Washington Backcountry Discovery Route WABDR Section 2 is known for a geological feature called “Baby Head Hill.” Join me in day two of this summer’s adventure. (If you missed day 1, check it out HERE!)
Waking to the sound of a rushing river, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and packed our bikes. We rode to Packwood for gas, and met up with a couple more riders who were joining us for the most challenging riding day. I was excited and nervous. The hills in section two had steep ascents with large loose rocks, turns, and roots. They had defeated me before, and I had spent this past year focused on rocky hill climbs. Would it be enough? The day starts with 30 miles of pavement at an elevation that made me glad I’d brought my electric heat. On the easy gravel road up to Bethel Ridge, I tuned into my body. Over the years, I have had a some fear, leading to muscle tension on the motorcycle. The last vestiges of this this tension have shown themselves in my forearms, so while the day was young, I focused on total relaxation. No tension anywhere.
And then we got to our first rocky section. Honestly, it was nothing big. Just look down the trail and you’d be through it before you knew it. But it was a preview of the rest of the day, and I slowly picked my way through, questioning whether I was really going to make it. I went back to my body, let go of the tension, lifted my eyes up, and suddenly I was one with the bike. Together my DR and I started flying down the trail, eagerly anticipating Baby Head Hill. I was so loose, in fact, that when I was flying up a rut, I forgot that sometimes you have to push that front wheel into submission, and the bike started climbing out of the rut, flinging me clear off the bike! I dusted myself off, picked the DR up, and started back down the trail. Ok. Keep the head in the game; too many falls will wear me out.
As the trail got more challenging, I truly found my stride. Every time there was an easy or a hard line, I took the hard rocky line to get myself ready for the rocky hill climbs. I was going faster and faster, skipping over the top of the rocks. Baby Head Hill ahead! I flew up it, so used to taking the hard line that I completely missed the easy dirt bike line part way up… Until the trail again launched me into the bushes. I got up – did anyone see that? No? Phew. Can I pick my bike up? Yes. Can I start on this ridiculous hill? Evidently yes, and then before I knew it, I was at the top, being cheered on by the group.
In the middle of all this riding, one of our guys misjudged a stump and tore off his tusk pannier. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a rock and stick. We thought we might be holding the group up, but no, the rest of the group was just a little down the trail fixing the first flat tire of the trip. We all gathered and called this meadow our lunch spot.
And then it was onward to the newer, bigger, harder baby head hill ahead. My head was still in the game. I was all in, and felt my confidence growing. Arriving at the bottom of the next hill our group was assembled. Another flat tire.
We all helped get the bike sorted, then it was hill climb time. I’d love to say I zoomed right up, but three quarters of the way up I crashed.
No biggie, turn the bike around, go back down the hill, and I had it. Up to the top, around the turn, over the root step ups to victory! We made our way through miles more rocks, and finally down into our favorite camping canyon. We sent a group into town for steak and vegetables, and grilled up some amazing goodness on our Tembo Tusk Adventure Skottle Grill. Hostess Cupcakes for dessert. Another magical day.
Special thanks to Veteran’s Back 40 Adventure for sharing photos of the ride with us! If you haven’t heard about them, check them out HERE!