Wednesday, September 26, 2012

XXL Does Davis

XXL needs a "Debbie" on our roster for better blog titles.  Anywho, the team had another amazing fall weekend of riding.  Just when we thought nothing could top the sweet riding at Rattling Creek, along comes the MORE annual camping trip, this year in Davis, West Virginia. 

Gotta love fall

We all filtered in Friday evening, set up camp, met some Sasquatch hunters, and then set off for dinner at a local favorite, Blackwater Brewing, known for their Jager Schnitzel.  After dinner, a few pitchers of stout, and a good-old-fashioned "Dumb and Dumber" quote-fest, it was back to our weekend home, Blackwater Falls State Park, to enjoy a campfire in crisp fall weather.  Team XXL was assigned the two campsites closest to the ranger station.  Ordinarily this would prove to be the worst decision ever, but lucky for us it was the sMOREs (the little ones) that got the first noise complaint, distracting the ever-watchful authorities.  But team XXL was unusually mellow Friday evening, filled with anticipation about the big Saturday ride.

Two of our Niners, resting up for the big ride -- or are they mating?

Rumors about the "difficult" Saturday ride began to swirl around the campground.  The ride, originally advertised as 4-6 hours of challenging terrain for experienced cyclists, was now expected to be an 8-10 hour sufferfest on impossibly challenging terrain and the ride leader, former pro coming off a win at this year's SM100, Sue Haywood, would lead us to certain death and dismemberment.  Be afraid!

But Saturday morning came and XXL was not going to turn down a challenge, especially if the Honey Badger was coming with us.  Sue and another local, Todd, patiently and generously led a most fantastic ride through some of the sweetest, rockiest, winding singletrack one can imagine.  We hit Son of Plantation, Plantation, Firelane, Forbidden Forest, Mossyback, Mini Moab, Spruce Forest, Hellbender, Splash Dam...which included beautiful forests, open exposed rocky surfaces, sweeping views, fast downhills, lovely streams, and oh yes, did I mention rocks?  The ride ended up being a bit longer than anticipated due to a 1 hour mechancial delay and a group-split in the later half of the ride, but overall an incredible day.  Our team photographer spent Saturday leading the sMOREs ride, so the images of the ride will live only in our minds.

Our photographer's sMORE, next generation XXL

Saturday night was the MORE pot luck dinner and contest, with one XXL dish (Texas Caviar) getting a nomination.  With the toughest ride behind us, and Joel's birthday due at midnight, the Saturday campfire festivities were a little more lively.  This weekend's "Mayor of Drunkingham" award winner, a friend of the team, was tossed into his tent by his belt and greeted unhappily by his sleepy and sober tent-mate.  His XXL escorts, true friends that they are, could not have zipped that tent up fast enough before running away.

CVI Ride

The team split up on Sunday.  One group went off to do a downhill ride at nearby Timberline.  The rest of us hit the CVI trails right next to town.  Not nearly as challenging as the day before but still technical, diverse, and fun.  These trails included the famed "Moon Rocks" which live up to their name and reputation; definitely a worthy destination.

Ernie on the Moon Rocks

Thoroughly whooped, we headed back into town for the famed burritos at Hellbender...fabulous!...then it was time to head home.  Thank you Davis...until we meet again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Keeping the Bash Alive

The annual Rattling Creek Bash -- our season closer to celebrate another great summer of racing, and the weekend that reminds us that there is nothing better than a weekend of bikes and beers in the woods with your pals. 

Camp XXL

As avid proponents of the three+ day weekend, XXL started arriving on Thursday to claim our annual camp site and get a Friday ride in.  Friday turned out to be eventful, as one of our teammates took a nasty spill.  Says Joel: "I landed on a pointed rock that gave me a rather severe, deep bruise to the thigh.  I got lightheaded, threw up, and had to lie down for a while before walking out to the road."  For those of you wondering, this describes a ride (not campfire) injury, although it is a reasonable question and we should note that we cannot confirm the contents of our teammate's Camelbak.  We're happy to report that Joel came back strong and rode both remaining days.

Friday night the rest of the cavalry arrived and the festivities began.  XXL has mastered the art of deluxe car camping.  After all, what campfire is complete without a generator, light strands, and ipod tune-age.  After a bottle of birthday bourbon made it's way a couple of times around the campfire and some of us made friends with our neighbors who possessed a "shot ski," the deep cuts on the ipod came out...and, as one would expect, dancing, congo lines, Honey Badger massages, and sweat-pants flagging were quick to follow.  (Note to ipod owner -- while it was a nice attempt blaming your spouse for the presence of Barry Manilow mp3s, we know they're all you!)  One teammate had us all concerned as he biked in circles around the campfire, each time seeming puzzled by the log pile in his way. None of us are certain but we suspect he licked windows as a child.

Shot Ski

Saturday morning we were greeted with a shining sun, chirping birds, and, thanks to one XXLer who didn't think folks were getting up fast enough, the gentle hum of a chain saw.  After delicious breakfast burritos and several trips on the "shittle," a single speed brought for trips to the rest rooms, we were off!

XXL headin' out

A beautiful day was spent on the trails in Weiser State Forest and the Lykens Watershed, maintained by the Rattling Creek SingleTrackers.  These trails are truly first rate.  Diverse and challenging but fast and rideable...sweet rocky ridge riding for miles and miles.

Some of us bailed out early just shy of 20 miles, others continued for the full 26.  Either way, we were ready for sustenance and more shenanigans.  Those sitting around the campfire were treated to Brett's chainsaw whittling demonstration, where Wilson was created.


Chainsaw activity and singed eye brows were enough to encourage most of us to head up to the pavilion, where we were treated to some live music.  Sums up one camper: "After this weekend, my [live music] standards have changed.  The campground band should:
1. Only play Grateful Dead with some Neil Young and originals thrown in
2. Have a keg of Octoberfest right next to them
3. Have their own groupies
4. Have a shot ski and a big bottle of Jagermeister (with handy spout)
5. Have a puppy

Sunday brought yet another beautiful day.  After blueberry pancakes, Jason led us to Swatara State Park for a change of scenery.  The trails are maintained by the Susquehanna Area Mountain Bike Association (SAMBA), and kudos to them for fast swoopy trails with some fun TTFs.  Worth a trip if you're in the area.

A fantastic weekend.  Here's hoping the Bash gets picked back up next year.  This is an event not to be missed!

JV Mountain Biking, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SM100 Take Deux

A belated congratulations to Simona for finishing her second SM100 this past Labor Day weekend in extraordinarily difficult conditions.

"It was a tough race.  We all know I'm a fine weather rider [that's Czech for fair-weather] and this rain and mud just wasn't my cup of tea."

Adds Vincenciova, "First 30 miles were hard, I couldn't get my legs going. I was being passed left and right and the rain didn't help.  The rest is just a muddy blur.  By the time I got to aid station #6 my bike wasn't happy, I wasn't happy [Gasp!  Did Brenda drop an audible f-bomb at AS6?!?] and if I was a quitter I would have quit but I'm not."

Amen, sister!!!  Your perseverance makes us very proud indeed!

Pint glass in hand.  Hooray!

XXL is hoping that the weather gods got the rain out of their system for next year's SM100.  Rumor has it there will be a big team showing for a special milestone birthday celebration.