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Grab a shovel  //   Friday - November 17, 2006

Last trail work day of the year at Avalon. Come on out on Sunday, Nov. 19th. After all of the heavy storms we've had this week there is sure to be extra work to do. Avalon pavilions, 9:30 am ready to get dirty. Questions? email me at riderx AT singlespeedoutlaw DOT com

If the trails have dried out enough afterwards I'll lead a ride, so bring the bike.

- riderx

GW Riding  //   Wednesday - November 15, 2006

Heaven and Hell was the weather picture this weekend. It's the middle of November but the forecast was predicting a high in the low 70's (F) for Saturday. Three days of bicycle fun, a.k.a. the the Vuelta was going on in NOVA. Since I could only make the Saturday gravel/road portion I decided to skip it and headed to Elizabeth Furnace with Todd and Liz. They had an aborted ride attempt there recently and wanted to go back and do it for real. I hadn't been done there for a while and needed to suffer on some climbs to try and get back in shape from being off of the bike.

We met up in the parking lot at 8:30 AM, suited up and started climbing the singletrack that would lead us to Mudhole gap. A mile or two in everyone was already peeling arm and leg warmers, it was quickly shaping up to be a beautiful day. At Mudhole gap we turned onto the fireroad and continued to climb, eventually entering the woods and getting back onto real trail complete with several deep water crossings. You are pretty much guaranteed wet feet on this section and with torrential rains earlier in the week the water was running higher than the hubs in some places. At the end of Mudhole Gap I offered up the possibility of additional trail in the form of the Mine Gap loop. I warned these 2 it wasn't an easy climb to the ridge but they wanted the bonus mileage. Down the gravel road, then up, up, up we rode and pushed to the top of the ridge. The leaves were deep on this little used trail and made a difficult climb impossible in spots. Once up top you are greeted with a gnarly rock ridge to navigate and beautiful views of the valley below before you eventually descend back down to the Mudhole Gap trail junction. Great, tough riding it is.

Back on the fireroad we started climbing again towards Signal Knob, easy spinning for a while with a quick turn off to the singletrack that wraps around the Strasburg Reservoir. At this point I offered my fellow riders another choice: the shorter hike-a-bike option to the Bear Wallow trail or the longer grunt to Signal Knob followed by a one mile rock garden followed by another one mile ridge ride. While both are tough, option #2 is by far my favorite choice. Option #1 was decided in the interest of time and we made our way to the ridge top. With all of the leaves off of the trees we had great views of the ridge we had been on riding the Mine Gap trail.

Getting to the top, you get to begin one of the finest 5 miles of descending you might ever get a chance to ride. It starts off extremely technical, rocky, pick your way through with sizable penalties type of stuff. Soon it eases up a little so it is just difficult without the penalty. It's fast, it's rocky and it will put a big fat smile on your face. Had to dodge a few hikers who had their packs sprawled all over the trail. But man, how great it was to be back on the back and railing that sweet singletrack. A growler of homebrew porter in the parking lot and then we were back on the road home.

Sunday Julie had planned a big group ride for us at the Shed. By Saturday night heavy rain moved in and kept up all day. Not wanting to waste the day sitting around, she brainstormed and cooked up loads of chili and we proceeded to invite everyone over to eat and drink beer. So we didn't ride bikes, but the day turned out OK anyway.

Time to break out the lights again, night ride on the books for tonight.

- riderx


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