It’s been about a month since we transitioned from kayak fishing in the US desert southwest to mountain biking on our local trails in the Cascade Mountains. It was supposed to go from kayak fishing on the Colorado River to kayak fishing on the Columbia River, but this area is going through “them changes” on many different levels and life here is changing quickly. More on that in another section of the blog.
The PacNW is one of the best places to ride mountain bikes in the United States, possibly the entire world, and we are very thankful that we live in the Cascade Mountains and ride mountain bikes. The relentless damp and dark winter ended with a couple days of passing rain storms.
We were pretty lucky because it rained overnight. More maintenance for the bikes, but the rain left the mountain trails in perfect condition for riding.
It was typical Pacific NW mountain bike weather. Clouds, rain, sun; sometimes all at the same time. Overall, the conditions would be rated “moist”.
I had not ridden a bicycle for quite some time. When you ride in the mountains and are out of shape, you must be careful to not overdo it. You might hammer up that steep hill today and have a sore knee for the rest of the summer. There’s not a lot of flatness in the Cascades, but this trail goes across a local mountain, perfect for short begining of the season training rides. One side of the mountain was sunny, the other side, a few miles away, was raining.
A new section of trail has been built by the local trail builders, adding nearly a mile to an already long downhill. This is a steep mountain, most people shuttle to the top. To ride to the top is a real test of mental and physical fitness. It is a long uphill ride, but that’s part of mountain biking as well.
The weather changes quickly in the Cascade Mountains and it seems like you can literally see the seasons change. A week of on and off rain, a couple transitional “partly sunny” days where we seem to get the “partly” part, then the sun seems like it’s here for a few months.
With the sun now a semi regular feature in the mountain sky, the forest went from damp and a bit dark, to slightly moist and bright green.
We were happy to see the early summer sun, but we had a few “partly cloudy” days as well.
After about a week of short rides to get back into shape, we headed up into the mountains. There are sections of roads and trails that can be mixed and matched to increase fitness while not overdoing it. It’s so much fun to ride, you want to ride more, but you must work your way up to that level.
In the higher elevations of the mountains, the winter weather is more severe and that weather takes its toll on some of the huge old growth pine trees.
With the ground still moist and the temperature warming quickly, the mushrooms make their annual appearance.
Slowly but surely the strength in the muscles I hadn’t used for some time began to return. Some of the trails are pretty steep and there is some walking to be done. Some of the short, steep climbs here can hurt you, especially your knees. The daily rides are reaching past two hours.
As the days get longer and hotter, dampness turns to dust, the mountain butterflies arrive looking for microscopic bits of food and water.
Our rides went higher and higher into the mountains. The higher you go, the trails are not as well traveled and you may have to step over a few fallen trees, but this is getting into the real mountains.
The late June weather here in the PacNW has produced record setting heat with temperatures reaching over 110 degrees. This would be extreme weather in July or August, but for the end of June is unprecedented. If the weather keeps up like this, there won’t be too many glaciers left on Mt. Adams.
This current heat wave is supposed to last a few more days. Every hot and dry day like this increases the fire danger. These large fires are now a regular summer event, dangerous and unhealthy. Smoke filled skies are a late summer fixture. Be careful out in these mountains.