I was accompanied on the ride by Aaron Rinn, Matt Hayes and Ruaraidh Stenson, all of whom I adventure race with and all of whom are probably a step above me in riding prowess. I always love riding with riders that are better than me. It allows me to push myself and I can also learn from their skills. We decided to add a bit of twist (and distance) to our ride by turning the ride into the "dirty" Triple Crown, meaning we would avoid all paved roads or limit our usage of them.
Uber mountain bikers Rinn, Stenson and Hayes before CTC ride.
(Excerpts from Ruaraidh BBTC write up in italics)
The weather was mixed from really cold, as in flakes of snow on top of Crystal to misty to sunny.
Left the airstrip at 6:30 which was a bit later than planned. Getting up to Crystal summit took a while but the single-track climb was easily manageable and quite fun. Saw a little bear about halfway up. He just ran 15 ft right in front of me, so we figured that if there was little one there must be a wheelie bin sized one pretty close by. Instant about turn and pegged it downhill 1/2 mile and waited for 10 mins. No sign of the little fella or its mum on the way back up.
Got a major mechanical when Rinn's seatpost bolt sheared at the top of green valley. Luckily it was a 2 bolt type and we were near the Summit restaurant where we "borrowed" some rope to lash the saddlerails to the frame. Mighty strange to see 4 grown men trying to jimmy rig (fix by any means possible) a bike in the restrooms of Crystal Mtn, it was however nice and warm in there given it was about34 outside! Headed back down Crystal on some fun single-track but took a wrong turn somewhere just past hen lake.
Views like this are worth the pain.
Green trails not much use here as there are a myriad of trails with no signs. We got one that started wide then narrowed to nothing. Bushwhacked for about 2 miles loosing quite a bit of time. Once off Crystal we headed for Corral pass, that road is nasty but we did it non stop so were probably back on schedule after that. Nobody had done the ridge section before and it was such a blast. The sun came out and gave some great views off the Palisades which were uber cool!
Views from Palisades.
Down those switchbacks and steps before taking a left onto Whiteriver trail. Fun crossing of the suspension bridge! Trip along Skookum was OK although I flatted. Getting up Suntop was much harder than when I did it the day before, wonder why?? Again we didn't stop on the fireroad and VanderWaal and I got dropped but still reached the top feeling OK. The trail down is really fast but unfortunately there is the issue of that single-track climb which was hard, we all felt tired at that section which just seemed to be never-ending. Suntop trail once we started going down proper was slick and quick, quite fun to end the ride as it's not punishing on the body especially the hands and wrists which were hurting at that point.
Ruaraidh was quite nice to me in his write up. Truth is told the last climb up to Suntop was brutal. I was wasted and it was impressive to see Hayes and Rinn hammer up the hill. Ruaraidh stayed back with me, as he had previously done the Ramrod (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day) on Friday and Suntop on Saturday (we figured it out later that he climbed over 30,000 ft in four days...sick).
Our final ride statistics for the day were as follows:
63 miles of riding
11,800' of climbing
11.5 hours of riding time
The completion of this ride was euphoric. It was an amazing accomplishment with a great group of friends.