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September 7, 2009

Bellingham—Galbraith take 2 (Ride 27)

Filed under: BC 2009, MTB Travel — anotherheader @ 8:49 pm

The long ladder on the top of Evolution

The long ladder on the top of Evolution

Our last day in Bellingham started with a visit to the farmer’s market in the Fairhaven District.  This extremely popular mid-week market featuring vendors offering perfectly arranged fruits and vegetables under the pergolas on the manicured village green.  Bellingham is a college town.  With a vibrant music and a cool art scene, lots of interesting food options, and two great organic food stores, Bellingham is a great place to visit.  The farmer’s markets are just another reason to like Bellingham.

Bellingham’s mountain bikers would quickly add their trails to the list of what makes Bellingham a cool town.  They are rightfully proud of their purpose-built trail system.

Knob's climbs Ridge Trail

Knob's climbs Ridge Trail

Our day’s ride began like the previous day, parking on Birch Street and taking the sequence of trails, Miranda—Ridge–Family Fun Center–Lower Intestine–Upper Intestine—Cleavage–Road 2510–Road 2500–Pick Up Sticks–Kung Fu Theater–Road 2000 (right)–Road 3000 (left)–Road 4000.  This time on Road 4000 we passed the entrance of Mullet and continued to climb to Road 4100 until we reached Wonderland.  Wonderland works for both climbs and descents.  For us, we used the trail to climb up the hill through the open logging clear-cut, crisscrossing Road 4100.

At the top of the hill, we received trail advice from a couple of teenagers on their front brake-less jump bikes.  On their advice, we took Tower Trail and followed them down Evolution.

We were looking for a trail that was a step up in difficulty and Evolution certainly qualified.  It is not the type of trail that we would go down without front brakes.  Unfortunately, we seemed to have left our skills and our courage in BC.  Evolution features a number of optional-line, 6 to 10 foot high drops that we weren’t going to do, no matter what.  But there were also some reasonable build-ups on the upper portion of the trail that we couldn’t get ourselves to ride.  One of the structures was a very long ladder built on top of a big downed tree.  It was high enough off the ground, 3 to 5 feet for most of the way, to give pause, but we’d have ridden this structure without pause in the midst of our BC riding.  I guess we will have to give this one a shot the next time we visit Bellingham.  Nevertheless, Evolution is a fun, fast trail, no matter the skill level of the driver.

Knobs on SST

Knobs on SST

Evolution features tons of jumps for those seeking airtime.  Most, but not all, of the jumps have roll-able backsides.  And, as is the standard in Bellingham, all significant obstacles have easy go-a-rounds so almost anyone can ride and enjoy any trail.

From the end of Evolution, Road 3200 (right) to Road 4000 took us to a fast repeat run down Mullet.  At the exit of Mullet, Road 2000 (right) to Road 2520 took us to SST.  Even though all three trails, Evolution, Mullet, and SST are advanced rated black diamond trails, only Evolution inspires some trepidation.  SST is long, fast, and flowing with gently banked turns and small jumps taking the trail down the hill.  There are bigger air options along the way, but these are infrequent.  Exiting SST, we took Powerline to Bonanza Connector.  Bonanza Connector functions as a link to the neighborhood roads but has a series of surprisingly entertaining steep, loamy turn drops.  It was a good way to end our three and a half hour ride.

Wonderland, near the top of the climb

Wonderland, near the top of the climb

In the truck we headed back towards the RV Park.  We like both the trails and town of Bellingham, but there is one thing that seriously concerns me.  Alongside I-5 heading north, a sign to the nearby Nooksack Indian Reservation sent shivers down my spine.  I’m not exactly sure what a “Nooksack” is, but it sounds like something I cased several times on steep, behind the saddle descents in BC.  This is not a memory that I was happy to recall.

Tomorrow we would start our way back to the Bay Area, leaving time for a quick stop at Seattle’s I-5 Colonnade.  We enjoyed our rides on Galbraith Mountain but I think our Bellingham visit might have fit better at the beginning of the trip.  The Galbraith Mountain trails would be a good warm-up for the challenge of North Shore riding.  The trails in BC are a hard act to follow.


Bellingham’s Farmer’s Markets:

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