Gettin' Down & Dirty at Reiter Pit

Notice: This article doesn't contain any descriptions of nudity nor does it contain references to sex, copulation, ejaculation, self-gratification, or any other -ations you can think of. This notice is for the benefit of Kristin's sisters who, up until last week still believed their older sister was a virgin. I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you two, but I had no idea you read my blog.

Not unlike my dogs, it wasn't long ago that I was showing signs of slowing down too (see post below). Thanks to a lot of biking and running of late, that's no longer the case, but nevertheless, I know I'm 30 years old and, well, being able to recall attending my mother's thirtieth birthday party doesn't exactly make me feel young. And knowing that my little sister is entering her mid-20's and getting a place with her boyfriend doesn't help either. Fortunately there is a cure to feeling old: playing in the mud.

Yesterday's mountain bike ride was, in many ways, unlike any ride I have ever been on. Five of us headed into the mountains northeast of Seattle to a place known as Reiter Pit. It's a veritable Mecca for ATV and moto-cross riders in this part of Washington. It's not a place mountain bikers ever go; well, except for the guy who lead our ride yesterday. He rides there quite a bit, and it's probably why he's so good.

Here's a couple pics of the roads that led to the actual singletrack. This is the easy stuff.

4x4 Photo #1

4x4 Photo #2

To be honest, to even call what we rode Saturday trails would be a gross exaggeration. When off-road motorcycles cut trails into the damp Pacific Northwest forests, they essentially rip it to shreds. Their tires cut extremely deep trenches into the ground, tree branches and logs and rocks get scatter haphazardly to and fro, and basically the bio-litter on the forest floor ends up becoming even gnarlier, slippier, and more mangled than it was originally. At one point, I stood straddling one of the moto-trenches and it was so deep that my feet were actually above my top-tube!

There were precious few moments in the ride when you could go five feet without using total concentration to carefully pilot your bike up and over the root balls and rocks and around the hub-deep mud bowls and rivers that we were following. Much of the riding was flat, but vastly more technical than any of the typical mountain biking trails I've ridden. Even the stuff that most experienced riders consider to be technical was nothing like this. It was all-natural, extreme cross-country trail riding. There were five of us riding in relatively close formation at times and nobody ever seemed to pick the same line. Normally, we try to closely follow the trail so as to not further any erosion or damage any vegetation. At Reiter Pit, the "trail" is like a braided river of destruction nearly 15 feet wide in places and you're all but required to add to the destruction if you're to not bury your entire bike in mud.

One of the trails we hit did drop several hundred feet in elevation and, like much of the rest of the trails, had large root nests and step-down root-drops every several feet. Combined with loose rocks and plenty of slick, wet clay, it proved to be a very technical descent. I was going really well for the first half of the descent until I under-estimated the steepness of particularly large root-drop, tried to roll it, and endoed. I flipped the bike forward, somersaulted onto my shoulder (collar bone fortunately not re-broken) and stood up to see that I basically tried to roll a 3-4 foot root drop smack into another root. Although I did bruise my hand, my bike suffered worse damage. I badly bent the front brake lever and also lost the pin that holds it in place. Now faced with the latter half of the descent and only a rear brake, I had to be careful.

I wasn't as careful as I should have been and I endoed again further down the trail. Another root drop smack into a root ball. This time I landed on the bike (no somersault) and put a nice slice into my inner thigh. No blood, but damn does it burn (it matches the scar I have from a surfing injury years ago).

I was still having a great time. You couldn't fault someone for gettting frustrated riding these trails, and the increasing rain showers that came throughout the 3 hours we were out there certainly didn't help to make the experience any easier. But for some reason, I was really enjoying myself. Aside from the two endos, I was actually riding really well. I handled the tech climbs nearly as well as our ride leader, Preston, and for the most part, was able to keep on his and Ken's tail for much of the ride. I was apprehensive concerning whether or not I was ready to ride this aggressive of a trail with such faster and more skilled riders, but at least judging by this weekend, I am. One of the riders even commented that he was shocked I tackled that descent on an NRS (cross-country bike instead of a burlier all-mountain type of bike with bigger suspension). Of course, neither I nor my bike came away unscathed, but it's all part of the experience.

And there's nothing better than walking into a restaurant after a long, cold ride, with a fresh coat of mud on your face. And it's even better when you know it came from trying to keep up with two guys more than 10 years your senior.

Thirty is the new twenty. It feels great to be young again.

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