Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Bash

Of the many options available this weekend in September, the Bash is always a fine choice.
This weekend mt biking event is hosted by the Rattling Creek Singletackers Club at Camp Muckleratz in the beautiful Weiser State Forest near Harrisburg, PA. This year I drove up with my friend Tony, from DC. Yes, that Tony - the one who had his bike stolen and then bought it back. We were meeting up with friends from PA, Baltimore, and Frederick - including a bunch of Singlespeed Outlaws.
Check in for us was Friday evening - light rain and a fair amount of mud. We set up camp, met the whole Baltimore contingent, and settled comfortably into chairs and cold beverages. We kept hearing cheers, louds music, and seeing weird lights from across the field - so I went to investigate. The Lehigh Valley gang had built a disco nightclub complete with dancefloor, disco ball, strobes, smoke machine, sound system, and a live DJ. Who do I see in there ripping it up but a bunch of folks from LHORBA - including the Muckers. I think most of the Lehigh Valley folks were passed out by then as they had started much earlier. I went back to camp and got the whole gang to come down. This photo won't do justice to their spread, but suffice it to say it was the most impressive mobile party I have ever seen.We ran into Train Wreck from OH, Shawn from PA, and all partied like rock stars. The next morning we were a little slow in getting things rolling. Coffee, bagels, pancakes, water, Advil - repeat a few times, then sit in a chair. We missed the rollouts for all the group rides and were finally prodded into action when Shawn Withers rolled into camp. "You guys planning on riding?" I saw the opportunity here and helped to finally get things rolling. The opportunity was Shawn is a local, knows the trails, he's fast, and easy to get along with.
Turns out our group of almost twenty got pared down to six when the majority opted for taking shuttles up to the top. So our smaller group began the long doubletrack climb right out of camp that takes you up to the singletrack. Once up on top there is very little climbing. The rocks were still a little slick, it was really humid, and when the sun hit you it was actually damn hot. Joe had the first mechanical of the day, but by no means the worst one.
The singletrack looks like this and is great fun to ride. or, if your crankarm happens to look like this - to walk.
Tony's XT crankarm fell off as we were approaching the point furthest away from Camp. One mile into a five mile sweeping singletrack masterpiece, Rattling Creek Trail. It was an installation error and not field reparable without an external bb tool. So we waited at the bottom and arranged a shuttle to run him back to camp. Once back at camp we did some of this:
And later that evening some of this:
Sure am glad that photo turned out blurry because I thought it might have been my eyesight. They had four taps running Troegs, three bands, a chicken dinner, and a swag lottery (Griz's mugs were the first to go).
An old friend from the Thorpe area, Robin, aka Birdman - he welds the awards for the Rock's Ridge contest. Also spotted: Craig, Cathy, Mike, Brenda, Joe, Brett, Dona, Kristian, Don, Emory, Don, Pontzer, Jeff, Train Wreck, Mike S., and Keith.
Tony tending to his sheep.

The whole event was extremely well run - without feeling pressured things just unfolded as if they were unplanned but not unintended. Credit to the RCST gang (Rick, Jill, Keith, et al) for pulling off another great weekend.

As things wrapped up on Sunday, we reflected back on seeing many old friends, making many new friends, miles and miles of high-quality singletrack, no major medicals, and few mechanicals - we grabbed some fine local pizza and parted ways.

Until next year.
Epilogue: Tony's bike was repaired by the onsight wrenching provided by Spokes, the same shop that helped him recover his lost Sheep in DC, and in the Saturday night swag lottery he got a Spokes work shirt - Karma?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Michaux to Gambrill

Photo of second half (Blue Ridge to Frederick)

My friend Joe has been itching to do this ride for over a year and convinced Jay and I to tag along with him. Normally, this would be a fantastic road route; however, we were going to do it on mt bikes and incorporate as much quality singletrack as possible. Starting at the Totem Pole in Caledonia with some Michaux friends (Brett, Donna, Zach, and Larry) we climbed Secret, Raccoon Run, Snowy Mt., double track up to the Fire Tower, then Blue Blaze past the shelters down into Old Forge. Larry had stashed some beer here and we were joined by Travis. After a quick nip, we climbed up Sucker Punch, a new way to upper Rattlesnake Road. It was soft, but much better than the alternatives - that is unless you are continuing on to Frederick. We then rode Mackey Run, a nice technical piece of singletrack recently added to the Michaux portfolio. This dropped us out near Blue Ridge Summit where after a little road cruising, we tanked up on water and took a brief rest. This middle section featured some paved road cruising, steep climbs, a fire road jaunt near Camp David where we saw the fake pine tree bristling with electronic devices. Finally, we entered the Shed via Tower Road and a hike a bike. We had a beer to celebrate and then started on our way to Hamburg and beyond. Salamander, Sand Flats, Blue and we were back at Hamburg Road where I got some more water from a guy who was finishing his ride. He asked: "where did you guys start from - Gambrill?" I replied: "Caledonia State Park in Michaux." "Oh", he replied "is there trail the whole way?" Joe led us back to Gambrill State Park via Blue, Sheldon's Trail, Dave's Trail, Yellow. There was no Iceberg and no descent into the Valley this time - perhaps next time. We hit 44mph on the paved descent back into Frederick even on our Kenda Nevegals. Great ride, great company - see you next year.
I ate 4 cliff bars, two mini Milky Ways, six electrolyte capsules.
I drank 300 oz of water, one Dale's Pale Ale, and one Ten-Fidy & peed alot.
50 miles, 8 hours, around 6k of climbing (still working on that stat)
I forgot my phone/camera, but there are some photos here.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Thomas' Pit Bike

My friend Phil, former owner of two bike shops, "sold" me a pit bike for Thomas' school commute. Thomas has outgrown his old bike and is riding pretty consistently back a forth to first grade so an upgrade was in order. This Haro bmx bike is a fully rigid steel single-speed with a rear brake - no coaster brake, smooth tires and is built like a tank. Phil, an adult, raced this thing a couple of times -so it is totally bombproof.
Tuesday and Thursday mornings I run with Thomas to school (he rides his bike). The first day on the new machine we were late because he wasn't used to stopping with his hands, but it was a blast. Thanks to Phil for the great deal and to Thomas' principal for understanding.