The Long Days


Early in the process of approaching mid age, a family man begins to look at his days as a precious resource. A commodity to be stretched, massaged, and doled out with careful measure as the endless days of youth and sunrise to sunset rides are fewer and farther between. Do I miss those? Kind of? But that new #dadbody!


Conversely, the onset of early mid age bestows upon a human (at least personally) the ability and wherewithal to really appreciate and bleed each of these moments of all the lifeforce they contain. With this age comes a perspective and a slowness that makes a trailside stopandlook really take your breath away, if you let it.

Also you can get up way earlier. #dadstrength

So what you do is, ask/beg/bargain with your life partner and get that thing on the books. If you’re gonna get rad, you gotta plan with care and well in advance.

Here’s my suggested process…

  1.  dreamz
  2.  personal justification
  3.  date selection matrix/nexus
  4.  approach life partner with relaxed attitude and vague plans
  5.  upon positive review, firm up those plans with other participants
  6.  plan menu because snax
  7.  bike inspection/repair
  8.  burn some sage
  9.  supply procurement/prep
  10.  get up way early
  11.  shred
  12.  beer/snax
  13.  shred (when possible)
  14.  try and make it home in time to tuck the kid into bed

On this particular day, the course of action was agreed upon and maximum enjoyment was possible. On board was myself (James Chip Woodley), the incomparable Craig Hot Laps Etheridge and Kelly #farmstrong Nowels. It promised to be a capable and spirited mix of participants. The destination was to our east, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. A town called Leavenworth. #FREECASCADIA.

According to Wikipedia….

“Leavenworth is a city in Chelan County, Washington, United States. It is part of the Wenatchee−East Wenatchee Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,965 at the 2010 census.[5] The population was 1,970 at 2012 Estimate from Office of Financial Management. The entire town center is modeled on a Bavarian village…

…The city struggled until 1962, when the Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone) Committee was formed to transform the city into a mock Bavarian village to revitalize its economy.[6] Owen and Pauline Watson, owners of a business on Front Street, formed the committee after visiting Solvang, California in 1958 and thought it was an excellent idea for Leavenworth.”

The money quote is “Bavarian village”. It looks just like Walt Disney built a Bavarian Village but with a less than Disney budget. Still, charming though, I guess.

For us the real attraction were a couple of expertly maintained and well built trails on the outskirts of town. Really choice work out there, guys. The clay composition of the soil in the area lends itself very well to the shaping and building of #sickberms. The local trails organization is killing it. I think we’re talking about these guys here, Central Washington Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, but don’t quote me. Anyhow, those berms.

Trail number one on the day is/was named Xanadu. If you are a PNW resident and skew towards the kneepad full suspension set, I’m sure you’ve heard about this one. If you haven’t heard of it…

To quote a quote…

[The describes this ride like this: "Crazy, sick, fun, relatively easy fireroad duo track climb up to the ridgetop and then a knarly steep, narrow singletrack descent with no room for error. Two highly technical sections. The first is a hairpin turn followed by a nasty 6 to 8 foot boulder drop that's rideable followed a short time later by a huge slick rock that's super steep with just enough loose gravel and sand on it to keep you traveling at a good clip before bailing off another steep drop which is also rideable but tricky. If you can find it you will most likely really like it or hate it. ]

I mean that’s basically it. We loved it. We rode it twice. I will go back.

After a lunch of the finest BLTs my cooler had on offer and requisite cans of beer, it was decided that a third accession and descent was doable and probably advisable. Rather than go for three on the Xanadu trail, we made our way into Leavenworth proper for bro-beta from the very very helpful staff of Dasradhaus. Seriously these guys live up to the name of that shop. They took no less than two pre ride phone calls from me enquiring about conditions and weather. V helpful. Side note: don’t come to Leavenworth to ride after or during a rain. The Dasradhaus guys not only discouraged it, they pretty much said we don’t want you to come ride after a rain because you will wreck the berms, bro. Straightup.

Prior to undertaking a third climb, a prophylactic coffee application of Fancy Mochas was needed. We found the nearest Bavarian themed Starbucks and bellied up to the bar. PROmove. Personally, I’m not sure I would have made it if a Fancy Mocha hadn’t been consumed.

Once coffee was had, we directed our attention to a trail snaking down a ridge visible from town called Rosy Boa.

Rosy Boa, not surprisingly, is similar to the prior trail, Xanadu. Same builders/maintenance and adjacent locations. I mean, pretty obviously it was going to be similar. Ridgeline trail crossed with #sickberms. And it was good. But I liked this one better. May have been the exhaustion. May have been that #lightbro. Maybe I was finally getting warmed up. Whatever, it was rad.

Upon completion of descent number three, we returned to our common vehicle to deplete the cooler of all its wealths and bask in the glow of an all grass parking lot at dusk. Stop and take a look sometime. There is beauty everywhere.

We counted our blessing, our mechanicals, and falls (many, 0, 1) and began to make our way back to our verdant home in Cascadia, in the West.

Pretty perfect actually.



Words by Chip Woodley
Photos by Chip Woodley & Kelly Nowels


Kelly Nowels

seattle, Seattle WA, United States