All About the Down

Mission Ridge is classic east-side style: it’s all about the down. While officially a two-way trail, going up involves more pushing than riding. Coming down, however, is nothing but full-speed good times. Eva Wilson and TJ Trotter, enjoying all the fun gravity can provide. NIKON, 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

All About the Down A Little Bit Different in the Wenatchee Valley

I remember my first real mountain bike ride.

I was 16, and had just moved from Tacoma, WA, three hours east to the tiny, quasi-Bavarian town of Leavenworth. My new friend, a local named Dan, handed me a Specialized FS-something and told me to chase him and his buds down a nearby trail. Wanting to fit in and not knowing any better, I took the bike and followed him to the top.

To my rookie mind, the ribbon of singletrack was steep as a ski run and seemed narrow as a tightrope, confined to a knife-blade ridge with rocky exposure on either side. I was terrified. And I was inspired. I watched my new friends skid down the mountain, ride fall line down sandstone slabs and cliffs, and flow through pine forests on a wispy trail of tire tracks. My fingers slowly loosened on the brake levers and I let myself accelerate, looking for the next opportunity to dump speed before letting loose again.

When I was 17, I was lucky enough to get a bike of my own: a 1999 Giant MCM, a full-suspension rig with a triple crown Rock Shox Judy fork. I followed my friends down the unforgiving, chunky eastern slopes of the Cascade Range. I pedaled solo through subalpine meadows and ground my way up abandoned road beds. I learned the Latin names of my favorite trees and wildflowers. Mountain biking became an activity that gave me joy, camaraderie and a level of physical and mental wellness I couldn’t obtain anywhere else.

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