Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Holiday Break Numero Dos Ride Report

Mountain Bike Tour of the Tri-State Area

In my earlier mountain biking years my riding buddies and I (i.e., Chuck and Dan) rode one place primarily, French Creek State Park in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Sure we would occassionally take the shorter trip to Marsh Creek and ride those (then) greasy, overgrown, hive inducing (for me anyway) trails, but given the necessary 3-hour block of time required to get a decent ride in at French Creek we would always opt to go and thrash our rigid, trash-picked mountain bikes, sans helmets (our heads were a lot harder back then), on the jarring technical trails of French Creek. And while I do still love me some Turtle Trail or Millers' Point riding, I've ridden French Creek enough for 5 mountain biker's lifetimes. So, when I find myself with 4 or 5 frozen days, as I did recently during the second half of my 2008 holiday break, I (and subsequently those who are with me) are more inclined to go elsewhere for our riding fix.

The 2008 racing season opened my eyes to all of the other wonderful "local" places there are to ride in the immediate tri-state area (Editor's note: tri-state area refers to PA, MD, and DE, NJ is not nor will ever be listed in the tri-state riding area for one very simple yet pervasive reason - Jersey blows. Sad but true, sorry BShow.) In light of this, K-town, Campbell, and I, along with other occasional team riders including BShow, TStrauss, Camden, Double D, and Nick Cappriotti, rode all of the "other" (i.e., not French Creek, Marsh Creek, or Downingtown) riding locations worth visiting within a 1-hour drive (the list is pretty short and includes: Fair Hill, Wissahickon, Brandywine, and White Clay/Judge Morris/Middle Run).

New Year's Eve at Brandywine (Delaware)
(Pre-rant disclaimer: I have yet to see the good riding that Brandyine has to offer. I'm told its really good if you know where to go.) New year's eve, K-town and I decided to wait around all day for Campbell to get done working before riding Brandywine in the afternoon/evening. In retrospect this was totally retarded. It seemed like a good idea, given that Campbell works literally 6 mintues from the Brandywine trail head and he "knows" the trails, and that K-town had ridden with Campbell and BShow at Brandywine a week previous and came home with a positive report. She's really nice, bless her heart. Those who know me will tell you that I'm not nice at all. Case in point, the Brandywine ride totally sucked. Campbell was detained at work past a time that made sense for us to wait for him, so we soldiered on without him. K-town lead with fuzzy trail knowledge from the ride the week before. To her credit she did great recreating the ride that Campbell had constructed previously. It was the trails/loop/ride that sucked. It consisted of thirteen miles of 95% gravel path, paved road, farm road, and open field trail. Picture mountain biking across the frozen Siberian tundra, that was Brandywine. The 5% percent of single track that we did ride was okay, but not great, and certainly not worth the hour drive to the trail. You'll have to slip me a roofie and shanghai me A-Team/BA style to Delaware to get me to ride Brandywine again without video proof that the trails don't totally suck.

I was left questioning why anyone would ride there more than once. It wasn't a total waste though as I ran into a guy who told me about a Fair Hill ride the next day.

New Year's Day Fair Hill Ride - Maryland Awesomeness Revisited
I can't get enough of this place lately. We've streamlined our driving route so that it actaully takes less time to get here than to French Creek. I feel like I've been missing out not going here more over the past few years. Campbell, K-town, Double D (who is actually a severely flat chested guy), and I met up with the DE Trail Spinners. The group slowly split apart until it was just us and Chris (a.k.a. Possum). The ride was essentially a guided mountain bike tour of the best that Fair Hill has to offer. We rode long and hard. Possum was great. He's fast and knows the trails backwards and forwards. We need to learn this place. Its too good not to ride more often.

Virgin Trip to Wissahickon
Like Brandywine I've heard good things about Wissahickon but my experience was limited to a single trail run two years ago. So, the day after new years K-town, Campbell, and I met BShow at Valley Green to see what Wissahickon has to offer. BShow has ridden at Wissahickon a couple of times but none of us really know the trails. 10 minutes in I was gearing myself up for another Brandywine-esque disaster. We started from the Valley Green parking lot, crossed the river, and headed west on the north side of the park. A mile in we hit a dead-end and turned around and headed east. From there we essentially just took whatever direction we felt like at each crossing. We eventually made it to Rittenhouse Town 4.5 miles in and were feeling like we were tired of milling around without a known loop. But behold!!! From out of nowhere as if descended from heaven Nick Cappriotti (who rides Wiss literally everyday) came rolling out the woods. We hooked up with him for the remainder of the ride and ended up doing an awesome 15 mile loop. We'll definitely go back. We finished up with good eats and beer from the Manayunk Brew Pub. Awesome.

Sunday Group Ride at White Clay
The riding area collectively known as White Clay is ridiculously awesome. Its like the moutain biking Garden of Eden. Its not particularly challenging and doesn't provide the greatest workout unless your hauling, but it is the most fun you'll have on a mountain bike...guaranteed. Again, K-town, Campbell, and I hooked-up with members of the Guy's Racing Team, the DE Trail Spinners, and other TBR/TLR riders including Camden, Patton, TStrauss, Collina, and Tommy O, and went for one of the most fun 2.5 hour rides you can expect this time of year. The name of the game at White Clay is how fast can you go without touching your brakes or wrapping yourself around a tree? Sweet, just plain sweet.

(Editor's note: Patton show up on time, in you're gear, with your bike ready to ride. Just sayin...)

That's enough,


P.S. Todd I love Mexican but I prefer burritos.

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