The Syncline

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© Tim LaBarge 2008

I went for a good ride recently through a crazy network of trail known as the Syncline. The story appeared in the Travel section of the Oregonian. It’s on the Washington side of the Columbia River…and it’s spectacular. My friend Chad and I were getting geared up to set out when we met two downhill cyclists looking for a ride back up to the top. With all sincerity, Larry looked at us and said, “I didn’t know you could do this on a ten speed.”

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© Tim LaBarge 2008

We were on cyclo-cross bikes. Granted, not ideal for the down hill bombing that these guys do, but a steel frame with drop bar, nobby tires and a couple of gears to choose from none-the-less. And while riding a cross bike, one shouldn’t expect to drop down 2,500 feet in twenty minutes or less like a skier, it’s not like it’s the Schwinn Varsity I rode in the eighties. The comment was a hint of what was to come. This place is steep and tricky and it seems riders generally go down. But we inched along, often going up.

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© Tim LaBarge 2008

When three young chaps blasted by us on a steep pitch, not far from a thousand foot drop down a wall of granite, I knew we were a touch out of our element. We’d just crossed under some power lines when these guys bounced past us, wearing motocross helmets and kneepads and riding these ultra suspension bikes. And I – pushing my bike up hill, looking for a good spot to photograph, humming a Nanci Griffith tune about power lines – felt very old and out of place.

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© Tim LaBarge 2008

We met some fun folks, saw some amazing scenery and while taking a side path back down to the car, got side tracked zipping down a smooth single track trough a pasture (cows included) and wound up going down a different valley. Such is the Syncline. A maze, and amazing. We hit the valley floor about four miles from the car. We took the highway back to the car…and at that point I couldn’t have been happier to be on my ten speed.

One Response to “The Syncline”

  1. rob says:

    beautiful. to get the deal despite the gear. the soul of mtn. biking has always been that yin/yang like photography is creative and science :-)