Monday night saw the official start of the Beginner's group ride at Barboursville park (after a soggy two weeks of muddy trail induced postponement). For once, I managed to make it to the park early, so by the time the other riders started showing up I was itching to get out and ride. Andrew C. was the first to show up, with my neighbor, M. Boyes close on his heels. Greg J. from the mailing list showed up too, sans helmet... although he promises to bring one next time. At this point it looked like it would be a 29er fest out there, but two new guys from Putnam Co. showed up last minute to represent the little wheeled community. As usual, I totally forgot their names as soon as they told them, so guys, please e-mail me and berate me if you're reading this, I promise I'll remember names next time.

 

 The River Trail was in top shape, so it felt more like a pump track blast than a trail ride, and the group managed to stay pretty well together through most of it. On the way back we had a plan for a bit of a skills clinic at the meadow rock garden, and Mike showed fine form as he hit it fast and finished up on the most awkward line imaginable. Greg was hot on his heels and hit the right line, and the new guys all walked it to plan their attack for next time. By the time we got to the next rock garden, everybody was ready to give her a go, and we had at least a 60% success rate. That's what the beginner ride is all about though, going just that little bit over your head and seeing what happens. Everyone definitely got an A for effort.

 

As the river trail drew to a close, a couple of riders were casting longing looks towards the parking lot, but Mike was promising just a short loop up around Green Rocks to show the Putnam county boys how to access some of the hillside trails. Sometimes not knowing what's in store is a good thing, as both guys readily agreed to come check it out. That meant some more fun riding, and a dose of hike-a-bike for just about everyone. Mike dropped another clinic on one of the numerous ravine/rock crossings, and we headed on up the hill towards the parking lot. The majority of the group was ready to call it quits, so we hit the quick downhill behind the picnic shelter and dropped down to the parking lot. The new Superfly thought it would be fun to see Mike's reaction to a radically new handlebar position on the way down, as his handlebar clamp loosened up to add a bit of excitement into the ride for him. Fortunately he was a-ok and a quick fix saw us saying goodbye to the rest of the group and pedaling up the road to have a bit of fun on the hill top.

 

Mike and I re-entered the woods at the Flag trail and worked our way up to the top of the ridge. Once there we took a quick stop to plan our downhill attack. You'll have to forgive me, because trail names got lost once we pointed the front wheels downward. By this point it was well after 8pm and the woods were quickly turning into a very dark place. the rapidly fading light proved ample motivation to lay off of the brakes and let gravity do it's job. Rest assured, gravity worked just as it was supposed to, and not in any sudden or jarring manner, as we had a hoot of a time bombing back to the bottom of the hill. There was a brief discussion about another loop around Green Rocks, but preservation instincts set in and convinced us to call it a night while the good times were still flowing. Maybe next time we should think about bringing some headlights...

 

All in all, it was a pretty ideal night on the bike. The beginner ride is happening every Monday night at 6pm, meeting at the lake. We try to keep it beginner friendly for the first hour or so and then hit some intermediate stuff later for the more adventurous folks. We keep it casual and try to make sure everyone is having a good time on the bike, and unless you're totally against having fun on a bike, you've got no excuse not to join