By Alex Meacham
sports of all kinds, but according to rankings on Singletrack.com, Bellingham holds out above other Washington cities as the best place to mountain bike.
With at least 65 miles of trails and tracks, Galbraith Mountain has a little something for everybody, according to the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition.
Multiple riders said how important the coalition is for them, as they are the stewards of the trail who organize work parties and maintenance work on the mountain.
Jake Crist was one such rider -- he travelled to Bellingham from Seattle with his family to see a concert and made sure to visit the trail for at least a couple hours. Crist agreed wholeheartedly with the characterization of Galbraith as being the best place to ride in Washington. He rode a Diamondback Mission at Galbraith but mentioned his familial allegiance to Specialized Bicycles.
Crist’s priority for a bike is affordability, but generally he likes bikes that are comfortable, even when riding down rocks. He worked for Fairhaven Bicycles for several years, so he does most of his own work, he said. Even so, he said that there are some aspects to mountain biking equipment such as a fork rebuild that are best left to a shop.
Even when Crist was a Western student, he was fond of the Associated Students Outdoor Center bike shop, which is where Heath DeMartini repacked the bearings in his bottom bracket last week.
“Galbraith is cool, [it] has a nice variety of features … jumps, rock rolls, pretty much everything,” DeMartini said.
DeMartini didn’t know for sure if it was the best place to ride in Washington, because he hasn’t ridden everywhere in Washington yet, but it was one of his preferred spots.
Crist said most riders prefer the south side of the mountain, the entrance to which is near Lake Padden. However, due to his family’s location while visiting town, he rode the mountain from the north.
“Some of the trails [on the north side] I prefer, but over here my favorite is SST for a quick lap because it kinda gets you all the bang for your buck, and you can kinda pound it out in about an hour,” said Crist.
SST is a black diamond, single-track, one-way trail dropping from 1140 feet to 450 feet elevation. The WMBC map of trails for Galbraith looks less like a mountain and more like a small child’s drawing with a fine-pointed green pen, with many twists, turns, hill climbs and intersecting paths.
Mike Bakke sarcastically disagreed with the assessment of Galbraith as the best place to ride, chuckling as he explained his affinity for the mountain.He described how he brought a coworker for his first ride up the trail last week.
“It’s amazing, man. I’d say it’s the best place to ride. We’ve got a ton of variety, the access is easy and pretty friendly, the trails are very well maintained, [the WMBC] has done an incredible job running the show … providing local companies and local groups opportunities to sponsor trails and maintain them and put community service forward,” Bakke said. “It’s a phenomenal place to ride.”
Bakke’s favorite trail is Orient Express, an older “orphaned” trail that Bakke described as a natural flow trail that has been good for years and continues to deliver. Bakke said has been riding Galbraith for almost a decade.
“Friendly locals, great people,” he said of the trail.
Crist was pleased with the quantity and quality of trails on the mountain, especially the signage and descriptions of drops.
“There’s fast single track, cross-country, downhill, technical, jump lines ladders … I’m literally spouting off everything that is mountain biking, because it really does have that whole entire spectrum,” Crist said.