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Thursday, October 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Beacon for beginners: An oasis of trails, nice people, and blossoms

By Ammi Midstokke Correspondent

I hadn’t seen my car in two hours. This is no surprise on a typical ride day except that I was in a park. I also left all my food in my car and was starting to wonder which plants were edible, if I’d ever see my car again, and what sort of mad group of people made such a labyrinth of trails.

If I had a pack of beef jerky, I would have been in heaven rounding flowing curves and climbing hill after hill only to descend the sweeping, playful trail back to somewhere-other-than-my-car.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I heard about a little mountain bike race called Beacon and Legs, which appealed to both my love of bacon and wordplay so much that I had to go test the trails. What I did not know is that Beacon Hill and the trail system there is designed by people who love to ride bikes. They also perhaps have a better sense of orienteering than most.

I corresponded with Jake Maedke from Vicious Cycle, the organization promoting the event to get an idea of where exactly the riders would be racing. I had this optimistic idea that I would ride the course and thus determine if I had the brawn to actually race it.

This was, of course, naive. I hopped on my bike and was immediately lost in the playfulness of the trails and the beauty of the blossoming landscape. I had no idea this gem of biking fun existed in our back yard!

At every intersection I stopped to assess where one might best find more adventure – like a kid in a candy store I wanted to try everything. I rode up a ridge and down through the trees and then came to the same intersection again, baffled but thrilled to try a new route.

That was fun until I got hungry and realized I pretty much had no idea where I was. In such cases I follow my instincts of stubborn Norwegian heritage and go up. It’s an impressive climb up to that tower but the various winding trails to the top are also fun, swooping, and allow for a pleasant tempo.

On my second attempt (because I still did not find my car) I took a much less fun and much more direct trail to the top during which I mostly prayed for my lungs to not explode.

There I met a group of bikers who were still smiling, so I could only assume they knew where they were going. I rolled up and pretended to casually be enjoying the morning while I checked out their pockets for evidence of theft-worthy food.

It’s not recommended to steal food and try to outrun bikers that are in better shape than you though, so instead I asked them if they might point me in the direction of my vehicle.

Confirming every belief I have that people on bikes are some of the most helpful and fun instant friends you can make, Dick, Greg, and Able led me (via a sweet flow trail that had me smiling as wide as my ears) back to my car and my lunch.

I spent the next couple of hours pretty much repeating myself: Ride, get lost, meet nice people, eat. The trails filled with families, hikers and dogs, young riders, new riders, expert riders. And every one of them had good trail etiquette and a broad smile.

If you haven’t been out there yet, it is high time you check it out. Regardless of your biking skills, you’ll have the time of your life. Take your kids. Take some friends. Sign up for the race on April 30 – I will be there, they promised to mark the course well! – and enjoy just one more of the wonderful things our neighborhood has to offer.

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