Saturday, October 22, 2016

C&O Canal (Harpers Ferry, WV)

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I should make one point clear before explaining this weekend's activities - my Mom and stepdad are BEASTS! They are the most active retirees I've ever seen. With that said, onto the details of our weekend...

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Rebecca and I joined them to take on the C&O Canal Towpath from Harpers Ferry, WV to Hancock, MD - a total distance of 64 miles in one day. This would be ambitious enough under normal conditions, but this weekend was unique. The forecast warned of a constant wind from the North and it was not exaggerated in the least. The wind was relentless! It was so strong that I heard the emergency siren when we took a short stop in Sheperdstown, WV. To add insult to injury, every rider we passed seemed to glide along the trail, having the benefit of a tailwind and a descent, as we were ALSO pedaling upriver to our destination.

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Despite the challenges, the ride was beautiful. Our timing was perfect to see the myriad of Fall colors on either side of the Potomac. The series of locks and old infrastructure of the Canal were fun to explore also.

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After several hours of slow progress, we decided to modify the ride to ensure completion. At around the 40 mile mark, the other three rode into Williamsport, MD while I kicked it into high gear to arrive at the vehicle in Hancock before dark. The wind was so punishing that the remainder of the trek still took me two hours to complete.

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The second day of our trip began at Guide Shack Cafe to get the much-needed kick of caffeine to jump start our bodies post-ride. After that, we explored Harpers Ferry. It's a pretty unique town, preserved as a National Historical Park and built into the steep mountains of West Virginia. It was the site of John Brown's raid and much of the historic buildings are open for inspection by visitors.

Eventually we hopped back into our respective vehicles and headed back to Richmond, spouting ideas for the return trip to tackle another section of the 184 mile path.

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Big Bear Lake Fall Funduro (Bruceton Mills, WV)

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My first experience riding a Dirt Rag event was the Dirt Fest - which was stellar despite the fact that it was basically rained out completely. When I caught wind of another event to close out the season, I jumped at it!

This event was being held near Morgantown, WV - a region of the state I haven't spent much time, but hope to return to after seeing the terrain.

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There were several group rides during the weekend. I chose to follow along on the advanced ride, hoping to see the best of what the area had to offer. The trails were a mix of technical climbs, rocky gnar, and features built by the local shredders.

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That night Rebecca and I made some friends with nearby campers and cooked hobo-packs on the coals of their fire. The next morning we slept in until the bright sun forced us out of the tent, then packed up and headed to Cumberland, MD for breakfast on our way home.

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Honestly, the chance to meet and ride with the locals was one of the highlights of the trip. Everyone we met was happy to spread the stoke, and riding some sick trails together is always and instant camaraderie builder.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

New Orleans, LA

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Rebecca and I have had a whirlwind summer schedule of weddings to attend, and to top off the tour was her brother's wedding in New Orleans. Matthew and his bride Rachel went all out for this celebration, arranging three days of nonstop events/preparations for the wedding party.

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Being outside the immediate wedding party, though, meant that I had each day to explore before meeting for dinner or that night's event.

Rebecca's first day started around 2pm, so we were able to enjoy our trip to Honey Island together. It was the calmer, non-Air-Boat version of the Louisiana experience and I was glad to hear the sounds of the swamp instead of the yell of an exhaust pipe.

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The wildlife was abundant. Alligators, turtles, birds, spiders, raccoons - surprisingly no snakes! The show stopper, though, was Lola the alligator!

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The next day Rebecca would be tied up preparing for the next day's ceremony, so I ventured off to Lafayette, LA to visit the only wakeboard cable park in Louisiana, CajunXCables.

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It was actually my FIRST EVER time riding in a park. The finless board and sliders were definitely an adjustment, and the jumps had an unpredictable nature, but I didn't feel like too much of a noob since I was definitely approaching it conservatively.

Of course, now I'm scouring the southern states for more parks to help extend my summer into the latter months ;-)

That night was the ceremony. It was spectacular, living up to the rather high standards we'd adopted after being to four previous weddings this summer. They each had their own style, and each left us smiling ear to ear. And just like that, the wedding season and, indeed, our summer are behind us with the colder weather ushering in the next round of adventures.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Massanutten / Bear Creek Lake (McGaheysville, VA / Cumberland, VA)

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After trying unsuccessfully to secure a CAT1 day license for this weekend's race at Massanutten, I decided I'd be better off simply riding on Saturday. MAN am I glad that's what I did! I am SERIOUSLY out of shape, as evidenced by my inability to make a run down the course without stopping to catch my breath. The course was killer, but a bit too fresh-cut to be particularly enjoyable. Just a series of ankle-high tree stumps and rocks that grew further and further out of the ground - a result of the soft loam, soil, and sand packing down after each tire crossed over it. I was relieved to have the option of riding the old course since I didn't need to practice for the upcoming race on Sunday.

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I didn't bother mounting my GoPro on Saturday, so the only media I have from the day is a set of photos by Phil Kendall. I did whip the drone out on my way through Gordonsville. It's one of my favorite towns to visit, so hopefully this clip doesn't bore you to death:

Since my friend Joey was driving to the event, he schlepped my bike for me so I could ride the motorcycle to/from Massanutten on Saturday. I headed back to Richmond that afternoon and prepared for the next day's adventure - a motorcycle group ride to Bear Creek Lake (Sports Lake shown in video).

A group of five met the next morning for breakfast before heading west toward Cumberland, VA. Whit led the pack and took us on a great route to the park, combining narrow country roads with gravel and dirt.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Just Friends Day

In the past, our friends have celebrated an event we call Just Friends Day with a camping trip near Brooklyn, NY. This year, however, we chose the house of our friends Mike and Alison in Chesapeake, VA. They have an impressive tract of land with plenty of space to setup a sprawling camp.

Rebecca and I were only there for Saturday afternoon and night, but had a great time catching up with old friends and making some new ones.

I pulled out the drone for a few minutes to catch the guys tooling around on motos in Mike's backyard, which made for a decent edit:

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Chickahominy River (Lanexa, VA)

Just a short edit of our Sunday afternoon spent at the river:

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sherando Lake / Stokesville Campground

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In my opinion, the biggest discovery of this summer has been the Stokesville campground and the trails their crew has been busily improving. In April, we scratched the surface and I've been eager to return to explore the rest of the trail network running throughout and around the campground.

Another of our favorite XC destinations is Sherando Lake. We primarily enjoy this spot due to its proximity to Richmond, the ability to shuttle from our campsite, and the beautiful lake at its base. This time around we leap-frogged down the mountain from our campsite. First, Rebecca and I (and the dogs) rode the slacks trail. We met Joey at the slacks parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway and then let him enjoy the rest of the descent while we grabbed our vehicle from the top. After that we relaxed by the lake before bidding Rebecca farewell and heading to Stokesville.

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Joey and I arrived at the Stokesville campground with enough time to squeeze in a short ride on their campsite trails. In the morning I snuck in another before breakfast.

For the day's ride, we decided to try a variation of the Narrowback Mountain Loop. An extended ride on road and fireroad helped warm our legs for the singletrack cliumb ahead. Once on singletrack, the climbing was cut short when I spotted a bear cub and decided to turn around before meeting momma bear. The descent was great! The guys at the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition have been hard at work adding water drainage and a fast, flowing trail that absolutely screams down the mountain! An easy pedal down the road and we were back at camp, ready to pack and head home. Another excellent weekend in the mountains.

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