Thursday, December 06, 2012

Sherando/Big Levels

There is really some great biking in Virginia.
Spectacular may be a better way to describe it. There's a little bit of everything: long climbs, grand vistas, tight singletrack, rocky tech XC, streams, laurels, etc. If I had to name that one thing that makes Virginia different than my old PA and current MD stomping grounds it would be magnitude or scale of the mountains. They really don't look that different as you approach in your car.  You see the usual ridges, valleys, and knobs; but these hills are big. After climbing for over 9 miles, you begin to understand that things are a little different here. Reaching the top, you are almost always rewarded with a panoramic vista that sufficiently compensates for the pain you are feeling in your legs. Whether it's Elizabeth Furnace, Reddish Knob, or Sherando - all three feature big world climbing and magnificent vistas.

Where to start?

I left my office late on a weekday for a developmental meeting in Charlottesville. It is early December and as I cruise down 81, the temps are pushing 70 degrees - 70 degrees and sunny. I have my Moots on the roof - just in case. I swing by the Shenandoah Bicycle Company in Harrisonburg for a few things. The folks at SBC are the real deal: knowledgeable, approachable, and genuinely interested in people who ride bikes. I trade in a couple of bottle cages I purchased months ago (no receipt-no hassle) for a map, ride beta, an acai bowl, two tubes, and some Peanut Butter GU.

Back on the highway, it quickly became clear that even if I jetted straight for the meeting - I would be horribly late. As I make the turn onto 64 East towards Charlottesville, the memory of my failed solo ride at Sherando begins to gnaw at me. About a month ago, I double flatted four miles into a solo night ride. I had one tube, two CO2s, no inflator, and no pump. That ride turned into a trail run and only served to whet my appetite for what lay beyond that four miles.

I hate Camelbacks.

It really isn't a brand thing. It could be a Deuter, Dakine, or Osprey and it would be the same - carrying any kind of pack while riding just rubs me the wrong way. So I roll with water bottles and stuff the jersey pockets full. However, with solo wilderness mt biking you really need to be self-sufficient and I was frankly embarrased by my double flat fail at Sherando. Determined to not repeat that debacle I was loaded for bear: two tubes, four CO2s, a patch kit and a mini-pump complemented the normal tools, map, I-pod, camera, food, and arm warmers. Anticipating a later start I also had my fully-charged Serfas True 1500 battery and my decidedly lower power back-up light. Unfortunately, I had left the head unit for my Serfas at home so I had... my back-up light.

Undaunted, I left the parking area off of Coal Rd. amidst the crackling of two-way radios, pick-up trucks with dog kennels in the bed milling around, and dead deer carcasses just off the parking area. The carcasses I was used to from Michaux, but what the hell are these people hunting on a warm, sunny, day in Virginia with dogs?

I was ready for a 18 mile loop with some climbing, but since I hadn't really ever been here before, hadn't talked to anyone who'd ridden there, and only had hand-drawn map of the trails - I was open to some additional adversity. After a sustained climb slightly over 11 miles featuring some amazing, climbable singletrack, I found myself on Skyline Drive where I snapped this photo.
Foolishly, thinking that most of the climbing must be over, I chatted up a couple of fellas in one of the aforemetioned pick-ups with dogs who were also at the overlook. Turns out that they were all hunting black bears. Now I'm feeling kinda fooolish, in my black shorts and black jersey. I offer a "by golly" I woulda worn my black fur jacket too if I woulda known it was bear season. They chuckle a bit and the younger one says: "you're ok, the boys usually don't shoot until they're treed".


That's a verb for your pack of dogs having chased a bear up into a tree. After that the dogs change the pitch of their bark to let the hunter know, the hunters then check the GPS location of their dogs who are wearing GPS collars, call their buddies on the walkie-talkies, and then drive their trucks over as close to the tree as possible and then the younger guys get out and walk over to the tree to dispatch said bear with a lever action 30-30.

It's pretty up there. The Shenandoah offers up nice spreads: wilderness, knobs, wind-driven pines, and rocky ridges - there's a grandness to it.
The older fella is wiping blood off of his hand with a neckerchief, which is curious as they haven't seen a bear today although they do offer that their group has already killed 11 this season. Some chit chat about grouse hunting in PA and the virtues of a shorter rifle/gun in the thick brush, and I'm off.

Skyline Drive ramps up from here.  Several broad sweeping bends, reminiscient of road climbs out West, lead me up another mile and a half to a fire tower access road.  This road is dirt and yep, it goes up too.
No joke. 

After 13.5 miles of climbing, I turn onto Torrey Ridge. In VA, Ridge is a word that implies that you will be going downhill, but in reality it a up and down affair.   I learned this on Timber Ridge near Reddish Knob.  After a long climb, one usually expects a long downhill, but these VA ridges can really work you.
True, there's more downhill in the beginning, often steep rocky and technical goodness, but then there are these little humps that you ride over,and over, and over, and over. You get the point. It's getting dark. I'm getting tired. Up and down, around and down, and up: repeat. As I cross the 20 mile barrier, it's pitch black out and I'm done. One more downhill and a little road ride and I'll be finished, but this light isn't my True 1500 more it's like a True 15 - so I go slow. Back at Coal Rd. it seems like alot of riding for 3 hours, no mechanicals, no crashing, pretty spent, but a great ride.
Photo of the disappearing light.
Gotta get back here again.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Quebec Run - Aborted

My first trip to Quebec Run Wild Area in PA was an epic adventure.  I'd been wanting to ride here for years and a business trip to Nemacolin Woodlands landed me 9 miles away.  So despite the snow and winds of Superstorm Sandy - I decided to give it a go.
The lower parking lot was sunny, dry, and snow-free.
The trails were open, easy to follow, tight singletrack.
Four miles of steeplechasing over downed trees on nice singletrack.  Lots of Rhodos and Hemlocks similiar to Rothrock.
Turned onto Tebold Trail and began to climb through more downfall and after this bridge it got pretty ugly.  Up a shady hollow I found myself slogging through snow and climbing over very large downed White Pines. 

I was forced to bail out at the Skyline Drive parking area which was completely snowed in. 
A couple miles of paved road and then I finished on a several mile downhill on a very muddy Quebec Run road.
Jumped in the stream to rinse of and it actually felt warm since it was only 40 degrees outside.
From what I saw there is some great trail out there.  I only hit 8 of 18 miles so Quebec Run will be on my late spring 2013 todo list.

Until then, someone needs to get out there with a chainsaw (or two).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thomas rides a bike

Thomas on his first road ride:  15 miles
We have put spd pedals on for his next ride.  This one was a nice out and back from Frederick with the usual rollers and lightly travelled roads.  He got up to 22mph on a sprint for about 100 meters.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Frederick High Wheel Race

The crowds were amazing for Frederick's first High Wheel Bike race in the Historic District this past weekend.      (photo: Joe Whitehair)

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

VW Passat Timing Belt change

A couple of friends helped to change the timing belt, valve cover gaskets, and a plethora of tensioners, pulleys, etc. on my 2002 VW Passat Wagon V6 AWD.

The entire front of the car has to be removed.  The project was completed Friday afterwork and Saturday morning. 

I am please to say that thanks to Simon and David the car runs great.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Bike to School Day at Parkway ES

 My Agency sponsored the 1st Annual Bike to School Day at Parkway Elementary School in Frederick, MD.  We were the only  Bike to School event in Frederick County this year.

 The Elm Street contingent rolled out shortly before 8am en masse.
 A beautiful sight upon arrival was a completely full bike rack.  I was hoping for 20 or so bikes and WOW!  Our kids and parents totally rock!
 The overflow bike parking was around back.  In all, we had 64 kids ride to school with 36 parents that's a respectable 110 folks riding bikes in town on a weekday. 

Thank-you to The Bike Doctor of Frederick, Dunkin Donuts, and Dairy Queen

- ride again soon

Bicycle Friendly Business Award

We are very proud of this.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Snow ride

3-5 inches of fresh stuff had me clearing trail for 18 miles on Sunday - sun came out later and it was a day to remember.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 Pack 271 Pinewood Derby

Question Mark

2012 Pack 271 Champion

Thomas designed and built his own derby car this year.  He named it Question Mark and it turned out to be really fast.  Question Mark was the fastest car at his Pack meet this morning.  It set a new track speed record, and Thomas is advancing to the SuperDerby.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pack 271 Cake Bake

Cub Scout Pack 271 had a cake bake for fun at  our Pack Meeting last night.  The kids came up with the ideas and helped put the cakes together.  The cakes were very original and well done.  We got to sample most of them after the voting was over.