What can I say about the trails at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion VA. They're definitely not singletrack trails but they are fast, steep when the going goes up, and loose. It kind of reminds me of a greenbelt on steriods minus the pavement. Had they gone the singletrack route, Hungry Mother could have been a very popular place to ride.
I met up with Alan yesterday morning in Ingles parking lot and he rolled in with yet another new to him bike. I think he has had more bikes in the past 2 years than I have had in a lifetime. How he switches bikes so often as a full time college student I'll never understand.
We decided a change of scenery was needed so we headed up to HMSP to reacquaint ourselves with the trails before we show up for the Night Owl race in two weeks. I'm glad we did, the trails really aren't that technical but at 30 miles an hour the descents can be very sketchy, especially with loose rock scattering the trail and blind turns that if your not careful can send you flying down a steep embankment. No worries there are plenty of trees to stop you before you reach the bottom. The course starts out with a semi flat doubletrack trail that circles the lake before entering the woods. Once in the woods the course winds around for a couple of miles doing nothing really spectacular and then you begin the climb and it sucks in sections. Steep in sections and long especially if your racing the expert class. I was able to climb everything on the sport class section but we opted to see how nasty it got if we stayed on the expert course. Some of the sections on the expert course were so steep I had to walk for loss of traction. I was running a 1x9 setup so there was no spinning for me. 3/4 of the way up my left knee was beginning to protest because of lack of a proper warm up and pushing too big of a gear climbing. Several times I thought surely we've reached the top only to round a turn and find yet another climb that went further than I could see and I started having my doubts about upgrading to the expert class. Currently I'm registered in sport but I'll probably wait till race day to make my decision of whether to stay put or not.
Once we finally reached the top I told Alan to go ahead, his descending skills are way better than mine and with that he disappeared from my sight. I've really got to work on my downhill skills, I guess you can say I'm a bit of a chicken. Throughout the descent there a several dips in the trail meant to divert water off the trail but at high speed can easily divert you off the trail. With the loose rock, everytime I hit one of these I would leave the ground get squirrely and come very close to the edge. The turns have absolutely no banking whatsoever so once again the loose trail made it difficult to stay on course. Don't get me wrong it was alot of fun but add darkness and multiple riders to the equation and I can see it will make for some interesting stories around the campfire later that evening. New brake pads are a must before this race.
This is definitely will not be a singlespeed friendly course with the steep climbs and long flat runs the geared bikes will leave you in the dust. If there was a singlespeed category I would consider it but their isn't.
If you don't get a chance to pre-ride the course or are not even able to attend keep your eyes peeled for a video on Alan's blog as he's the only one with a functioning Hero cam right now.