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Shit Tire, Lungs On Fire and Other Assorted Ride Reports  //   Monday - December 4, 2006

Had I gotten off of my lazy ass and written up a ride report before Thanksgiving it would have included something along the lines of: "After the break from the bike I'm finally starting to feel like I'm getting my form back." And it would have been true since I've been, for the most part, getting in my normal amount of riding. I was moving forward, gaining back what I had lost, because it sure doesn't take long to start losing it. Some of the Wednesday night Patapsco crew came up to ride the rocks in the dark and my rhythm was coming back. Then Thanksgiving rolled up, plans to ride a few days. T-day saw massive amounts of rain so any riding was washed out, but Friday I headed to Gambrill. I was looking for some riding company and knew a sizable ride was going on so I offered to lead a group on a moderate paced ride.

Lucky for me I didn't bill it as fast paced ride because I felt like everything I had gained back had been tossed out the window. Out of the gate the lungs were on fire. As the ride progressed the legs felt heavy and the gimp arm was giving me the ache. I suspect Ricky d and Joe P dropped some kryptonite in my Camelbak. At least that's what it felt like. Just one of those days where you aren't on your game. Of course I decided to lead us out of Gambrill and onto one of the toughest climbs in the Shed to add extra mileage and pain. If you are going to suffer, you might as well go all the way. Still had a good time and I'm sure it did my body good in the end.

I had been talking putting together a ride at Loch Raven for a while. There were some people from the DC area that have never been up that way and some guys that wanted to get a ride in with their ladies in a low key format, so this seemed like a good place to do it. So the Sunday after turkey day a bunch of us headed out on what I dubbed the Chicks And Dicks ride, 16 of us all together, evenly split between guys and girls. Even better, half of the women were on single speeds. It's been a little under wraps (not on purpose), but I got a good deal on a used Rich Adams single speed frame and built it up for Julie. She hasn't had a chance to get it out much so this was a good opportunity to break it out. Loch Raven offers a lot of different terrain options, but this was a low key ride so decided to maximize the down-by-the-water, twisty, turny singletrack that hugs the shoreline for miles before we got into some hills. With the leaves down and a cool morning fog hanging about the reservoir offered plenty of great fall scenery. We spent a few hours digging the dirt before grabbing grub and beers to round out the day. I actually dug the camera out and shot a few pix you can see here.

After a few days rest a few of us headed out in the dark, started to feel like my old self again. Weather was just too nice for November I tell you, but we all knew the cold was coming. Near the end of the ride I pinch flatted and as I'm preparing to change the flat I smell shit. Not just a little bit, but like I am standing in a pile of it. I shine my light on the ground but don't see any evidence. I got to take the rear wheel off and get a big ol' whiff, enough to make me gag and cough. As I yank the tire off I notice a nice big smear of some sort of shit fouling the treads. Bear shit? Horse shit? I don't know, if it was a dog it was pretty huge. Fun stuff trying to change the tire without getting your gloves full of the mud pie. Other than that it was a fine night to ride bikes.

So kids, deer hunting is in full swing, modern fire arms season they call it, the time that brings out the most hunters. That means wise people don't ride bikes where hunting is allowed on during daylight hours on week days and Saturdays. That means the Shed is out, a few other parks are closed or off limits and I've been spending more time in Gambrill. Not that I don't like it, but the options aren't nearly as vast as it's neighboring sibling, the Frederick Watershed. With my lady heading to Gambrill for a ride on Saturday I figured I'd tag along and do a mellow ride, save something for Sunday as I was both feeling ill and intending to head to Pittsburgh for the Dirt Rag Punk Bike Enduro on Sunday. Always a good time and since some germs invaded my body I wanted something left in the tank for the next day's festivities. Once at the parking lot, with a lot of people showing up to ride, I got talked into leading a group on a faster ride. Kept it to a moderate pace, felt good all things considered. Met a couple of new riders, rode with a couple that I knew. All and all, no complaints. The cold weather is definitely here, that's going to take a little getting used to, we've had some nice weather lately.

Saturday night, felt good from the ride but the cold was kicking in more. Sunday rolled around and I got up way before dawn, fixed some coffee and then got the call from Dave, my ride to the Punk Bike, at 5:20 AM. Hoffman was MIA and he was hurting, struck down by some illness, probably the same that was trying to overtake my body. No problem I said, my plan was to heavily medicate myself so I could make it through a day of stage racing and drinking, but I was definitely not up for being behind the wheel 3 1/2 hours each way to do it. We pulled the plug and I crawled back in bed to try and let the body fight the evil that was invading it. Sometimes the hardest decisions to make are the ones where you decide not to do something. The Punk Bike is always a blast and from the looks of the photos it didn't disappoint this year. After grabbing a couple of hours of sleep I headed back to Gambrill with Julie and this time did the ride with her and 3 other lovely lady MTBers (and Joe P who took some photos). Had a great, low key ride where we stopped and Joe and I did a little coaching on some of the more technical sections. The girls were really riding well and putting forth 100%.

So kids, that's my story. There were a few more rides in there somewhere (including trail maintenance and some riding that didn't do the arm any good) but those were the highlights. And Wednesday we've got the first of some twice-a-month legal night riding going on at Gambrill. Check the info at The Bicycle Escape if you want to join. It's limited so you've got to RSVP.

- riderx


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