We are just back from a week of record hot mountain biking in the local Cascade Mountains. After last summer’s record heat, nobody was looking forward to yet another sweltering heat wave that in just a few years, has become a regular feature of the PacNW summer.
With daytime temperatures expected to reach 100° or better for five straight days, the heat is a real factor. We started riding as early as possible, usually by 0630 we were out riding.
When the sun came up over the mountains and tall forest trees, the temperature rose quickly. We tried to do as much climbing as we could straight from the camp during the coolest time of the day, the early morning. The temperature did not drop much below 70° at night, so it wasn’t all that cool.
The direct sunlight at the higher elevations is intense. Heat like this is not normal for this mountain environment and causes problems. Even though some of the larger seasonal creeks that wind through the mountains are already dry, a few days of intense heat has caused more than usual snowmelt and the water is dribbling down the mountain. Here, a small stream has formed and melted snow from just a couple miles away is running across the road.
In this part of the mountains, we ride mostly on forest service roads. The goal is to be in good enough condition to ride to the highest altitude spots available to bikes. Much of Mt. Adams is wilderness area so no bikes are allowed.
The trails at the higher altitudes are more remote and get much less traffic than the more popular trails down the mountain. The trails are multi use and by mid summer, some of them are pretty beat up and very dusty.
The main problem with the more remote trails are blown down trees. These trails are the hardest to access so they get the least maintenance. Riding these remote trails is different than the popular “name brand” mountain bike trails around here, which are becoming more and more crowded.
A closer look at Mt. Adams reveals a lot more black lava rock than there was just a couple weeks ago.
The last day of riding was a bit of a surprise as we woke to the sound of raindrops hitting the roof. It didn’t rain all that much and it was only a few degrees cooler. The raindrops were quickly absorbed by the parched, dusty ground.
It didn’t rain long but the clouds hung around to make the day hot and humid, a delightful combo.
Despite the heat, it was a good week of riding. I feel like I’m getting in better shape and looking forward to longer rides, so check back soon.