Monday, June 1, 2009

New Bike, New Camera and Newburg Snake Charming Gone Awry

Today is monday which means another day off in my world, so I took advantage of the fine weather to enjoy a spin around Schaffer Farms, the Hoyles Mill Connecter trail, and Black Hill to stretch the legs and unwind after yesterdays ride. Recently, I built up this ultra fat tired mountain bike which I have been riding for the past couple of weeks at Schaffer and Patapsco, but yesterday would be the big test. The Frederick Watershed is home to some of the more technical trails in the area and from the looks of those who showed up in the lot, the pace would be pretty swift. In a nutshell, the bike descends very well, basically skimming over small and mid-sized bumps, rocks and roots, but the bike is heavy and cumbersome, and I could feel it as soon as I got out of the saddle. Climbing was painful and the slow, super tech stuff tired me out fighting bike to go where I wanted. Once going in the right direction, it would roll over just about anything but my back got tired and sore trying to hop rocks maneuver the bike through the tight stuff. Fixing flats is nothing short of a pain and got to experience it twice throughout the day. The bike is hoot to ride, but it has its place as far as I am concerned.

The camera I shot most of these pictures on is an old Bell and Howell/ Canon unit from the 60's I found while cleaning out my grandmothers house and has had little to no use, however, after going to develop the film and seeing nothing but black, it would appear that the shutter is stuck halfway open. What a blower as there were some good images that are now just memories.

Without further ado, lets get to the ride. I woke up at 6:15am to heavy rain and contemplated getting back in the sack, but decided to check the weather first. It looked as though things would be clearing up in the next hour so I continued getting ready and headed out to chase film for the camera. Sheetz in Fredders always delivers so in addition to the gas and film, I picked up a BBQ beef sammie for the ride. Six of us assemebled at the top of Hamburg road and made our way over to Evo, but not before running into some familiar faces returning from a night out in the shed. Evo was still damp to say the least, but this aided us in checking our speed as a wheel could very well wash out any any slippery rock on the way down Andy took a couple of diggers and was bleeding within 10 minutes of being in the woods. Evo would also be the point of flat number one on the day from a renegade thorn. We took the road down and climbed up to Ridge trail. Along the way, I belive there was another flat. For a group on a time schedule, things were off to a shakey start to say the least. We decided to attempt a different climb up to the ridge which turned into a hike-a-bike and finally a bushwack. Finally on the ridge, Tony took point and put the hammer down. I struggled on the lumbering fatbike but somehow managed to hold on. Next up was Salamander where Pat managed to break his chain in 2 places, before making our way to Iceburg, which was home to my second flat of the day, this time a snakebite. We joked earlier about how one would have to really blow it to pinch flat a 4" wide tire on a 70mm rim, but somehow I managed. I would like to think it has something to do with the narrow 29er tubes being over inflated. Frustrated to say the least, I told everyone to go ahead, that I would meet them at the end. This got really interesting at this point, as we rode a new trail over some big slabs of rock. I stopped early on, and climbed down into a gap in the rocks to get a good perspective of on coming riders. Pat stopped right next to me and froze stiff in the line not saying a word and blocking the others. Then we saw it. A large rattlesnake, the size of my forearm half under a slab of granite. Then we saw more. 4 or 5 more right there in a pile maybe 2 feet from the other one. It was a bad seen as we realized we in the midst of a large rattlesnake den. It is rumored that the largest rattlesnake den on the east coast is right there in the Shed. Was this it? We all stood there frozen for a moment a began to look around to see how many more were in our vicinity. A quick check turned up none, but no time for an extensive search as one began to hiss and moved toward us. What really creeps me out as I was probably hunkered down by a nest while clicking off pictures. I lucky they weren't hanging out in there. The rest of the trail was a little less hectic as we made our way through some fabulous fern groves en route to Pit and Viper. We rounded this lake on our way to the Pit and somehow got separated from Andy. we stood on the other side, hollering over to him to come around. As he came around, we went the other way, once again hollering across the pond. We did this several times and had a good laugh. More ferns on this trail as well as a flat for Chad. The ferns are huge this year; probably due to the amount of rain this spring. Then it was up Supersweet, down Death March and up the road to the cars. Whether you call it "Newburg," "Ankle Biter" or "Snake Charmer," let it be known that there is plenty of venom to keep you on your toes. So man up, and pack your snake bite kits and sport you leg gators because by linking this up to an already hectic and technical trail, makes this by far the most hazardous ride at the Shed. I woke up at 2am with nightmares of snakes.

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