Washington mountain bikers convened in the Kettle River Range last week in a traditional service-group recipe for getting things done: Work hard and play even harder.
Approximately 30 riders showed up in the Colville National Forest for all or part of the annual Kettle Fest, July 12-16, organized by the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Evergreen East and Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition.
The 2017 event had a simple motto: “Ride. Build. Camp.”
“Friday was work day, mostly clearing trail in the Sherman Peak area up to the Snow Peak Cabin,” said Dan Wilson, Evergreen East administrative secretary from Spokane.
Combining a day of trail maintenance with a recreational event is one way to get things done without feeling as though you sacrificed precious vacation time, he said.
Participants don’t expect a weekend of pampering, except for what emerges from coolers and grills in the evening. The group campsite at Jungle Hill had a vault toilet, fire pits and tables but no water, except from the creek.
“Essentially, its a way to get riders from both sides of the state together to say hello,” Wilson said.
It’s a social event that requires advance training for rugged singletrack backcountry trails near Sherman Pass.
“None of the rides is easy,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of elevation involved and you pretty much commit yourself to riding all day long.
“You know how it is in a group. Someone always says, ‘Let’s go a little farther.’ When you finally turn around you realize what you have to do to get back, and there’s no shuttle service.”
Near the end of one long ride, Wilson found himself running out of gas.
“I’d gone through food and 3 liters of water; I was bonking pretty good,” he said. “I was bumming off others to get through. I was able to pay back the group with mechanical help. It’s a sharing thing.”
The annual Kettle Fest, with riders from Seattle, Bellingham and Spokane, is an eye opener to mountain biking issues across the state as well as a status check on riding skills.
“We have so much good riding around Spokane, we get in our zone,” Wilson said. “We get used to 8- or 10-mile rides with a thousand feet of elevation. We go to Kettle Fest and pedal into an 18-miler with 3,000 feet of vertical on a hot day with no wind.”
All’s well in the end. “We return to camp and have a little party, sharing stories about what was good and what mistakes were made,” he said. “I’m already looking forward to 2018.”
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