Thursday, December 27, 2012

29+ and then some

Strolling through the Facebox webosphere, wasting time as if that is nothing new and I click on the Surly blog post link in my news feed. One can usually find something entertaining to read around those parts. It's wasn't the blog they linked that really caught my attention but an older entry that had some photos that stopped me dead in my mouse tracks.

I'll be damned if that ain't the new Krampus rocking a Fox fork! I wasn't sure if I was seeing this correctly so I kept on scrolling and there were several more.

It had to be the Krampus but no where in the blog post was there anything mentioned about running a suspension fork on the 29" FAT bike. I immediately went to the information hole of Surly's site and read the fine print that clearly states that Surly does not recommend running a suspension fork on the Krampus due to tire clearance. Then they go on to state the frame is 120mm suspension corrected. WTF?

I'm determined to get to the bottom of the mystery pics and why did they post so many on their blog if the don't recommend it?

Since the introduction of the Krampus I've been a very curious boy and watching my friend Spencer ride his Pugsley all over the freaking place with a big smile plastered on his face it makes me want one even more. The wheels are turning my friends and this could be a bad thing. An email will be promptly sent to Surly demanding answers shortly.

My email: I'm sure you guys have already been asked this question but what's with the pics of the Krampus running a Fox fork on your blog recently? Your site clearly states running a suspension fork on the Krampus is not a good idea but then there are pics of you guys doing just that? What's the scoop, can you or not?

Greg Carr

Surly's reply: Greg, You cannot - or rather, you should not. Our party line is that there is not enough clearance to run a suspension fork with the Krampus. We are working with various fork manufacturers to see about changing this in the future. I hope that one of them will have a stock fork that will work soon.

Until then, my lawyer won't sleep at night if we tell you that it's ok with current fork models.

Eric Sovern
Surly Bikes

So were they riding prototypes? Doesn't really look like it as there was very little tire clearance. Why am I so obsessed with the Krampus? Cause I want one really bad, bad enough I'm considering selling the FROG to fund the purchase.
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

my 5 minutes of fame

Yesterday I ventured out to one of the local bookstores in hunt of a certain mountain bike mag I've never read or bought before. It's a smaller magazine that only prints quarterly and being that it's published on the farthest reaches of the west coast and costs $10 a pop not too many of us east coast hillbillies have heard much about it. The reason behind my search for this magazine was because it contained my picture, big, bold and well um beautiful, in my eyes. A friend of mine had found it and told me about it, actually gave me a funny award at a Christmas party for it but I had yet to see it so I figured I'd better go looking before it was too late.
How did I get featured in a magazine? Well I didn't really, it was a piece more about my local trails and our little club who built them. Back in spring I was contacted by one of the contributing writers by the name of Kristian who I immediately thought was a female about doing the article. Kristian said she was an editor from Freehub magazine who ironically lives in Boone NC and wanted to come down for a ride and ask a few questions. I said sure and did a quick search on Freehub and thought cool but that was about it. Fast forward a couple of weeks and some hard questioning by Melinda about this woman I was meeting for a ride I decided to Google her. Well to my surprise Kristian was a guy and not just an editor for a cool magazine but also the guy partly responsible for the new bike park, Rocky Knob in Boone.
We were scheduled to ride in June which was suffering from a pretty serious heat wave so we opted for an early ride to stay as cool as possible. When I arrived at the trailhead the temps were well past 90 and climbing. We did a brief introduction and a little history about the place and mounted up our steeds for a ride. All along the way I answered questions about the trails and our club in between deep breaths. About 2 miles from the finish I felt my energy bank bottom out completely and for the first time in a long time I found myself unable to finish the last climb out. I had to do the embarrassing hike a bike up and out. I couldn't figure out was was wrong and I sure felt stupid pushing in front of this guy who was there to do the article.
Once I finally made it back to the car waves of nauseousness started rolling in. I knew this wasn't good because Kristian was wanted to know more, ride more and take a few pics. I tried my best to rally myself and shake it off but it wasn't happening. We opted for a cool rock to snap some pics on that to my relief wasn't far from the trailhead.
I think I rode down that rock 4 or 5 times to get the perfect shot all the while trying not to blow chunks in front of the camera. Finally in my best "I promise I'm not this weak" voice I explained that I wasn't feeling too good and would have to cut it short. I felt bad but he assured me that he had what he needed and I could do some more Q&A via email.
On the way home I cranked up the AC, drank some water and prayed I would make it home without having to pull over and blow chunks on the side of the road. I did make it but pretty much crawled in bed and stayed there for the rest of the day and a good portion of the fallowing. After some self assessment and doing a bit of searching on WebMD I concluded that I was dehydrated and suffering from heat exhaustion.
After my sluggish performance and early exit I felt pretty bad for the club and the hard work that had been put into the trails. Our first chance at a magazine article and I might have blown it. I sent an email to Kristian explaining my sickness and gave him as much info on the trails as possible hoping for the best.
Finally yesterday I got to see the rewards, a sweet four page spread that looked awesome! I couldn't have been more proud and excited for our club and the trails. Surprisingly my picture was featured big and glossy right at the beginning. Thankfully you can't really tell I was feeling awful as I rode down the rock. 

Once I finally saw the finished product I was relieved to see it turned out great and I shot Kristian an email thanking him for doing such a great job and shining a light on our little gem.
I'll be autographing copies of the magazine, if you can find one, tonight at the group ride. I'm gonna milk this one for all it's worth, hahaha.


Monday, December 10, 2012

riding at night

It's gonna be a crappy rainy day forcing me to stay inside so I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to waste some time and blog a bit, but not too much time as Melinda left me a rather lengthy "Honey do list" before she left for work this morning.
Last week I decided that enough time had past in my "time off the bike" in order to reduce my lower back pain, that coupled with missing a few Tuesday Night rides and catching some flack about it from a certain bike shop employee for not showing up. I decided to join the guys for a ride which ironically, said bike shop employee did not show up but plenty of fast people did. My plan was to take it slow and easy, that didn't happen as I ended up being one of the slower riders of the evening. The good news was that I was able to hang with the guys and stay mostly pain free.
I've been itching to test out my new LED headlight for a couple of weeks and the weather was too perfect not to ride. How odd is it to ride at night in December in shorts and short sleeves and finish the ride with sweat pouring down your face? Thank goodness for global warming right?
I wrote a short review of my thoughts on my new light on our local forum but since Facebox killed the forum I figured sharing it again here wouldn't be too redundant.
I've written several times before about the various lights I tried out and this newest one I think is probably my favorite of them all. I will admit to you now that I was smitten by the price a couple of years back like so many were but I've also realized you get what you pay for with those lights.
I bought two Magicshine's, one for me and one for Melinda and within a year we got the dreaded recall information on the batteries. Like most we received the new ones and disposed of the old ones in the wrong way, our trash can. The new batteries worked great for about 3 or 4 rides last year but once the night riding season kicked off this fall I found out the hard way that these batteries sucked too and left us in the dark in less that an hour into our ride.
Right then I knew it was time to stop being cheap and start hunting for a new replacement light, one that I could buy local, not online from China.
The light I finally decided on was the Cygolite Expilion 700 and I will say I was VERY impressed.


I ran it at a mix of settings to see how well it performed, 400, 650 & 700 lumens. At 400 I felt comfortable riding at a good pace, at 650 & 700 I could go as fast as I wanted without worry.

Comparing this to the Magicshines the only downside I could find was the cost. I spent a measly $30 over what I paid for my last Magicshine but that doesn't include the shipping cost I paid for the MS.

The pros I found over the MS were the Cygo was smaller, lighter and all in one unit, I hate having a cord running down my back that I have to disconnect in order to take off my helmet. My MS claimed to put out around 800 lumens but obviously my Cygo was as bright or brighter at 700.

Other pros are, I bought this from my local bike shop who will take care of any warranty concerns I have if any arise. Buying a quality LED from a local shop really is a big plus for me. One cool thing I really like about this light is that I can cary a spare battery if I feel the need that is slightly bigger than a regular AA and that I can swap easily on the fly, tool free.

I recently read a review on the newest LED's on the market done my MTBR and they had a nice chart showing the claimed lumens and the actual recorded lumens they found in their test. It was not surprising to see that there were a couple lights in the test that did not actually put out the lumens they advertised. For example the Magicshine MJ-808 claimed to put out 1000 lumens but MTBR recorded only 648. Something else I've heard is that the MS puts out the most lumens per dollar but is that true if your technically only getting half the lumens the company claims?
Sadly Cygolite was not featured in the test but in my own little un-scientific test I think they are very close to the claimed output since they advertise 100 lumens less than my old MS but seem to be brighter on the trail.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

thanksgiving mischief

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone, my Christmas tree is already up, I've made a Christmas play list on iTunes and the shopping for presents has begun. What's that got to do with riding? Nothing really but I feel as if that's all that's been going on in my hood, not much riding at all.

Melinda's been off the bike due to a procedure she had a week ago and my lower back has been a mess so I'm pretty much taking this time as time to try and get all healed up and stuff. I've been plagued with back pain for a couple of months now and I'm afraid it means I'm in serious need to make some changes in my life style. It sucks yes but at least this isn't happening during the peak of the warm weather riding season.

Whether I like it or not I made the decision to put gears back on the FROG, I don't like it and I don't think it's the cause behind my pain but I realize it's definitely not good for getting better. Will I ever go back to one effing gear? I don't know right now, hopefully yes but it won't be anytime soon. Right now even riding gears hurts, basically anything that puts stress on my back hurts.

I'm officially taking the rest of this week off the bike and seeing how I feel this weekend. What I am doing is anything that doesn't bother my back. So far that's been hiking, yoga, push ups & pull ups. I can still stay in shape and get in a good workout without pain so I'm feeling positive.

Thanksgiving, my entire family made the trek into NE TN and we had a good time hanging out, eating too much and shooting guns.

 My Dad has started quite the gun collection and he brought them all in for our annual Thanksgiving turkey shoot. No turkeys were harmed in this event, no animals were harmed. There was one certain dog that almost got shot accidentally when we didn't realize he had gone into the tall grass behind the target area.

Our victims? About 4 to 5 cases of cheap, brightly colored soda and some random aging furniture we found in my brother in law's shed.

We shot all kinds of guns from .22 rifles, .38 pistols an SKS and a few other big pistols.

It took some prodding but I finally got Melinda to join us this year. She would only shoot the .22 rifle but she was pretty good at it.
 I would have hated to be one of the neighbors while this was all going down. I seriously hope we didn't ruin any Thanksgiving dinners or post turkey naps.

Oops I almost forgot, I did take Ocho on his first trail ride yesterday. I was anxious to see how well my mechanic skills are coming along when I put the gears back on the FROG so I took it and Ocho out to Warriors for a test run and some much needed puppy exercise. How did he do? Terrible, but that's to be expected, he's never seen me on a bike other than the back yard and he's only 6 months old. It was a short ride, less than 3 miles with a long swim break halfway through at the lake. As long as I stayed in front of him everything was good but put him out front and the hound in him slows down every 50 feet to see what that smell was.

Hopefully I'll have riding stories to tell after this weekend, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the longest day

As the work week rolled on last week I started taking mental notes of all the things I needed to do. Chores around the house before winter sets in, ride my bike, trail work, meetings about trails, ride my bike, etc.... The list kept getting longer and longer, my days off were suddenly seeming busier than the days I was working. Have you ever heard the term, "I have to go to work to get any rest?" I do it to myself really, there is so much to do and so much more that I want to do.
Early in the week my friend Brad shot me a text message saying he wanted to ride Friday, rides with Brad don't come often because he's always running ultra endurance races so I jumped at the chance. I already had an appointment at Bays with some flagging tape and an idea of some new trail so I told him to meet me there around 10:30, giving me plenty of time to squeeze in a ride before the flagging began.
Oh wait, that would mean me being gone all day for 5 days in a row leaving the dogs cooped up in the house. I decided I had better take them on a hike before I meet Brad to ride. I guess this means no need for a workout on Friday.
Just to add to the mayhem, Thursday night Melinda announced she wanted to do a night ride at Warriors Friday evening. Night rides with Melinda are something you definitely don't pass on. How many girls do you know that ride their bikes in the woods after the sun goes down? Very few my friend, very few.
Despite the chilly temperatures Friday morning the dogs decided it wasn't too cold to play in the creek. You gotta love dogs.
On my first ride of the day at Bays, Brad and I decided we would explore some of the outer trails of the park neither of us had been on. There are several old homesteads in the back country at Bays Mountain. Just looking at the old structures makes your mind wonder what life was like back then. What did they do for fun? There is nothing out there except trees and rocks.
Several of the old houses are still standing, some just barely and some maybe just a portion of a wall or two. Some still have insulation in the form of old newspaper glued to the walls.
There are a couple of waterfalls out there, none of which I had seen, the further out you go the more interesting the riding becomes. We didn't ride the entire trail, after a certain point we were hiking more than riding our bikes. The area has alot of potential for some great riding, it just needs a little work and TLC.
Thinking that the flagging would be a good opportunity for Ocho to get some more exercise I took him with me and left him in the truck while I rode. When I got back to change out of riding clothes and into hiking clothes I found that Ocho had needed to go and hadn't used the time I gave him wisely. He dropped the biggest, stinkiest bomb in the back of my truck, wow was it rank! I guess the puppy in him overrides his need to relieve himself and his attention gets turned to "ooh what's that bug" or "hey there's a stick". Thank goodness there wasn't much in the back of my truck and I have a removable mat that can be pulled out and hosed down.
We got a good amount of trail flagged but the terrain is hard to work with and I'll have to go back and walk it down a couple more times to make sure it doesn't turn into a switchback nightmare. I've already thought of 3 or 4 changes that need to be made.
On the way home Ocho crashed hard, I was feeling the same but I needed to get home refuel and get lights ready for ride #2.
Saturday was no different, go go go from the minute my feet hit the floor. I woke up ridiculously early, before 6am on a Saturday and rather than toss and turn I went ahead and got up and headed down to the donut shop for fuel for the day's trail work.
We had a project planned to do some much needed maintenance to one of the trails at Bays Mountain. Donuts always bring a smile to the dedicated volunteers who show up early on a Saturday morning to give back to their local trails. Without these folks none of us would be riding. Think about that the next time you have nothing going on, on a Saturday morning and instead of heading out to a trail workday, you decide to sleep in or go for a ride somewhere else.
We had a good crowd, alot of new folks who were excited about learning what it takes to build trails.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DS part 1: the ride

I'm going to do the best I can to write about our adventures at the Dirty South this year without making anyone jealous that they did not attend. Warning if you are already envious that you didn't get to go STOP reading now. We had a blast and everything was fun so reading this post will only make you angry.

We got any early start to the day Saturday to make sure we got there on time and scored a good parking place. We made it it to Knoxville in record time and I apologize to anyone who was following me if they felt like we drove too fast. I get a bit excited about singletrack fun filled days followed up with a good ole fashioned par-tay.

We had a good sized group, just large enough that our presence was known but not too small that we felt like the odd balls cause we didn't know anyone. Actually we caught up with several people we knew and a few new friends we meet at the Big South Fork camping trip back in September.

We pulled into a back corner of the camping area and laid our claim, set-up camp and basically just chilled out until the festivities began. Actually we commenced to starting the festivities as soon as we got there.

Another camping trip in the books for Ocho and he was really digging it. Normally the Knoxville events include canon fire late into the night that scares the crap out of my dogs but it didn't faze Ocho one bit. Moonshine on the other hand was shaking like a leaf. We kept them separated as best we could so that Ocho wouldn't pick up on her bad habits. So far so good.

As we were hanging out, un-packing and digging through cooler something bright and rainbow colored caught my eye. A tool box sitting on the ground between mine and Damon's cars that had some serious old school airbrush artwork all over it. The only thing it lacked was a Unicorn with star bursts popping all around it as it flew through the sky. BMX STYLIN' fer sho.

I had the GoPro set up and ready to go with full intentions of filming the ride and post ride activities but that fell through the cracks as I began suiting up. I just wasn't in the mood to fool with a camera all day. I just wanted to concentrate on the ride and having fun.

We opted for the advanced ride, not because we're advanced riders but more because it was the longest ride. It started out as a group of 60 plus so I knew it would break up quick. It was one of the better organized rides I've been on in a while with several ride leaders, sweepers and people stopping at every turn, making sure we all went the right way.

The Dirty South trail system, a group of around 4 or 5 trail systems all linked together via a couple of neighborhoods has had a few miles of trail added since the last time I rode it. Alot new, cool and fun stuff to ride climb and roll over, those kids in Knoxville know how to do it right. We would pop in and out of the woods in the weirdest of places, people's front yards, backyards, elementary schools and an old rock quarry. It is definitely a different experience than anything I'm used to.

Probably about halfway through our ride the ride leaders broke us up intentionally as we were getting pretty strung out when things pointed up hill. Our group decided to stick with the 2nd group and opt for a more relaxed pace that allowed us to take advantage of beverage stops and the scenery.

I'm not sure how the residents feel who's property the trails cross think of a bunch of lycra wearing dudes drinking beer in front of their house. Nobody seemed upset by our presence and we tried to behave ourselves and not pee on any bushes or leave any empties on the curb.

What was supposed to be the "Dirty Thirty" ended up being more like the "Dirty Twenty", a large portion of the trail system was closed due to hunting season, kind of a bummer but by the end of the ride my legs were ready to call it a day and the free Red Hoptober trailer was calling my name.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dirty South Part 2: the par-tay

Back to the story I was telling, we finished our ride, made a bee line for the New Belgium trailer which was already flowing, grabbed a Red Hoptober and headed back to camp to freshen up a bit. We didn't have any running water or anything so the closest we got to a shower was a box of baby wipes.

Baby wipes really only get you clean to a certain point, that certain sticky feeling just never really leaves but driving home and missing the post ride shindig just wasn't going to happen.

First things first we hit the food which was a pretty nice spread and did I mention, it was free! Then back to the NB trailer for a refill. Once the sun went down and the bonfires were lit the real action got underway. There was live music, not just a DJ which had been going for a while. The AMBC evidently has a few members who are in bands. There were 3 in the line up, each one a bit different from the rest.

The first band, I can't remember their name, was certainly out there, they were a 3 piece band that played 80's cover songs but with their own twist. The lead singer sounded like he was in pain but he sang with such confidence and swagger that I couldn't help but not like them. Most people around me thought they were terrible but the longer I listened to them the more I liked them. Call me weird, if you heard them, but I guess it was the artist in me that found something about them enjoyable.

The second band Stolen Sheep I'd heard before, probably one of the better bands of the night but not really anything that got people out dancing. Everyone seemed to enjoy them, good ole fashion rock is my best description.

The last band, Big Bad Oven, was probably my favorite, another 3 piece band with a saxophone, some sort of lap guitar, (I'm not familiar with) and a drum set. This band definitely got the crowd moving, dancing and even a semi mosh pit formed during one song. The energy was high and there was definitely plenty of beer flowing and with many pumpkins sitting around for decoration none were safe. I'm not sure how many got smashed but you couldn't walk within 20 foot of the stage with out stepping in pumpkin. I feel sorry for the folks who had to clean it up.

Anthony & Melinda getting down.

The hard core STC crew who refused to go to bed early or hit the road back to the Tri like some of the others.

More pumpkin smashing and dancing.

Late into the night a small rain storm crept in unannounced and sent everyone running for cover. Most of the STC crew headed back for cover at camp but once we got there we realized the one EZ-UP in the bunch was being used to keep Todd & Tracy's truck bed, sleeping arrangements dry. We all squeezed in around the edges hoping it wouldn't last long. Todd realized Tracy hadn't come back yet so he conned me into going with him to look for her. What we found were her, Damon & Steve under a nice awning provided by the local taco truck eating giant burritos. We decided this was a much better option so we gave a shout to the rest of the crew and waited out the storm eating burritos the size of a small child.

Some pumpkin bowling

One of the local bike shops, TVB or Tennessee Valley Bicycles, provided a free breakfast for those who camped. Cowboy coffee and mimosas were on tap, the cowboy coffee took a bit getting used to. The first few sips were a bit crunchy but after I got past that part it was pretty good.

The carnage

Probably one of the best nights I've had in a long time, I'm definitely putting it on my calendar for next year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

the cold, dark trail

Wow the winter season hit us quick, hopefully it's just a short blast and things will warm back up a bit once Sandy hits the road, at least that's what is telling me. I've never been a fan of the cold weather, my fingers & toes just can't stay warm enough, I think it's a circulation problem. I've got some of the warmest winter riding gloves, shoes & socks but sometimes I feel like I'm riding in flip flops. Nothing can ruin a ride more quickly for me than stinging fingers and toes on the bike.
With the daylight saving time change coming up next weekend, the night riding season will be in full swing as well. I thought we were ready for it with 3 separate lighting systems in the bike room but after Melinda and I both suffered dead batteries after maybe an hour of riding I quickly realized it's time to get rid of the cheap Chinese Magicshines.
Unfortunately we weren't the only ones who ran outta juice, 2 others with aging Niterider HID's walked out in the dark as well. What's bad is, our batteries were brand new with only a couple of rides on them. I sent off for the new batteries when Geoman had its recall and got 2 fresh new batteries which should have latest longer but these were worse than the ones that got recalled. Now with Geoman out of business I've got no other choice but to look elsewhere.
Over the last couple of years I've pretty much bought everything I could local and now I think it's time to do the same with my lights. I can understand buying something online if it can be bought locally but driving an hour and a half to buy at a big box store? I don't care what their return policy is, I would rather support my local guys, and it’s the right thing to do. When I bought the Magicshine's, they were selling LED's for under $100 when everyone else was $200-$300. Back then the LED market was just getting started and I couldn't bring myself to plunk down $600 just so Melinda and I could do the occasional night ride. Now things have changed, technology has gotten better and the prices have come down.
I've wanted to get away from lighting systems with a wire running down my back to the battery for a while but just couldn't justify it with 3 separate systems. Now the time has come to take the leap into the all in one unit LED's, that are all the rage right now. The technology is there and they just keep getting brighter & better.
Do the research though, I've been looking at 3 or 4 different models and it's the little details that make all the difference, like being able to swap batteries on the trail in the dark tool free. That right there is one factor that will decide which light I buy.
I'm not a huge night rider, with my shift schedule I'm able to ride during the day much more than most but there are times when everyone is doing a big night ride and I don't want to miss out on all the fun. I doubt I'll see any night racing anytime soon, I've pretty much been off the racing grid this year and the urge to pay $$$ and finish mid pack just hasn't been there this year. As far as training goes, I just can't bring myself to take the chance and ruin something I love to do. I would love to be fast and atop the podium but racing and training usually leads to missing out on the great things about mountain biking for me. Stopping and enjoying the scenery, pulling a can of craft brew outta my pack at the top of the mountain and toasting my buddies or spending weekends traveling to race venues I've already been to when I could be camping, and exploring new trails with Melinda and friends. Don't get me wrong racing can be fun and still is for me every once in a while but for now I'm just enjoying the ride.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

playing catch up

Long time no bloggy bloggy, slacking as usual, I just haven't felt the urge to spend time blogging. Call it a bust schedule, call it the need to get stuff done or spend time outside with this awesome weather we've been having, I don't know. This post is basically a photo dump with a bit of narration. Alot has been happening, winding down the camping season, the pup is growing like a freaking weed and rides galore.

A couple of week ago we hit Tsali for the weekend, the last group ride in the club schedule. It was a small affair, with a ton of other stuff going on in our region that's cycling related I wasn't surprised in the turnout. Some say "you shouldn't conflict" but really there is no way not to. I look at it as having several options for riding or racing every weekend is a good thing. Some folks I know would kill to have a busy cycling calendar in their area.

Sometimes a "smaller group" ride can be a blessing as coordinating everyone and trying to keep all the different ability levels happy can be tough. I think we do a pretty damn good job with what we have, we never really hear any complaints, mostly compliments.

Tsali couldn't have been better, the leaves were changing and the air was crisp and cool, a perfect couple of days for riding the trails.

Not really one of the more technically challenging places to ride but definitely a fun and relaxing ride, something most everyone can enjoy. We rode alot, drank a few beverages around the campfire at night and had a ton of fun. It was Ocho's 2nd camping trip and he's fitting in perfectly. I'm thinking he's going to make an excellent camping and trail dog, it's like he was made for it. He and Moonshine are like two peas in a pod, they get along like best friends and seem to have alot in common.

On the home front, I've been working at a more rounded roll in the cycling community. Not just in the events we do but our involvement with the local parks and land managers. Joe and I have managed to make our way onto the Board at Bays Mountain. I'll not deny our intentions are mountain bike trail related but it's been interesting to learn the other side of the park and it's needs.

Our second meeting of the year was held on the park's barge, we cruised around the lake and pulled into one of the coves while we enjoyed a catered dinner and discussed that month's agenda.

On one side of the cove was a huge beaver dam, roughly the size of a mid-sized car.

This Thursday a plan was laid down to do a bit of exploring in the local National forest on some old trails in Laurel Bloomery. Forgive me if a butcher some of the details as I was unfamiliar with the area and the proper names. I wasn't even 100% sure what state we were actually in during most of the ride. It had been years since our guide Rob had ridden these trails so before we even mounted up he stated we couldn't blame him if the ride sucked. Right off the bat the trail went up, up a steep rocky as hell, old jeep road that kept up from maintaining a decent pace. 

Basically if you got stopped which we all did, alot, getting back going was sometimes a feat in it's own. The trail was a momentum killer with enough rocks to make Boone's new trail, Rocky Knob look smooth. Cover that with a bunch of dead leaves and we were better off doing the hike-a-bike for the first mile and a half. Once we reached the top we came to a fork in the road and a gate with several "No Trespassing" signs.


Unsure as to which way to go we looked around and before we came to a decision, an SUV came down the road and through one of the gates. When they stopped we inquired about the area only to find out we were indeed no longer on national forest land but private property. The guy we were talking to ended up being the owner and a cocky one at that. Basically he told us our only option was to go back the way we came. Frustrated we hung out a bit while he drove off, as we sat there and discussed our options we noticed the owner didn't continue down the mountain but was waiting around the corner to make sure we left. Eventually he turned around and came back through, three times he did this trying to wait us out so we decided to just sit down and have a snack until he got tired of wasting his gas. After a few pass through he finally gave up on us and we continued on our now illegal ride.

The last time Rob had ridden here it was public land but now private and from the looks of the owner and his fancy clothes and cocky demeanor, we were looking at the future site of a mountain top golf course or swanky high end community.

We opted to make the most of our ride and a few wrong turns here and there we finally found our way back onto public land without going back the way we came.

Some of the view we saw were absolutely beautiful, unfortunately not everyone is welcome to share them. One day no doubt this will be someones front yard or the 18th hole, sad.

Once back onto legal trails we were treated to more hike-a-bike. Some required some bike shouldering that would have made any cyclocross race course look like a kids playground.

Some of the names of the ride aprticipants have been changed as most were supposed to be at home sick in bed instead of riding their bikes. Thank goodness for sick days, I'm a firm believer in using them.

After some ridiculous mountain b-hiking, we came across a double waterfall that made it all worth it.

Some frosty beverages were consumed trail/creek side as we took in the beauty of our surroundings. All the new canned craft beers were made for packing it in on a good back country ride. I can think of a better place to enjoy a good oat soda, not everything good comes in a bottle anymore.

As we cruised back down the other side of the mountain we must have crossed this stream 10-15 times, most of which were not rideable.

As hard as we tried to keep our feet dry, it was inevitable that we were going to get wet. By the time we reached the truck not a single one of us had a dry sock or shoe but we all had a blast.

Trail building opportunities have not been a problem in our area in the last few years, especially at Bays Mountain but trails signs have been. At Bays, so far the park has been the ones who have constructed all of the signs and as can be expected they're a little slow at getting them out there. A few trails in the park are lacking signs including our new trail Chestnut. About a year ago a group of boy scouts made a few, much needed signs mainly near the top and the backside of the park where people were getting lost. Unfortunately some a-hole who I'm sure is an anti-mountain biker pulled up our sign for the top of Bear Run and hid it. It had only been in place a couple of months when it disappeared. We suspected it hadn't gone too far due to it's hefty weight but no matter how much we looked we couldn't find it. Finally after a about a year it was located buried in the woods about 30 yards from it's original location. The fact that it was buried is proof someone is not happy with mountain bikers and the new trails we're building at the park.

In an effort to discourage anymore disappearances I replanted the sign with a bunch of concrete and rocks. It's sad that some folks will go that far to discourage us from using the park. The irony is that while these folks don't like our presence they do use the trails we build on a regular basis.

I'm not going to promise that I'll try to get back into the swing of blogging because I've just not felt the urge to spend the time. Hopefully that will change especially with all the cool events coming up on our calendar. Trail building season is upon us!