Spring, it feels like it is here but I think Mother Nature might be tempting us early before unleashing something ugly on us. I hope not, but it's early in the season and it feels like things are being reborn, awakening and turning the corner. I hear birds chirping, they've made their return. Warm weather, even riding in shorts and a short sleeve jersey this weekend.
Myself, I've crawled out of the hole too. A few days after the punk bike my wife and I got hammered by some type of flu/virus/anthrax that rolled in fast and hit us hard. Down for the count for 3 solid days, don't think I've been that sick for 20 years. A few more days of chilling to get back to normal plus some rain and the next thing I know I've been off the bike for a week. Fighting back now, had been exiting the winter in good shape but took a couple of steps back. Rest was key for full recovery though and now the pedals are turning again. The days I've been out riding have been nothing short of amazing for early March with temps over 60 a couple of times.
Saturday went for a last minute trek down to the George Washington National Forest and hit up the Elizabeth Furnace trails with Ricky and Jason. The 3 of us pulled the fixed gear attack on the trails, something that some people might view as downright stupid considering the technical aspect of the terrain. No doubt it was tough, but overall I was feeling good and the big climbs are what I needed to put me back to where I was before getting sick. The weather was not just nice, but warm and sunny and if the days stay like this I'll be just fine moving from winter to spring and cut the cord on thoughts of snow rides.
At the top of Signal Knob we ran into a few hikers and talked to them a bit while we refueled. One older guy was eyeing up our bikes and made a few comments about the design and components. Cool guy, he knew what he was talking about and even though he hadn't ridden for 10 years knew about single speeds, SSWC and the tattoo trophy among other things. He suggested a few good trails for us to check out on some ridges to the west, ones I had heard from other sources that were good too. As we readied to leave he cracked a can of Heineken he had packed up and we knew he was truly one with us in attitude.
From there it was the trek across the Signal Knob ridge and it's one mile rock garden (literally). Tough work, a grinder as it is mostly a slight uphill with relentless rocks. Cleaned most of it, had a few dabs but better than I should have done on a fixed gear, probably just about the same as if I was freewheeling. Right on to Maneka Peak and a few hike a bike sections before another mile of dirt/rock combo where I felt like I had my groove on just rock and rolled it sucking in the views from high above, not yet obscured by the growth that will sure happen in a few weeks. I was off the front and able to swallow nature on one of those runs where you feel like all cylinders are firing. I waited at the next intersection for the others to catch up, shot the shit with some hikers who were up there for the first time and prepared for the days reward: a 4.5 mile descent of singletrack ribbon interspersed with rocks, tech sections, switchbacks and plenty of bench cut trail. Just as good as I always remember but a bit slower with the fixed drive train. Still a sweet drop into the valley for the finish.
Rain rolled in that evening and wet things down for Sunday's trail work. The precip stopped right about the time the shovels were ready to hit the dirt and 19 of us put in a solid work day. Another sign of spring, the trail work is gearing up.
The big question for me is: how much rain will the spring bring? It's been wet already and the winter faded quicker than normal which might mean a longer, wetter spring than usual. It's raining now and might blow out the last Gambrill night ride of the season but it's too early to tell how the spring will shape up. Not that I've got any influence on it, I'll just have to sit back and wait.