Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Endings

Someone forwarded an email to the biking group - a coupon offer from a LBS for "Bicycle Therapy" (tune-up, inner tubes, and accessory discount). Following are priceless excerpts from that short-lived email thread:

AF> Don't know this shop but thought some of you could use this ["Bicycle Therapy" ad]

CD> I signed my aluminum hardtail bike up for a "happy ending" therapy session.  They said it is totally legal and that my bike would ride like a Moots Ti frame afterward... 

MM> Yeah but after a few minutes it's gonna want to take a nap

MR> This can't end well...

AF> It only lasted 2 minutes anyway

I just thought that thread deserved to be immortalized (or banished into oblivion - whatever it is that happens when things get posted on this blog).


"Beware of all enterprises that require a change into Lycra"
     -- Unknown

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lord(s) of the Flies

The GPS had given up half a mile ago. I was 200 miles from home, somewhere in the forests of central Pennsylvania. The driveway was empty. Nobody answered my knock so I stepped inside the cabin. Lots of taxidermy on the walls - no doubt there would be a gun in here somewhere.

I saw some R/C stuff on the table and relaxed a little. (Rob had talked about bringing some toys). I was 60% sure I had the right cabin, but that would be little comfort staring down the barrel of a shotgun held by an irate hillbilly homeowner. I slipped up the stairs and peered into the kitchen...and when I saw the Peanut Butter Captain Crunch I knew I had found it. The Chalet (and The Cabin). Base of operations for over a dozen Downingtown area mountain bikers on their annual pilgrimage to the trails of Raystown.

Friday night festivities started that evening with carb loading at Boxers Pub.  It was kind of like home, the Y-bike still hanging over the bar, and the young waitress was still sporting those dreads. After dinner we strolled over to The Cabin to visit the other half of the crew and get jacked up about tomorrow's ride.  Martin laid down the law by calling for a 9:30am departure, and so we tucked ourselves in at The Chalet before midnight with dreams of mountain bikes and buff singletrack dancing in our heads.

The Chalet was stirring at sunrise. Two pots of coffee, a pan of pumpkin breakfast thing-a-ma-jiggers, and a monster breakfast fritatta later, we were loaded up and knocking on the door of The Cabin. It was 9:20am.  By 9:21 it was obvious we had a problem. The Cabin was in a different time zone (some still jockeying for the bathroom), probably hours from saddling up, so six of us headed to the trailhead.

The Raystown trails are deceptively fast. Long downhill runs that beg you to go a LOT faster than you should, and are loaded with back-to-back rollers and whoop-dee-doos determined to throw you over the handlebars.  The combination is lots of speed, short duration flights, giggles, and smiles. We rode the outer loops, all left turns.  I can;t remember the names of all the trails but we finally got the whole crew together at The Hydro Loop. After high-fives, some snacks, and a few laughs we rode the loop.  Fifteen minutes of mountain biking awesomeness with excellent flow and bermed turns that swept down near the lake and through loamy pine groves. It is an old growth forest, so the sight lines are fantastic.  From a pure flow perspective, this is probably the best singletrack I have ever seen anywhere. We hammered the heck out of that thing.

After lunch some of the guys took another spin on the west side of Seven Points Road, while others (myself included) spent the afternoon at Rothrock Outfitters ogling at the Salsa Mariachi frames and Pugsly demo bikes.  Later that night we drifted over to The Cabin for a bonfire, warmed ourselves with Root and Snap and whatever else was on hand, considered the flammable nature of magnesium bike frames, burnded about 2 cords of wood, melted a beer bottle, and marveled at Jesse's ability to speak "french" in her sleep.

On Sunday we were back on the bikes, hammering that sweet singletrack before the long drive home.

It was sort of a "Lord of the Flies" meets "Race Across the Sky" weekend.  Is it weird that I'm already dreaming about next year?


“Like dogs, bicycles are social catalysts that attract a superior category of people” 
      - Chip Brown

P.S. As much as we enjoyed the "toilet seat up" format for the weekend, the wives contributed in big ways. Like supplying us with loads of high-carb home cooking (think Fritatta, breakfast bread, lasagna, etc). And by giving us the go ahead to waste a perfectly good weekend acting like a bunch of 12 year olds.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grass Roots

Apparently word is spreading. Beer and bikes at the overlook. Last Friday's happy hour drew riders from as far away as Vermont!

...well...A rider...

...but still, that's pretty respectable for a grassroots BYO happy hour in the middle of the woods.

I had been pushing the pedals for about an hour before the meet up. With eight guys there was plenty of banter and I was mellowing on the beer and contemplating a relaxed ride home. But Don and his chrome plated Biamchi singlespeed from Vermont were creating quite a stir in the group and before I could do the mental math (Beers + Dusk + NoLights = TimeToGoHome) we were racing for the Double Bonus Loop.

Boys will be boys.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fortunate Accident

Sure, summer promises endless days of awesome riding. Early morning sunrise rides. Short sleeve sunset rides. Beers on the overlook. A seemingly endless supply. Hard to beat.

But autumn beats it. It's not even close. The cool and dry weather is perfect for long rides, and we're in pretty good shape after a long summer of riding.  The sun is intense but stays low on the horizon, creating dramatic shadows in the woods. The sightlines and views improve, and the leaves are like colored confetti covering the forest floor. The sweet smell of the leaves is intoxicating, and the knowledge of winter just around the corner adds a tinge of urgency to every ride.

This autumn morning I woke in the hills of western Maryland near West Virginia.  After coffee I slipped out of camp for a couple of hours of awesome single track east of Accident. The trails here are spectacular - plenty of climbs and descents, rock gardens, great flow, massive stands of pine with a thick soft blanket of pine needles on the ground, deciduous forest packed with vivid oranges and reds, and stunning farmland vistas. It was heaven. Or church. Not sure which but that's what it was.


"Cycling is like church-many attend but few understand"
     -- Jim Burlant

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sunshine and Unicorns

Alcohol will be the answer
this Friday at the overlook.
It's been exactly one month since I last felt that old familiar feeling.  The feeling of real fatigue that comes from dropping the hammer for a couple of hours.

Today's ride was  especially sweet.  Some faces we haven't seen in a while (Tom).  A surprise pickup on the way back from the Bonus Loop (Jim). Brilliant sunshine mixed with the sweet smell of autumn leaves on the ground.

But it wasn't all sunshine and unicorns out there today. We dodged a trip to the ER (wrist) when Mike performed the seemingly impossible (and now legendary) stationary endo.  Starting from a dead stop, he stepped on the crank, and propelled himself straight over the handlebars. With 108 days on the crash counter I guess we were due.


P.S. We capped the ride off with some advance Happy Hour planning. We may crank out some miles before hand, but rest assured we'll be in our spandex hoisting a few cold ones at the overlook @ 5:30.

"Safe biking is no accident"
     -- unknown