it was a beautiful day for a bike ride in the woods...

this Sunday past I went mountain biking at Patapsco Valley State Park with Mike Klasmeier...

last week there was all sorts of chatter on the DCMTB Team list serve
all sorts of talk about meeting to ride a portion of the MoCo Epic
having done the 65 Mile version of the MoCo Epic just a few weekends prior I did not need to sample any sections
that event was only a few weekends ago and I can still feel some of the pain of riding a single speed at a good pace for 65 miles
this had me open to other options

great event... great day...
want to hit some of those loops again soon
but not this soon
so I looked and listened for other options

sure enough other options were presented...
MikeK sent out a message saying he was planning on heading to Patapsco
this sounded tempting... so I inquired for details
I asked... Single Speed or Squishy bike...
MikeK said squishy...
I asked where and what time

"8am at Rockburn... by the pump track"

this worked for me
as the day turned to night there were weather reports that there may be some precipitation from the rapidly approaching Hurricane Sandy
a message from MikeK on the list said... "already not looking good"
so... we had the set meeting time with an escape plan
but there was an unspoken understanding that the meeting time would be canceled if the night delivered any volume of rain
or if it was raining in the morning
it seemed that I was planning more for the escape than for the ride

I spent Saturday night spinning my Single Speed cyclocross bike in a cheer leader's outfit while wearing a Luche Libre Mexican wrestling mask with The DC Bike Party

although I did not stay up late... well young person late
I returned home at a decent hour and drank another beer before going to bed
I may have been in bed by midnight
not the route we took... but we rode somewhere in there
not finishing packing my gear
not finishing prepping my bike

it looked like it was going to rain
so I was content with the issues that I did not have complete riding gear in my bag
and there were still no pedals on the Squishy geared Niner Rip Nine

I think part of me was not just expecting rain, but wanting rain
not sure why... but part of me wanted to be lazy
gotta fight those impulses to be sedentary
gotta fight those impulses to be lazy

morning came fast
like a blink of an eye and it was morning
no alarm was set
but I woke up on time
I rushed to see what the night brought

from the bathroom as I peed I tried to get a measure of the day before me and the night past

the backyard was dry
the patio and deck did not have the sheen of a heavy rain
thinks looked dry
bone dry... going riding dry

so... I... 
I climbed back into bed
yes... just five minutes... only five more minutes... I will be recharged and ready if I just get five more minutes
I knew it was wrong... I felt guilty... but it felt good... the bed still warm and the outside world cold I fell back asleep
then I heard my wife's voice... "when are you going mountain biking?"

"now... oh shit NOW!"

it had been more than five minutes
my waking up early to finish packing gear and prepping my bike then arriving on time
well... that time was gone
but there was still time to arrive pretty much on time

but no...
I was less than efficient
I was slow out of the gate
scratching my head about what to wear... contemplating what to have for breakfast... 
all the things that should have been the night prior were being done the morning of
and that included having to stop for GAS!

oh man...
the moderately new phone does not have MikeK in the contacts
I emailed the group to let people know I was heading out the door
cell number included in that email
although I did not see it till later there was a message from our other Patapsco maybe... Mike Scardaville was backing down

I drove on the near carless streets in the morning light
the windshield wipers were not on... but it wanted to rain
at a long light I sent another email saying I was running late
then when stopped for gas I made mention of my being on Interstate 95
No Map. No GPS.

the drive was nearly trafficless... but it is hard to make a 45-55 minute drive in 20 minutes
especially when you have to stop for gas
stopping for gas definitely ads some time

as I drove I tried to fuel up... but I did not bring that much to eat
I hoped that the midnight snack of the night prior would be all that I needed
again... I left the Red Bull behind me
I questioned of that was the right decision while I snacked on a variety of foods... most of which would normally be put into the kids' lunch boxes... kid yogurt.. kid chocolate milk... kid chocolate covered chewy granola bar... a banana and coffee and I was done

oh man.... a glance at the clock
I would not be 10 minutes late... I would not be the unacceptable 15 minutes late
no... it would be worse than that... nearly 30 minutes late
unacceptable... I would not put up with that... no one would put up with that... that is unacceptable
then the phone rang... it was MikeK... "you coming? are you coming? today? are we gonna ride bikes? today?...  today?"
or something to that effect...
it was all playful... there was no bite in his voice... me... I would not put up with that... guess I need to relax

with the heads up that I was 10 minutes away I hung up the phone and tried to drive fast and efficient without being that asshole behind the wheel
rolled passed a mess of cars on Landing Road and pulled into the Rockburn Athletic Field area 
then up the hill to the pump track

smiles and a little sarcasm
MikeK was ready to ride
there was no one else
it pleased me that MikeK was patient with my unacceptable tardiness
so much so that he did not rush me as I suited up and pulled my bike off the car

then... on the bikes and into the woods
MikeK leading... as this is more MikeK's homecourt than my own
and... he is a more technical rider selecting a faster more sensible line
with the ability to ride more fluid and pretty than myself

so I followed
I followed in an effort to better understand how to ride this bike
the full suspension bike is still a foreign language to me
gears and full suspension are not my native language 

in the woods it was fast and dry with a good deal of leaves on the trail
the leaves had been pressed enough by other trail activity that there was no question where the trail was
only a little mystery of what was hidden under the leaves

it was nice... no sign of a threatening storm in the distance
a gentle breeze... but more fall-esque than harbinger of the storm to come
we rode the yellow brick road of yellow leaves on to our mountain bike OZ
in an open field under the powerlines the trees in the distance were a glow in all that Indian Summer splendor
lots of orange and yellow... not much brown or green

Autumn was around us

we reentered the woods 
warming up and catching up

a little time on the flats and we were onto some stuff that was a little faster and a tad more technical
we stopped at one little drop off that I was refusing to ride
MikeK rode it at speed like it was nothing I wanted to ride it
but my hands kept pulling the brakes and refusing me 
I hiked up it three times
each time failing to take it

MikeK gave me some technical coaching
the five degrees this and ten pounds that
it was like a GRE question that made me realized that I did not know how to ride a bike
never knew I had to have a compass and a protractor to ride a bike
guess that is why I am not a more technical rider... no physics classes in my school history

with the drop off behind us we flowed over fallen logs and down deeply rutted paths that were both trail and paths for water when it rains
on into the streams
following MikeK's fast line over the middle rather than picking a line from side to side
taking the streams with a little speed heading in so that there was enough speed to get out

it was quiet
the park is beautiful in many ways
the calm before the storm
no sign of the storm
just a beautiful fall day
an amazingly beautiful fall day

we encountered a familiar face on a rigid Niner single speed and a few hikers
then as we got deeper in we were once again alone
until we ran into some more single speeders
of course MikeK knew them
so we linked up

Joe and British Dave if I remember correctly
MikeK and Joe took the front
Dave and I maintained chase position
it was nice.... we rolled through some unfamiliar trail and then some trial I knew
on into more trail that was unfamiliar to me

I may have known the majority of trail that we rode
but I was astounded at the quality of some of the trail that was new to me
there was a nice rocky section that was uncharacteristic to the Patapsco that I am familiar with 
and the familiar stuff... that made me smile too

somewhere later in our ride we were moving pretty good
I was not on the wheels of MikeK and Joe... but I was chasing pretty good
then on a moderately technical all or not downhill my front end washed out just as I took the turn to drop in
my front tire was near pancake flat

I added air to my Stans Tubeless set up
I could see and hear the spot where I had the leak
tried to adjust the bead... but no luck
the tire was losing air fast

a great excuse to walk a good section of trail

I pumped things up and we rolled forward
only to discover that the slow leak was not so slow

I pumped things up again and we started knocking out some more trail in the woods
after dropping in on Cascade with a nearly flat front end it was decided that putting a tube in made more sense than pumping this thing up and crossing my fingers that it would fix itself
it was clear that I needed more sealant... not riding and not working on this had me knowing the error was mine

with a tube in the tubeless tire and the tubeless rim we were back on the trail
a slow slog and a little grind to climb out of the valley and then MikeK and Joe were flowing the trails real pretty
nice fluid lines with some dance moves tossed in
while Dave and I each expressed ourselves a little differently

my being not so fast and fluid... trying to learn how to ride a squishy bike with my Orc-like body that is so much more familiar with the hammer and thrust of the single speed

we rode a little more trail taking us back to Landing Road where Dave and Joe were parked
leaving them there
then finishing the final bit of trail back through the woods and up to the car at the RockBurn Pumptrack

at the Pump Track MikeK and I caught up some more
then did a few laps on the Pump Track on MikeK's jump bike
I was too tired to enjoy it... my arms were feeling the effort from the ride that just happened
it seemed like a joyful ride full of smiles
how did Paul sneak on this post?
with no strong deadline for getting home with any immediacy MikeK and I solved all the world's problems before getting in our cars and pointing for home
well... MikeK pointed for home
while I went to the nearest restuarante and got some Pad Thai noodle
I was famished... the morning ride on a mid-night snack had me in need of some sustenance

that Pad Thai hit the spot... the flavor and the heat had me breaking a sweat after I though I could sweat no more

MORE: Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts page on Patapsco

Gwadzilla Mention of Patapsco

Images from the Halloween Themed DC Bike Party

some History of Patapsco here


1 comment:

Pat Morgan said...

Nice route! Do you have any advices for a new cyclist who wants to explore trails inside the woods? Thanks!