Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Is it me you're looking for?

So much better than Andre the Giant 

Oh the places I've been and the things I've seen.  I must apologize for my absence.  We went on a road trip and I totally forgot to give everyone a heads up about that... my bad.

No, my trip didn't take me south to the Southeast Bike Expo.  But, luckily for you the Mutt attended and is sharing his adventures - go check them out (part 1 and 2).  I went north.  Annie and I went up to Maryland to visit her sister.  I got to see my niece since I missed her birthday party due to the Winter Short Track Series.  I'll sum up the family stuff nice and quickly for you; one year olds are funny.

Last minute I decided to bring my bike on the trip just in case there was time/opportunity.  Since it's still winter up in Maryland I figured riding on the roads would be a bit too cold, so I brought the HiFi.  I checked the weather and it looked like both Sunday and Monday would be great.  I consulted with singletracks and it looked like there were some trail options in the vicinity... but it was hard to tell which would be worth riding.  On a trip you want to get the best bang for your buck of course!

I posted up on the singletracks forum asking for any advice on which trail to ride and apparently only the crickets check that section of the forum... or maybe everyone's mouse worked allowing them to read the post but unfortunately they had just broken their collective keyboards and couldn't reply - that was probably it.  So, I did it the old fashioned way.  I stopped in a LBS and asked.

The guys over at Bike Doctor in Easton, MD were very helpful.  At first they told me about the local forest trails which held about 12 or so miles.  I thought that sounded alright, until he told me the biggest climb would be all of 12 ft.  We were on an island so I guess that shouldn't have surprised me.  I asked if there was anything else and expanded my drive time radius, as long as it was worth it.  They told me about Patapsco Valley State Park.  Sounded perfect to me.  I ended up picking up a bike pump for the trail since I had yet to replace my lost one.  Riding in an unknown state forest without a pump probably isn't the smartest thing.  As soon as I hit the trail I was very happy I had the pump with me.

Not because I flatted, because I didn't.  But because there were prickers EVERYWHERE.  I'm set up tubeless and I'd hope the sealant would take care of prickers, but you know how luck is... if I hadn't had the pump with me I would have flatted.  But man, this place was fun.  It was challenging, it was fun, it was a bit too muddy (BAD MICHAEL), and it was rocky.  Sans the slickness of parts of the trail, this trail was amazing.  I didn't get to hit everything there was out there, and that was partly due to this...

They had nice kiosks at trailheads... but no maps.  I did get to look at myself though, so that is always cool on a ride... "You are here... lost."  I never really felt lost because the trails were blazed and there was a river running through the middle of the park, so you could always figure out where you were in general terms.  Plus, now that I have a new properly functioning intelligent phone, I was able to utilize the singletracks app to the fullest.  Allowing myself to track my location against their topo map of the trails.  This did come in handy at one point on the ride and I was glad to be able to utilize the feature.  

It was real nice to be riding a rocky trail again.  Not only because I've missed it, but because it was a nice break from having to walk slick greasy uphills.  

But I'll be honest, some uphills were walked because of trail conditions, others because they were just plain brutal in good conditions!  But I loved it.  This is the type of place that will only make you stronger.  While we are being honest here, I did hit a couple rocky sections that I had to walk back and try again to be able to clean.  It was so much fun!!!  I think I rode pretty much everything I saw on the side of the river that I entered on, and then I found a map!!  I came out on a paved trail along the river and as I got down to the park entrance there was actually a map on the kiosk.  YAY!!  It was time to cross the river and hit up the Ridge trail.

Tunnel under the trail tracks to get to the river

A walker warned me to watch out for the monster as I took the picture.
You can't really see, but it looked like there were steps leading nowhere inside the alcove.

Dam/waterfall, what-have-you

I was a little confused as to how to actually get onto the Ridge trail as what I thought would be the connector was hiker only... so I hit the next trail I saw (which a rider had just come out from) and it was pure hike a bike.  
Reminded me of the northwest... not that I've been there
Rideable Ridge trail... soft
I really appreciated the trailbuilders work out there... they had armored a couple sections of the climbs that tend to be problematic.  But, as you can see, the problem is people avoiding the solution!!
I took full advantage of the rocks... why would you want to ride in mud?

Mud was unfortunately the name of the game throughout the trails.  As I mentioned earlier it led to hiking some climbs, but it also led to a slower all around ride when the mud was unavoidable.  It had me wishing I hadn't switched out my tires from my short track tires back to the Ignitors.  If you haven't already come to realize, Ignitors SUCK in the mud.   They just cake up taking away their knobbies we normally love.  Add that to the fact that my rear tire was just piling mud and crap against my frame causing a permanent mud pit my tire had to roll through... I didn't realize that until after the ride... no wonder it felt like my power was constantly getting sapped!!  

The mud zeroed out my tire clearance... fun times.

I got home before Annie and her sister did, and was locked out.  I was hungry, so I walked over to the grocery store around the corner to see what I could get.  Beer, check.  Food... I got creative.  I bought a bunch of pepperoni slices and a bag of mini biscuits... YUM.  The wait wasn't so bad after all.  

On the way back from the grocery store I heard something in the trees above.  They were completely filled with big ass turkey vultures.  I couldn't pick up the plethora of birds with the phone's camera... but you get the idea.
The trees were full of them!

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