Monday, August 20, 2012

What the Fork?? XXL in WV

LollaPellerinOoza in Wild Wonderful West Virginia!! 

XXL and friends met up at Camp Pellerin on Friday evening where beers and bourbon were flowing and a fine meal was to be had.  We all hung out on the porch enjoying the company and the crisp cool mountain air.  To ensure that Saturday morning's wake-up was extra special, Simona passed out Mojitos.  Friday evening highlights - trip mascots Bert & Ernie, a belligerent and somewhat incoherent toast attempt, and who could forget Honey B's attempt to "right" the cabin screen door by smashing into it from the opposite side.

12-week old Ernie Pellerin.  It's tiring being the life of the party!!
Sat morning greeted us all a bit too early but the call of the North Fork and Mike's pancakes could not be resisted.  For those that did not immediately rise to the smell of coffee and pancakes, Dave's performance of Reveille on his trumpet outside a certain bedroom window woke up every living (and perhaps dead) thing within a ten mile radius.  After much unresolved debate about snoring sources, with our bellies full and heads ringing, we piled into the cars and drove to the trail head to meet up with more XXL friends.

Headin' out!

The weather was cool but not too cold and the sun was trying to break through the early morning mist as we put wheels down.  The ride got off to a slow start as a half mile in we experienced the first mechanical -- HB's rear derailleur.  Joel had to break the chain, put the derailleur on a rock, and pound on the hex wrench with another rock in order to remove the bolt attaching the derailleur to the broken-off piece of the hanger.  "Fun stuff playing caveman by trailside," said wrench Kennet, though we suspect he was a natural.  The trail was quite littered with branches, twigs and even downed trees.  The twigs and branches proved to be too much, at least for Joel's rear derailleur, which was toast at mile four.  He ended up having to limp back to the car, done for the it seemed.

Rear derailleur victims - Mr & Mrs Honey Badger
The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful aside from the 6'-7' black snake on the trails edge which Simona wasn't too thrilled about.  Fortunately most of us didn't see it and, as always, ignorance is bliss.

No snakes!!!

A few nasty hike-a-bikes, but overall the North Fork is spectacular ridge riding with awesome views.  We reached the start of the final descent and low and behold there was Joel at one of the overlooks waiting for us.  He went into Davis, got a new RD, got his bike working and rode pretty much all the way up that hairy-arse climb from the bottom to meet up with us.  Cold beer and shuttle vehicles awaited our arrival.

Stick a North Fork in me!!! 
When the chill set in we got in our smelly cars and headed back to the PellerinOoza for burgers on the grill and a much more subdued evening.
Sunday morning brought the expectation of another ride -- a Spruce Knob loop.  Sadly it started to rain and as we all headed down the drive leaving the cabin the rain only became more intense.  By the time we reached the gate, any riding had been cancelled and all were heading home. 

Overall, a great weekend, great company and great ride on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Ho-hum.  Brenda tops the podium again.  It's kind of annoying but we love her anyway.  What is her secret?  Is it her VO2 max?  Strength-to-weight ratio?  Her cycling skirt?  Her mysterious and unabashed preference for Bud Light Lime?  1st Place, Sport Female, EX2 Cranky Monkey Series Race #1, Schaeffer Farms, MD, defeating a deep field of 18 women.  You go, girl!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Good Times at the Gap

Wolf Gap was a ton of fun.

The first part of the ride was an easy 3 miles on a gravel road, which  was followed by a steeper 2 miles on blacktop, which took us to the WV border and the Wolf Gap campground.

This led us to the Mill Mountain Trail and the dirt portion of the ride, which started with just under a mile of super steep hike-a-bike.  I am pretty sure that no one liked me at that point, because I didn't like myself. Sweat was flowing off me like there was faucet turned on. Thankfully, that turned out the be hardest uphill of the day.

Jason is a jerk.
After taking a small break, we hit the ridgeline. Very good stuff. Lots of rocks, technical, and reminded me some of the North Fork WV trail. Definitely some challenging riding.

Nice form, Mike P
After a mile, we took a side trip to see Big Schloss. It's a very cool rock feature on top of the ridge. The majority of us left our bikes behind, but Matt and Ron brought that up for the ride back down. The view from the top was awesome. There was a 360 degree view into VA and WV. Joel and Ernie used this opportunity to properly rehydrate Ten Fidy style. It was very crowded up there with hikers, which surprised me. I think that we might have just been unlucky and hit some sort of critical mass. The hike back down had some sketchy sections, but Matt and Ron rode it all in style. The pictures of Matt and Ron make it look a lot flatter than it was. Very impressed.

Fueling up
We continued for another mile on the Mill Mountain Trail, which continued to be rocky, technical, and exposed. There was multiple "WHOA!!"s exclaimed as you came upon a rock hiding is some tall grass. We hit the intersection for the Big Schloss cut off trail, but continued on the Mill Mountain Trail. The character of the trail changed and became slightly less technical and was under the cover of trees. This was a fun section. A little more flow, but you had to be on your guard for a tight turn or technical, rocky section. Was definitely a highlight of Mill Mountain.

Eventually the trail turned upwards again and turned into another hike-a-bike. Thankfully, it was not as much of a grunt as the first one. We crested the top and there was some momentary indecision on which way to go. Matt and Larry were able to use their GPS to figure out where we were.

We turned onto the Tuscora Trail and a made a short descent to the Little Stoney Run Trail and the start of the real downhill. We had heard it said that this downhill was a waste of gravity.  It was a great downhill. Narrow, rocky bench cut single track for 3.5 miles. A couple of hard moves that were all doable, but required you take a deep breath. I am done having kids, which is good because I racked myself pretty good on one of them. Larry, Matt, and Ron were gone on the downhill. The rest of us would regroup, which did not take away from the trail at all. Mike, Steve, and I were in a line on the downhill and we all launched off a log into a rock garden. All rides need a good 'Oh Sh!t" moment and that was it. Mike might of had another when he somehow managed to make an abrupt and unplanned high speed 90 degree turn into the woods.

Oh $h-t moment
The downhill finished exactly where we parked the cars. Perfect. A couple of beers and we headed back. No mechanicals, no injuries. Awesome. There are lots of trails out there and we could find a big ride that would allow us to shuttle. We will have to figure it out.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

XXL Across the Pond

Brad W. proudly dons the XXL jersey after a big win in London.  It's not the W@W, but we're still proud.  1st Place, Men's 44km time-trial, XXX Olympic Games.  Brad averaged 32+mph.  Way to go Wiggo!!!!

Captain Steve joined Brad for the after-party, where Brad seriously underperformed XXLs typical standards.  We've invited Brad to train with us at Rattling Creek this year to improve his post-ride activity skills. "Blind drunk" after a couple vodka tonics?  Come on Wiggo, we've got a reputation to uphold.

As a result of Brad's winning performance at one of the lesser known Cranky Monkey races this year, the Tour de France, XXL management is willing to overlook the after-party embarrassment.