...this is the kind of stuff I'd post on it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I got a tapeworm!

...well, not exactly. But I did ride a tapeworm. "The Tapeworm" is a MTB trail, or rather, part of a series of trails in Renton that comprise the Towers of Power, so named because they sit on a piece of land that's owned by a power utility, and littered with power lines and equipment.

I have to qualify this entire post by stating that I haven't been on a mountain bike for the purpose of actually riding off road in probably a decade. I gave my old, trusty Trek MTB that I bought when I was 14 or so to my neighbor, so she could build up a sweet Xtracycle. During my lengthy mountain bike hiatus, I'd turned myself into a roadie. Not exactly this kind of roadie, but a roadie nonetheless.

So, to my pleasant surprise, I had a total blast trying out the Redline Monocog that I borrowed from the same neighbor. I cruised on down to Renton, and used this awesome map to find the trail entrance. I ran into a guy riding the trails with his two kids, and he led me down the windy, narrow passageway of a trail to the start of the tapeworm:

The trail itself is one-way, and is wound so tightly, with so many sharp, technical turns that it's easy to see how it got it's name. The goal of the trail creators was so get the maximum utility from the available space, since trails this close to an urban area are somewhat of a rarity. There were also some great obstacles and wooden "boardwalk" sections to ride.

A few pictures of the spot:

I had a great time blasting down the narrow trails, negotiating huge rocks and roots, and generally feeling like a kid again, all the while working harder on a bike than I have in recent memory. After only 45 minutes or so on the trail, I found myself soaked with sweat, gasping for water, and out of breath, grinning to no one in particular, since I was more or less in the woods by myself. I was amazed at all the muscle groups required to ride a bike like this. (When was the last time your abs were killing you on a road bike?)

My ride for the day:

The Monocog was exactly the type of MTB that I would ride, should I choose to ever become a mountain biker. With none of the ridiculous shocks, pivots, springs and doodads of some of the more "modern" mountain bikes to abstract the rider from the trail, I was able to feel every root, berm, log and rock as I negotiated the twists and turns and obstacles. The same qualities that attract people to riding single-speed and yes, fixed-gear road bikes translate equally well to mountain bikes. No dropping chains, no botched shifts, no derailleur to smash on a rock, and no bouncing around on 3 inches of suspension travel. Climbing the short, but sometimes steep sections of trail was a breeze given the rigid front end and relatively low gearing of the Monocog (something like 38x19). I loved discovering just how much clearance you have when your bike has massive tires and a tiny little chainring up front. The first time I went over a log, I flinched and swore I was going to feel my chainring dig in right before griding to a halt. Turns out I could clear most everything I had the guts to try riding over.

It was hard to think about myself riding a bike with 2 inch-wde tires in the first place, let alone something that looks akin to a dirtbike or a motorcycle than a bicycle. In short, I could just never, ever picture myself riding some monstrosity like this.

I'm going to have to see if I can extend my "borrowing period" on the bike and hit up the Tapeworm again. So much fun.


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