Saturday, May 26, 2018

Dolly Sods Wilderness (Elkins, WV)

Originally, Rebecca's brother Scott and his wife Jean were going to join us for a hike in Dolly Sods Wilderness. As the weekend approached, though, the weather forecast called for rain and Jean decided to keep dry at home. Although there wasn't much rain to speak of, the trails were still remarkably wet - confirming that Jean had might the right call.

On Friday, Rebecca and I ran some errands at home before hitting the road around 1pm. We stopped near Reddish Knob for a ride before continuing onto our campsite at Seneca Shadows Campground. Just before we arrived, the rain began falling. As [bad] luck would have it, the rain subsided just as soon as I'd hurriedly pitched the tent in the downpour.

The next morning we packed up and headed to Dolly Sods to meet Scott at the Beaver Dam Trailhead.

Within a mile or so, we reached the soft, wet soil. Eventually, we were taking knee-deep steps into the thick mud. Since the weather was amiable, it was actually pretty fun to trudge through. The dogs especially enjoyed it!

The hike was short, but slow going for obvious reasons. In a couple of hours we'd reached our destination. We pitched our tent to save the spot, then took a longer hike [without packs] into the valley. There we found a rushing creek with several waterfalls and swimming holes.

That night we roasted s'mores on the fire before retiring to the tents as the rain moved in.

On Sunday morning we made breakfast and struck camp before making the trek to the cars. On our way home, we swung by Mint Springs Valley Park where I made one quick lap of their trails before once again the rain moved in.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Timber Ridge Trail (Reddish Knob, VA)

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dirt Rag DirtFest (Raystown Lake, PA)

This marks the third year I've attended the DirtRag DirtFest in Pennsylvania. Two out of three of the trips have been in the rain, but I still look forward to this early-season event with plenty of enthusiasm!

This year, my friend Whit decided to join me. He and I went back-and-forth a few times trying to decide whether to drive or ride - eventually we chose to tough it out since riding motorcycles there was originally one of the highlights of the trip.

On Thursday morning we headed west, finding rain but pressing on nonetheless. Our ride along the Skyline Drive was actually pretty interesting as we were actually IN the rain clouds for the majority of that segment.

Once we reached the northern end of the Skyline Drive, we stopped for lunch at Pavemint Taphouse in Front Royal, VA.

Roughly two hours later we'd reached our final destination for the night - a motel in Hancock, MD, along the C&O Canal.

The next morning we wiped the rain off the bikes and continued north. We kept a relaxed pace as we found a backroad route to our midday destination - Fat Jimmy's Outfitters in Bedford, PA. I'd made arrangements to pickup a replacement chainstay after thrashing mine. The part hadn't come in yet, so we decided to swing back on Saturday afternoon to grab it instead.

After riding the last bit to Raystown Lake, we checked in at the registration tent, setup camp, and headed to the vendor area to grab a couple bikes to demo.

The trails were a bit wet, but still relatively grippy. One short loop put us back at the demo area, where we returned the bikes and set out to explore the vendors. That night we hung for a bit with fellow campers before settling into our respective tents as the rain began to fall.

The next morning we woke to find the area thoroughly saturated. We attempted to cozy up to some of the demo drivers, but didn't get very far as they'd decided unanimously to hold all demo bikes. With that, we decided to pack up and head to Bedford to grab my chainstay. Along the way, we found lunch at The Twisted Trout. That night we wandered the town of Bedford and sorted through our wet gear, drying what we could.

On our final day of the trip, we decided to return via Seneca Rocks. It was a beautiful blue bird day, serving well to make up for the rain we'd endured previously.

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Carvin's Cove (Roanoke, VA)

On Friday morning, the plan was to ride the motorcycle to work with the mountain bike on the back, then head toward Roanoke once the work day was over. Unfortunately, I clipped the rear derailleur on my way out of the backyard and SNAP - the carbon fiber chainstay broke at the dropout!

It was a dreadful feeling, and most certainly a disaster for the weekend I had planned.

I rolled the motorcycle back into the yard and drove the car to work, fuming the whole way there. I called the shop I'd been working with for SCOTT parts and asked them to track down a chainstay. As I learned in the past, the best way to get results is to find the nearest pizza joint to the shop or manufacturer, then call them with the news that you're paying for their lunch. As expected, this method worked well for me, as the shop found the single last remaining [color-matched] chainstay in Europe. They placed the order and told me to expect it within two weeks. Their shop is in Bedford, PA, so I'll plan on swinging by there on my way to the DirtFest in May.

Back to the weekend at hand...I had one more trick up my sleeve. I made a call to my local GIANT sales rep and asked if he had a demo bike I could borrow for the trip. He was in Raleigh, NC at the time, but obliged by giving me the code to his backyard shed, where I could find an Anthem SL. Hooray! The weekend was saved!

I quickly swapped the demo bike for my broken Scott and headed west. My first stop was Liberty University's SnowFlex Center. Due to the late start, I made the ride there fairly short, although I did get one pass on The Playground.

I finished the remainder of the ride to Roanoke just before dawn. Once there, I met with my friend Scott and his son Alec. We had dinner and hung out before crashing for the night.

The next morning I rose early and headed to Carvin's Cove to meet my friend Dave. He moved to Bent Mountain about a year ago and has settled into the area quite well - riding nearly every day and competing in XC endurance races throughout the season.

Dave led the ride, taking us through a rather complete tour of the trail network.

Eventually, though, I wore out - partially due to the stock saddle on the demo bike and its total lack of comfort. Dave led us on one last climb before a phenomenal descent of The Trough.

After the ride, I returned to Scott's house. He borrowed Alec's Kawasaki Ninja and rode with me to Peaks of Otter (via the Blue Ridge Parkway).

We shared lunch there, then parted ways as I continued north along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Route 60. It's the first time I've taken that route to Roanoke, but it will certainly be my go-to from now on.

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Shenandoah University (Cool Springs Campus, Berryville, VA)

Rebecca and I visited her hometown of Winchester, VA this weekend and had a chance to ride at Shenandoah University's Cool Spring Campus.

On our first attempt, we ended up riding the loop in the opposite direction. About a third of the way in, we decided to back-track, since we had plans to meet her brother and father for dinner that night and didn't have time to complete the full loop.

The next morning, however, I decided to return to the campus to get in the full ride before breakfast. The previous day we'd worn the dogs out and Rebecca had no issue sleeping in while I rode, so I headed to the trailhead alone to attempt the ride once again. This time I had the mtbProject app running in order to navigate the loop without issue.

It was a GRUELING climb, but honestly a bit of suffering I was content to undergo. Although the loop is relatively short (about 12 miles), its pace is slow due to the extent of steep climbs.

Eventually, though, it began to even out, offering technical descents and spectacular sliding corners around tight-packed trees.

I'm certainly going to revisit this trail the next time we head to Winchester and would highly recommend it to anyone in the area.

Relive 'Shenandoah University - full loop'

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Blue Ridge School (Saint George, VA)

A warm day in February is an oddity. Exponentially so when you've had two weekends in a row RAINED OUT.

The extended forecast had another shit weekend lined up, with a BLIP of heaven on a THURSDAY. With that in mind, I asked my boss to trade it for the following Saturday.

Let me tell you - I work for a true HERO of a person.

He gladly obliged, gazing skyward as if to say, "Maybe I'LL do the same."

The next morning I had coffee with my wife, Rebecca, then pulled the V-strom out of the shed.

I was busting at the seams for ADVENTURE, so I went FULL E-N-D-U-R-O, BRO!!!

I rolled the moto onto the sidewalk, loaded all three boxes, the bike, THEN checked the chain & tires [tightened, lubed, inflated], before FINALLY setting off westward!

I was loaded down with gear and a million ideas in my mind. I took the highway to get out of the city, then 250 (a.k.a Broad Street) from there.

When I left, I'd decided Walnut Creek was the destination, but immediately it occurred to me that the ride there was a bore. At that point I chose to narrow my mountain biking options to the few that required a ride on 33 (a.k.a. Staples Mill). After the ride, mind you, I planned on visiting my friend Jeremy in Charlottesville.

Let's see...Preddy Creek?

Yeah, that'd be cool. A bit far from Charlottesville, though.




I'd only recently been introduced to the trails there. In a nutshell, they received an enormous grant from the Walton's [due to a son attending the Blue Ridge School] SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF BUILDING TRAILS. It was money well-spent, as they now have an impressive network, featuring windy singletrack descents with well-marked signage, built in accordance with IMBA standards of sustainability.

Remember all the rain from earlier?

Before hitting the trails, I consulted a friend who rides there regularly. He suggested an out-and-back route that kept me from the low areas. The wind had been gusting my entire ride TO the trails, so I was only slightly surprised to find the trails drying quickly over the course of the day. As I climbed further and further, conditions continued to improve.

The climb is steep, and I'm getting soft in my old age - stopping several times on the ascent to catch my breath. Once at the top, though, the elevation earned was obvious as I peered down to the valley.

The descent was phenomenal - highlighted by bermed corners and hairy rock gardens in between. As always is the case, though, it was over in the blink of an eye. Soon enough I was back at the motorcycle swapping gear and preparing for the moto ride to rendezvous with Jeremy.

I zipped through the twisty roads, reaching Jeremy's house with enough light in the sky to kick back in the yard, sharing stories for a couple hours before finishing my ride home.

The last day of the week seemed to slip away without notice, giving way to the weekend...and more rain ;-)

For a video synopsis of the day:

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Snowshoe (West Virginia)

Luke, Tony and I decided to take a daytrip to Snowshoe to get on some snow at least once this winter before the warm weather rolled in. The warming temps worked in our benefit, however, providing a bluebird day in the mid 40's.

Almost immediately, though, we realized that a shuttle ride to Silver Creek would be needed to avoid standing in line all day on Snowshoe's Basin Side. Once there, we racked up some runs, slashing our way down the sides of the slopes in search of the soft stuff.

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