ALTHOUGH IT doesn't have a wild, homicidal name, Bob's Trail is easily the most technical stretch of single track on the north side.
It's also a masterwork of legendary Galbraith trail builder Bob Torset, AKA Moto Bob (pictured at RIGHT, seaching the slash pile for trail building materials).
Torset, who is actually a pro at this stuff (he's a Whatcom County road crew supervisor on his day job), is also the author of several other fabled Galbraith trails, including El Pollo Elastico, Mas Pollo and Cedar Dust.
Starting at the top of the Ridge Trail, Bob's Trail burns off half the elevation that the Ridge Trail gains, and does it in a much shorter distance with some memorable stunts thrown in along the way.
The one that probably inspires the greatest alarm in first time riders is the Big Drop on Bob's Trail, where you've got to put the bike in a nearly vertical position for about one bike length. Then, of course, you've got to get the bike under control ASAP so you can make the high speed sweeper to the right on loose dirt ahead.
The "trick" here, by the way, is to get off the back of your seat, relax and let the bike drop beneath you. Just get your weight way back and let 'em roll. There used to be a good strip of grippy granite right in the slot as you went over the top of the log, but it's eroded out, and now there are essentially two lines, one to the left and one to the right. The difficulty with the left line is that the face is steeper than steep (it's actually undercut), while the difficulty with the right line is a tangle of awkwardly angled roots part way down. Your pick!
The Big Drop is typical of Bob Torset. Where Dan Waters (another famous and prolific Galbraith trail builder who's probably best known for Dan's Trail, Chutes And Ladders and Scorpion) likes to built artificial ramps and catwalks, Moto Bob likes to let the natural terrain do the work for him. So as of 2009, Bob's is still a trail, rather than a man-made stunt park.
MOAB MAY have its slick rock, but Bob's Trail is the home of the slick log.
In the section just after the Big Drop, there is a kind of graveyard of big trees with broken pieces of logs lying about all over the place.
Bob's Trail used to incorporate these fallen giants into an ever shifting combination of stunts including drops, ramps, and stairsteps, but in early 2006 the trail was rerouted to a log catwalk.
Then when you finally come out on the old connector cat track, it's just the end of the upper part of Bob's Trail: the whole lower section remains ahead!
And what a treat. You can go and go and go through a veritable Roman deli of technical tasties. There are ride-arounds for all the really heinous technical moves, but you need to know what you're doing to enjoy this trail.
Among other things, Lower Bob's now boasts some really large jump ramps for the big air afficianados, and a wickedly steep, root strewn drop to the Pipeline Rd. at the very end, which has replaced the wickedly steep switchback (called the Big Heave) that used to be there.
Coming as it does, on the heels of the whole upper and lower Bob's Trail freight train, this focused, swan-slow, tip-toe into the abyss can be a killer -- or the climax to the perfect day.
For strong technical riders, the upper and lower Bob's Trail combo is a preferred route to home to Lakeway Blvd. and Whatcom Falls Park on the north side, especially when combined with Instant Karma.
The following are some of the scenes from the trail, more or less in the order you'd encounter them if you rode Bob's Trail from top to bottom. Click on the thumbnail images to view a larger version...