I’ve been riding trails for several years now. It took a lot of years to find something that I love to do, that I can do often, with friends, without friends, with my son, when it is hot, when it is cold…I think you get the picture. There are people that have been riding for far longer than I, but riding the same local trails over and over leaves me longing for more. Don’t get me wrong — I love the local trails that Richmond has to offer, but sometimes you’ve got to mix things ups.
A couple of road trips per year to explore new trails systems throughout the state and across borders has helped. A day trip here or there is always a good idea. Recently, I have stepped my toe into bikepacking and look forward to many more opportunities to explore the vast remote backcountry in Virginia and beyond. However, you don’t have to drive far and hide out in the mountains for a weekend to change your groove.
My friend J has been getting in some early morning weekday rides somewhat out of necessity. I saw it as yet another variation on a theme. That’s why I decided it was time to join J for a pre-work ride.
After a DNF last Thursday due to a combination of tummy aches, lack of sleep, rain, and alarms not going off as expected, we decided to Take Two this lovely morning and get together for a pre-work ride at Pocahontas State Park.
Not to make the same mistake twice, I checked and re-checked my alarm clock before going to sleep, and it woke me up right on time. No snooze button today. I hopped out of bed with a purpose.
Early. Quiet. Dark. Mercury reading 75, but so humid you could already feel it was going to be a hot day. I got my gear together, checked my tire pressure, adjusted the rebound on my front shock a bit, ate a protein bar and loaded up the truck. Let’s get this on!
I may have been a wee bit eager to ensure a timely arrival. I arrived only 23 minutes before our agreed upon meeting time. That’s okay though because it gave me plenty of time to get geared up in the dark. I was meandering down the adjacent fire road when I noticed some lights turning into the parking lot. It’s J!
Returning to the parking lot I was met with some sort of karmic revenge as I waited and waited for J to get ready. At one point, I believe he was knitting a sweater, which was weird considering the current temps.
With lights and smiles set on High, we got on our way and put rubber on dark singletrack. J took spider web duty. After the 2nd stop to clear webs and potential spiders, I saw the meaty little fella whose home J wrecked. Let’s just say that J, being a little wigged out by spiders (not afraid, just wigged), was lucky not to have this guy crawling around on his back. In fact, had our other riding buddy M been there he probably would have eaten it as a snack.
By the completion of the green loop, a little daylight was finding its way through to the trail, but it was still plenty darkish, especially in certain sections. I kept my light on as we began the blue loop. Oh, and J was gracious enough to allow me spider web duty at this point.
At precisely 6:00 in the AM, when I would normally be milling around the house getting ready for work, we began our glorious descent onto the blue loop. Before long I was hit full-face with a nicely spun web. I’ve found it’s best to just keep pedaling. It’ll be alright. While it is impossible to dodge them all, I started ducking and swerving to avoid webs strung across the trail. I’m sure J appreciated my evasive techniques as he went headlong into webs that I was suppose to clear for him. Sorry, bro.
We stopped at one point for some trail blockage. Nothing too serious and we made quick work of it with my hand saw and J’s superhuman strength. I inquired about the time when we stopped, and was told it was 6:06. Although I didn’t question it, we had covered quite a bit of trail at that point – all in 6 minutes! Impressive had it been true. As we started moving again, J informed me that it was actually 6:26.
As we made our way back around to where the blue & green loops merge, I pulled up as my plan was to sneak out the back door and head to the truck. J decided to keep riding. Good boy. We said our farewells and I returned to the parking lot covered in sweat and spider webs. Turns out a couple of spiders came with me as well. I hope they had as much fun as I. My guess is they did not.
I managed to get home, clean up, eat some breakfast, and make it to work right about 8AM. Not bad. As I entered the parking garage, I was all smiles. Not for the workday ahead of me, but from the trails behind me. I should start every day this way. I won’t, but I should. Until next time my morning trails.