Sunday, January 28, 2007

southern invasion

A group from VA and MD came up for a ride today. Despite a big error in my directions to Old Forge, they all somehow found me. Pierre and Frank pulled together a small Bike Lane crew plus XTerra stud Roger. We had a nice 3-4 hour tour of the southern Michaux trails which Darius helped me lead. Darius threw in some extra singletrack that I wouldn't have known about, then, after assessing our group's technical prowess, gave us a run down his sweet new techy descent, straight into the Narrows via some nice rock features. This was a really cool trail, one that I'll be riding a lot more.

We started out as a group of 8 with 3 single-speeders among us. One of these guys would become a single-speeder before the ride was over.

Dr. Kathy goin' for that leafy opening while hubby watches on.

Roger in the Narrows

Darius cleans the last pitch to the Chimney Rocks overlook.

Eric finds his mojo at the overlook after losing it early in the ride.

Thanks for coming up guys. It was great to see you all again and good to get some quality rock time in.

White Grass, finally

Tomi on the skin track at White Grass on Saturday.

Skiing at White Grass is always a good time.
Tom and I spent the day trying to get all the continuous vert we could, and I came away totally worked. It is immensely easier riding a single-speed in Michaux than climbing up White Grass all day on burly gear. Actually, my gear wasn't really all that burly, I guess I'm just not fit enough for that yet.

We had a couple of great runs down Springer, a cool run on some singletrack off the top of Weiss Knob, and we eyed up a sweet looking glade hiding right there in plain sight. Untouched. Now, I'm kicking myself for not touching it. Yeah, it meant another climb, but was probably worth it. How much more tired can ya get anyway?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

day into snow into night

Darius took this shot on our exploratory ride this afternoon. Some friends from Virginia are coming up on Sunday for a ride from the Old Forge Area. I have a fairly decent loop in mind, but any loop can always use some more singletrack right, so we went out to check out the status of the Spooge trail, which has recently been logged, heavily logged actually, and in more than one spot. Spooge would be a real sweet descent to finish the ride on, and would surely send the southerners home with grins on their chins. But the last time I rode it, it dissolved into an explosion of damaged earth and trees, and we couldn't re-find the trail, so I wanted to scout it today.

We get there and get rolling at about 4:30, it's about 25 degrees, and snowing a bit. We have about an hour of daylight to work with. Darius brought a 3-watt LED, I brought my new eBay HID, just in case. Our goal isn't to ride Spooge in the normal way (meaning, down), but is more just to find our way through it now that the loggers are doing their thing to the mountain. So we park near the bottom, and climb up a steep, bisecting doubletrack, find the singletrack, and climb up to the first of the logging craters. We bushwhack and drag our bikes though this, and actually ride a fair amount of it. Darius finds the trail on the other side, and we climb on up some more to the next giant scar on the earth. This one takes a little more huntin' & peckin' around to find our way out the other side. Somehow Darius comes through again and finds the singletrack which leads us up to Rothrock Rd. Mission accomplished, more or less.

We decided to turn around, and see if we could easily re-trace our snowy tracks in the same direction we'd be riding on Sunday. By the time we get to the lower mess, it's snowing and blowing pretty good. It's 5:55, and we both needed to be home at 6:30. It's way past sunset, but with the reflective snow, we can still see a bit. My man Darius is a bit of a gambler. He wants to find another trail, not the one we came up on, but another one that he knows will drop us out onto Staley Rd. He bushwhacks around below the ridge for 10-15 minutes. It's gettin' real dark now. And the the wind is blowin'. I can't see him anymore, and if he were to shout, I wouldn't hear anything with the wind, even if he was 10 yards away. I'm bushwhacking too, also below the ridge, but I can see the clearing on the top in the fading light, and presumably, there's the loggers road up there as well. I decide to get up there while I can still see it. Because, even with a high powered HID light, if you don't have an actual trail to follow, you might as well be lost. It's pretty hard to find anything bushwhacking with a light.

Darius eventually gave up his search, and joined me on the logging road, we then dropped down to Swift Run Rd, and then took a right back up a log road to try to find some more of Spooge. This time, we score quickly, and start descending Spooge proper in the snow and dark. Sweeeet is all I can say about that. I'm not a huge fan of night riding, but I do love it when snow is on the ground. It's quiet, it's soft, sublime. Nothing beats a technical singletrack descent in the snow in the dark. Not even the cold beverages waiting to warm us up at the car.

Monday, January 15, 2007

visitor's ride

Finally, some guests from my old homeland. If you don't count Andy, who's practically a Michaux local, this was the first visitor's ride. Le homies Nick, Steve, and Joe met me this morning at Old Forge Picnic Area for whatever amount of singletrack I could piece together in 3 or 4 hours.

It was the 3rd rainy day of the 3-day MLK weekend. Though this area has been under a green radar blob for 3+ days now, again, we did not get wet. A thick, fog cloud remained down low, but on the tops of the mountains it was almost clear. I showed the boys some of the descents I knew. Up Swift Run Rd to Snowy Mtn Tower, down to the Narrows, back up Staley Road & 4-Logs, past the tower again, a short detour out to Chimney Rocks, and then the sweet descent of the Chimney Rocks blue trail.

No good pics since I left the camera in the car, but it was definitely a fun ride for another rainy day in January.

Thanks for visiting guys!

B-day party ride

Awesome ride for Buck's birthday.
Fast pack, moist, dark at times,
Tomi has a few pics and words here

Some Virginians are due today, hopefully get some ride pics later.

Friday, January 12, 2007

a good exploratory day

OK, now I can begin to whine a little less about not learning the Michaux trails fast enough. Today was that unique Virginia holiday, which I call the north-south holiday weekend. The country celebrates the civil rights leader Martin Luther King on Monday, and Virginia celebrates the leaders of the confederacy, Lee and Jackson, on Friday. So, I always get a 4-day weekend, and since Oliver was in school, I had the whole day to ride.

Andy joined me, and we started from the Old Forge picnic area, as this is the closest spot to Frederick for Andy. I had a route in mind, with some trails I wanted to confirm and learn, and we definitely did pretty well. It was a lot easier to observe at a slower pace than usual, and we didn't hesitate to take plenty of study breaks. We also came into several junctions from different directions than we usually do, which really helps the orientation process.

We rode trail to the Snowy Mtn Tower (never again!), then Carumba, figured out how to get all the way down to Narrows, up Turtle and 4-logs back to the top. We found the entrance to Spooge, but quickly lost it in a huge ugly logging sale. We never regained the trail and dropped off the wrong side of that ridge, to the Swift Run Rd side. So, we headed up that road, and took Curran up & over back to Chimney Rocks Rd. Then descended blue, which was well worth any price of admission. Would've loved to find all of Spooge, cuz what we did ride was sweet, and there was a whole lot more downhill we missed. Gotta try that one again with someone who knows it after the logging destroyed it. But the blue downhill, especially the lower part below Hermitage Cabin was so sweet; wet, rocky, evergreens, almost Slatyfork-like. Soooo nice.

Monday, January 08, 2007

more on trails

Anyone who's looked at this blog since we moved to Chambersburg knows of my zeal to learn the mtn bike trails in Michaux. It would help greatly if I weren't always at the back of the pack. I'm lucky that someone actually waits for me at all the near-invisible turns and junctions. If I could get up front, then maybe I could stop once in a while and get a good look around. The locals here know the trails by name far better than they know them by map. I guess since the trail names aren't on any maps, that makes sense. I'm also learning that the trails are like "here today, gone tomorrow". They can be destroyed by logging, closed off for huge deer exclosures, ruined by ATVs etc.

The trail names are interesting and sometimes revealing, like they're named after who built the trail, or a certain scary creature found on the trail a few times, or so-and-so's career-ending crash trail, or someone's trail to town 100 years ago. Names like Spooge, Buckets, Black Andy's, Turtle, Heislers, Carumba etc.

A typical ride, like yesterday's, starts off late week with an initial e-mail proposing a parking lot to start at, and a loose outline of trail names to be followed. Then, a flurry of replies about the start location being too close to someone's house, or, we started there last week, suggestions concerning folks' sexuality, frequency of sexual activity, the type of sexual partners, and other humorous and important input. Somehow, a parking lot gets agreed upon and we all show up on time. Get dressed, conduct safety checks, and then, the "where are we riding" discussion begins, usually, as we're all just riding circles at the cars. It goes something like this (of course, these names are just random, cuz I still don't know how to connect any of these trails).

"Why don't we go down Turtle, over to this, do that, and then Buckets..."
"Why would you go down Turtle, what the hell would you take to get back up....?"
"Up Narrows??, who the fuck would want to climb Narrows..?"
"No one, but it'll piss the single-speeders off...."
"How 'bout Spooge?"
"Spooge has been trashed by the fucking loggers.."
"WHAT!!! "

Eventually, someone just starts riding away, with the others yelling, "where the fuck are you going...". And the ride is underway.....