NWTA Trailfest at Sandy Ridge

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If your a NWTA ‘member’ then you definitely got the newsletter with some misspellings talking about the weekend long gatherings. Friday Night was the “Forest Park Poker Ride” which must’ve been a success for those that can tolerate riding ‘fire-roads’. I actually wanted to participate in that but for some strange reason I was at this thing called work.

I begin to size up Saturdays Stubb Stewart ‘Poker Ride’- And then my loving wife says to me “I need you to watch the office while I set up a water-refill station at the Run For The Cure” with a stern voice. Well, there goes my dwindling chances to attend a NWTA Trailfest event. I humbly sat at our office desk watching the clock as I pretended where I ‘would be’ if I were on the ride. Picturing myself going over certain jumps, hiking back up to do it again. Stubb’s is perfectly repetitious. There were more events going on that night, but I wasn’t sure my 9 yr old could handle hipster hangouts of the VeloCult for a movie and raffle.

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So I set my sights on the Sandy Ridge Shuttle Day. With a small $10 dollar donation (to the NWTA) and a handful of Gravity Grips and T-shirts for their raffle,  I received my ticket to ride! Oh after putting my John Hancock on the waiver of course. I mosey up the road a few feet and I find Raul Atencio assisting the NW Kona Sales Rep James, I quickly eye several steeds that I would love to give a good smashing too. I pad up and get in one massive line with 200+ other MTB’rs all wondering “Where’s the trucks?” I guess one of the bigger trucks had a fuel leak and they rushed it away and replaced it. With three Uhaul’s making laps the crowds disappeared completely in the following hour. So my first run I size up “Follow The Leader” to “Flow Motion, two of the newest trails that I haven’t ridden and I peddle up my trusty Cove Shocker the 100+ feet up to the obvious descending point. Its an interesting black double diamond trail honestly, its a total test of skill, very technical. If you want to divorce your wife- take her down it. She will be cursing your name for eternity. I could only take my 40 lb Cove Shocker down it if I had a ride up to the kiosk and I comfortably went down it- long tough rock gardens- real tight trees, I remember going blindly over a huge armored rock boulder with a rock out-cropping overhead and stopping. I was blown away. Serious knar went into building that trail. Jason Wells of IMBA is madman and I love his work. Full on attack of the trail commenced- big berms lots of natural gap jumps. It was epic. Then it dumps you into ‘Flow Motion’ and I all I remember was jumps and berms. What I took home was several bruises and a nice shoulder wound from jumping over some roots into a berm and going OTB, G’d myself out basically. Some random dude following me rolled by asking if I was good- I hollered. I was pumped.

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After descending ‘Hide and Seek’ I realize there’s allot more peddling that I really want to do on my ol’Cove Shocker even though I’m most comfortable charging on it. Back to the NWTA Base area I see Will and Michael of the Lumberyard, Betsy of Mt Hood Vacation Rentals, Filmmaker Rod Parmentor, several folks who I haven’t seen in months were all lined up for laps. James at Kona asks me if I want to try a bike out- I respond ‘HELL YEAH!’ I’m searching for the perfect bike,  one in particular I’ve been reading about was the 134 Kona Process. I think finding a 5 inch travel bike is my personal goal. Once I get the suspension set up, I get my clip peddles installed and I put my Fiveten Maltese Falcons on and I get back in line which is really long again. But my timing is impeccable, Joe Rykowski, NWTA’s Man of the Year gets the biggest Uhaul fixed and saves the day. To the top again- I return to ride ‘Follow The Leader’ to ‘Flow Motion’  on the 134 Kona Process. It climbed really well and I enjoyed tackling the tough climbs with relative ease, but my heel of 510’s would lock into the rear swing arm. I managed to correct my foot position while aggressively climbing and charged that 27.5 wheeled nimble beast down without any issues- I wasn’t a fan of the flat bars and would def change a couple things if I had ownership of it. The Avid brakes had a huge blank space in the levers, modulation wasn’t as smooth as Shimano’s brakes in my opinion and the Rock Shox Revelation fork wasn’t set up for me to go ‘balls-out’ on it either- so I played it cool and jumped everything I could- that bike could be loved.

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I also threw my Crankbrothers peddles on the Kona Process 29. I wanted to see how well that bike ‘jumped’ and was fairly impressed with a couple big gaps it cleared. I took that bike up to ‘Rock Drop’ crossed to “Three-39” climbed up again to “Two Turntables” and let it go down ‘Hide and Seek’ One thing I noticed immediately on the 29’r was the ski-like flex in the frame and wheel-set was comparable to that of a good Giant Slalom race ski. After a few confident berms I really let it lean over to see how well Maxxis Ardent tires gripped, I wasn’t let down at all. Braking on them took a bit of finesse, but otherwise a fun bike. I wash’t able to try the Kona 153 Process, the 6 inch bike as it was always going out with another NWTA member.

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It was a great afternoon, one thing I won’t forget was the ‘orange’ light from the forest fire in Estacada and how the glow on the berms was truly magical. Huge thanks to the NWTA for hosting, props to Joe Rykowski for making it a smooth/fun event, all the vendors, Kona and Raul for letting me ride a proper bike for Sandy Ridge. I’m all banged up with a smile on my face. Good night.

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