Just your every day after work ride in Washington

By Bill Hasenjaeger

I went on a ride after work this week. Just your basic Washington after
work ride, in the Cascades. It was about an 1 1/2 hour drive from home,
a place called Kachess Ridge in the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National
Forest, just over the divide a few minutes off I-90.

The ride is 10 miles of fire-road followed by an 8 mile descent of the
sweeeetest single track you’ll ever find anywhere. It had just rained
there in the morning. Temps were in the low 60’s. Big fluffy clouds
floating by. Keep in mind this is eastern WA, doesn’t rain there much.

The fire road is nothing great. 4 miles of flat along Lake Kachess,
followed by 6 miles of low-gear climbing, about 3000′ of gain (‘2800
elevation change). At least there were several awesome viewpoints with
Lake Kachess in the foreground and Mt. Rainier just behind it.

After a short hike-a-bike we reached the saddle at the top of the
single-track. The first couple of miles down rolls through some alpine
meadows, drops down some steep rocky and rooty chutes, then dives into
the forest. Here’s where the real fun begins. The next 4 miles is mostly
down, sweeping through the trees, with a 1/2 dozen creek crossings. This
is middle ring and 5 or 6 or 7 cog kind of stuff, fast and flowy. But
with enough obstacles to keep you honest. For example, after maybe 10
bermed high-speed corners, #11 exits into a 2 foot drop onto a rocky
narrow downhill chute. Hoo Ha! Mix in a few short but very steep rooty
down hill turns that also come up on you real fast. Keep in mind this is
dense northwest forest and you can’t see what’s around the turn you’re
in, let alone the next turn.

The last 2 miles are narrow side-hill trail, still in the dense forest,
with 2 long switchback sections of about 10 tight switchbacks each. The
side-hill and switchback stuff is rocky and rooty, kinda exposed, with
the rock and roots all conspiring to toss you off the side. My approach
was “get high, stay high”. Hmmm… just like in high school.

Overall it was about a 3 hour tour and 18+ miles.

See the attached pictures. Notice that the Ventana is now fitted with a
Sherman Slider dual crown fork. This thing is just awsome on the rough
rooty downs and drops. Makes me feel like a way better rider than I am.
And for a 6″ fork with no lock-out, climbs very nicely on the fire roads
bits.

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