We knew today's ride was going to be a wildcard. We did not know it would be a beat down.
The proposed itinerary was the Sunoco trails with a crossing of the infamous extremely-high-and-rickety-abandoned-railroad-trestle south of town. The trestle is just too good to be ignored, so we figured there had to be some singletrack that linked the the trestle to the main Sunoco trail network.
We rode the trails down to the valley floor only to discover that the township has laid waste to most of the singletrack on the east side of 322. Construction, all in the name of progress no doubt. After mucking about in the carnage for a bit, we did the climb out of the valley back to the Skelp Level Road parking lot half inclined to call it a day and go drown our sorrows in cheap mexican food.
...but once in the parking lot we realized that we couldn't end on such a sorry note, so we decided to ride back down Skelp Level to pick up the railroad bed and double back to the infamous trestle. We figured this would be a 45 minute sojourn to the trestle and back. Little did we know it would unfold into a 120 minute beat down. Here is roughly how it went...
We got to the railroad bed in one piece but with brakes smoking. OK they weren't literally smoking but we could definitely smell them and they were HOT. That was sobering. We got ourselves on the railroad bed and eventually to the trestle. I would estimate it to be between 200' high and in generally crappy condition. Some of the gaping holes in it were definitely large enough to fit a rider (and maybe his bike too). This white knuckle ride dropped us on the other side of 322 and left us with a dilemma - ride back the way we came over the dilapidated bridge (the 45min option), or try the west side trails which are supposedly of questionable legality. We were on a roll so we chose the latter and were treated to more miles of hilly technical wet-root infested singetrack and stream crossings that left us both exhausted and exhilirated (but mostly exhausted).
Now if you know this area then you also realize this left us back at the BOTTOM of the valley for the second time today, with another serious climb to get back to the parking lot on the other side of the valley.
We felt good enough to throw in a bonus loop of single track at the top, but it's fair to say we were toasted by the time we got back to the cars. Advil tonight, maybe 600mg. We will be feeling this one tomorrow.
"Art is suffering."
- Squidward Tentacles