Friday, June 16, 2006


Yup, I'm still alive. Lately it seems like there's about a one month delay between the time I do something and the time it gets on the blog. For some reason my write-ups sit in the cue as incomplete "drafts" most of which never see the light. It's not that there's nothing going on. On the contrary, life is happening faster than I can compose, polish, and proof. Starting now though, I'm scaling back on the quality control and will try to put something up at least every week, even if it's crap. Take this next one for example, about a little ride I did last month with someone whom you may know...

Forget Disneyland, Elizabeth Furnace IS the happiest place on Earth.

Massanutten trail overlook
Massanutten trail overlook
Saturday morning: put the bikes on the car, slathered the cream cheese onto my cranberry bagel (whoa, life in the fast lane!), and Rickyd and I were on our way. The plan was to do the route that I tried last summer with Stoner and Butch. The route goes something like this: Signal Knob parking lot -> Purple trail -> Mudhole Gap -> Woodstock Tower -> Massanutten trail (Orange blaze) -> Signal Knob -> Meneka Peak trail (White blaze) -> Bear Wallow (Blue blaze) -> Signal Knob parking lot. About 20+ miles of my favorite kind of riding.

Signal Knob trail
Signal Knob trail
Last year's ride was hell, literally with the temps in the mid 90s and all those exposed fireroads with no shade, not to mention getting lost and having to hike the bikes downhill. This year's ride was much better. For one, I TOTALLY CRUSHED Ricky, yup. I'd be just riding along, you know, whistling and all, and then... "Oops, where's Ricky? Oh, he's only 10 MINUTES BEHIND. Think I'll take a nap." Just crushed him yup. But that was no fun crushing a tired Ricky. Turns out he was getting sick too. Anyone and their grandma can crush a tired and sick Ricky. But not many people I know can crush a fresh and perky Ricky. If you don't believe me look here, and here, and here too. But I digress...

An epic ride just isn't much fun unless someone almost gets eaten by a bear. Fortunately, this ride was fun. So there we were on the Massanutten trail. I stopped to take pictures and let Ricky go ahead (cos that's about the only way he'd get ahead of me, cuz I crushed him, remember?). A few minutes later I hear from up ahead, "Joe! Go back! GO BAAACK!!" as he busts through the branches running towards me with his bike. "It's a bear..." and that was all I needed to hear. I turn my bike around and pedal like mad, taking much comfort in the fact that between me and the bear, is Ricky. Turns out the bear was sliding down the tree to get away from us. Too far from the cars to go back, we decide to push on, riding slowing and being very loud so as not to surprise any more bears. The rest of the ride went without a hitch. We finished the loop we set out to do and were home in time for tea and biscuits. Oh yeah, we both cleared that pesky Signal Knob climb for the first time on this ride. Tired-and-sick-Ricky seemed to have an easier time at it than me. Sick, eh?

Massanutten Trail
Massanutten trail + rigid 29er = world peace

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Impromptu trials session
The family and I went to Stokesville for the Memorial Day weekend to take part in the Virginia IMBA Mountain Bike Festival. Wait a minute. Memorial Day? and it's already the middle of June... Yeah, I've been slackin'. Anyways... Despite the threat of rain, the weather was great and even as I was unpacking the tent Saturday morning, my spirit was already on the mountain, flying down that sweet Shenandoah singletrack. After a miserable time at Lodi, I needed this weekend. Gina headed out in the morning with a group that would ride the descent down Redish Knob. I knew she was worried that she wouldn't be able to keep up with the boyz, but I guess she did fine. She gets back a few hours later with a big smile on her face. Her trusty rigid singlespeed treated her well.

Camp and Scardaville
Top of Trimble Mountain with Scardaville and Camp
In the afternoon I headed out with the fellas for a quick spin up and down Trimble Mountain. City Bikes rider MattD set a fast pace on the road climb up to the trailhead with me gasping and weezing to stay on his wheel. While waiting to regroup, Camp shows off his wheelie skillz. Then the real fun starts as we begin the singletrack climb up to the top with Matt and Larry leading the charge for most of the way. Tough going, especially since I'm overgeared at 32x19 but we make it up with no major problems. The descent down the mountain is typical Shenandoah singletrack goodness, no surprise there.

MattD coming down Trimble Mt.
The real eye-opener was on the road ride (race?) back to camp. A nice long downhill for the most part, so I relax and let the geared folk do their thing. As expected, Matt and Scardaville drop into the big ring and shoot ahead. Then out of nowhere, JohnW zips by spinning his 32x21 with the speed of a dremmel. He catches up to the two geared ones and the three of them disappear ahead of me in a blur of spinning legs and dust.

Stokesville Observatory
Sagada at the Observatory
Back at camp, we wait for dark and then head to the Stokesville Observatory to have a peek at Jupiter and Saturn. With not a cloud in the sky and miles from city lights, both planets looked crystal clear through the telescope. The bands of Jupiter and a few of its moons were nice to look at, but the rings of Saturn were the real draw, looking just like they do in the pictures.

Sunday morning we gather up for the Southern Traverse ride, a big ride through one of the nicest ridgetop trails in the area. I had done this ride last year so I knew what to expect. This year, Scardaville, JohnW, and I opted out of the 15 mile road ride section and shuttled the cars. All in all, two flats, a broken spoke, and no serious injuries. Not bad for the Shenandoah. Flat
Scardaville on the Southern Traverse