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The up and the down of it -
WOW IS a word you frequently hear applied to the first rock, the so-called Little Rock, on Cedar Dust, especially the left line.
Tom Aeschliman, who built the trail with the notorious Bob Torset, made marvelous use of the natural terrain, and nowhere better than the Little Rock.
Of the two lines off the rock, the right one is steeper but shorter -- "only" about head-high. It requires the rider to put his bike in an almost vertical position, but the run out is mercifully steep and straight. The right line is the easier of the two and can be ridden sight unseen by an expert trail rider.The left line is something else. It is nearly twice as high with a drop at the bottom of the rock. Yo mama! To further complicate matters, the approach and exit lines aren't straight or particularly accommodating.
The left line can be ridden, though, as Mark Belles demonstrates here. Notice how he picks up his line with a hard right at the top of the rock, and then angles right to left across the face to minimize the drop at the bottom.
There is a fair amount of compression when you come off the rock and hit the flat ground beyond. In fact, this is the last time the Belles rode his yellow Cannondale Jekyll. He broke the frame, and is now riding a Santa Cruz Superlight.
CLIMBING THE Little Rock is an exhilarating experience too. There is a nice, fast run up that allows you to carry speed to the rock face.
You can roll right up the base of the rock, but riding a bit of a manual allows you to leap onto the granite, which gives good traction, even with narrow semi-slicks.
Strong climbers like to attack the run up to the face in the fourth or fifth cog in the back, and then downshift as they jump a wheelie onto the rock.
Says noted Galbraith climber, Mongo, "I think -- 'three strokes and I'm up.' I imagine I'm a bird in an updraft, and just think about my upstroke.
"You better be ready to attack, though. You want to make it. You do NOT want to run out of gas just short of the top." He smiled like River Phoenix.
CLIMBING THE OTHER line on the rock, the so called K2 Face on the left which Belles is seen riding down in the pictures above, is one of the toughest technical climbing challenges on Galbraith.
In fact, when you stand at the bottom and look up at it, you may be tempted to think that it can't be done. But it can be done! The first trick for the steep line, as Jason Ploskuniak demonstrates in the photo above, is to get up a ton of speed.
Before the climb pictured above Jason went so far back down Cedar Dust that he couldn't even hear us yelling at him. Then he started out and sprinted hard at the the rock wall, maybe a dozen turns in the trail ahead. By the time the Little Rock swung into his view, he was doing an honest 15 mph, which is flat out flying in a tight, twisty single track situation.
He never slowed or waivered at all. He just threw himself at the wall and powered straight up and over it with his signature Kona hard tail. Piece of cake for Jason, the Bike God of Glacier.
Chris Hardin said he couldn't quite get over the top until he started steering to his left at the top. This is the exact reverse of the line Mark Belles is pictured descending in the action sequence above.
Of course, a few challenges still remain on the K2 Face. As Chris Hardin observed, "no one's climbed it yet when the rock is wet." And if this isn't enough, there's always the Big Rock.
If you are crazy enough to try riding the Little Rock on Cedar Dust, please wear a good helmet, have your medical insurance paid up, and deploy at least two spotters to catch you if you don't make it and fall backwards onto the rock.
And remember, GalbraithMt.com recommends scouting every stunt and obstacle before trying to ride it.
Up and over -- Mongo climbing the "easy" face on the Little Rock.