Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Southern Traverse

Friday night I sorted out my goods for the weekend and hit the hay early for Saturdays are always busy at the shop. I awoke early and loaded the car and after a hectik day at the salon, headed back down to Harrisonburg where I hung at a friend's place and passed out in the guest room. A couple of Mr. J's bagel sandwiches and off to ride the Southern Traverse of the SMT. We had a solid group and yet another perfect day to be out on the bike. Isthere such thing as not a perfect day on the bike? Anyway, we parked at Braley Pond and rode SR250 to Georia Camp and began climbing. It was a nice steady climb, with a few sections I chose to walk in order to save the arms for later in the day. Lots of bear scat on the trail and we regrouped at the top where we hooked into the SMT. We turned left on the single track and began climbing. Once again, I did some hiking on the steep pitches, but kept the pace for the most part. One of the things I like about the 5.10s is how easy they are to walk in. Once on the ridge, the flow kicked in, and between the leafy turns and the killer views, I found myself getting loose on more than one occasion. The SMT isnt as rocky as some of the regions ridges, but that doesnt mean there wasnt a rock waiting under some leaves for you to let your guard down. Yes, I was one of several who found a leafy surprise ending in a pinch flat. What was I doing riding with tubes you ask? New meats and no compressor to seat it tubeless in time to get out so I rode with a tube. Not sure what the others excuses were. There were regular, as well as irregular stops for food or repair, or even to just take in the killer views.










After crossing the road came the endless left-hand turns. They get monotonous after a time and its hard to gauge how far you have come since they all look the same. Sweeping left hander with a view, rocky, right handed drainage. Then came the overlook. We blew past this during SDS, but it is worth stopping for.

The ride back consisted of a 25 mile(?) road ride through the beautiful farmland of Deerfield Valley. We got caught out way after dark and luckily, I had my rear blinky with superflash from my commutes to work, keeping us from becoming roadkill. It was a magnificent sunset in the valley with Jen keeping me company as the rest of the group with their fancy mutispeed steeds pushed ahead. I had been practicing my water rationing all day as I had only been carrying 2 bottles on the ride which at this point was in its ninth hour. I was quite partched and still had half a bottle left as I had no idea how much further we had to ride. Then, I saw it, like an oasis in the desert. A hose on a stand pooring water into the drainage. The smell of cowshit was heavy in the air, but I tasted the water anyway. It would be a nasty prank to put non-potable water right there like that. I decided to take my chances and i filled both bottles. It would be a few hours before the parasite got me, but for that moment I savered the cold water in my throat. I didnt even think to take out the camera. Back on the bike and more riding on dark farm roads without headlights. I stayed in the rear as I was the only one with any kind of light. It wasnt long before the fear wore off and became just more riding. I have yet to do the Dynamo, but I guessed it would be something like this, but with more people and for many hours more. Someone give me a heads up on that next year. We came to the store at West Augusta to find most of our group hanging out while Chase and Matt went to fetch vehichles. Cokes and snacks hit the spot before Mexican with friends. Cant wait to get back to the 'Burg.













New steel...



Happy Halloween...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Too much of a good thing?

In an attempt to put this age old question to bed, I made plans to spend yet another sunday riding the North Fork. I spoke to some folks earlier in the week about either doing the full pull with shuttle, or doing it as an out and back overnighting on the ridge. Rumor had it there was a shuttle lined up and I headed out after work saturday to spend the night in the vicinity of the trailhead as to avoid the need to get up before the sun. I gassed up in Warden where I successfully avoided the trouble them good ole' boys were trying to start and got out to 33 where I began looking for a spot where I wouldnt be peeped by passers by and found what looked to be where the road once ran through; now just a patch of chest deep grass. I pulled in and rolled out my bag in the back of my truck and started to get comfy. I heard a car peel out and headlights shot back and forth in the road until I heard the car screach to a halt with its headlight pointed in my general direction over the small rise before they shut off. I jumped over the driver seat, turned the key and pulled out without lights and keeping off of the brake. Lots of sketchy redneck activity, probably due to the heavy booze consumption on the first day of hunting season. Anyway, I spent the night right in front of the gate at the trailhead as the moon shined and the wind whirled through the open sunroof above. Before we get into this week's ride, here are some more from last week.

Pat captured a great perspective...




Pat and Tony coming in hot...



Poz in the thick of it...



Tony caught me in the same spot...



Circling the drain (Pat foto)...



Poz exits unscathed (Tony foto)...




There was a good sized group in the morning including Marshall, Carp, a few guys from Richmond, 6 Fooftowners, Sue George, and a few others I know I am forgetting. Nobody I spoke to was there however which made me a bit nervous, as they were my contact as far as a shuttle goes. I had $40 in my pocket in case I needed to bribe someone at the far end. The group made much better time and I rode with Fooftown much of the time. It was another perfect day up on the ridge and I dont think there was anything that could have been better about it. Perfect temps, nice breeze, sunshine with a few fluffy clouds, spectacular views and top notch trail.

The ride rolled on stopping for the occasional overlook and eventually we caught up to the tail end of the main group at the top of Redman. As we rolled on, traffic got heavy and we came to an overlook where several friends were hanging out. Our group was pretty think now and rode each other's wheels to the downhill. Everyone walked the big move Poz and I were attempting the week before and I rode into the shute, but didnt make the tight right hander. I took about 5 shots at it before pushing on. I chilled on the downhill and met the group at the the lot. We hungout and discussed getting the shuttle until Carp suggested climbing back up the downhill to take another swing at it. Carp, PJ, Jennifer and myself climbed up and stopped a couple times to chat with folks coming down. We made our way up to the overlook where we met up with Tim, Sue, Trevor, Joel and a couple of others. We rolled the downhill in tight formation which I am always a big fan of. You place your trust in the rider in front of you because it is all you can see. Good times.

We got a shuttle back to 33 where I scooped up the car and gave Jennifer a ride back to the 'burg. Kurt lives in her house and we chatted for a bit before the 3 of us went out for dinner. A nice ride back and more hanging out at the house with other locals. I didnt get out of there until after 1030. Here are some images from this week...

The view to the west with company coming...






I managed to find the only thicket along the entire trail and go face first into it...



A run-in during extra credit...



This was waiting for me at work the other day...



You will have to wait 'til next time to see what's in the box...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stokesville Revisited

Not much time has passed since my last stay at the Stokesville campground for the SM 100. With those fond memories still fresh in my head, I once made my way west into the Shenandoah Mountains to call this place my home for a few more nights this season during the Shenandoah Mountain Bike Festival. I had no idea what to expect other than getting the chance to spend a little time with some good folks on bikes. Pat and I arrived early on friday to get a ride in with Worm, Thomas, AJ and Pat on a reworked section of Wolf Gap which is like riding a 10 minute pump track. I followed close to Thomas hoping to catch his ride with the helmet cam which was on the wrong setting. I havent been doing so well with this so far.

That was followed up by the 6- pack downhill on Boy Scout. I rode the Pugs which handles something like a school bus so trying to rip down this trail with corners that fade away was somewhat interesting to say the least. Poz was cued up behind me and I know he would make up that 30 seconds and pass me. Sure enough, I heard him coming and before he could even ask I was rolling on the soft stuff to make room. He blew the next corner and I saw him hiking out of the woods. He finished just 18 seconds off the top time of Carpong follewed by Fresh D. The running of Navigator was the highlight of the event. The Navigator is a step through commuter bike that the previous week's winner must ride. It currently has 2 plates welded to it where it has broken twice, but that adjustable stem still holds firm. It went down twice, busting the chain and caught huge air off the final jump. Tim followed it with helmet cam rolling and played the video for all after dinner on saturday.

AJ is a fellow alternative pedal user. Toe clips and double straps... I liked him immediately. Rips the DHs and is all albows and knees from behind...




Female ripper, 6-pack attack...




Dinner was waiting back at camp before hanging around the fire and pit bike slalom which was dominated by Matt Smith. Joel and Kurt duked it out for the 16" version of King of Dirt. The unofficial results give Kurt best trick for flatty table tops and X-ups but Joel didnt let it go easy. He almost took a trip to the hospital for his attempted barspin and nailed it for the big air portion.

"Set em up; riders ready, watch the light..."



Mike was on fire as usual...




Two battles on one photo...



Kurt...




Joel...




Saturday started off with a ride on Lookout Mountain with Worm's dog Seb which has a great mix of terrain. Worm fletted twice and Andy bit it hard after clipping a tree and ended up 50 feet down a hill. Back to camp to drop Seb off before riding Buck Mountain downhill which doesnt appear to get much traffic. Seb got into some food he shouldnt have while we were out and spent the rest of the weekend on his pillow sick. Poor guy. The others got another loop in but I headed back for dinner duty. Poz joined as his derailuer was holding on by a thread. After dinner was the slide show which was a big hit containing many photos from North Fork and Massenutten.

I hungout late with my friends from Harrisonburg while they blew it out for one more night. Thomas came and asked where my crew was. I told him they had gone to bed and he said "No, no, no. They are camping down at Yellow Jacket again arent they?" He went down there and woke everyone up and brought them back up to party with him. They snuck off one by one and eventually I did the same. I was sacked out for maybe 30 minutes when I hear Carpong's bullhorn in the distance. "Pat Miller and Adam Childers something, something." It repeated over over and over and it got louder and louder. I peeked out the side of my tent to see a mob of people making thier way to our campsite. Tim started to get on Worm but I quickly heard a voice call out, "Nah his dog is sick, leave him be." Adam got it bad. He was sacked out in the car and I could heara Thomas giving him the third degree. Carpong jumped up and down on the car and Thomas threated to flatten all of his tires tire if he didnt give up Pats's new location. Pat knew it was coming and moved deeper into the woods and was never found. I heard some air being let out Adam's tires but he held fast. The mob eventually went back to the fire where I would later join them.

Thomas the ring leader...



Pat knew it was coming...



Adam awakens...



Sunday was back to the Gnarly North Fork which is one of favorite trails out there. Great flow, rocky, technical and the best views in the region. None of the Baltimore crew had ridden it before and all were blown away by the views.







Cant get enough of this...




Still got more to sort through.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

North Fork full pull

I awoke early this morn, 4am, and loaded up the car to head out to WVA for the North Fork awareness ride. I rolled through the 'Burg and stopped at Mr. J's for some grub and ran into a familiar face who pulled me aside and told me a group was heading out early to ride the whole trail rather than just the last 6 miles. There was not really a decision to make as I had driven over an hour thirty already with another 45to go, so I was up for maximizing time in the saddle. It had been heavily brushed and was rolling fast and flowy. About 5 miles in Ed ripped of his deraileur hanger, so out came the spares to see which would be the best fit. Too many cooks in that kitchen so I too of my own business. After some trial and error, we got the drivetrain back in order, but then we found some major play in the rear end. Wheel? No, wheel seemed good. Ah, main pivot. We put wrenches on it and it just spun. Puzzling... Then I realized that the cap/ nut had blown off and we had been putting a wrench on the spindle that is supposed to have caps on either end. A couple heavy duty zip ties were installed and much to our satisfaction, the bike had no other issues.

I had never ridden this section before and it was good and fast. The ride was really fast until it wasnt. Then we were waiting. It was kind of a bipolar experience. Full on race pace for 20 minutes, then 20 minutes for a view and food or for a flat. Our intention was to start early make good time and catch the main group, but it was questionable whether or not it was going to go down that way. There are some really spectacular views along this trail and some fantastic sections of chunky, flowy, rocky goodness. Probably wise not to try and enjoy both at the same time. We never did catch the group, but they were still at the lot when we arrived. Here are a couple images when I wasnt on the coals.




I had to do a bit of scrambling for this one...



Matt on edge...



Ed checks out an old antenna of some sort...




I forgot to pack my hanglider...



Carp, scopes out a line...



Lunchin'...



Back for more this weekend, hopefully with better lighting.