back from the shed...

photos from "the shed" by Dennis
collage by me

a day has passed and I have had a moment to reflect upon yesterday's ride
my body is bruised and beaten
my guess is that my body is not as torn up as my bike
yesterday's ride tested the durability of my Niner" Rip9
slow speed crashes as well as many kisses shared between the pedals and the chain rings with all sorts of rocks

by the end of the ride with its repeated stream crossings frozen cables had my rear derailleur refusing to shift and my brakes were making some ugly noises as well as some unwanted friction
this made the three mile road climb out of the valley even that much more of a chore for my already depleted body
hopefully cleaning up the bike brings it back somewhere near where it should be
otherwise I may have to enlist a friend or a shop who knows more about this high technology stuff than I do

before all the memories become a blur I will proof these words from last night

saturday night at a social event that involved the birthday of SusanK the wife of MikeK
somewhere in the action of the evening there was mention of a ride in "the shed"
not sure if I was invited or if I overheard Punga and MikeK talking about it
perhaps I invited myself
after being invited I extended the invite to Cargo Mike
there were developing tentative plans for a ride at Old School Gambril
the offer to ride "the shed" sounded like an upgrade
"the shed" is Gambril 2.0

it was not a long night
the morning did come on fast and early
all my effort to hug the pillow and get in one more scrabble game before I walked the dog had me in the car and pointing west on I-270 towards Frederick a few minutes behind schedule
once on the road and rolling I made contact with MikeK to alert him that I would be a few minutes late
I also informed him I was approaching solo... Cargo Mikes bike with 650B's was not yet operational
which worked out fine... because a cross town trip to grab Cargo Mike would have pushed me even further behind schedule

not sure how long... but I have been hearing this buzz about some new trials in
"the shed"
the weekend prior was the SINGLE SPEED PUNK ENDURO which was held somewhere in this area... perhaps Gambril... perhaps "the shed" ... perhaps both
my guess is they covered some of what we rode today
I have heard of fresh trails... I have heard a buzz of the quality of these trails
this day was going to give me an opportunity to sample some of these trails

although I knew I was late I tried not to be a HIGHWAY STAR
as much as the energy of Government Issue Joy Ride may have invigorated me I tried to maintain composure
always traveling at highway speed
never being the fastest car on the road
never being the slowest car on the road
trying to go highway speed and let a solid pace without any erratic or obnoxious moves get me there as stress free as possible as well as safe as possible
without a speeding ticket if possible

it snowed in a very wintry way as I drove west on Interstate 270 out of The District towards the shallow hills of Western Maryland
as I drove I wondered if I should be taking my seven year old son skiing rather than heading out with friends to go mountain biking
some of this was fear that I could be a better father
some of this was apprehension that the already technical terrain would be unriddable
well... there was no time to mince emotions with objectives
my choice had been made... too late to alter my trajectory
skiing with my son would have to happen another day
this day had already been designated as a dad day

specifics are starting to surface as I recall that the conversation with MikeK were more than one
as I approached the road into Gambril State Park the phone rang
it was MikeK the meeting spot had been changed
no longer were we headed to Hamburg Road
a spot that feeds into trails that I am moderately familiar with
we would be meeting somewhere deeper in "the shed"

my car climbed the mountian road flanked with hardwoods of various sizes none of which seem that old
with a dense patch of rhododendrons creating a second canopy three or four feet off the ground
the ground was covered with a dusting of fresh snow
but not so much that the contours of the leaves and rocks could not be seen
not enough snow for sledding so... not too much snow to prevent mountain biking
the air was cold and the wind was blowing... it was going to be a cold day on the bike
the sky was a mix of white and blue leaving a riddle of what to expect for the day ahead
I had gear for it... but I was not sure what "it" was going to be

past the parking lot to the humble summit then down past Hamburg Road
tension lessened about being on course or missing a turn as I caught a friendly familiar site.... cars with bikes... after closer assessment I saw that they were familiar four wheel forms... Jonathan Wheaton was two cars ahead and I would discover later that it was Mike Scardaville in the Jeep directly in front of me
we pulled into a crowded gravel lot in what may have been the last three spaces

our group was eleven players strong
a small group of silver haired foxes entered the woods separate from us and before us
I learned later that a member of that group was 75
WOW! that is humbling

excitement and anxiety was a buzz as people swarmed around the parking area
I was a few minutes late
my guess is some of these people had been a few minutes early
it was almost ten am by the time we started into the woods with our eleven segment caterpillar

there was maybe a quarter inch of crunchy white stuff coating everything
the snow was dry
knobby tire tracks painted the path for the following riders
the fast line and the smart line was set by the leading riders who were not only more skilled but also more familiar with the trails
a few times I got off line and selected an alternate path and I soon learned that their chosen path was not only the preferred path but also the only path
hopefully the riders behind me were not distracted by my failure to maintain the obvious line

the lead group consisted of our two wheeled tour guides Blaze and MikeK after that Wheaton
Scardaville and myself swapped out some back and forth
Wheaton calmly clearing most everything on his rigid single speed
Scardaville going for most everything and clearing a good deal on his new custom rig
I flailed and failed
there was some hit or miss success with things
there was also some slip and some slam

it was a long day in the woods
we covered some terrain but we did not cover too many miles
a group of eleven riders can be a bit of a unnatural rhythm...the accordion tends to stretch
a caterpillar this long does not move as fluidly as a several segmented caterpillar
there was a good amount of stopping and waiting so that no one got lost on the unfamiliar trail
it was the right thing to do

it was hard... it was painfully hard
the snow was not a variable of any hindrance
the technical demands of the trails in "the shed" are challenging on any day
the unfamiliar bike and the unfamiliar terrain were making hard work of things for me
the stop and go did not help with my effort to find a rhythm

when I found a rhythm I also found a I smiled
and well... there was lots of smiling
I even backed it up to retry some of the covert man made large stone paths through the rock gardens
looking back I now realize I should have been trying and retrying some of the technical sections instead of standing around and waiting for the pack to collect
it was rewarding to find the line and to make it through without a dab
a dab is fine... but dabless is better
my foot was dabbing here there and well... just about everywhere

it was a good gathering
everyone was having a good time
a long day on the bike
we rode from morning through lunch on into the afternoon
my stomach was growling
sure there was time to refuel on our numerous breaks
but there gets to a point where my stomach calls out for something other than my options of water, Rasberry Hammer Gel and Classic Granola Bars were better than nothing... but not quite enough
yes... I bonked
I was spent...
spent a bit before the end of our ride
all I had was left on the trail

Iceberg, Rock Candy, Viper, The Pit...

too many names for me to recall
too many turns for me to try to retrace what was where and what offered what
lots of fun
lots of rocky technical fun
fun that was only available if you were willing to work for it
fun that will have me headed back to these trails

somewhere in the ride some of our group disbanded
the day was getting late and we all do not have time for such lengthy affairs
I was anxious about the expiration of my permission slip
but that anxiety was all for not
our ride had gone so late that I could not get home before the boys had a birthday to attend

there were sections of the trail that gave wide smiles and elevated heart rates
when I cleared various obstacles or managed to stay vertical on the mentally technical rock paths I was charged
the miles and miles of technically challenging and technical invigorating trails had me energized
the notion that this network of trails exists for the mountian bike riders of this region had me not only proud but pleased that such a network of trails will only aid in making not only better riders but better people
not only better people but a better mountain bike community

it sound corny
but it is true
I got to meet and ride with a number of people who I would have never met before if it were not for our shared love for the bike and this day
good day on the bike
getting back to "the shed" is on my mental agenda

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