Monday, March 30, 2009

GET 'n Some...

Here we are again, another week and another big day in the saddle. Pat put together another fine route, exploring a section of the Great Eastern Trail (GET), riding south on the Tuscarora Trail from route 55 and finishing up with a bit of Big Schloss goodness. Pat and I headed out to meet up with Tim, Sue, Tony and Poz at Wolf Gap where we ditched 2 cars and piled 6 bikes and bodies in Tony's truck and parked over on rt 55 at the West Virginia border where we began our double track climb up the Tuscarora Trail. The day started off foggy and wet, but things began to look up as we got to riding. There were some steep pitches, and the soft soil coupled with some loose rocks made some of the climbs nearly impossible. I was in no hurry to blow myself up, so I casually stepped off and walked alot of the early climbs. Things cleared up as we got up on the ridge which gave way to spectacular views that one rarely finds in the mid-atlantic. The dark clouds in bright, blue skies, along with the epic views made me a bit camera happy stopping every 50 feet for a photo op from different perspectives. As we began our descent, which, in typical Massanutten fashion, was littered with massive rocks and wheel eating holes, my camera got tucked away as I carefully picked lines and tried not to highside over the edge. Once again the rain began to fall, which not only made our tires slip, but made putting a foot down treturous as well. At the bottom of the single track, we turned left on a fire road and crossed a park road, following the blue blazes once again heading upward. The rain fell steadily as we began our ascent which started off with several deep stream crossings. I was proud of myself for getting across the biggest one with dry feet, but it was all in vain as I got soaked attempting to ride across the next one. About 10 minutes into the climb, my front brake began acting up and apparently one of the pads dissintigrated leaving the spring dragging my rotor and causing an awful racket. I worked on this for several minutes while the others continued climbing. Frustrated, I got it sorted out and resumed my climb. About 2 cranks in, I realized my rear tire was flat. As if this wasnt enough, hail began to fall and so did my spirits. I sat there metally devastated and starred at my bike and my open pack, watching the contents get soaked. I finally got myself and my bike together and got under way again. At the top of that nightmare climb, I found the others hunkered down attempting to stay dry and warm. The lot of us had a good laugh when I told them of my mental breakdown below. We hooked a left on the fire road which took us to an ominous looking trail head. Pat and Tim consulted the map to make sure we were indeed to cross the mound of boulders which stood before us marked with the tell tale blaze. The lot of us walked into the woods and eventually things toned down a bit and it was back to the pedals. Slow, technical, rock riding is what this section of trail was all about; one of my favorite sections of the day. This took us to Big Schloss where we descended some fast, technical single track. I must say, this is the first time in a while I wished I was on my full suspension bike, which happens to be on the market at the moment. We dumped out on a road where I had yet another flat and while fixing it, realized I had now lost a rear brake pad as well. A few miles of road riding got us back to the car. I gotta say, I have really been digging on the riding in the Massanutten area. Virginia is for lovers of technical riding.

Wild and wonderful indeed...




Looking to the east...



Tony in the shadows..



Poz keeping his hands clean...



Playing on the rocks...



(pat photo)

Lunch with a view...



My chilie dog gets the seal of approval...



(pat photo)

Tim and Sue take in the view...



Poz on the rocks...



Dont worry, he was already wet...



Tony aproaching Big Schloss...



Route map...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pits Update

As I was driving up I-95 the other day to spend an evening riding around Patapsco state park, and looked out the passenger window to see what progress has gone down at The Pits, and it looks as though yet another section is done for. The main section has major ICC construction going on at the moment with at least 2 sections of trail logged and being travelled by construction traffic. There are still a couple pockets that are ridable, but its nothing compared to what it once was. I have fond memories of spending long summer days out there, exploring, sometimes getting lost; digging; riding and taking pictures. There were even a couple of outlaw races there which were a hoot. It was a run whatcha brung deal with beer, bbq, and swag for all who attended. This past winter, I spent alot of nights out there with Andy who has spent 20 years riding out there to see it disappear section by section as new developments have gone up. Bob and Will pretty much rounded out our regular crew, but some others ventured out there with us as well. One night while riding through a particularly sandy section, I heard a motor in the woods and this Jeep came barreling out with no lights on it. They came ripping by and hollering some nonsense before disappearing into the darkness over the next rise. A couple of weeks later we ran into these guys again deep in the woods with a squad of quad riders and chatted them up in the below freezing temps for a while before an impromtu party broke out after the jeep driver realized he had a flat. He just looked at it casually before shrugging his shoulders and pulling out the case of beer from the back of his vehichle. Here are a few images I have from that spot. I know Andy has a ton somewhere as well as video footage from some of the jams he put on.

Here Burner and I duke out in the semi finals on the slalom course @ first gen circa 1998...



That wall in the back ground got sessioned heavy. We started at the shallower sections and worked our way over to the vert. Top to bottom was about 50 and at its steepest had about 6 feet of vert. Here Andy rolls in on a Mongoose which failed a couple days later about 20 yards away...



Here, I freefall on the big section...



Launching the shallow end...




Test dummy on the doubles out of the last berm @ second gen in 1999. The aproach was tight and sketchy and luckily the landing was soft on the first attempt...





I need to go through some of my old photos and scan some stuff.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rider Down...

Sunday was looking to be a good ride w/ 8 people at the lower Hamburg lot at 7:30AM, ready to hit some of the new stuff in the Watershed we got the tour of 2 weeks prior. Once again, Pat put the hurt on right out of the gate as we climbed that miserable hill up to the Blue trail and jumped on Volkswagon. From there we took Knuckle Buster to Fishing Creek Road where we decided to ride down one of the freeride trails to the lake. Pretty exciting on the rigid bike I must say. Not nearly the speed of a gravity sled, but fun none-the-less. We regrouped at the bottom where folks tried their luck and riding the skinny across the stream while Chad worked on his bike. We jumped on the road to get to the One Eyed Viper as some had limited time to ride. Our plan was to get out there quickly, show people where the trails were then do other loops in the area. Anyway, everyone made it through One Eyed Viped without incident, but as soon as we got on Slash's Snake Pit, Don entered the pit and didnt come out. It seems he tangled with some debris in the midst which grabbed hold of his foot, hyper-extending his cankle and breaking the fibia. This posed a major problem as we were at the furthest point from the car. Chad donated a tube to the cause and fabricated a kind of sling which wrapped over Don's knee and under the foot to help stabilize it. Pat and Chad made a dash to get Don's van, while Hans, Rick and myself helped get Don and his gear out to the road. we lowered the seat on Don's bike and pushed him when he need it, but Don is pretty stubborn and insisted most of the time to move on his own steam. in the technical section he would crawl through while one of would take the bike. About 45 minutes later we got to the road. Instead of going back through the Viper, we took an old jeep road. I though it best if I go wait at the Viper's mouth just in case Pat and Chad came from that side. Sure enough, 45 minutes later, they came rolling up in Don's van. It was like a scene out of some Cheech and Chong movie. "Hey you want to get in?" I hesitated and Pat told me I was transparent, that they planned to ride more too. We all had a laugh while I loaded my bike and climbed aboard. Don was sitting patiently with Rick when we pulled up. His ankle had swollen up to the size of a grapefruit. They rolled out and Pat, Chad and myself headed back out for another couple of hours. At this point the camera pretty much went away. Other than breaking to scope out a couple new hits, I just tried to keep up. Heal up fast Don!

24 derees at sunrise...



the sun rises over Fredrick...



Pat on a log...



Tony from another angle...




a couple riders pass one of many ponds in the shed...




trees in the mud...




Until next time...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Settling Fog

I got several emails last night about people riding in Fredrick this morning with 3 rides leaving within 30 minutes of each other. I decided to leave my options open. I met with Pat and Poz at 8:10 and we headed out to ride some new stuff off fishing Creek Road before going over to Sand Flats to get a tour of some stuff built in the past couple of weeks. The morning was heavily fogged due to the rain that had been falling on and off for the past 24 hours, but things cleared up for a while once we started to ride. We were pressed for time after hitting some of the old drop trails and Hell Hill so we opted to ride road over to Sand Flats where our group became 14 strong. We were shown some fun new stuff: The One Eyed Viper, The Pit and one that I am going to refer to as Teepees and Wigwams. The One Eyed Viper was flowy and fun with a couple of technical sections, but I could see the fog was once again settling down when I heard Jimmy P. (aka Cracked Corn) yelling about how he saw a dinosaur along the trail. I was picturing the T. Rex from that cartoon movie saying "I have a big head a little arms," showing us the way. Anyway, we got turned around several times which always signifies the beginning of an adventure. The Viper dumps into The Pit and then drops into Rock Candy where we began climbing Salamander which we had ridden both ways during the day. This took us to Teetees and Wigwams which would drop us off around the top of Iceburg. Our group was slowly dissintegrating and we were down to 6 on our way to the 'Burg where the dinosaur pointed us in the wrong direction once again and the fog and rain returned so we packed it in for the day. As usual, I was having too much fun in the flowy sections to be bothered to stop and capture the action. Im tired, and burnt so lets just skip to the images.

The place to be...



Hammer time to meet the group...



A rider exits the fog on Salamander...



For the most part the group rolled well together...



In search of the One Eyed Viper...




Jimmy P. after the T. Rex sighting...



Diving into a pit along The Pit...



The climb up Salamander...



Poz tip-toes through some wet rocks on Teepees and Wigwams...



Past the point of no return...



Matty takes his turn in this sequence...











The fog and rain return...

Monday, March 9, 2009

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties...

The west is known for its big mountains and big views which can lead to long, punishing rides, but what the East lacks in altitude, it makes up for in its technical terrain. The East boasts some of the best technical riders in the sport of mountain biking, and with places like the Massenutten in the region is no wonder why. It snowed 8 inches monday and it been over 70 for the past 2 days so needless to say the ground would be soggy just about anywhere else. We had 6 of us travelling down from Maryland and then we met up with Viginians Tim and Sue in the lot. There was discussion in the lot of making this a big ride before our initial climb up Signal Knob, but we got an extra hour of sunlight and the weather was beautiful. Signal Knob was a long 45 minute to an hour technical climb and Chad and myself were both on single speeds and tried to keep our heads in check and not blow ourselves up on the first climb of the day. We rode the ridge for a bit before dropping down the backside where Tony had the front end of his bike completely disassembled and Tim and Sue helped him diagnose a problem. This didnt fill me with much confidence as the last time I rode with Tony and that bike, he had lost a brake and the chain would skip under any load and we were only in the woods 5 minutes. Other than some creaking, he pulled through in fine style. We climbed up to the next ridge which was riddled with jagged rocks, overhangs, and spines to ride along. At the top, Andy, who had been riding less than a year, was on a single speed, and had a stomach bug, was not looking good. As we chatted, he sat mumbling to himself with his head in his hands, but he pushed through and rode for another 3 or 4 hours. Here is where the fun really began. We would ride for a bit and then the group would stop to try and find a line through some sketchy rock field or over a long spine with a drop on the side. The cameras came out as did the feelings of victory and frustration. All bodies were bruised and bloodied and bikes came off the ridge with a little less paint and metal than they once had. I tried one line maybe 8 times and still stepped off and then Chad rolled through with ease on his first attempt. Before dropping back down toward the road we had some lunch and Pat upped the ante of best lunch with spaghetti in a bag. We got a bit turned around on our descent but ran into an equestian in the woods who was very helpful. It has been a long time since I have had a bad encounter with an equstrian, but then I usually dont go ripping by them at speed. A bit of road riding got us back to the car about 7 hours later. Good times.

Pat and Tim climbing Signal Knob. Thats Buzzard rock in the background...



Tim climbing...



There was alot of this through out the day...


(Pat photo)

OTB...


(Pat photo)


A tight squeeze...



Did someone say tight???

(Pat photo)

A moment of impact...



3 riders, 3 different perspectives, 1 tricky spine...









until next time...