Wednesday, May 11, 2011

SDS pt 2

This spring has been peppered with big rides thus far, to the point I cant remember the last time I went for a ride in the woods that lasted less than 6 hours. Not bad for a weekend warrior like myself. This past weekend was no exception with the SDS 2 day, which I feel honored to be a part of. it’s a ride with something like a 10 year wait list and each year that list contains the names of some of the fastest riders in the region. I saw a lot of Cupcake names on the list, but all ghosted. Rumblings of fear of being the weak link were overheard at Michaux last week. I think many of us have this same fear going into a ride of such magnitude, but some of us are just a bit more comfortable playing the role of “weak link.”

Late Friday morning, I left my new apartment in the city and began riding toward Silver Spring with my massive Ortlieb duffel on my back. I stopped more than a couple of times for iced lattes which was more just an excuse to get the 50lbs off my back, before meeting up with Nic O at the YMCA to catch a ride to umpteenth annual Stokesville- Douthat- Stokesville ride which takes place about 30 miles outside of Harrisonburg in the gorgeous George Washington Forest for 2 massive days of single track mountain cycling. Nic and I arrived early, lunched out at the Little Grill and then headed out to the camp ground to sneak in a quick ride on Trimble Mountain which just happens to be the best 4 miles of single track known to man.

We headed back to the campground where people continued to arrive into the wee hours of the morning. Wake up call was at 4:20AM and riding right around 5. As usual, we climbed in the dark and caught the sunrise over the ‘Burg. There is always a lot of tension amongst first timers from the emails that float around stating that “This is an adventure ride for the big kids.” Its kind of hard to lay out the goings on throughout each section of trail as so much was covered in a day that it all blends together to make a great ride. This was my first time doing it on a geared bike and it begs the question “What was I thinking?” As usual, there was lots of suffering to be had, but most did a good job of keeping under their hats. As we entered Douthat, new guy Chris Nystrom asked if this way the direct way back to the cabin as we turned off of the paved road onto the single track to climb up Beard’s Mountain. Before anyone could say anything, Kyle chimed in with a “Yep, this is the only way to get there,” which was a complete lie. At the top, Chris informed us that Roger of all people had cracked on the climb. Yes, its true folks. Roger is a mere mortal just as you and I, and I always love to see the human side of someone when they fall apart on a ride. Not from an arrogant “Im better than you” point of view, but I can empathize with the vulnerablity in them. The trail dropped onto pavement which we rode straight across into the driveway of the lodge where a hot lazogna dinner was waiting on the table for us.

Maryland, Richmond and WVA stayed down the hill where we had a gas fireplace and found no good reason to head back up the hill for social time, especially after finding out a gallon of ice cream had been smuggled in. A later start on Sunday had us climbing back up Beard’s for some fun, foggy morning meditation on the meandering trail. The group moved fast as Chris had the camera rolling, so it was keep the pace or get out of the way. On the downhill we caught the group which had left 30 minutes before us. A long section of road riding and then we came to the new SDS reroute which Jimmy claimed to be worse than Little Mare. I thought otherwise after the initial gut punch, rolling gently upward to a unique rocky ridge and then down an amazing single track bench. This could be a top notch section if it saw some more traffic. Roger tore off his derailler hanger and possibly I am the only one who can appreciate him not carrying a spare on a 150 mile ride in the backcountry as I did the same a month back on the Ring. Toward the bottom it got really chunky where Sue caught one of five flats on the day. “Its not bonus, it’s the ride,” was a phrase often heard on the weekend. Lunch awaited us at the bottom.

Elliot’s was next where I broke a chain, a chain ring tooth and my knee began to give me issue. I took some vitamin I but it didn’t do much for me. I was a little bit behind on the way up due to my mechanical and I saw Metro milling around up there. Metro? WTF? He was with the other group who were no where to be found. Come to find out, Metro decided to have a nap up on Elliot’s. Pat took a nasty digger coming off Elliot’s cutting his junk on a bar end. Ouch! Nothing to do but roll on. My rims took a beating on that downhill but the Ardent LUST tires didn’t fail me once. Im about 5 months in on the rear without issue. I am actually starting to wear the tread out before ripping the casing. LUST is a winner. Another winner was the Mountain Feedbag which folks were oggling all weekend. If you have ever ridden with me, you know I am usually mocked for my choice of machine and gear on a ride, so the interest in something I was running came as quite a surprise. The one on the right stayed topped off with a mix of sour patch kids and Cliff Blocks which are delish covered in that tangy sugar, and the one on the left contained a multi tool, random energy bar, Capri Sun (in Worm’s honor) and camera.

My knee continued to get more painful, reminding me Im no longer a spring chicken and the thought “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” haunted and frustrated me, but I was going to finish the ride. What I lack in overall fitness, I make up for in stubbornness and determination, which is probably the only reason I get invited on things such as this. Mileage was 158 and some 28,000’ feet of descending. Lots of talk on the ride about the Ring and how nice it was to be spending a long day on the bike and not being beat to a pulp. But alas, the Ring still calls our names.

Some images from Pat and Mike Boyes...

Chris and Sue George...




Dan on the coals...






Carp leads the charge...






Nic going down on Little Mare...






Roger on the roll...






Climbing on the reroute...



3 comments:

  1. My frosting is getting too delicate for such things, but I look oh so nice.

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  2. Ha ha. Sometimes it's good to be the clueless new guy. Little Mare hurt me, but I kept moving stubbornly along. I'm glad I did the full pull on Sat. The Douthat trails were amazing, even the Beards climb at the end. Roger's bonk also made me feel a little better about my own suffering. ;-)

    As for Metro, we were worried when he disappeared but we knew you guys were sweeping so we didn't feel too bad about keeping moving in order to finish before dark...especially without a light drop on Dowells (another "new guy" lack of knowledge thing).

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  3. I had never dropped a light on dowell's before, but we did that new trail and werent sure how much time that would add. always nice to have someone suffering worse than yourself. I always try to keep a poker face and wait for someone else to crack

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