3/31 Back of the Dragon...
looks like this.
This is just part of the forty orso miles of the now infamous Dragons Tale. The top of North Mountain here looks like about ten miles of scaly, spinney, gnarly ridgeline. On the map I can count 13 spines, I don't know how accurate this profile is, but I am betting there is one more. that is what you have got to keep telling yourself when you're out there - there is one more. Always seems like it keeps going. Ready to beat you down into submission before that last finale sweet plunge, off of the back.
I will be rambling along the 29er Superfly, hoping those big wheels will get me over some of this stuff...
The light bike will be right at home on the trail, it always is. But there is a little flatness in the form of 10 miles of road and gravel to get you there. 32x17 will be the gear of choice, that'll keep me moving along nicely enough. Then the big climb, maybe I could use a little a little lighter gear to get up 1500' and across North Mountain, say a couple few more teeth in the rear - I think I can make that happen.
So technically it can be argued that I am not running a single speed, but I am entered in an open class so the argument is moot. I will have to stop to hopefully make a quick adjustment to manually move and re-tension the chain during the race. Andy will be nipping at my heels, can't take too much time and let what happened the last time happen again - melting down at around the five hour mark just to watch him slip away...
3/24 It's Here
As much as I don't know if I am ready to admit it but it is here. Racing season that is. The past weekend I took place in the annual Gravel Rouser Classic. Four days racing and riding that I partook of three of those days. Some low key grass root riding at its best, but still racing is racing and I pushed myself to hang on or out run with the best of 'em. Re-learned some valuable lessons in the short hour or so efforts of daily competition.
In-between those efforts was some good times riding with the crew exploring the back roads and taking in the camaraderie and scenery. Nice leisurely roll of about twenty miles to the race venue at Lake Hope to start the racing stage portion of Saturdays Gravel Rouser.
At the word go I was lucky enough to catch the hole shot not unlike some formula speed boat racer crossing the line at speed right when the the racing goes "live". Spun like crazy and made it down to the cul-de-sac and back up the prologue with everybody chasing my heels. I knew the light singlespeed would hold its own on the grade back up, as long as I could hold it together for a couple hundred yards.
When the singletrack entrance appeared I was still in first and I pick that succulent cherry for all it was worth and rolled with it. What could go wrong running at this insane pace, pretty much keg-dehydrated from the previous nights festivities? And the quick answer is leg cramps. And that thought quickly became a self fulfilling prophecy. I lost a couple three places with lots of eager folks ready to pick me off when my next assailant comes in behind me a little too hot in one of the switchbacks and wipes out everyone that thought I would be their next prey (some 59 year old should act his age). That small window was enough for me to gather my recovery and hold on for a fourth place finish. Then another 20 slummy crampy miles back to town.
photo: Brian Matter
Sundays dirt stage took place "in town" at nearby Strouds Run SP. A little trail parading to get out to the start. That was where I got the evil eye from Brian Matter that proved to me that I was not going to get any gratuitous hole shot on this day, and I took third wheel behind another single speeder Derek Bisset. A "nice and easy pace" (as Brian put it) put me right close to my redline, and we were up and out of sight from the others in no time. Those two got away from me and I spent 20 minutes hunting them down. Another 20 minutes running from Pete that kept creeping from behind. And another 20 minutes that I just pedaled and breathed. Took home a third place finish within sight of Derek and about a minute off the "nice and easy" pace of Brian.
So that old feeling that racing produces is here and I think I have done my homework needed to get me ready for the race season that is now upon us. I am hoping that it is a good one.
3/13 Doing Douthat
Tuscarora Overlook; All the times I have been to Douthat State Park in Virginia I have never seen this overlook. There is a another trail that runs the ridge on up Middle Mountain so it was always about getting up high. Nice to take in. Always like to take in the fresh and new, it is what draws me to these places and this one is one beautiful view on what was such a crispy clear day.
We (Dwayne, Andy, & myslef) started up Stony with the creek crossings that was a good way to baptize Andy's new frame. Took in all of Middle Ridge Trail before back tracking half way back to Salt Stump for the downhill. I was looking for a new trail back from Middle Mountain into the park. I turn back too soon but the new trail was not missed after getting the down hill run on Salt Stump.
Terribly awesome views and sunny 60 degree day, 22 miles in around four hours, mostly following the XC course of the Middle Mountain Momma mountain bike race, with a few tack on sidebars, for that soaking it all in feeling that goes along so well with just riding.
3/8 March On!
Hard to believe March is here and Spring is just around the corner. With spring comes my re-introduction back to the race scene with the four day Gravel Rouser in Athens, Ohio. Real nice chill race scene there to ease back into that familiar race feeling. Then in April the real mountains of Virginia that will put the single speed to the test of the back of the Dragon before the West Virginia series opens up in Parkersburg. Of Course I will be at all the strategic WVMBA races defending my 2010 Series championship Masters title in the regular cross country mountain bike races as well as duking it out in the XX races. Three months laid out here with, doesn't look too intimidating.
March 17 Gravel Rouser
4 days of frolicking in and around Athens Ohio
April 3 Dragon's Tale
Backcountry ruggedness - camping venue
April 10 Challenge at Mountwood
Well organized race on bike specific trails put on by the folks at RVMBA
April 17 Big Bear
All weather track at a classic WV venue
May 8th SDS?
2 days of survival tactics
May 1 Middle Mountain Momma
Classic playground. If you can imagine a perfect east-coast MTB trail - it would be like these.
May 29th - June 4th Trans-Sylvania Epic
Finally getting up to State College, PA. In Style.
go on back
Barboursville FAT Tire Brethren
Beech Fork Association of Trails
bFAT is an informal group of riders who appreciate the land and ride for a healthy well being.
Beech Fork is mostly a single track trail that follows around the lake leading into a combination of creek bed, hill climb, and fast downhill back to the lake. Barboursville's Park has some nice runs from the top with numerous scenic overlooks from the sheer cliffs and steep drops. The flat single track that follows the river and comes out behind the lake - is where the real fun can begin or end. Click on the link at top of page - above left to see a map! The Kanawha Trace and Adahi Trails are 32 mile and 17 mile multi user trails crossing over private land. Check with the Tri-State Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America for trail information and registration.
bFAT email groupo<----click here Become a part of an e-group forum that will let all subscribers communicate (free!). Send an e-mail with the word "join" in the subject or body and you'll get hooked up with other riders, to do fun group rides, get trail info and conditions, technical advice, etc.
for more info administrator at bike bFAT