Saturday, November 16, 2019

Dirtbags 100 (Richmond, VA)

One of my local bike shops, Outpost Richmond, has been leading the way [in Richmond] in growing the popularity of gravel riding. In fact, the shop's proprietor, Braden Govoni, has ushered in several cycling-esque fads to the area since I met him when we both worked at Rowlett's Bicycles. Back then, he was deeply involved with track bikes, creating the Sprint Club series. Since that time Braden has actually started TWO shops in the area, eventually finding his niche with the grocery/bike shop on the south-side of town.

In keeping with the community-oriented style of his brand, Braden created the Dirtbags 100 - a group ride highlighting as much off-pavement as possible, meandering through city and state parks just south of the city. His partner in crime for creating the route, Emily Monroe, also shares the unique ability to find off-the-beaten-path ways of linking sections of our city together. Check out her instagram to find photos of her adventures, usually with her two dogs riding along in panniers.

Knowing the kind of rides Emily and Braden are capable of stringing together, I was eagerly awaiting this installment. I downloaded the GPX file the night before and strapped my Bar Mitts on in preparation for the cold, windy ride ahead.

The next morning I met the group of roughly twenty riders at Outpost and we set southward around 9am. The route took us through Forest Hill Park, Ancarrow's Landing, Richmond National Battlefield Park, Dutch Gap Historical Park, & Pocahontas State Park. The best aspect of the ride, though, was the way the parks were linked, using frontage roads and neighborhood "cuts" to zigzag through industrial and residential areas.

At the halfway point, we broke for lunch and I assessed my condition - zero muscle cramps and little more than a sore saddle. I decided to stay with the pack and finish out the ride. The massive group separated into smaller segments and we each made our way through the remaining miles, finishing at Outpost where Braden congratulated us each with a slice of pizza and a high-five.

The ride was magnificent and I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled for the next installment - hopefully featuring a new route through another set of overlooked destinations.

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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Muttontop Cabin (Virginia)

This past weekend we joined four of our friends at the PATC Muttontop Cabin to enjoy the last bit of Fall foliage before the trees become bare for the winter season. We were rewarded with unseasonably warm weather after Sturday night's torrential downpour. On Sunday we woke to bright sun burning off the remnants of fog in the valley, giving way to temperatures in the 70's.

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Saturday, September 7, 2019

UCI DH World Cup (Snowshoe, WV)

Aside from the US Open, I have never had the pleasure of spectating a professional downhill race. When my friends and I heard that the final round of this year's World Cup was coming to our home track at Snowshoe, we quickly made arrangements to meet there.

One group of friends stayed near the resort and the other in Slatyfork, at our favorite camping spot. I split my time between the two, rubbing elbows with the pros up top and slumming it in the woods each night.

The main event was Saturday's race. I decided I'd pack a backpack and cooler and watch the entire course from top to bottom. I ran into several friends along the track and had a great time hooting and hollering as the riders made their way down the gnarly course.

On Sunday, we decided to explore the abandoned strip mine just North of our campsite. It's beginning to return to nature, but the dark pools surrounding bare trees are a reminder of the scarring that occurred.

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Friday, August 9, 2019

Cape Lookout

Since our inaugural trip to Cape Lookout, we've decided to make the trip a yearly tradition. This year was just as memorable, as we were greeted by turquoise water that resembled that of the Caribbean.

This year we decided to make the drive to the lighthouse and historic village, providing even more depth to the destination.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Dirt Fest West Virginia (Bruceton Mills, WV)

After attending several Dirt Fests in Pennsylvania, this was my first official Dirt Fest in West Virginia. In the past, Rebecca and I had attended the Fall Funduro, which bore some similarities.

Another first for Dirt Fest was that I had my own bike, since this occurrence marked the end of my road trip to Vancouver. Usually, I've attended the festival with hopes of demo'ing bikes while there, which doesn't always work out (read: rain ruins everything!).

With that said, I was able to spend much more time on the saddle, joining group rides and tagging along with friends/vendors at the close of their "work day."

Although I do enjoy the trails at Raystown (Dirt Fest PA), I think WV is my favorite venue for the festival. There really is nothing better than the terrain that West Virginia has to offer.

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Vancouver Road Trip

Early this year, Rebecca found out that she'd be traveling to Vancouver for a week-long seminar for work. When she told me this news I quickly responded with something like, "Great, I'll see you there!" From that point on, we planned a most epic road trip across the country [on our way back together] with as many National Park stops as we could squeeze into the route.

Since Rebecca was flying there, I tried to reach Vancouver in a relatively short span, stopping only twice in Vail, CO and Portland, OR.

Vail, CO

In Vail I visited my friend Martin, whom I'd met when I worked for the resort in the winter of 2006-2007. Since our time as ski bums, Martin has married and had two kids, so I got to meet his family, along with his friend Jeff's respective tribe. Jeff's eight year-old son, Hayes, was particularly endearing. He was a sharp kid, with an amazing knowledge of the National Park Service. He quizzed me about my past visits to National Parks and my plans to visit more during our road trip. I just couldn't get over his enthusiasm as he spouted information about the parks origins and fun facts like the order of adoption of each park.

My activity for that stop was a hike to Booth Falls.

The hike was cut short by a looming thunderstorm, so we snapped a quick photo with the drone and headed back down to Martin's condo.

Portland, OR

In Portland, my friend JP was my personal mountain bike guide. We rode two days - one at Cold Creek and another at Ape Canyon. As it turns out, these were some of the best rides of the entire trip - partially due to JP's insider knowledge of the area.

Near the end of our ride at Cold Creek, I broke my rear rim - a carbon fiber ENVE with little over a hundred miles under it. It didn't completely separate, so I decided to run it one more day to enjoy our ride at Ape Canyon. Once I reached Vancouver, though, I set out to find a shop that could rebuild the wheel on a new rim. After a bit of back-and-forth, I finally found a shop that could help me - John Henry Bikes.

Squamish, BC

Once the rear wheel was back in a action, Rebecca and I headed to Squamish to see what the trails there offered. She was a bit intimidated by the trails, deciding to shuttle me a couple times instead. For the descents, I chose Meadow of the Grizzly to Half Nelson, then Cakewalk to Full Nelson to Half Nelson. The riding was amazing, leaving me wanting for a return trip ASAP!

After four days in Canada, we headed south back into the United States. Rebecca found an AirBnb in Glacier, WA for our first night back in the states. The next morning we drove through Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest before continuing onto Newhalem Campground within North Cascades National Park.

North Cascades National Park

The next morning we struck camp and drove through North Cascades before continuing east toward Montana.

Glacier National Park

Our primary destination within Montana was Glacier National Park. We stayed two nights at the Emery Bay Campground so that we could devote at least one full day to exploring the park.

Glacier turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. We drove the "Going to the Sun Road" to catch a variety of views from the many overlooks.

Mt Helena, MT

Our next stop was an AirBnb in Bozeman, Montana. Along the way we wanted to add a ride to our day, so we chose one near Mt Helena. It was an excellent ride with beautiful views during the gentle climb and an exhilarating descent at the end.

Once we reached our AirBnb in Bozeman, we were ready to relax after another long day in the car. What it lacked in amenities (like electricity), it made up for in uniqueness. I spent a large part of the night just inspecting the build of the treehouse and admiring the builder's ingenuity.

The next morning we packed up and headed toward West Yellowstone.

Yellowstone National Park

I'd had the fortunate chance to visit Yellowstone during a work trip, but was eager to experience the park with Rebecca.

Salt Lake City, UT

Rebecca and I decided to book an AirBnb near Rigby, ID for the night and continue our trek toward Salt Lake City in the morning. This was our first stay with a shower since Washington, so we were delighted to have some of the amenities of home.

The next day we set off for Salt Lake City. On our way into town, we found a mountain bike destination at Wild Rose Trailhead Park. As we set off for our ride, a storm began to roll in. It actually created a pretty unique experience, as we watched the rain clouds slowly creep in to eventually drench us.

We completed a short loop together, then parted ways for two VERY different routes. Mine began with a hike-a-bike to a ridgeline, ending in a descent which was over in five minutes or so. The highlight of the descent was a lush, forested area which was in direct contrast from the arid environment seen throughout the rest of the ride.

Once I returned to the lower section, I followed Rebecca's tracks back to the car where we packed up and headed to our AirBnb in the city.

As not to be beaten by the hike-a-bike route I'd chosen earlier, I tried my hand at the Med Hill Ridge Trail. Luck was not on my side that day, though, as this route turned out to be EVEN WORSE. Upon writing this post, I realized that the trail I picked is listed as "hike primary" - a detail I failed to notice when I was picking the trail from my phone. There was some payoff, though, as the view from the top was rather nice.

The next morning, we met our AirBnb hosts for coffee on their porch and some suggestions for more stops to hit on our way South.

Arches National Park

Ever since our trip(s) to Zion National Park, Rebecca and I have been eyeing a return trip to Utah.

Much like our first experience at Zion, we did the "car tour" of Arches this time around. Luckily, the park is arranged in a way to make many of their most famous views accessible via the Arches Scenic Drive.

We even found a little "off the beaten path" route to explore while in the park.

Moab, UT

We stayed in nearby Moab during that leg of our trip, allowing access to some of the region's most famous mountain bike trails. After our first night's stay, I woke early in the morning to explore The Whole Enchilada. Apparently, I was still a bit early (in July), as the upper sections of my ride were filled with snow. I trudged on, though, despite sinking into the soft stuff on several occasions.

We had two nights' stay in Moab, so we chose to explore Mill Creek with the dogs on our final day there. It was great finding a bit of shade and a watering hole to soak in, until the mosquitoes eventually caught up with us.

The next morning we hit the road destined for an Airstream trailer in Bayfield, CO.

Along our way, we toured Mesa Verde National Park. Although we didn't have the time to take one of their guided tours, we were able to enjoy some of the roadside exhibits of preserved 600-1300 CE homes.

That afternoon we reached our Airstream AirBnb, fully stocked with beer and smore's!

The next day we took a scenic route toward Salida along the Million Dollar Highway, passing through the mountain towns of Ouray and Silverton.

Near the midpoint of our drive, we searched for a mountain bike ride not far from our route, landing on the RAT Trail System.

It was a phenomenal ride, with great views and rocky, twisty descents.

Another last-minute detour was through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Eventually, we reached our AirBnb for the night - a Retro camper parked within a goat farm near Salida, CO. There we met up with Rebecca's niece, who recently moved to Denver.

Salida, CO

While in Salida, Rebecca and I rode some of the trails in the Arkansas Hills network. Once we completed a short loop together, we chose two respective routes to tackle on our own. Her loop would finish before mine, so we chose a rendezvous point in the town below.

Once we met at Marvin Park, Rebecca and I headed to Boathouse Cantina to meet her niece for lunch. After our meal, I slipped away to Subculture Cyclery to grab a souvenir jersey to mark our final stop of the trip.

Early the next day we packed up the Crosstrek for our final leg of the trip - a drive through the center of the country ending in Wheeling, WV. There we parted ways since Rebecca needed to pick up her car in Winchester, VA while I headed to the Dirt Rag Dirt Fest at the Big Bear Lake Trail Center in Bruceton Mills, WV.

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