Saturday, December 22, 2018

Lambert Cabin (Luray, VA)

One of our favorite adventures each winter is the pilgrimage to a PATC cabin within the Shenandoah Park. This weekend's trip to Lambert cabin was especially enjoyable, since this cabin had WATER and ELECTRICITY! What luxuries!

This cabin was actually inhabited by a very special couple as recently as 2006. Darwin and Eileen Lambert were both authors, as well as being great stewards of the land around their house. In fact, Darwin was the first employee of the Shenandoah National Park. It was exciting to learn about them while staying in their old home.

During our trip to Lambert, I snuck in a ride near Catherine's Furnace. My ride began just as the sun rose and I pedaled over frozen ground as the sun slowly warmed us both.

Relive 'Bird Knob'

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Elizabeth Furnace (Strasburg, VA)

The day after Thanksgiving, I decided to head to Elizabeth Furnace for an abridged loop of the Figure 8 of Hate.

The temperature on the dashboard read 28 degrees when I set out for the trailhead at 6:30am. This would normally be a dreadful sight, but I must admit that nearly any temperature is bearable as long as I'm using my Bar Mitts and Louis Garneau ear covers.

The loop did feature several water crossings. Most could be rock-hopped, but some required me to remove shoes & socks and simply trudge through the cold water.

Relive 'Loop of love (half of figure eight of hate)'

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Daniel Ridge Loop (Brevard, NC)

After my morning at the Overland Expo, I headed back to the AirBnb to rendezvous with Rebecca. The cold was creeping in and the cabin was warm & cozy, so convincing her to don riding gear & head outside wasn't exactly a simple task. Eventually, though, we made our way to the trailhead of the Daniel Ridge Loop.

The loop seemed like a perfect afternoon ride for us and the dogs, with under 800 feet of climbing and a simple route to follow.

The descent was wild, with rutted lines and some rather ambitious drops. During this time of the year, another aspect of the ride is the mystery of what rocky gnar lies beneath the carpet of leaves. This caught Rebecca once, tossing her to the ground on an already bruised knee and hip. She triumphantly pressed on, though, insisting on getting back on the bike to pedal it out rather than allow the pain to set in.

Eventually, the pain subsided and she regained her typical demeanor, getting shifty on a log pile with some radical parkour moves!

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Overland Expo East (Brevard, NC)

My first experience at the Overland Expo was great - the event featured an unbelievable amount of eye-candy in the form of outfitted rigs.

The last time I visited the REEB Ranch, it was something altogether different - the home of my riding buddy. It was almost eerie knowing that I'd been a VIP guest before and actually had the opportunity to stay inside this spectacular barn-turned-dwelling.

The event was packed with a multitude of vehicles. From Pinzgauer rescue vehicles to baja bugs.

Some of the larger vehicles even dwarfed my old schoolbus.

One of the all-time most revered off-road vehicles is the Toyota Land Cruiser. The expo had no shortage of them either.

One company in particular, The FJ Company, had two models on display that were absolutely breathtaking. I'd highly recommend taking a look at some of their featured builds.

In addition to vehicles, there were plenty of expedition trailers on show as well. One company, ROVE, offered trailers for rent. What better way to test the water than with a weekend trip towing and living out of one?

Although the expo was chock-full of gear, I tried to limit myself to one purchase. With that said, I set my eyes on the GoTreads tent. Their traction mats appeal to me especially since I'd prefer to outfit the Crosstrek with lightweight recovery gear instead of weighing down the 2-liter engine with a heavy winch or bulky traction aides.

I purchased a set of mats, plus a carrying case at the show special and continued down the rows of vehicles. Just before I joined the line for the shuttle [back to the parking lots], I placed the traction mats on the ground to snap a photo. Moments after that I spoke with a couple of guys just feet from where I'd set the mats. When I turned around to pick up the mats, they'd disappeared! I was furious!

I asked anyone standing in the area if they'd seen anything, but had no luck finding them. One of the campers said that he'd had two of his camp chairs perform the same disappearing act that morning, which just backed up my fear that they'd been swiped.

I contacted GoTreads while on the shuttle bus and heard back from Aaron, who'd personally sold them to me just minutes before. He offered to replace the mats for me, which instantly made up for the unfortunate theft. With that said, I'd HIGHLY recommend this company! Their product seems to be top-quality, and their customer service and support have proved to be superb!

Despite this last-minute blunder, I was thoroughly impressed with the event. After showing photos to a few friends, I believe I'll be returning next time with a crew!

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Moonshiner's Enduro (Blue Ridge School, VA)

Photo by Jack Looney.

Over the years I've taken part in XC and DH mountain bike events, but this weekend marked my first experience competing in an Enduro Mountain Bike race. The verdict: THIS is the way it should be! The format of Enduro is simple - you're fitted with a transponder to log your time into and out of stages. Between stages you can determine your own pace, allowing riders to enjoy the feel of simply being out in the woods with friends for the day. I was delighted with my introduction to this format and will certainly sign up for more events next season.

Perhaps the best part of this race was the trail network that supported it. The trails at The Blue Ridge School are phenomenal! The arrangement of stages was great, too, highlighting some of the best segments of trails in five stages overall.

Photo by Jack Looney.

The atmosphere on the trails and at the timing/registration area was great. Upon completing the race, riders were greeted with burgers and brews. After receiving transponders, the results were quickly tallied and the podiums announced. I experienced one hiccup, as my results were not recorded somehow, but I've contacted the timing crew and will hopefully iron out that kink.


The missing transponder was added to the results and I actually bumped the time-keeper (who was in my category) off the podium! I came in fifth place and he in sixth. What are the chances of that?!!

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Shark Wake Park (North Myrtle Beach, SC)

Two days before my trip to Shark Wake Park, Hurricane Michael passed through Richmond. The next morning I surveyed the damage, concluding that we'd fared well with only minor damage from fallen limbs. One of those limbs, however, had landed on one of my SW Motech boxes, denting the corner but still leaving it usable. That afternoon I pried open the crushed eyelet and loaded up the bike for a five-hour drive to North Myrtle Beach.

Early the next morning (5am) I hit the road, reaching the wake park just before they opened the facility.

The manager of the park allowed me to bring all of my gear and motorcycle into the park so I could keep an eye on it all while I took runs on the cable. This was the inaugural test of my newly purchased [used] board - a Ronix Press Play. The board felt great and I was glad to be riding it & my bindings instead of a rental setup.

After a few hours under the cable, I took a break on their sunny patio & bar area. I figured a couple beers would give me the motivation to push myself, but the fatigue was setting in, which was noticeable as soon as I got back on the water. I had to relegate myself to seated starts, after several unsuccessful nosepress starts after lunch. I made a couple more runs, but eventually threw in the towel before I injured myself by pushing through the fatigue.

I packed up the bike and headed toward Lumber River State Park. Once there, I setup camp and started a fire - relaxing as the sun set before retiring to my hammock.

The next morning I struck camp and hit the road, reaching Richmond around 1pm. The weekend was a fitting end to another fun season. I'm glad to have discovered an alternative to riding behind the boat and am excited to work on my park skills next summer...or perhaps sooner if we make a trip to Florida this winter!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

I'll typically take any chance possible to visit a new national park, and this most recent work trip to Watertown, South Dakota was no different.

I was visiting Worthington Industries in Watertown to test their operator cabs on two of the Morooka machines we produce. For each test, the "crush frame" and cab must be rigged, then cooled to -20 degrees Celsius. This process takes just over a day to complete, which gave me a decent amount of downtime to explore.

Although Watertown is roughly 250 miles from the Badlands, I jumped at the opportunity, driving the 5 hours as soon as I'd completed a conference call with Morooka on the morning of one of the "setup/teardown" days.

It was well worth the effort! I was blown away by the colors within the park, even on a dreary, overcast day.

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