After learning about the AMBC Fall Festival, I've been looking forward to riding at Baker Creek Preserve. Just weeks before the trip, Singletrack Sampler put out a video on the park, which REALLY got me interested!
A recent snow had left the trails relatively wet, but there seemed to be plenty of locals riding, so I didn't feel bad about riding in such conditions.
The trail network is short, but there are three main jump lines that make up for the lack of distance with their well-sculpted features.
Rebecca and I used our holiday vacation days to visit friends near Knoxville, TN and do some riding in Asheville, NC. I found a ride to break up the haul to Knoxville just off of Interstate 81. We were both pleasantly surprised to happen upon the Warrior's Path trails. The trails were fast and fun, with well-marked signage and some technically challenging routes.
Upgrading to a newer bike has really motivated me to ride more often. Over the past few weeks I've been logging short rides within the length of 5-10 miles, with the goal of increasing my endurance in preparation for a rather ambitious goal - the RockStar VA. It's a 265-mile race/ride from Harrisonburg to Roanoke!
On Saturday I decided to do a "Richmond Epic" - tying together the majority of the trails available in the city into one giant loop. I was pleasantly surprised to find some serious mileage at the end of my ride - nearly 30 miles in total!
The last trip that Whit and I took was a blast, and we've been looking forward to our next outing since then. This time around, Whit planned a route to his friend's off-grid tiny home near Charlottesville for Friday, followed by a ride to Flagpole Knob on Saturday.
Whit's friend, Chris, has been building this home completely by himself, with some pretty ambitious plans.
I was especially impressed when he mentioned that he'd not used a single nail in its construction. I live by the same dogma, using screws instead.
The next morning we heated sausage over the grille and helped Chris move a piece of furniture to the upstairs loft before heading on our way west.
The forecast had us expecting highs in the upper 70's with plenty of sun - that was NOT the case. The temperatures barely reached 60 degrees. Luckily, even the greyed-out conditions were beautiful, considering the country roads Whit chose for this trip.
The roads slowly degraded from asphalt to gravel and so on, until eventually we were in the woods.
At higher elevations, we reached the fog and things became a bit more interesting.
We didn't exactly prepare for this kind of riding. I had my 80/20 (road/offroad) tires on, and the front was nearly ready for retirement.
A few dents on the skid pans later, we reached the summit!
Just below the clearing, we started a fire to warm up a bit before continuing.
Eventually, the dense fog turned into rain. Fortunately we didn't have long before reaching a main road.
Once out of the woods, we headed south towards Charlottesville. I'd been meaning to stop by the Bike Factory of Charlottesville as they're the closest SCOTT dealer to me. Whit had to continue home to make it to a wedding while I talked shop with the guys at the bike store.
While I was in the shop, the rain intensified, leaving me no choice but to ride through the heavy downpour nearly the entire way to Richmond. Once home, I was shivering and exhausted, glad to be able to dry off finally.
Nearly every time I ride at Poor Farm Park, I find myself riding in circles. The area for trails has been reduced due to encroachment of Liberty Elementary and Patrick Henry High School, so it's become a small web of intersecting trails. With this in mind, I've been trying to plan my route ahead-of-time and am slowly teaching myself which turns to take and which to ignore. After each ride, I study my Strava route to see where I doubled back or repeated sections, improving the route each iteration.
My new [to me] SCOTT Genius LT Tuned is a stunning bike, with its loud paint scheme & sleek internal cable routing. Almost immediately, though, I knew I'd need to ditch the internal routing since it was causing most of the cables/hoses to kink when the handlebars were spun - especially in the case of a fall. In fact, when I purchased the bike it was suffering from a broken rear hydraulic hose due to this constraint.
The previous owner had ditched the TwinLoc system, which I chose to reinstall. I'm not a huge fan of locking both front and rear simultaneously, but I'll primarily use it as a way to soften the suspension damping through rock gardens, switching back to the medium setting for the majority of trail scenarios. The setup is actually quite similar to my Senior Design Project (for mechanical engineering undergrad), in which my team used servo motors to operate the compression and rebound dampers of a rear shock. Seems we were onto something ;-)
In any case, I've rerouted the cables and given the bike some TLC in the form of new bushings in the shock. For protection of the frame, I've wrapped the downtube with a tire casing. I'm testing the application of Shoe Goo to help hold this in place and offer another level of padding. Since cables are running externally, I've placed them within the knobs of the tire to help hold them in place and offer some protection.
Now it's time to ride! I'll update this post if any other changes are made to improve upon this setup.
This weekend I picked up a Scott Genius LT in Bedford, PA on the way to Blue Mountain. The bike is used, however, and needs some TLC before it's truly ready to shred. One of its issues is the rear brake. A kink in the hose caused a slight puncture, allowing fluid to escape when pulling the lever with enough force. Luckily, the staff at Blue Mountain let me use their bleed kit, so I was able to get in a few runs before losing pressure. In order to make it through the next day's XC ride, I bled it one more time and decided to use the rear brake conservatively.
Blue Mountain is conveniently located beside the Appalachian Trail, so we found a suitable spot to camp on Saturday night just a few yards from the resort.
The next morning we struck camp and headed south. Our destination for XC riding was flexible, but we chose to complete the majority of our drive first and ride at Fountainhead Regional Park just north of Fredericksburg, VA.
Neither Rebecca, Joey, nor myself had ridden Fountainhead, but we'd all heard of the trails before. We were pleasantly surprised by the park's wealth of trails. Although we limited our ride to a short loop, we were able to touch on some of the trail features that give the location such a great reputation.
This year I decided to sell my DH rig (Giant Glory) in order to downsize to an enduro bike. After a couple of weeks, I found a buyer in South Carolina. He agreed to drive halfway if I did the same, so we chose Durham, NC as our rendezvous point. The sale went smoothly and soon I was heading back home. On the way back, however, I stopped by Falls Lake State Recreation Area for an XC ride at a new location.
MTBproject listed the South Loop as a black diamond, so naturally I had to give it a try. It wasn't as technical as I'd hoped, but still a great trail. The dogs kept up with me until the end, when they started to lag behind a bit.
If I ever find myself in that part of the state again, I'll certainly return for another loop, perhaps tying in the rest of their trail network for a more exhaustive ride.
I still haven't decided whether the enduro bike will replace my Canfield. Next weekend I'll be driving to Bedford, PA to purchase the new ride - a Scott Genius LT. I'll be riding it at Blue Mountain and an XC destination yet to be determined. Hopefully the two days of riding will help prove the feasability of using the one bike to tackle either style of riding.
With the season coming to an end, we're making the most of these fleeting opportunities. One of the last holdouts will be Bryce, letting us ride right up until they begin snow-blowing for their winter season.
Being a weekend warrior means driving to most of our destinations. It allows us the ability to bring along as much gear as we need and, most of the time, the dogs. It doesn't, however, allow us to stray too far from home and rarely the opportunity to leave the country. With that in mind, Rebecca and I knew from the start that we were going to use our week-long honeymoon to explore a foreign country instead of staying within the confines of the United States.
Rebecca found an amazing AirBnB for our time in Nicaragua - an off-grid house perched high above the jungle.
We were set to land in Managua late on Monday night, so Rebecca booked a second AirBnB in Grenada. When we reached our connecting flight, however, we received a message that the water had been shut off there and our host had most graciously booked us a room at the Hotel Plaza Colon instead. We were amazed by the gesture and gladly changed our plans for the night.
The next morning we woke to the sounds of wild birds, emerging to the balcony to watch shop keepers and horse-drawn carriages prepare for the day. Once checked out, we sought out breakfast and toured the plaza before continuing South.
Our final destination was in Iguana, Nicaragua, so we set off from Grenada midday with plenty of time to reach the house before sundown.
The drive was pretty interesting, sharing the road with every conceivable vehicle and even the occasional herd of livestock.
Along the drive to Iguana, we stopped at a fruit stand to load up our pantry.
The best part of the drive to our AirBnB was the final jaunt up the mountain. Our little Jimny handled it wonderfully, scooting through mud holes and up the rutted mountainside.
We took daily trips to explore different beaches such as Playas Popoyo, Gigante, Maderas, and Majagual.
Majagual was our favorite, though, with an isolated feel and beautiful scenery. Our best meal was there, also, at Matilda's.
At Playa Maderas, we rented surf boards and spent some time trying to catch waves.
On our final day, we took the scenic route back to Managua. At one point, we reached a bridge yet to be completed, so we found passage around by driving through the river it was meant to circumvent. Once back on the main road, we set our sights for the Maderas Volcano.
The next morning we flew out of Managua. Although it was a spectacular trip, we were both happy to return home.
During my second day in Montana, I decided to ride at the Big Sky Resort.
With three lifts running during the summer, access to the sprawling trail network was impressive. The two high-speed chairs were running at full speed, a welcome change from most resorts that slow the cables during the summer season.
My favorite trails trails were "Snake Charmer" and "Joker Lips" - two tracks featuring jumps and berms over technical rock gardens. I did ride plenty of other trails, but the layer of loose dirt created a feeling of unpredictability, so I quickly returned to the more heavily-ridden jump lines.
On my way to the airport that afternoon, I stopped along US Highway 191 to take a dip in the Gallatin River before heading east.
When we received word that a machine we'd produced had broken down, my boss immediately decided to send someone to rectify the situation. When I heard that the machine was located in Big Sky, Montana, I jumped at the opportunity!
On Monday afternoon I raced to the airport, bound for Bozeman, Montana. On Tuesday we tackled the repair and had the machine running properly by 1pm. With ample time left in the day, I decided a trip to West Yellowstone was in order.
The sights were amazing! I was blown away by the vibrant colors produced by reactions beneath the surface.
One of the main attractions, of course, was Old Faithful. By complete chance, I arrived just moments before the next eruption, which fully met my expectations.
With my previous board beginning to delaminate and take on water, it was time to retire it for a new one. Once the Hyperlite Franchise board and Remix bindings were in, I was itching to get onto the water to test them out.
Even though we had minimal weight in the boat, the board performed well - giving me decent pop off the less-than-superb wake. I can't wait to try it out once we load the interior with friends!
One of the highlights of the trip was the fact that we took the motorcycle there. Rebecca and I strapped the board in place of the center box and it actually worked rather well. We took Route 5 as far a Charles City Courthouse, then north along 151 to Providence Forge. The stretch on Route 5 is beside the Virginia Capital Trail, passing vineyards and old plantations along the way.