Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fresh Tracks

Ah, the winter solstice has just passed so the worst is behind us as far as short days go, however the worst of the weather is yet to come. I am happy to report, that I plan on missing a good portion of it by spending 3 weeks away riding in the southwest. In the meantime, I must brave the cold air and precipitation in order to get my riding fix. This past weekend was another well spent in the 'Burg. Saturday night was a nice get- together at the Carpenters' house.

Sunday was up in the air and tough to get organized, but eventually agreed upon to ride Braley's. A respectable, yet still fun amount of snow out there, starting with about 2" in the lot and getting somewhere in the 5" range up top. Much of the climb was still ridable, and I actually rode more of it this weekend than in the 100 due to an early mechanical that put me back with the granny gear crowd. Anyway, fun and challenging. Four of us, Tim, Trevor, Wolfy and myself came out for I believe the first snow ride of the year for the lot of us. I was trying out the new action sampler camera I picked up, and still have some learning to do as far as getting something worth while on film. Post ride fiddles courtesey of Jalesco which put a heavy hurt on me, forcing me to abort any activities other than driving home and lying in the fetal position with my new furry friend. I finished off an old roll of film which seems to have been exposed at some point and break in a new toy which I have yet to get the hang of.

Trevor bobs and weaves to avoid a beam of light...



A distant rider makes tracks...



The Action Sampler, in action, sampling...



This photo was salvaged from that old roll. Andy in his Gov't Issue kit on the North Fork...




My new friend...



Interestingly enough, I caught wind of Lynx and his situation of needing a home and all no more than 2 minutes after hearing from Yumi that her cat Marley, who I grew close to during the 2.5 years we lived together, was very sick. Lynx and Marley look almost identical and Lynx came home with me 3 days before Marley was put down due kidney failure.

Marley was a big fan of backgammon...



Rest in peace my huckleberry friend...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Welcome to Winter

Where to start? I feel so overloaded by information I want to share here, but it's all just mush that sloshes about between the ears. I was feeling a bit unsure whether or not I would be heading down this weekend as I hadn't really spoken to anyone all week as work was busy and my phone was somewhere amongst the leaves at the south end of Jawbone. I left from work once again second guessing myself the entire trip. I knew a lot of people would be attending the Jack Frost party in Davis, which we may or may not revisit later in this post. Anyway, as I made my way down I-81 just south of Woodstock, snow began to fall. What the heck was I thinking going to Harrisonburg? I hadn't even checked the weather. Saturday night, I had The Wolf and Collin on board for a ride that was yet to be determined. Things looked shaky in the morning, but we were able to rope Kurt in, who I hadn't ridden with in over a year. It seemed like heading north would avoid the snow. Then we got a call from Kyle and Whitney and we all agreed to head for Elizabeth's Furnace to ride Sherman to Buzzard's which we attempted the week prior.

There was a bit of drama along the way, but things seemed to iron themselves out once we all got on the bikes. I was trying out the furry gloves and leg warmers I picked up at a gas station along the way for under $10. I am sold on both and will be stocking up on my next trip. I officially declare this winter the winter of the leg warmer. I was slummin' a bit on the climb, over caffeinated, over inflated, and over heated. I pulled myself together by the time we reached the ridge. It was cold and windy up there, but the slow roll and upper body workout of riding those Appalachian Rocks kept the crew cozy. Collin brought his A-game and cleaned some sections I had not before seen ridden. I was also impressed by Kurt's skill in the rocks as I had never ridden them with him before. I always love riding with different people because they open my mind and help me to spot new lines. I too was riding some stuff I hadn't tried before. We took the road around from Buzzard's where Kurt and I played kick the can along way. He also held a opossum by a scraggly tail as he sprinted after Kyle who limped along in the only gear that still worked on his bike. I sprinted behind trying to capture that action, but wouldn't you know it, the camera jammed and wouldn't wind. All in all, a great day on the rocks.



Kurt gets up close and personal with my Nevegal...




Collin going for it...




...





The cliffs on Buzzard's...




Kurt sticks to a jagged slab as Collin looks on...




Monday, Tim helped me get my wheels rebuilt with new spokes and hoops. I9 single speed hubs, Stan's Flows and I9 DH spokes, custom cut for a 29er; making THE stiffest 29er wheel not on the market. I am really stoked to try them out, but think I am going to try and hold out for the Black Cat which should (fingers crossed)be ready for New Year's road trippin'.



A couple of weeks ago, 2 fires were burning up on Massenutten which were believed to be signal fires started by a lost hunter. Lost? on Massenutten? One ridge that if you were to walk 30 minutes down off the ridge, you would be in someone's backyard. One would think any rugged outdoors man would have the where- with- all to walk downhill. In an even more bizarre twist, new developments reveal that the lost hunter suffers from Alzheimer's! It makes me feel safe to know that this guy, who is literally losing his mind, is wandering the woods with a gun. Sometimes you just gotta laugh.





Kennedy's Peak recieved some fire damage...



For the trip home, I took 211 so I could swing by Crisman Hollow in hope of finding my phone. I pulled in just as the sun began to hang low over the ridge and parked in the same area we had last week. I took one swipe with my hands to move some leaves and there was my phone covered in a thin layer on ice. I popped the battery out and lay everything on the floor and had the heat blowing on it the entire way home, plugged it in, charged it, and it seems good as new.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Doll Ridge Dump

Sorry for the delay, ladies and gents, but yours truly accidentally bought a couple rolls of Slide film which had to been sent out for development. These are the highly anticipated photos from the Doll Ridge ride a couple of weeks back. It doesn't get much more technical than this. Sure, these aren't the biggest moves, but this is more finesse than just throwing your bike off a boulder. There are many short bursts of power immediately followed by intricate wheel placement, and like a good chess player, always looking several moves ahead.

Welcome to Doll Ridge...



Typical terrain. Tall plates, too close to ride between...




Typical expression on the ridge...





Sue charging on the 5 Spot...




Big move. Not a drop but throwing it up and over. Big hole on the low side. Tim makes it look pretty...




Collin, same move. Note the facial expression as he heads for the hole...




Tim pops from plate to plate...




Collin on some exposed spiny goodness. Yes, that is the trail...




Collin get some on Maneka as the sun sets...



Cant wait to get back there again...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I came across this image on drunkcyclist.com and it sums up the weather forecast for the next couple of days...



I should have some film back tomorrow so hopefully I will have new material up in the next day or so...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I had been excited about getting a good bit of riding over the Thanksgiving week, but Thursday and Friday were both washed out. People seemed timid to commit to anything for Saturday and hoped to convince some folks to ride in the Elizabeth's Furnace area. As luch would have it, I had 3 takers for Sat and as many for Sun. Pat, being the overacheiver he is, got there early and knocked out Signal/ Bear Wallow as a warm up ride. Plan was to ride on to Buzzard's, but I was less enthused about it knowing my tire repair was precarious and I would then be forced to run my one and only tube at a higher than ideal psi for the type of riding in Fort Valley...

Pat getting some bonus points for his line choice on the climb up Sherman...



Signage on the ridge...



Somewhere before my tire tear en route to Shawl Gap...







I should have left it alone...



Bad touch and sidewall hemorrhage...



Pat taking the highline...




Pat rolling down Shawl Gap...











This time of year, the sun hangs low making photography difficult at times as I find myself shooting right at the sun which leads to some washed out images. But still I take the shot, not so much hoping for the perfect photo, but to document a perfect day. A day spent with friends in the woods on bicycles. Not just a brief stroll around the park but getting out into country, where I forget about the city life and my problems related to it. What is important is what is really important in the world. Warmth, food, water and shelter.

We had a discussion during our gravel road spin to Short Mtn about whether or not humans have instincts. It was interesting to listen to the different thoughts on it and I came to the thought that we have have them, but they are askew. That we are so overstimulated all of the time that we lose touch with our instincts and what really is important in life. Spend a couple of nights outdoors and it all comes back. I think its why I love my getaways on the weekends. It helps me to keep my life in perspective and I am able to look back at my week and laugh at myself for getting so wrapped up in my job or in some other drama of the world. Not that I dont take my job seriously. I love my job and I love to do my best and learn while I am there, but my job isn't going to fix the world or save a life anymore than my bike ride will.

So it has been a long time in the making, but here is my tire rant. If someone in the tire industry is listening, not everyone who rides a 29er lives one the west coast or rides buff trails. I had ridden WTBs for a while, just for the large volume of the front. After those tore, a friend gave me a Bontrager 29.3 which was great for the 30 days it lasted. I tried another. Same. 30 days. That starts to add up after a while. I figure I would give the WTBs another chance. Tore both within 50 miles. I have tried some tires along the way that arent even worth the time of mentioning. One ride on smooth trail and tearing etc. Nevegal is currently under investigation and toying with the idea of layering the inside of some tires with various materials in hopes of creating a thicker casing. Best casing yet is the bonti FR3 but combined with the worst tread pattern ever it's still just mediocre. I know I am but a small minority but its a blower to constantly be buying new rubber. Enough about tires already. Here is a taste of the madness that is Short Mountain.


The Wolf rolling the ridge...



I handed the camera off to Collin so I could take "Tiny Dancer" off the diving board...




Tim sessions a stoney section of Short Mtn while Collin looks on...




Tim climbing through the rocks...




What do you mean we still need to pack 4 people in here?




Rollin'!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Still Raining, Still Dreaming...

"Im tired and its a lot of baloney!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Doll Ridge

I have been a longtime fan of the slow and technical gnarly trails and can remember back in the Whitetail days of the late '90s, trying to convince others to come ride The Funnel with me. Slow, steep and super chunky, folks would rather let the bike do all of the work, so they would prefer to ride something they could open it up a bit more on. With that being said, it's no suprise that when I first put down a track on Doll Ridge last year, I would be itching to get back there again soon. I dont consider my return to be anything like soon, but just like it was with The Funnel, it's like pulling teeth getting people interested in riding a trail that takes nearly 2 hours to go 3.5 miles.

I have been spending a good deal of time down in Virginia as of late and have a oretty good core group of folks to ride with on the regular. Last week in Harrisonburg, I was telling Colin about Doll and that lit the spark to try and make this ride happen before the season peters out. Sunday morning in the lot, it looked like a Turner demo with 5 folks riding them, Matt on his Fisher dually, and then there was me on the rigid Whiskey Tango Foghat. We rode up Bear Wallow, aka 31 Flavors, shed some layers at the top and headed down the backside. Crossing the fireroad, you make the sort climb up to Doll Ridge, a knife edge ridge, littered with large spines of rock jutting out of the ground up to 2 feet in some sections. This is much of what the trail bed consists of for the first half of the trail. Eyes working hard to pick out something that resembles a line and trying to plant a tire on a rock while scanning the sea of stone for the best place to hop it to. Lots of ratchet pedalling and upper body strength for long periods of time. Sometimes you plant a shoulder, knee or hand on a nearby rock or tree to keep you alive as you move on to the next rock. We sessioned some sections for a while and most of the trail is "rideable," especially since someone came through since our last visit to clear out the blow downs up there. There was a suprizing lack of bloodshed, but that doesnt mean there was a lack of crashes and over the bars anxiety. Film wont be back for at least a week, so please excuse the lack luster photos. In the words of Tim, "Its like a jam band tune, forever building and without climax..."



Tim crossing some nearly vertical fins on the ridge...



Climbing through a puzzle of plates...




Who run Gnarlytown?...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Trail Dynamics Trifecta

Yabba dabba dooooo! Just after 6pm on Saturday and I am out the door of my place of employment and in the packed car headed for Harrisonburg. Doing battle on I-66 in Saturday's rush hour traffic (is there such a thing or is NOVA always a clusterf*@k), the thought crosses my mind of why someone would willingly subject themselves to this hell on a daily basis. After about 45 minutes the plug seemed to have been pulled and things began to flow as they should. No visible reason for a delay other than the fact I am driving in Northern Va, which makes me part of the problem. I arrive and am immediately notified that a bunch of people are congregating at the Blue Nile. I ditch a bag or two in the house and hop on the bike to go get my social on as well as solidify plans for the Sunday morning. It was sounding like a decent ride up Camp Todd and down Chestnut which had recently been reworked by the good folks at Trail Dynamics.

I'm not exactly sure how these things work, but if I am not mistaken, the SVBC recently secured a grant for $100,000 to go towards rehabilitating trails in the GW forest. Sunday morning a group 7 of us began to climb up from the new Camp Todd trail head and continue upward for an hour and a half or so, regrouping several times to take in the views. At the ridge, we made a right and started down Chestnut which had been partially reworked. The reworked sections were smooth and flowy, but then you would just end up back in the old rowdy ravine that is the old trail. I am sure by the time spring rolls around, the lines of demarcation will have faded quite a bit and the the less ridden lines will begin to grow in.

Most of the group peeled off left toward Wild Oak where a couple of cars were dropped while Jen and I kept right and made our way out to get some extra credit on Tear Jacket, which had been reworked from top to bottom by Trail Dynamics. It was looking good on the way up and I stopped several time to admire the benching on the trail. These guy build with 2 machines and a couple of guys doing the finish work by hand just behind the machines. With nothing more than cookies consumed all day, I bonked hard on the way up. I took my time as Jen moved ahead. We began our decent just as the sun disappeared behind a nearby ridge. Greek dinner back in town at Dave's then cruising around town for a bit.

Monday, I ran into Branch while getting breakfast and made ride plans. I had to wait for the shop[ to open so I could swap for a shorter stem and rode up Reddish Knob and down Timber and Wolf. Reddish is a pretty comfy 7 mile road climb which is on the other side from the Death Climb on hundred. This was the first time I had been on Timber and really enjoyed it. Gnarly rocks near the top and undulating down to the beginning of Wolf. Timber was pretty clear and rolled fast considering all of the leaves were off the trees. The top of Wolf was deep with leaves and kind of sketchy until just above where Lynn trail comes in. Wolf was ripping from here on out. For those of you who don't ride out there on the regs, Wolf is the first DH in the hundred. It rolls for a while and the you USED to ride a washed out fall line trail, which has been reworked into a 5 minute pump track session through trees berms and rollers. It is soooo good. Is only been about a month, but you can see the lines getting burned in. This was followed up by 10 tacos at El Sol before returning to DC.

Breathe...




Staged atop one of Chestnut's undulations...




Bell...



A camping spot along Leading Ridge...




Jen on Leading Ridge...




The sunsets as I bonk on Tear Jacket...




Kurt making tight cicles...