This is my 3rd year of doing the IMBA VA mountain bike festival. I have always liked riding these epic rides in the GW forest. When I came three years ago, it was the first time I did downhills long enough for my legs to hurt. This year a lot of the usual folks I ride with did not come, so I went down not knowing who I was going to ride with. I also took down Sara with me—she had not gone camping in a long time, and the weather looked good for the weekend. We got there in the dark on Friday night, set up our tent and then talked with folks and I saw Evan who used to ride with DCMTB there, and talked about riding with him. I know Evan is fast, but he said that he was not going to be going all out on Sat.
We get up Sat, and Sara knew I would be gone for a bit, but she had decided to do a long run to train for her half marathon the following weekend. So Evan and I start out and were trying to meet Joe and JJ at Brailey's pond. Well Hankey is longer than I thought. Evan was going at a real good clip, but I went my own pace and finally caught up to him when he stopped. Towards the top of the climb we were with the group ride that went out that day. On the descent at Dowell's I was not able to let it hang out and had three guys pass me, who I then passed on the uphill. I am still have issues with off-camber stuff. I was kinda annoyed at myself, but tried to ride better. Got down to the bottom and Evan and I turned to Brailey's to meet Joe and JJ. Well we were way late, and Evan's bike was kinda messed up, so we worked on that for like a half hour, and then did Brailey's pond backwards. The group we passed was now coming down the trail, but it was interesting going up the trail instead of down it. It is a totally doable climb, whereas coming from the other way you usually dab somewhere. We get to the top and then go down the stuff you usually come up. I was leading on the climb riding a pretty hard tempo for me, and I told Evan to come around and he was like,"no the pace is good." Going up the climb that way took some fire out of me. Going down the other side is shorter, but more rocky, so more technical in nature. We then pacelined on the road to the store to refill before going up Dowell's draft. The store was closed, so that was almost a ride killer. Luckily for us the weather was so nice in the 70's that I wasn't sweating as much as years gone by and riding with just Evan we were really cruisin'. I saw that I had enough to get back to the campsite, but just enough. On Dowell's we had a hard time finding the trail back up, but we backtracked and found it. Once on the climb I told Evan to go ahead, and I was then able to ride my own tempo, which was pretty good, but then towards the top started failing me. Once we got to the top at one of the summits we met up with Joe and JJ, and then kept on to the campsite. We hooked up with this fast younger guy from Haymarket Cycles and he and Evan rode together. I would catch up to them from time to time, when they stopped, then I would pass them cause I was cooked and needed to keep moving. I did end up wrecking going down Hankey. I don't think it was because I was tired, but I hit some mud that sent me into two trees and I scraped my face on one of them. I got back completely spent. I cleaned up in the stream, and ended up getting a huge calf cramp that didn't go away until I moved my foot with my hand (my foot wouldn't move when my brain told it to). That night was the Potluck and Sara and I made some steaks I brought. The meat turned out pretty good, and I went around and served it to people like a hot dog vender, and the people who were able to get it really liked it.
9 mph avg
Elevation? not sure but 3 climbs that took 45 minutes or so each.
Since I had done a big ride the day before, I was going to do a shorter ride and hang out with Sara. Well I went out with the Foley brothers to do the first 25-30 miles of the SM100 course. One thing that was interesting was how much longer Narrowback seems doing it on a normal ride. For me in the SM100 race, Narrowback was the only part I was really racing. It was fun to ride the Cookie trail, without people being in your way so you could ride it all which I think I would have if I wasn't in the wrong gear! Well things were going well, but then at the bottom of the downhill my pedal seized up. So it was ride over for me. I then rode back to the campsite one legged (luckily the way back on Tillman is mostly downhill). I saw Sara on the road running so asked if she would like to do a short tandem ride. She thought that would be fun, so she ran back with me pedaling one-legged. We get the tandem set up, and were going to do like a 15-20 mile ride, since we were to ride the next day anyway. We start going down this road, and we get to an intersection that has rt. 731 going 3 different ways. Well we got back on track, and then the road turns to gravel, the tandem had 28mm tires, which are small for gravel, but I have done it before without problems. So we go down a hill and then blowout! It is always scary when a front tire especially blows out on a tandem, but I was able to keep it under control and then started to change the tube. Well I look at the tire and it is a side wall cut, and a big one.... So I used a sticker from the bike rim to boot it, but it was still slightly bulging. So Sara suggested we walk the bike out of the gravel road (good idea) and then we gingerly rode back to the campsite, which ended up being closer then we thought. We rode the climb into the park pretty good, so we should be prepared for tomorrow's Tandem ride. People were drinking it up that night Sara and I served burritos which was good way to help out. Also we played Bocce ball with Mike, Tris, Jessica, and gang. Jessica, who I think is joining our team, seemed to have a good time riding some epic singletrak.
Sara and I had gotten most of our stuff together the night before, and then in the morning packed the car, which Sara mostly did (great job) while I was putting on bigger semi-slicks on the tandem which I should have had on there all along. I had gotten some maps and had figured a route for us to do and figured it was around 35-40 miles, but we could shortcut it a bunch of places if we were tired. The bike now had 40mm tires and the bike had a lot softer ride to it. We got out and rode what we did the other day passing where we got a flat. The tires were perfect because with the route we took we would do paved road, then hit dirt, then paved again. The route I picked riding along the stream was a good road. Once we got on the way back that is when things got screwy. The map we had was wrong after looking at Google Maps when we got back. We ran into some women cyclists who knew the area but not the roads per se. We went back the way we came and then took what I thought to be the route we wanted to be on, and then we saw the 2 miles to the Stokesville Observatory, so we knew we were close, and somehow we were on 731—the road that seems to teleport you to places out there. We got back and really pushed it up the climb into the park, and ended up with a 2.5 hour ride time, and Sara really enjoyed her first real tandem ride. We packed up and left, and then saw the women cyclists on the road, on our way to Bridgewater. So another great weekend, hopefully that 40 mile ride will help out the training for Big Bear.