I have arrived in Westfir and am enjoying the warm hospitality offered by my good friends Phil and June. Damn is it pretty here. Lots of green stuff.
My first morning in Westfir I meet a fellow racer, John, who has just heard that there is a section of this year's course that should probably be seen in order to understand what is coming. The Winberry Divide Trail preceded by the Tire Mountain Trail has been described as "tough". So John and I decide to drive up there to ride it, either out-and-back or using the fire road climb (forest road 1802) to return to our vehicle parked at Windy Pass.
The first singletrack is the lovely and amazing Alpine Trail. To follow the course we leave Alpine after about 1.5 miles in favor of Tire Mountain.
More wow in this section of Tire Mountain.
Tire Mountain is full of tight, tight switchbacks. It's so fun and challenging, so beautiful. Then I notice that we are really only descending at about 9 mph. Hmm. Just making that rate on the descents? Uh oh.
Then comes Winberry Divide. Lots of steep climbing. Beautiful, yes, but strenuous. More slow going.
My emotions are mixed. Oh the pretty singletrack; but 12.5 miles of Alpine Trail, Tire Mountain, and Winberry Divide cost over 2 hours. Sure, these pictures got snapped and there was some yakking, but it took time, baby. And effort.
When we reached the end of Winberry where the fireroad climb was to commence, something went awry. Perhaps we paid too little attention to the course markings, or perhaps they had been sabotaged (there was some rumor of that on http://www.cascadecreampuff.com/2008_status.htm). We wound up back at a place where the singletrack had crossed a fireroad. We had gone in a circle. There was head scratching and map consulting. Both of us were a bit more tired than we had planned to be 3 days before the race, so we decided that the best plan would be to bail down to the North Shore road and roll back to the RV park, then take my truck back up to get John's rig. Question was, which way was the North Shore road?
Long story short, we took one bad turn then one more. We wound up descending to two different dead ends. Then we decided that the only good option was to backtrack up the singletrack. Which was unfortunate, since it had descended like a lead balloon just before we got turned around.
After the grind back up to a high knob, we dropped onto another fire road. I was skeptical, John was confident that we had found road 5823. After much map reading and harrumphing, I agreed that we should give a descent down this unmarked road a mile then pass judgement.
Turned out to be a good deal. We got down, then rolled back to camp on the nice, flat North Shore road. It was a 35 mile day and well over four hours. More than I wanted to ride, but much was learned. And I got pictures. And there was plentiful dinner. By far better than working!