It has been pretty sweet having some of the best DH trails around only 10 miles away. After living in the Bay Area, and having Pacifica for the local stomping grounds and having to push up to the top every time you want some DH action, it is nothing short of pure awesomeness. The draw back? A short riding season.
The upside to all the recent rain is that it has been perfect for digging. Every winter the trails get some time to recover, and while most guys around here seem to be tending to sick kids, a few hearty souls are in the rain, flagging trail, and swinging tools. Until the trails dry up here are a few highlights from the riding season, and a glimpse into some of the really fun times we’ve had.
For the record, the trails are not public knowledge, and the location remains on the down low for the most part out of neccessity. As they are located on private timberland, our access to them remains iffy. The land managers allow recreation in the area; however, due to the highly technical nature of the trails, it wouldn’t take much for us to lose them.
On a side note, we are currently organizing and in the process of creating a new sanction trail system that will also include a DH with shuttle access. (More on that later.)
After unloading at the top of the mountain, and dropping into the trail, you’re flying down a fast as hell descent. Swooping left and right, the top trail is a freeway down the mountain that was fast enough to make me swear off my Rockshox Totem fork and get back onto a Boxxer. It’s fast, and while it doesn’t have a lot as far as technical features, the quick drop in elevation combined with the speed can be a bit disastrous, especially when its wet. I’ve had riders go down right in front of me a few times. The trail splits before rejoining the road with the DH course to the right and three options to the left.
If you head to the left and take the first right, you are on the OT. One of the more visually interesting of the Knappa DH trails, it stands for “Original Trail.” With a number of features like elevated ladders to drops and gaps, it’s a blast to ride and will keep you on your toes. It’s our own little taste of BC, here in our backyards. While most of the other trails are rollable all the way down, if you follow a local down the OT, prepare to be committed to your lines.
The first feature on the OT is a ladder to drop. The first time I rode this feature, the trees in the image had branches that blocked the sight lines. This meant coming on the the wood with speed, making the turn and sending it without being to be able to see what was coming. While there is a go around, it isn’t obvious, and who wants to go around? This is Fun Stuff! With a capitol F. Since then we’ve trimmed the trees back- being able to see what’s going on is key.
The ladder drop of followed by two more wedge hucks, then you’re back on a ladder that takes you around a bend.
After the section with features, you’re on a big log ride. Like everything else, it can be sketchy in the wet stuff. A four foot drop to the left, and you’re on a l’il booter step down, which would be sweet to send it on, except for the hairy and steep landing- you’re back on good old school DH stuff- fast and swoopy, with roots, drops and turns. Just good fast and steep trail, with a few blown out sections here and there, and the occasional tree that jumps out in front of you. (sure did feel like that the last time) The kind of trail built by riders looking for a challenge.
The beautiful thing is that the dirt is so good, that sections that have no business working, much less holding up year after year, are still rideable. The locals have learned over the years as well, and from time to time reroute sections that can’t handle the pounding. And in typical NW fashion, nature reclaims it- healing so quickly that a season later you have to stare to see the old routes.
At one point in the trail you come to a huge blown down log across the trail. Here you have three options: ride the log to the right and pick one of two skinnies to roll and drop off of. Scary stuff after a hard rain. The third option is the send it straight off the log, landing in a right turn that steps down over a bit of a gap. Guess line my favorite is? (hint, I’m more of DJ guy than log ride)
Sitting here in front of my LCD screen looking at my photos while the rain falls outside… is almost painful.
The urge to ride overwhelms all. Rain or shine, tomorrow I’m going riding. And then I’m going to dig. Hope you enjoyed my visual love letter to the awesomeness that are our local DJ trails. If you want to come ride it, ya gotta help dig.
You should follow me on Twitter here.