June 2 (The Setup)
Leavenworth’s annual “Bike and Brew” festival was slated for June 4, 2016. Friend and co-worker, Nate, invited myself and others from work over for an action-packed weekend. Thursday, Nate and I white-boarded a loose itinerary of possible events. And, at 0900 on Friday, June 3, we got the green light for the weekend’s festivities. What follows can only be described as a “Whiteboard Weekend”.
 

June 3
After a blissful, and rare, full-night’s sleep at Station 82, Nate and I were released into the wild. I buzzed home to load my mountain bike and dirtbike (sorry, Mom, it’s true) and hit Highway 2 east, which is the only direction anyone should be headed on the 2. Big shout out to Scott Stedman for getting my mountain bike tuned up and refreshed for the weekend’s anticipated events.

I arrived in Leavenworth shortly after 1300 and began to get my mind right for the impending dusty and loose big mountain trail riding to come. The best time to mountain bike in the Leavenworth area is late spring, when the dirt is still held together by the moisture. After the heat of early summer has baked the hills, the dirt loosens and navigating the trails at any sort of speed can become difficult. This proved to be an issue for several of our party, myself included.

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The first trail was Tres Hombres. It’s a killer trail I’d run a couple times last year, but there is a newly-completed lower “Option B” section that’s rad. A friend and his two sons came over to join us, bringing our party to 6. See below (from left: Me, Mitchell, Nick, Chris, Hunter, Nate):

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Remember those dusty conditions I discussed earlier? They came into play for me on the lower section. It’s a fast, flowy section with tight, bermy turns that double back on themselves, all while gaining and losing elevation. Done right, it feels like a rollercoaster. Done wrong, it feels like crashing hard and tumbling part-way down a fairly steep hill. It took me a few minutes to feel like riding again, I won’t lie to you. Somehow, my helmet rolled 100 feet further down the hill after I took it off and set it down. Big thanks to Nate for hunting it down and recovering it. Fortunately, I had no injuries except for a pretty good bit of road rash on the side of my knee.

We shuttled Tres to maximize our time, and honestly, who wants to ride UP hill?? This meant that Hunter and I were able to ride the trail a second time. Unfortunately, on the second lap, Hunter came in hot to a very technical knife-edge section along the spine of an exposed ridge and didn’t realize until too late that I had slowed to approach it. Thankfully, a sturdy bush just off the trail grabbed both him and his bike and prevented a lengthy tumble down the mountainside. Did I mention this is a big-boy trail? Hunter escaped with minor, but frustrating injuries (sprained finger and plenty of road rash).

It was hot. Very hot. After crashing and dusting ourselves down the trail, the group decided it was time to cool off down at the river. Brats, beer, ice-cold glacial melt river water: a perfect way to beat the heat. And not a bad view.

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After recharging at the river, Nate, Hunter and I shuttled up Ranger Road / Tumwater Mountain for a fast, smooth rip down Freund. I’m not sure we even pedaled. This trail is a constant flowing left-right alternating, undulating trail that encourages speed. It’s a total blast. And, the moto recovery of the shuttle truck was pretty fun too. My first miles riding a dirt bike were here, Ranger Road up Tumwater Mountain. It’s a very different feeling than street bikes, where any sort of tires sliding around is pretty bad news.

No trip to Leavenworth is complete without a stop at Icicle Brewing Company, especially when you can convince other people to join. A special appearance by Keith (also from work) and his wife Beth from Wenatchee was a great way to cap the day. That and IBC has a new pale ale project beer that’s tremendous.
 

June 4
Our whiteboard called for an “alpine start” on day 2 to beat the heat on the pedal up Xanadu. This did not happen. We still pedaled up Xanadu, though. But we did not beat any sort of heat. We hit the trailhead around 845 and I cooked on the way up. Absolutely worth it.

Nate discussed the necessity of hitting the “stump jump” on Xanadu. It’s a pretty good-sized jump feature that has the rider clearing a large stump that sits just adjacent to the trail. The approach is nice and the run-out after is smooth, so it’s a great jump that “just goes”. It’s mostly a mental challenge (as with anything like this). With a little coaching, I decided it was time to make it happen. The first attempt was almost disastrous as my left foot came off the pedal mid-flight. I hit the take-off with more speed than I needed (or expected) and I very easily cleared the stump, but nearly crashed on the landing. Fortunately, I was able to ride it out and safely come to a stop below. Obviously, a second attempt had to be made. With a little brake-check on the approach, I found the correct speed and was rewarded with a pretty smooth and addictingly-fun jump. Xanadu is a fantastic trail and Nate, Hunter and I had a blast rolling through the various jumps and rollercoaster sections.

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Sadly, Hunter’s finger sprain from the previous day was wreaking havoc on his brake modulation, so we opted to break from our itinerary and did not attempt Tibbets. Instead, we switched gears to motos. Another friend from work, Ryan, came over the pass to join us.

Nate, Hunter, Chris, Ryan and myself had a blast tearing up and down Tumwater Mountain, exploring various offshoots and rabbit trails.

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We didn’t make it to the Bike and Brew Festival. Too beat up and tired.

June 5
After a good night’s sleep (Friday night was “more like a nap”, as described by several participants), we woke at a reasonable hour and enjoyed a pretty stellar breakfast (thank you, Teyva, for letting me have more scones). On the docket was — you guessed it: mountain biking and motos. Nate’s whole family joined Nate, Ryan and I on Freund. Such a great trail!

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And, of course, there was a moto recovery of the shuttle truck… with a detour to the top of Tumwater for a photo op!

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After Fruend, it was back on the motos. This time, we headed across town and up Mountain Home Road to explore Wedge Mountain. Feeling a little more confident with the tires squirming around in the dirt, we hit a few slightly more technical “play” sections along the way. I’m sure I’m not even tapping into 5% of what this moto can do, but it’s a total blast.

Capping off the afternoon, we headed back down to the river to cool off.

The weekend seemed to fly by, not surprisingly. Glad to have the opportunity to rock so many adventures in a condensed timeline, because, darn it, I only have one laundry day before work.

Some people have all the problems.