Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dirt Rag Dirt Fest (Raystown Lake, PA)

I heard about Raystown Lake years ago from Michael Delano, the GIANT Bikes sales rep. Ever since then I've been looking forward to making the trip during the Dirt Rag Dirt Fest.

Since the weekend is chock-full of bike brands offering demos of their bikes, I was able to make the trip on my motorcycle without the need to bring my own mountain bike. Since the weather seemed to favor Friday, with rain forecasted for Saturday and Sunday, I began the trip on Thursday night with a drive north to Philadelphia to stay with my friend and former roommate Dave Laverdure. Since traffic was minimal, I added a stop along the way in DC to see Elmer Calata (coincidentally another former roommate of mine).

Both Elmer and Dave are artists. Elmer realized a talent for fine point art and has been honing his skills over the past few years. Dave sews elaborate but functional gloves under the acronym PIMP (Party In My Pocket). Dave actually gave me a pair of gloves to try during the event, which held up well and looked super stylish in my chest-cam video which was accidentally pointed a bit low.

On Friday I shared coffee with Dave and his girlfriend Sarah before heading west for the Dirt Fest. The drive took a bit longer than I'd hoped, but eventually I arrived, changed into riding gear, and demo'd a bike to check out the trails. I should've stayed out longer than I did, since I returned the bike just as other vendors were shutting down for the day, which meant no more riding :-(

After much deliberation and radar scoping, I decided that the rest of the weekend would likely be a wash, so I headed south that night to break up my drive home into two segments. I reached my campsite in VA around 1am just as the rain set in. A harrowing drive up a muddy fire road was the last bit of excitement for my long day before I retired to my hammock to rest and wait out the worst of the storm.

By morning the rain had subsided to a gentle drizzle, so I emerged from beneath my tarp, struck camp, and reluctantly slid into my damp jacket and pants.

By the time I reached Charlottesville, my fingers were numb and boots saturated, so I stopped at my friend Jeremy's house to dry off a bit. We shared coffee and caught up before I hopped back on 64 and raced east toward the promise of a hot shower and dry clothes.

Once I regrouped at home and hung out my gear for drying, I checked back in with those still at the event. It seemed I'd made the right call as most vendors held their demo bikes on the second day, fearing legal repercussions of sending riders out into the woods during the downfall. I will, however, add a return trip to Raystown to the calendar, since I barely scratched the surface of a great trail network. For now, though, I'm glad to be peering out the window at the rain rather than suffering another moment driving through it.

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