)

On the other side of the road crossing we found more fun flowy trail, with lots of nice kickers to get some air off of. There were also some high banked turns to rail around and zig-zag switchbacks, although you had to watch your speed on a few of them since there was also a bit of soft dirt..

Jason finds some sun along the way

Em, gettin' some air

Jason enters a fun S-Turn

Exiting the S-Turn

After another road crossing, the trail took on a pump-track style descent, with more of the aforementioned features and some bigger jumps built just in case you'd eaten your Wheaties. A couple of the harder obstacles were found back to back near the end of the trail, a short rocky/rooty pitch and a super tight/steep left-hand switchback. The former didn’t present much of a problem for the crew, but Jason was the only one to make the switchback – in good form may I add. From here to the paved road were a couple of downhill traverses. Once the road came into view, it all sunk in that the fun was about to end.

Jason, comin' in hot!

Entering a nice high speed turn

Emily, entering the turn

Getting the slingshot out of the turn

Roman, hot on their heels

Jason rounds another high speed corner

Roman, in the middle of the pump-track section

Roman enters the rocky pitch

The author takes his turn (photo by Emily Pfeifer)

Jason styles on of the tougher switchbacks on Crawfish

Emily rides along one of the final traverses

Roman, on the same stretch

Still a bit giddy from the trail we had just descended, we pedaled up the Brice Creek road to Lund Park, so we could head back to the car via Brice Creek Trail. Don’t get me wrong, I do like this trail as well, but it certainly doesn’t have the "whee factor" that Crawfish does. It’s more of a technical XC up/down ride littered with lots of rocks and roots. This is actually a great trail in the winter time since the soil never gets too muddy and it’s rarely snowed in. After about 3 miles on Brice, we were back at Cedar Creek campground and our awaiting car. We quickly loaded up and headed back toward town, stopping along the way for some quality snacks at Taco Bell.

The crew enters Brice Creek Trail, at Lund Park

Congo line

Finishing up the ride at Ceder Creek Campground

Hands down, one of the best descents I've ridden in Oregon! I’d put it right up there with Mary’s Peak, King Castle, and Maiden Peak – I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get on it. There is just a great variety of stuff along the way, and riders of all skill levels will surely find it enjoyable – you can send it or take it at a mellow pace, either way you’ll probably be smiling the whole way down. The road crossings actually act as a great place to regroup and also separate the trail into 3 unique sections. On a side note, it appears that the DH community has spent some days doing trail work here, with lots of man-made pump-track style features – props to them for all the hard work they've put into it. Even though the trail is soft in some spots and gets fairly dusty, it was never so bad that it killed the flow. There was also a spot or two where the trail is on a fall line and trenches have been dug from draining water, but they were quite short and actually added to the excitement a bit. If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and bag this ride before the winter weather comes, you won't be disappointed!

The tracks from our ride:

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