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Ride Wrap  //   Tuesday - April 11, 2006

As mentioned previously, it's been pretty dry around here, so dry that open fires are banned and lots of careless people have been catching the woods on fire. The day after the PBE, Mrs. riderx and I hit up the Watershed to take advantage of some of the super dry conditions and give her a first taste of the super rock trails up there. I tried to navigate a route that kept the climbing in check so she could focus on the technical stuff. I came away from the ride amazed with the amount of stuff she cleaned and the effort put in on tough sections that she attempted repeatedly in order to master. Score one for her, I was impressed and proud.

With work hi jinx getting in the way I shifted some mid-week riding to Thursday and met up with Markie Mark at Schaeffer Farms, a popular trail system close to my new job and located on the edge of the characterless suburban hell of Germantown. The country flavor and farm feel this area was once comprised of has given way to cookie-cutter communities, stale strip malls and an over abundance of chain restaurants. Progress, eh?

Schaeffer is a well designed network of trails that makes the most of what terrain there is to work with. That said, I must admit I rate it low on places I would like to ride. While it's fast, twisty and turny, there's not nearly enough mileage or elevation change for my tastes, in fact, there isn't a lot of climbing at all compared to places I'm used to riding. And while it has plenty of logs, it is otherwise devoid of technical features. Of course, these are all my own personal preferences and there are plenty of riders who thoroughly enjoy this place all of the time. With that introduction though, I have to admit I had a much better time than I expected. Markie Mark and I took full advantage of the bone dry conditions and blazed the trails at warp speed to see how well our tires could grip the dusty corners and test if either one of our hearts would explode. It was warm and sunny, everything is starting to turn green and bloom and despite being located near bland suburbia, the views were quite good due to some remaining farmland that borders the park. Afterwards we headed a couple of miles down the road to the Dogfish Head ale house to refuel. Good day.

Watching the forecast closely, a big, heavy storm was headed our way for Friday, predicted to continue through the night and start tapering off in the morning. My plan was to head out mid-morning on Saturday for a big ride in the rocks to the west provided the rain had tapered off to manageable levels (or stopped completely). Instead, the storm arrived late and proceeded to dump walls of water on us all day Saturday. Rain needed, ride thwarted, bikes lonely.

But Sunday held lots of promise, with Frederick County local John G. hosting a few of us for an old school inspired road/dirt road ride. Taking his cues from the old English cycling clubs that did fixed gear country rides, John mapped out a loop from his house that was a 26 mile mix of paved road and dirt road. Sunday dawned colder than expected but it was sunny and clear and the previous day's storms were long gone. With a handful of us holding on to cue sheets to guide our way, John sent us out on a friendly time trial in the rolling hills near his abode. The route was a perfect mix of low traffic country roads and dirt winding through farmland. The scenery was great with lots of livestock, old mills, streams and wide open countryside. Todd, Jason and I took the lead, not really racing but rather finding a steady pace that the three of us felt good with. The course had a lot of turns but the cue sheet was easy enough to read on the fly that we didn't need to stop and didn't miss any turns. Unfortunately for Kevin, whose pace found him flying solo between the two groups, he was navigating by the map and not the verbage. This caused him to get mildly off course but nothing he wasn't able to recover from and the assessment was he completed approximately the same mileage as everyone else. As we neared the end the three of us were still tight together and I was wondering if anyone was going to make a break for the win or continue the more casual attitude we had held through the ride - I was personally in an internal debate with myself on this. As we wound up John's driveway Todd finally leapt. I was not surprised, in fact I was expecting it, but, despite my efforts, that didn't mean I was able to counter it and Todd slid across the finish ahead of me with Jason right on my wheel. After the others arrived we all dug into a great lasagna pot luck dinner and put away some beers to round out a near perfect spring day. More info on the Fix26 here.

- riderx


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