Just Another Hot Summer Day

Been away at the beach for a week. Lots of surf, beer, food, good times and  living the beach life. I could get used to that, but today I was back on terra firma and on the bike.

MS was my wingman, or I was his, and we hit up Powhite Park. It’s been a while and as it turns out, we were there a year ago to the day. I can’t help but be intrigued by the cyclical coincidence of that fact.

Bad enough how out of shape I am, but the oppressive heat took it to another level.  After a torturously beautiful ride, we dropped by Chesterfield’s own Steam Bell Beer Works.

Beats the hell out of yard work…

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To the Land of Bikes and Beers

Editorial: No updates since January.  Man, where has the time gone?  I can assure you fun has been had.  Without further adieu, here is the beginning of a recap of our most recent mini-adventure. 

Introduction

Well, we did it again.  Well some of us did.   Ahem.  We went to the Mid-Atlantic Mecca of bikes and brews:  Pisgah!  Agendas varied, but MS, Lucaca and I departed Tuesday night and returned Sunday night.  Five days of riding, breweries and shenanigans makes for a lot to talk about, so I am going to do my best to keep it short.

Part 1 – Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, Boone, NC

Boone was a bit of an excursion from our primary destination, but well worth the time.  Arriving late, we enjoyed some Lap Lap of Luxury and awoke with visions of Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park.

Hear that y’all, it’s a mountain bike park.  We were there back in 2012, but it wasn’t quite finished.  It’s a great little trail system that packs a lot of punch, as I would find out the hard way.

Highlights included the nicest La Quinta hotel ever (seriously), Ol’ Hoss trail, me taking a digger on PB&J and visits to Lost Province Brewing and Magic Cycles.

The Ride – in pictures

 

Post-ride in pictures

It was a great start to our mini-adventure.  In the PM, we departed Boone for South Mills River group campsite in the Pisgah National Forest.  More to come…

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Juxtaposition

Snow, slush, mud & melt.  65 degrees.  It’s always an adventure.  Get out there!

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Such is Winter

Such is winter.   People hibernate, I guess even when they have no reason to.  This winter has been especially mild though and aside from recent wetness, it’s been a great winter to ride bikes in the woods.

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With a wet period upon us now, it’s a great opportunity to give some love back to your trails.  And even riding boring old fire roads can have a sense of adventure if you seek it.  Plus, it’s a great time to practice riding wheelies.

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This is a call to get off your duffs and come out and play.  Or work, but our work is more like play, so it counts too.

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First Day Hike

I dragged the family to one of the First Day Hikes at Pocahontas State Park.  We did the Beaver Lake hike with a pretty good sized group of other First Day Hikers.

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In all honesty, I would prefer to have done it with just the family, but the guide was great and it was cool to learn about Beaver habitat and behavior.

I’d definitely recommend a First Day Hike though, especially if you are new to the park or are interested in learning more about the park and its inhabitants.

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Happy New Year!  No go outside and play.

 

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Christmas Day Ride

With about four inches of rain over the last few days, riding trails was out of the question, but T and I set out for a little suburban exploration.  Our route was a nice mix of off-road and pavement.  Everything off-road was a soggy mess, and T wore his good shoes, so he was treading lightly.

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We left the neighborhood and travelled along a footpath on Old Hundred Rd. until we reached Kelly Green Lane, which led us to Clover Hill H.S.  We spent some time playing on the curbs and ramps enjoying the artificial features provided.

We eventually wandered down along Genito Rd where some more soggy bushwhacking took place before heading toward the homestead.   It was a fun ride and I look forward to future exploration when it is a little drier and T is wearing appropriate footwear!

 

 

 

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North Mountain Trail

The Setup

Recently, the crew and I embarked on our fifth annual DID (Douthat in December).  I’ll have more on the later, but for now I am going to focus on the the Monday following.

By Sunday night, it was just MS and me at the cabin.  On Monday morning, we headed over to the Longdale Furnace area to scratch the North Mountain Trail off our list.

Logistics

From I-64, take Exit 35 onto Longdale Furnace Rd. heading west.  Keep an eye out for Route 770/Collierstown Rd, which comes up quickly on your left.  Follow 770 for about a mile until you reach a small pull off / parking area on the right.

There is road that continues on the other side of the parking lot.  For the route described here, that is where you will return.  Get on your bike and go back out to 770 and take a right.  Start climbing.

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After about a 3 mile grunt, you will come to an intersection of sorts with towers up above you.  Take a hard right and climb a short distance to another small pull-off / parking area.  As the road starts to drop again, the North Mountain trailhead is on your right.

The North Mountain Trail

It starts off tight and rocky.  Almost immediately you will be provided great views of the valley to the east along with Lake Robertson.

There is a slow, steady climb along the ridge for a few miles and eventually you level off with gradual ups and downs typical of a ridgeline ride. There are still plenty of opportunities to take in views, check out rock formations, and just simply enjoy the remoteness of the trail.

The standout feature of this trail is Pete’s Cave — a large, rocky area with steps up to a large crevasse — which sits toward the end of the ridge at one of the highest points of the loop.

See that picture below?  Yup, that’s where the trail goes.  Climbing and pulling yourself through while pushing/carrying your bike is quite a departure from most trails you’ll ride and makes this a truly memorable route.

 

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After reaching the top, take in another great view to the right along with lots of rock formations to explore.

Back on the trail, there is more up and down and narrow (overgrown) sections before a steep pitch up followed by another drop down to a sign that reads “Longdale” to the right.

In theory, you can also go left, but finding the trail on this day would have been a challenge.  Fortunately, even during this time of year and with all the leaf coverage, we did not have issues staying on course.

The initial descent is rocky, narrow, leaf covered bench cut with a few off-camber sections thrown in for good measure.  In other words, pay attention and have fun!

Eventually the descent takes you deep down into the hollow and it’s like a whole other world from the ridgeline above.  This section is also benchcut, fast, and a back-country hoot.  Just watch out for the locals and don’t fall into the ravine.

After 4 or 5 creek crossings at the bottom, you will come to another intersection.  Take a right at the sign that reads “To FDR 334” and it will take you back to your vehicle.

Summary

This route is only about 12 miles, but it is a solid 12 miles of remote, backcountry bliss with no bailout points except for jumping off a cliff.  Make sure you are prepared, and go scratch this one off of your own list.

 

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Our Latest Adventure: Part III

On Friday, we woke with giddy anticipation to get over to Windham, but stopped at the Log Cabin Cafe for breakfast. It’s a great place to eat, but be sure to bring cash.

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Upon arriving at Windham, we were greeted almost immediately by the Santa Cruz tent just out front of the main entrance to the park. Syndicate!

Syndicate!

Syndicate!

We rode up to the top of the mountain on the lift, which was a lot of fun taking in the views and seeing some riders coming down the lower, more open sections of the course.

UCI World Cup DH -- to the right

UCI World Cup DH — to the right

At the top we wandered over to the starting point and began walking down the course. We quickly learned that while a lot of work goes into creating the course, bystanders and pedestrians are on their own. By the end of the weekend, foot trails were very well established, but there were several very steep and sketchy sections to traverse.

As we descended on foot, riders were coming down the course. We would stop at different points to watch. As I already knew, video and pictures can never portray how gnarly and steep some of these courses are. And it wasn’t long before we got a glimpse of Josh “Ratboy” Bryceland zipping by.

Ratboy dropping in

Ratboy dropping in

We made our way slowly to the bottom and got a real good feel for the course. All the while some of the best riders in the world were zipping by. There was a small crowd on hand, which was nice to allow us to get our bearings. The next day was going to bring out the crowds and the full-on festival atmosphere.

chunky

chunky

ominous

ominous

road gap

road gap

way gnarlier than it looks...and it looks gnarly

as gnarly as it looks, it’s way gnarlier…and steeper

boosting off the Phattest Lip

boosting off the Phattest Lip

making our way down the last section before Peaty's Plunge...MS claims it

making our way down the last section before Peaty’s Plunge…MS claims it

more wrenching on the V10's

more wrenching on the V10’s

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Our Latest Adventure: Part II

Wow, it looks like I have some catching up to do.  I guess I will start by finishing up our road trip to the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup in Windham, NY.  If you want to see Part 1, go here.

After some shut-eye, we woke to a lovely morning and I learned that my front tire was also flat.  A reminder of a fun and rocky ride the day before.  We had new trails to ride, so MS and I repaired our flats and we all ate quick breakfasts, broke down camp, and packed up.  During the process, I learned that a pair of shorts that I had only worn twice had gone missing from the clothes line overnight.  Darn raccoons.  I hope they enjoy them.

On the way out of Warwick, we hit up Larry’s Deli for a Taylor ham, egg and cheese on a hard roll.  It’s what the locals do, and I can see why.  Warwick is a real nice area, but it was time to go. We were on our way to the trails of Jungle Habitat just up the road in West Milford, NJ.

Jungle Habitat was a Warner Brothers-owned theme park that was open in the 70’s and is now home to some very interesting trails built around the remnants of the zoo/safari.  The parts we rode were challenging, rocky, and fun (for most of us).  You definitely earn your miles at Jungle Habitat.  At least with the route we took.  In looking at the trail map since my return, there is plenty more trail to explore.  I’d like to do that someday.

After lunch and a change of clothes, we departed Jungle Habitat and headed up to the Whip-O-Will campsite outside of Windham, NY.  On the way, we stopped at The Anchor in Kingston, NY.  Not sure I would want to spend a lot of time in Kingston, but I do recommend the Anchor.

Jungle Habitat trail map

Jungle Habitat trail map

Dumptruck trail.  Sounds promising.  And it was.

Dumptruck trail. Sounds promising. And it was.

MS getting his rock slab on

MS getting his rock slab on

the smile says it all

the smile says it all

umm, yup, that's the trail

umm, yup, that’s the trail

the Anchor is a great place to refuel

the Anchor is a great place to refuel

cheers!

cheers to the Catskills!

Thanks to everyone at JORBA for the great work they are doing in this beautiful part of the country. Up next – we finally lay eyes on our destination: Windham Mountain Bike Park.

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Our Latest Adventure: Part I

Some friends and I recently went on a road trip to the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup in Windham, NY.  Before we became spectators though, we made a few stops along the way.

Our first stop was Waywayanda State Park in Hewitt, NJ.  It is a beautiful locale sitting on the border of New York state.  We arrived, checked in, and made our way to one of only 3 or 4 campsites in the entire park.  This felt odd to us considering the large footprint of the park.

There were no other campers while we were there, but there was some foot traffic including a young black bear that walked by our camp while we were setting up.  He didn’t seem the least bit interested in us and went along as slowly and casuallly as he arrived.  That was the first of 4 bears that we saw over the next 24 hours.

After setting up camp and eating lunch, we set out to explore the trails for a few hours.  Here is a trail map of the park.  It’s an oddly concocted layout, but it doesn’t detract from the fun.  There is a great mix of fire roads and singletrack, most of it very rocky.  In fact, rocks pretty much became the theme for the next few days of riding.

JB’s in-laws live in nearby Warwick, NY, and his bro-in-law met us back at camp after work.  We went back out for a couple more hours and he showed us some additional treats the park had to offer, including the “land bridge” (actually, rock, surprise) and the Sitting Bear trail which was our rocky return along the lake.  One flat tire and one broken chain toward the end of our ride found a couple of us limping back to camp with the setting sun behind us.

If you are in the area or passing by, I highly recommend checking out what Waywayanda has to offer.  If memory serves, my favorite trails of the day included Pickle and Rattlesanke.

Enjoy some pics below and stay tuned for the next part of our adventure.  Next up: Jungle Habitat.

you should always wear your helmet in camp cuz you never know when you're gonna have to jam

you should always wear your helmet in camp cuz you never know when you’re gonna have to jam

one of the many bodies of water in the area

one of the many bodies of water in the area

the beginning of Pickle

the beginning of Pickle

more chunky Pickle

more chunky Pickle

Bear X-ing

Bear X-ing

I don't know why they call this Boulder Field

I don’t know why they call this Boulder Garden

MS scoping out the

MS scoping out the “land bridge”

setting sun on Waywayanda Lake

setting sun on Waywayanda Lake

MS had so much fun he spontaneously combusted

MS had so much fun he spontaneously combusted

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