I admit, I still have a sort of love-hate relationship with the city itself. When visiting Seattle on nice, sunny days, I love the place. When it's dark and rainy, I think of it as the ultimate hell. There has been one cure for the hateful emotions, and it is the area trails. So when a friend of mine suggested we spend the weekend biking after his business trip, I did not hesitate and booked my plane tickets. I have been also following trail building activities of the Evergreen Mountain Biking Alliance since I left, and I knew that many miles of new trails have been built.
Equipped with decent quality rental 29-ers, we headed east on I-90 to Issaquah. The plan was to warm up on Grand Ridge, do a loop around Duthie and perhaps explore one more trail system in the afternoon.
We soon reached the Duthie park and started our XC loop. This trail meanders around the center of the park, with a practice area and a rain shelter. Countless downhill and freeride tracks intersect the XC trail. At few points, the XC trail is routed underneath wooden ramps and other MTB "furniture".
We stopped at the practice area and tried to ride narrow (but low) logs, with variable success. Well, we just do not have the practice like some of the local kids do.
On a beautiful sunny Sunday morning, we drove to Tiger Mountain for a dose of some more serious fun. Since I last rode here, not one but six new trails have been built here! The grueling fire road climb to the summit has been replaced by the Master Link trail, a climber's delight, with perfect grade and lots of switchbacks and nice bridges.
|The big hill never fails to amaze me|
The day got quite warm by now, and our lunch break in the shadow of trees made me feel like taking a nap. Instead, we rode couple of miles out on West Side fire road to take a technical Iverson Trail singletrack back. Here is where my last molecules of mojo evaporated and I ended up walking some technical bits.
The bikes had to be returned by 4PM, which gave me an opportunity to show Pavel some of my favorite Seattle spots. We admired the Ballard Locks and salmon ladder for a while, then drove across Magnolia to Discovery Park to enjoy another view of Mt Rainier and ended up at Pikes Place Market.
I think that when I told my friend Pavel a while ago that trails in Washington are the best in the world, he took it for a hyperbole. I think I remember him saying that these two days were his best rides ever. It does not really matter, we were not attempting to rank Seattle area trails against other places we rode. These trails are awesome, more importantly, these trails are therapeutic. Here, you can ride ten miles or fifty, the intense feelings of flow, fun and happiness are almost guaranteed. At least, it is how it used to work for me and it still does.