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September 5, 2009

On to Bellingham and Galbraith Mountain (Ride 26)

Filed under: BC 2009, MTB Travel — anotherheader @ 6:11 pm

Knobs rolling a build-up on Cheech & Chong's Wild Ride, Galbraith Mountain, Bellingham, Washington

Knobs rolling a build-up on Cheech & Chong's Wild Ride, Galbraith Mountain, Bellingham, Washington

Our original plans included a stop at Hood River Oregon for a few days of riding.  Somewhere along the way, Quiver, after talking to some other riders, became convinced that we should visit Bellingham Washington instead.  Quiver wasn’t along for this part of the trip, but we changed our plans and stopped at Bellingham anyway.  Maybe the logistics were easier.  Or maybe Quiver is an all-powerful being and we are will-less and easily manipulated by outside forces.  Who knows?

Under cloudy skies we moved out of Surrey, the suburb of Vancouver where were staying.  From Surrey, it was a short distance to the Linden border crossing.  It took us 45-minutes to get across the border which was about half the time it has taken us on our prior trips to BC.  This time, we avoided being searched and the refrigerator full of smokie sausages went unfound.  We were back in the States.  Nick was disappointed.  He wanted to go back to Whistler.  There are bears there.

Bellingham is a short distance from the Linden crossing.  When we arrived in the RV Park, the skies had opened up and it was raining heavily.  It is never pleasant to make camp in the rain.  At least we weren’t tent camping.

Lost Giants trailhead

Lost Giants trailhead

Later we headed to Bellingham’s downtown to find food and trail information.  Our first stop at Fanatik Bike Company (http://fanatikbike.com/) did not yield a trail map, comprehensible trail route suggestions, or understandable directions to another bike shop where we could get an actual map.  Not a good start, but at least we found out where we could look to find something to eat.

With an early dinner at Taco Lobo (117 W Magnolia St., 360-756-0711), things picked up.  Featuring handmade tortillas, the food was excellent and this tacqueria is worth looking for if you are passing though Bellingham.  Afterwards, we headed to a nearby organic food grocery store.  The store was excellent and, as a bonus, several people seemed to know about the trails, where the bike shops were, everything we were looking for at Fanatik short of a bike map!  One of the people we met even worked for Kona Bikes.  We were beginning to like Bellingham.

We were much more successful finding a map and trail information at Kulshan Cycles (100 E. Chestnut, Bellingham, 360-733-6440, kulshancycles.com).  Here we received detailed route instructions through Galbraith Mountain’s web of trails and a trail map.  The Galbraith trail map turned out to be particularly accurate and easy to follow.  That was a good thing, as we would soon learn that the trails are inconsistently signed.  With the map and the route fixed, we were set to ride the next day.

Knobs low on the rock wall ride on Cheech & Chong's

Knobs low on the rock wall ride on Cheech & Chong's

After the heavy rains overnight, we started our ride later in the day to give the trails a good chance to dry out.  We entered into the Galbraith Mountain trail system at the trailhead at the end of Birch Street.  Though wet in spots, the trails handled the water well and it was not muddy.

The mountain biking trails on Galbraith Mountain or North Lookout Mountain, as it is officially known, are a result of a partnership between the Trillium Corporation and the Whatcom Independent Mountain Pedalers (WHIMPS).  Trillium, a timber development company, owns the land and allows WHIMPS to build and maintain mountain biking trails in the area and to help with user management.  Trillium’s openness to mountain biking, we were told, may come from their desire to be allowed develop some of their land.  It couldn’t hurt that the son of Trillium’s owner is an avid mountain biker and an executive at Trillium.  The partnership has resulted in a cool network of purpose built mountain biking trails on Trillium’s 3,600 acres.  Trillium and WHIMPS deserve kudos for working this all out.

Our entry into the Galbraith Mountain trails was from this Birch St. trailhead.  (Don't leave your bike here like I did.  Returning riders often jump this rock.)

Our entry into the Galbraith Mountain trails was from this Birch St. trailhead. (Don't leave your bike here like I did. Returning riders often jump this rock.)

From the end of Birch St., following the Kulshan Cycles route, we took Miranda to Ridge Trail and on to Cedar Dust.  Cedar Dust is near level with many low, slick-wet build-ups.  It is a good entry to North Shore style riding.  From the end of Cedar Dust, a left onto Rd 1200 took us to series of loamy, tight and twisty trails, Intestine, Cleavage, Pick Up Sticks, and Kung Fu Theater.  From the end of Theater, a right onto Road 2000, a left on Road 3000, and left on Road 4000 took us to the top of our next destination, Mullet.

Mullet was the first trail at Galbraith that we rode that was rated as advanced.  While it is true that Mullet can be ridden with scary big airs and a full on downhill flow, as we rode the trail, is was fun, flowy, and easy.

Midway down, something took over Knobs and he shouted at an oncoming rider, “Rock the Mullet!”

Knobs on Mullet's log ride

Knobs on Mullet's log ride

The rider hesitated and looked back at Knobs.  After an uncomfortable moment, the cyclist continued on.  Another awkward moment later, I moved on and continued to rock the Mullet.  I had learned early on that crossing Uncle Knobs was a bad idea.

The high and skinny alternative entry line for Cheech & Chong's Wild Ride

The high and skinny alternative entry line for Cheech & Chong's Wild Ride

At the end of Mullet, Cheech & Chong’s Wild Ride begins.  Cheech & Chong’s continues in the same mold as Mullet but has bigger, narrower, and higher alternative lines.  And, as with Mullet, the main line is fast, with minimal pedaling required.   Wild Ride’s signature feature was a cool, concave, natural rock wall ride.  Though we can both claim to have “ridden” the wall ride, we certainly did this at suboptimal speed with the lack of familiarity and wet conditions as our excuse.

From the bottom of Cheech & Chong’s it was right on Road 2200 and left onto Lost Giants.  Lost Giants is a gently sloped loamy trail that works its way through the deep forest with low ladders crossing marshy sections and the occasional root and log challenges.  Out the exit and over the road, we were on Last Call and on to the little used Old Issues.  These two trails have a similar character to Lost Giants.

At the end of Old Issues, we headed back on Road 1000.  Side trips on Bob’s Road, the fast, slot car track of Lower Bob’s, and Karma put us on the neighborhood roads.  About 4 hours after we started, we were back at the truck.  Today we had a taste of what Galbraith had to offer.  Tomorrow we’d go looking for the big boy trails.


More Galbraith Trail information including a current condition report:

http://home.comcast.net/~kdunruh/bellingham/galbraith.htm

Cheech & Chong's Wild Ride

Cheech & Chong's Wild Ride

Pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/AnotherHeader/GalbraithDayOneForPicasa#

Uncle Knobulars Galbraith Mountain pictures are here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/surlypeach/BellinghamGalbraithRoadTrip2009#

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