Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stokesville- Douthat- Stokesville 2009

I was extended the invite to attend this year's SDS ride early in the year and without hesitation, accepted. As the date approached, and I heard more rumblings and stories of the riding and suffering that had taken place in years past and got to thinking more. Was I in shape for such an event? About a week out I was getting nervous. What to pack? What level of support would there be? All good questions, but those who invited me assured me I would be fine. Friday afternoon, Pat, Poz and myself made our way around the Capitol beltway in route once again for the George Washington Forest and another weekend of top notch bicycle riding. We were the first on the scene at the campground and Pat suggested we start the weekend off right with what he reffered to as "The best 4 mile loop around." He was right, as Boy Scout did not disappoint and was a great way to stretch out the legs after 2 straight weeks of rain.

This year around 30 riders from throughout the region would ride at least part of the 150+ mile route which offered over 100 miles of single track and 23,000' of climbing. Throughout the evening, rain once again fell as riders pulled in and lay out their sleeping bags under the pavilion, but between the "no see 'ems" biting and the whipperwills whooping, there was little sleep to be had. Breakfast was served up hot at 4:30AM with the ride kicking off at 5:30AM ti clear skies. We left the cars behind and began our journey from camp in the dark, along the way enjoying a spectacular sunrise. By 9AM, I was feeling the 2 weeks off the bike due to the spring monsoons and couldnt consume food fast enough to satisfy the bonk. The thought that I was in way over my head would haunt me, but I was able to push through for 4 more hours until our lunch stop and felt like a new man after some nourishment. The support crew did a great job and always had plenty of food, bevs and smiles to get make the lot of a happy family once again... and just in time to climb Little Mare. It started off easy enough and the thought that I could climb like this all day came to mind until we rounded a bend and the sight of the first steep pitch quickly put those thoughts to bed. I was on the single speed and had already been doing a good deal of hiking to save the arms and back, so I had no problem hoofing it on Little Mare. Heck, alot of the gearies were as well. About halfway in, you could really see the suffering on the faces of the riders and at one point I was walking behind Poz who was in the granny and he turned and said, "Just let me know if you want to come by me on foot." Even when the suffering was at its peak, the spirits were still high. A little rest up top before decending to the Creasy Lodge which would be our home for the evening. Hot lasagna, a shower, and a bunk put me down for the count before 8PM.

We awoke the next morning to a spectacular breakfast spread of waffles with fresh fruit sauce, eggs, potatoes, sausage, smoothies and me with some pretty serious knee issues which I belive was due to the amount of hiking I did to save my body for later efforts. Either way, I could put no pressure on my left leg, but somehow managed to make my way to the top of the first climb where I was able to bum some Ibuprofens which allowed enough relief to pedal again. A sketchy off camber decent led us into the valley and a nice road ride which brought us to lunch. The road section were tricky on the single speed. Tomi, the other single speeder, and I were often off the front on the climbs, then would get spit out the back on the descents. I was able to tuck in and draft to get me through the fast sections, but I had to keep on my toes to see it coming. After lunch and a dip in the river was Elliots, which brought big climbing with major payoffs in the way of extended descending. Slow and technical up top, to fast and rocky, to fast buffness, followed up by ripping turns through the trees. The Crawford Steps were next and referred to as the 5 cleanable hike-a-bikes. I saw more riders crack along this section and continued hiking before another ripping descent. About a dozen riders opted to ride Dowell's Draft back to camp. I had a flashback of a conversation on another ride about whether to ride trail or road and my response was "I've got my knobbies on today," meaning there is no question that I would be riding trail. Already pretty spent with the sun low in the sky, I started back with the group on Dowell's Draft but blew up good about halfway in. Chris and Sue stuck with me and the 3 of us rolled in at dark. The unbeliveable, seemingly endless single track, spectacular views, and legendary suffering, in the company of so many talented riders made this an unforgettable weekend. A HUGE thanks to everyone who put in tireless hours of work clearing trail, supported us along the way and put this thing together for us to enjoy.

Sunrise above camp...


(Pat foto)

Riders gathering to take in the view...




Jimmy climbing on a misty mountain morning...



Pat gettin' loose...



Pat snapped this one in route to lunch...



Every opening in the foliage offered a fantastic view...




Climbing up to Elliots...



Sue's sandwich of # sausage patties on 2 waffles made everyone jealous. Bravo!


(Tomicog foto)

Curt rode with us day 2. He reminded me of my buddy Tony from Sac. Good peeps...



The sound of rocks clapping...



Chris shows us how far we have come...



For more info and links to others thoughts and images click here... http://www.stokesville-douthat-stokesville.blogspot.com/

1 comment: