Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Buff Stuff

Sunday Sean took me over to Lake Norman State Park.  WOW!!  All I can say is you have some FAST trails out there.  Seriously, the only thing to slow you down out there is your own fear of flying off a whoop-dee or skidding out of a corner.  Smooth buff stuff for days!!

They system consists of three loops.  Our plan was (due to the heat) to hit the first two, head back to the cars to re-up on hydration, and hit the last longer "more technical" loop.  Sean's rear tire was soft even before leaving, so I instructed him to pump it up BEFORE strapping it onto the pterodactyl as a flat wheel doesn't hold so well in a bike rack.  We ran through the first loop with a quickness.  Hit the first section of the second and Sean started washing out in hot corners - I thought he was hot dogging it... but now, it was a squishy wheel.  Threw some air in it and we were off to complete the circuit before hitting the parking lot to get some more liquids.  Not 5 minutes later and we had to stop to pump up again.... ugh.  Apparently Sean was time testing Stan's and a year was a bit over the limit between refreshing sealant...

Finished out the loop and Sean paused before throwing in a tube... is that enough for the day??  It certainly was balls hot outside, but this was my first riding weekend in NC and there was another trail to be had.... after a gatorade I insisted he continue.  We certainly saved the best for last!!

Laurel Loop is rated blue square "intermediate" whereas everything else is green circle "beginner/easy."  As we hit the trail I joked, "what, is there going to be a log across the trail??"  This certainly isn't the place to be for technical challenges.  Any logs present were complete with up and overs of either stacked logs, dirt, rocks, or a combination of all of the above.  I will admit that there was one steep short, but nothing that was hike-a-bike material.  Yet, Laurel was different from the rest.  The other trails seemed to zip along.  Minimal pedaling involved, needed as you could get your speed up and fly through the course.

Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the dehydration, maybe it was the miles already turned... but Laurel was a bit more of a challenge.  A fun challenge!  But, I finally felt like I was mountain biking and not on a roller coaster.  What hit me hardest was the striking similarities (on a small scale) that Laurel had with some of the trails in VT.  After the short into to Laurel you hit the road, ride up a short bit and are back into the sinlgetrack.  As you clear the initial climb you enter what felt really close to Webs at Kingdom Trails.  It descended and turned, climbed and descended, twisting and turning in a VERY similar fashion.  Even the trees reminded me of Vermont.  It was eerie.  Later in the ride we crested a ridge to find a back and forth snaking trail straddling a flat bed between two ridges.  Not to the same degree (literally) as Sidewinder, but in the same vein.  Had we stumbled upon a miniature KT down in NC?

Will I ride Lake Norman again, YES!  Maybe I won't leave Laurel to the end so I'll have a bit more in the tank for the trails.  But amazing.  It's a one way trail system (unheard of in the north) which made things very easy.  No worries about letting it go and just scream around corners and downhill.  Very easy to follow and tons of friendly riders out there.  So far so good.  Although, after hitting the trails at Lake Norman I'm feeling like the HiFi is a bit overkill for the terrain.  Not necessarily a bad thing as this supports my desire to get a singlespeed.... I think a ss would be right at home at Lake Norman.

I've already been struggling over what I would get as a singlespeed rig... and the time is not yet here for me to actually pull the trigger, so I'll have plenty more time to look, investigate, drool, and then come back down to earth and be realistic as to an actual purchase.  But, any advice from the pros out there is more than welcome!!

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