Sunday, May 25, 2008

This blog is starting to sound like a bike log. Ok, but I need to keep track of this stuff somewhere. Why? Because.

The midweek ride after my last post was the Pole Bridge to Strohm Hollow loop. I rode it with Anthony, and after we finished it, we decided to take the lower Strohm Hollow Rd along State Forest boundary at the top of the sand quarry. There’s a decent view from the top of that gigantic scar in the mountain, along with no barriers or signs to stop the uninformed rider from cruising off an eighty foot drop at the bottom of a fast down hill ride. All of this made an eight mile ride.

Yesterday (Saturday, May 24), Jonny and I rode a modified Maximus 25 miler in Michaux. We started at Huckleberry Trailhead (marker #2 on the ATV system) and rode Grave Ridge and all the way up to the top of Woodrow, down the tight, twisting singletrack, across 233, and up to the Bendersville lot via Log Sled trail. From there we went out Piney a few miles and down into Adams County on the ’07 race route and back up to the parking lot on another trail* whose name is nonexistent with me. We finished in 4:12.

The weather yesterday was awesome and the trees are leafed out and gave shade over the whole ride. Up in the Woodrow area, somebody went through the regenerating forest and cut a lot of small saplings down. I couldn’t decide whether their motive was to thin out the trash trees, or stop the bikers. All the downhill trails and the major cross trails had bunches of saplings felled across them. If they were trying to stop the bikers, they did a pretty good job of it. There was a group of DC bikers camped out at the top of the downhill play area when we went through. They all had nice Cannondales and looked pretty zonked out when we went through in early morning, so we didn’t ask them anything. The saplings were cut in the steepest, tightest parts of the trail; mainly on the top mile or two of trail. There were a few trees cut at random in the woods, but by far the majority seemed to be cut so they fell across the trail in the steepest parts. Could this be a case of rock climbers vs. mountain bikers? There’s a lot of great bouldering and climbers often camp in the area. This would have been the best downhill, and it was basically destroyed. Oh, well, we made it past that point, and then the rest of the ride went ok. The Adams County trails were pretty wet and muddy at places, but overall conditions were about as good as could be expected on a non-race day.

I got a new hydro pack, a Camelbak Lobo with a 100 oz. water capacity. It claims 200 cubic inches of cargo space, but I was surprised that all I could fit with the water, was an extra tube, pump, 5 energy bars, tiny patch kit, cell phone, bike multi-tool, 2 gels, and a scrunched up bagel. That’s it; no room for an extra shirt or anything else, unless I get creative with bungees on the outside of it. I love the way the pack rides, and it’s got a waist belt so it doesn’t flip up over my shoulders on steep descents. The 100 oz. capacity is perfect for a 4-6 hour ride in moderate temperatures.

Today I hiked up to Flat Rock in Colonel Denning State Park with some friends. The skies were clear and visibility from the top was awesome. The 2 ½ mile hike is still a cardio and aerobic workout. It’s quite steep and sustained. My hike up record is 35 minutes. I did it in 45 today at a comfortable pace. The ten minute difference sounds negligible, but in reality means huffing and puffing and a heart rate over 180. I’m still working on it…

*After consulting different blogs on the subject, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that Michaux is unmappable. Trails come and go with rains, ice storms, logging, deer fences, and any number of other reasons. I still log every ride and put them on my master map, but I admit I’ve given up the dream of mastering Michaux. The happy person is one who can ride without being glued to maps and a GPS screen. In Michaux, at this point in technology, the human brain is faster than the best GPS for factoring in weather, forest conditions, and recent activist movements. There is no substitute for having all this data in one’s brain, to the extent of being able to make that hard left at the intersection that has the leaning tree, because you hear and smell an equestrian trailer camp downwind. A GPS is still a definite aid with its points of reference. And the map should be there for the emergency when it’s necessary to go through the bush.