It had been a couple weeks since I was last on my bike and over a year since I had ridden at Lake Sawyer in Black Diamond, so I woke up early Saturday morning and met a group of 20 or so riders at the bike shop on Highway 169 in Black Diamond. The ride leader was a no-show and various splinter groups were starting to head off onto the lengthy network of trails. An email from the ride leader today states that he did eventually show up but after 20 minutes of waiting outside in the cold, I thought it best to tag along with one of the trail builders who was leading a tour of some brand-new singletrack en route to an area in Ravendale known as "Henry's Ridge".
By the way, just as an aside, the leader's tardiness didn't really bother me since there were plenty of other people who knew the trail system, but ride leaders should always be at the ride at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the ride. A ride leader who shows up 15 minutes after the scheduled start time is not "just 15 minutes late" as his email indicated, but rather at least a half hour late. Especially since you have to factor in the time it takes him to unrack his bike, get geared up, and ready to go. I was actually pleased to see the crowd break into smaller groups so this one incident doesn't bother me in the least, but as a ride leader I consider showing up "on time" to mean being at the trailhead before anyone else.
Nevertheless, we had a good group of 9 riders and the trails were in great shape. I was on the single-speed again, but other than one really steep hill on the "dark side" (across 169) was able to pedal everything, which I was happy to do since a couple guys who I didn't know seemed to think I was going to hold everyone up on the single-speed. Some of the shorter trails we rode were literally just cut in within the past couple weeks and were nothing but freshly-cut salal and ribbons of fallen leaves, but we did eventually make our way across the railroad tracks and up a gravel path behind a development to the Henry's Ridge area. My oh my! The first trail we hit went on for a mile and was filled with plenty of hairpin switchbacks and rollercoastery ups and downs. I jumped at the chance to take the lead and really enjoyed the excellent trailwork of a man named Ralph. I didn't meet Ralph and don't know a thing about him. But Ralph, if you see this, you're a damn fine trailbuilder and I loved your trails! Thanks!
We also got to talking about the housing market slowdown and the rather positive side-effect it will have on the mountain biking scene. The trails at Lake Sawyer are on land that is scheduled to eventually be cleared for further development but with neighborhoods like mine clearing the way for thousands more houses than demand currently justifies, areas further away from the Seattle/Bellevue area should take even longer to be developed. It will suck to see these trails disappear one day, but if a slower housing economy pushes the destruction of the trails from 6 to 8 years back to 10 to 12, then that's a good thing in my opinion.
After about 8 or 9 miles of some really fun singletrack near Ravendale, we crossed back over 169 to the main Lake Sawyer side and rode a trail called "Mistress" back to the coal cart parking area. This trail was so named by Todd's wife on account of all the time he spent building it. I need to head back there with my folding saw to remove a small 6" tall tree stump that caused me some significant pain. The stump brought me to a grinding halt while pedaling up a hill and I inadvertently bashed my kneecap on my bike's stem really hard. The sensation was like hitting your funny bone on a sharp metal corner. I eventually was able to walk it off and ride the rest of the way back to the cars, but I was slow getting up, that's for sure.
The only bad part about the ride on Saturday was that I had forgotten to charge the batter on my Garmin and don't have a GPS track of the route we took. I *might* be able to find my way back there one day, but I definitely want to get back and GPS that route we took on another ride. The Lake Sawyer trails are only about 25 minutes from my house and between the lengthy network of trails on the Lake Sawyer side and now these newer trails out by Henry's Ridge and the other dark side trails, it seems possible to create a 20 to 30 mile route of pure unadulterated singletrack. And that has me very excited.