Devil's Slide @ Soaring Eagle

On our biennial trip to Seattle this week, I took the opportunity to hit the wonderful little network of trails I used to know as Beaver Lake.  It’s now called Soaring Eagle and it’s just amazing how much development has occurred in the area over the last decade.  Every time I visit this place it seems like a whole new area.

Demo bike from Veloce Velo, Issaquah, WA.
Demo bike from Veloce Velo, Issaquah, WA.

I began with a stop at Veloce Velo, a new-to-me bike shop in Issaquah, for some stuff to get my brother-in-law’s bike in riding shape. Mostly, the plan was to get the bike ready to ride so that when my head/chest cold cleared I could hit the trails. By the time I put the pile of stuff together and asked one of the managers about a needed tire, I found myself in a conversation about a demo bike.  While I was considering a ride on Saturday or perhaps later, the manager made an offer I couldn’t pass up – provided I took the bike for the PM that day. Weighing the cost of equipment to make a 20 year old bike path worthy and the manager’s offer of a $4000, dual-suspension StumpJumper test bike for the tail end of the day, I opted to ride a demo bike with a serious head/chest cold.

Test Bike Decal on the Stumpjumper
Test Bike Decal on the Stumpjumper

The last time I rode Soaring Eagle was 2006 or 2007, and it was a bit less tame then.  There has been some serious bridge and rock work in the wetter areas since I first rode this trail back around 2000 or so.  And the paths are more worn. This is a very well-maintained, fun-as-all-get-out network of single-track that runs up and down over about 200 feet of elevation.  Just the trail names tell you a lot about the fun. Devil’s Slide is a really nice little shoot down and around the far side of the park that I couldn’t resist hitting twice.  There’s Katie Lane, Sleigh Ride, Do Loop, and the Bone Trail. All of the trails are up-down-left-right, and over again. A regular on the trail can get the feel for what’s coming; for me, it’s a whole new adventure with every turn.

The StumpJumper was awesome!  I haven’t ridden a dual suspension bike in a very, very long time. They’re better than they used to be.  I now know why all the folks riding my local singletrack have these bikes, and why they look at me like I’m a fool as I hop the logs and rocks – and use my body to smooth the edges. This bike ate the bumps, forgave every mistake, and totally softened out the ride.  I woke up this AM with nary a sore muscle, despite taking the entire network twice at a nice little clip.

This was my maiden voyage with disc brakes.  I’m still riding with cantilevers on the rear of my Trek 990, and only moved to v-brakes on the fronts about 5 years ago.  It was tough to be real easy on the disc brakes, particularly in that nether realm between light braking and the locked wheel. 2 hours with the brakes and I couldn’t quite find the zone.