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HOW MANY TIMES have you ridden right by Big Log Candy, the sweet diversion along the side of the upper Ridge Trail right after it ducks into the cool shade of the trees?
It's on the right side of the trail as you head down, and it can look fairly scary if you're not an expert rider or you've never seen it before. Truth is, it's not as bad as it looks -- and certainly not as bad as some other log rollovers on the mountain (e.g., the Bad Boy on Dan's Trail).
Why? Well, for one thing, the approach to Big Log Candy is straight and uncomplicated, allowing you to carry enough speed to get to the apex of the log without waivering. Also, the back side is relatively benign, providing a straightforward (albeit very steep) ramp back down to terre firma.
You do get a WAYS up in the air when you're on top of the big old Doug fir log that anchors the rollover, so you don't want to blow it. Hurling off the high side of this sucker is not a pretty thing to think about, but if you're prepared, it can be a lot of fun to ride.
So how do you prepare? Obviously, the first thing you do is work up to it, starting with smaller rollovers and drops until you know how to punch up over a log, and how to go off the back of the saddle on steep descents.
Next, you figure out the best line. As always, you should scout the line ahead of time for yourself, but the line you want to ride pretty much follows the angle of the log ramps up and down, which is generally right to left. You definitely want to be angling to the left as you come down, because you'll hit a tree if you don't. Please note too that the logs and branches in the ramp down can be loose.
OK, YOU'RE heading down the Ridge Trail approaching Big Log Candy, and you think you'll try it. Now take your hands off your brakes. No kidding. You've got to really commit to riding Big Log Candy if you're going to have any chance of actually making it. And taking your hands off the brakes forces you to commit. You can still get to the brakes if you really need them, but if your fingers aren't quivering on the levers, your first impulse will be to try harder, not bail.
Taking your hands off the brakes makes it less likely you'll freeze when you get to the top and look down the steep log ramp (it is a thrilling view). It also makes it easier for you to do the right thing coming down the backside, which is to get your weight back and let 'em roll. You definitely don't want to touch the brakes until both your tires are kissing the dirt again. (And then, of course, you want to brake enough to make the corner that follows.)
If you are crazy enough to try Big Log Candy, please wear a good helmet, have your medical insurance paid up, and remember, GalbraithMt.com recommends scouting every stunt and obstacle before trying to ride it.
The following are sequence shots of the stunt. Click on the thumbnail images to view a larger version...
Rolling over Big Log Candy -- note the loose stuff on the ramp down.