Monday, September 19, 2005

Douthat, Fall 2005

Threw the singlespeeds on the car, took the dog to the kennel, snuck out of work early on Friday, and presto-- Gina, Sagada, and I were on our way to the annual MORE Fall camping trip to Douthat. After slogging through DC traffic, we got there a little after dark, set up camp, and went to sleep early in anticipation of a full day of riding and hanging out with friends and family, and more riding.

Morning at Douthat Lake

Woke up with the sunrise to a beautiful Saturday morning, grabbed a slice of French toast from Scud's world famous traveling diner and got the bikes ready. The plan was to do a short (~2 hr) ride and be back to let Gina ride. After a group shot (click):

The MORE gang

I met up with the usual gang: Foley, Scardaville, Miller, JonW, Rob, and a few others. JonW is sporting a Trek Fuel turned singlespeed. Scardaville and Foley put the hammer down to draw out the faster riders to the front of the pack. What started out as a huge group of ~30 riders soon split into smaller groups as people found their natural paces. The plan is to ride Laurel View to Locust Gap to Stony Run, climb up to Middle Mountain, blah blah blah. I was never any good at directions.

Laurel View Trail

Scardaville is going off like a bullet, leaving us behind on the twisty singletrack to Stony Run. I'm sitting in the middle of the group taking it easy. Most of us had just finished the sm100 a few weeks ago and I, personally, was looking forward to some nice casual riding to wind down my season.

The climb up Stony Run is long and twisty, but never too steep-- the perfect singlespeed climb. Singlespeed climbing is a lesson in moderation. Try to go too fast and you might be toast before you get to the top. Go too slow and, without the ability to downshift, your cadence slows to an agonizing slog. The trick is to find the cadence that produces minimum effort. But the point of minimum effort doesn't always translate to an easy time, hence, the stereotypical image of the singlespeeder gasping for air, tugging at the bars, and using all sorts of contortional body english to get up the climb. He/she is taking the path of least resistance, although it doesn't always look it. That was me climbing up the switchbacks of Stony Run. Oh yeah, while I'm going through my contusions, Jens and Evan pass me like I'm standing still.

Scardaville is waiting for me at the top. I had caught up to him but I couldn't hang on. Before the rest of the group arrives I take a quick detour to the Tuscarora Overlook with Jens and Evan. I head back to the main trail to find my group after I snap a few pictures. No luck. A group of hikers tells me that a group of bikers had already passed by a while ago, so I set off to try to catch them. Turns out that my group was still behind me and I was chasing ghosts. I descend on Salt Stump and Backway Hollow back to camp to meet up with Gina. Little did I know, the girls were already on their own little epic on the other side of the park.

Later that afternoon, I take Louis and Steve on the classic Mountain Side/Brushy Hollow loop. It was their first time on trails like this. It was probably Steve's first time on any trail at all. But what a trail it was:

Mountain Side Trail

Later that night was the potluck dinner. Last year Gina and I made Spam sushi. This year we opted for the more conventional abodo chicken. As usual, there was more good food that I could shake a broken deraileur at.

There was only time for a short ride the next day. So I headed out with the usual suspects for a quick loop around the lower trails. I got to try JonW's full-sussy SS. It was neato. Smooth as butter over the rocky downhills, but I miss the responsiveness and efficiency of my rigid Monkey on the climbs. And I like to climb. Anyone wanna shuttle me *down* the hill? heh heh...

It's only been a couple of days since I got back and already Scud's reserved the Douthat Guest Lodge for the spring. Looks like I'll be back.


Post a Comment

<< Home