Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Mud has an negative ion that is attracted by the positive vibes from a good ride, I call these Mudions, also known as Muions. Getting their name from the Greek, Muon.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Santos IMBA Ride Center

The Santos is a huge trails system in Ocala Florida. Including the marked in progress trails I did rides over 54 miles long(5.25 hours. Most of the mileage are on easy trails, with a significant amount on intermediate trails. The advanced trails are in the minority, but are pretty sweet. I put them together in a loop that only doubled back on the fire road going into and out of the Vortex. It starts at the Santos trail head and took about an hour and a half. Pine east to Cow Bone, which flows so nicely into Magic Mountain, that really continues best, right on Rattlesnake Ridge, jump back on to Cow Bone to get to Anthill, take that around to DR Ruth (very briefly, to get to John Brown, including the bench cut along the blue highway to the pit, back to the the Blue Highway (left) to Intermediate Bunny Trail, West Pine takes you over to the Vortex trail head. After a loop of Vortex, back out to Dog Bone south to Dog Bone north, get you to Twister, Puppy, Dog Bone west, Canopy, Speedway connect you to Shorty, a bit of DR Ruth to get you to Sink hole in my favorite direction. Marshmallow to Pine west gets you back to the trail head. OMBA has a well marked trail system and a super Google Map of the Santos Trails Short with all the advanced (Red) sections. Facebook Page
Long mostly easy trails with some intermediate and in process trails to keep it interesting.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Kerr Scott IMBA Epic

Flowy and twisty, Kerr Scott is a big contrast to my recent stomping grounds near Brevard, raw backcountry Pisgah National Forest and the multi-faceted Dupont State Park. Kerr Scott has a definite flow progression from Dark Mountain to Overmountain Victory Trail (OVT) to Warrior Creek.

Even the original 5.3 miles of "Old School" trails of Dark Mountain, seemingly always has an eye towards flow, it has bigger climbs, grade reversals and sharp hairpins. It is just more rugged!

Be sure to ride trail #8 down to the bridge down river from the dam. Even if you may have to climb back up, it's a good climb too! #8 is my favorite descent in the system., old school feel with sharp hairpins.

OVT is bermorific, this part of the system cranks up the flow a notch. Usually done as an out and back, often in between Dark Mountain and Warrior Creek. I have been working on keeping my weight centered and I am coming out of turns faster than ever before making sections of the trail seem endless. Take the Berry Loop on the way towards Warrior Creek an Shiners Run on the way back, they flow nicely that way. Making the most of the elevation change, Berry Loop (1.5 miles) gets even more swoopy and even some of the berms going uphill seem to conserve your momentum. Trail boss Jim Horton was working on the second half of Berry that will eventually form a figure 8 with OVT. Shiner's Run (2.3 miles) uses noticeable elevation change as well, but is more like original flavor OVT in the flow department.

Warrior Creek is a super sweet 11 mile single track loop. Berm after berm of flow, begging you to stay off the brakes and maintain every last Newton meter of momentum for the next grade, direction reversal or the occasional obstacle or feature. It was literally an endurance workout for your flow skills.

I rode for a bit of OVT with Mike the Owner of Magic Cycles over in Boone while was testing a 650b Giant. Pretty nice guy.

Here is video to get you started. I will add a few more.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Farlow Gap

Yeap we had been in Rosman, near Brevard, NC for over 2 weeks and the SS was still strapped in the basement of the bus. The road bike even came out already! After a giggle ride with Tammy, I swapped the gears from the Ferrous to the Lynskey Pro29 w/ Blacksheep Ti Fork (Closest thing I got to suspension!).

I have really missed this bike. It is so much lighter and more resilient than the Ferrous w/Bontrager carbon fork!

I needed to decide if  "A" I was going to race that weekend and "B", would it be the Couch Potato or the Swank.

I got my warm up on route 64 and headed up Cathy's Creek to 471D, which gets you to Butter Gap. Take that down and take Long Branch up to 475. Take a left and continue to 229 (Pilot Mtn rd) and climb it up to Farlow gap. Then Decide just how much nerve you have. Just how much you ride and when you should walk. Both very poignant  and souls searching questions. Yet so vital to one's race choice decision.

I had one of those silly meetings with the ground shortly before the Farlow Gap DH. Must have been a mountain gnome, as I could not find any other cause.

The Mountain literally slapped me in the face. As if to say "YOU MUST RESPECT ME!" and served to keep me focused the rest of the way down and keep me from getting too cocky!

I took video of the descent, but it was so long, had so much walking and most of the riding was so rough it was just a blurr. So unless I get specific requests, I will not waste the bandwidth.

Wes Dickson of Sycamore Cycles and one of the areas top racers, said to treat Farlow as an adventure and that I did. I have to thanks Wes for letting me replace the spoke that that gnome took out and introducing me to Heather of Blue Ridge Adventures.

I went for the challenge The Swank and even contemplated going back to back as some others did.

Here is what I wrote on Strava Shortly after I popped my Farlow Gap cherry;

Farlow was ok. A bunch of hike a bike at the beginning. Maybe with slack angles and a lot of time riding one and I could ride some of what I walked. (Said idn Yoda's voice) To old to start the training , he is Mhmm! A couple sketchy creek crossings , but mostly rideable WITHOUT suspension. Not sure how it goes from 4k to 8k between the Couch and Swank. I got a little more than 3K between Pilot Mtn(229) and the up part of the Farlow DH. To me going up Pilot Mtn and down Farlow is better than the other way around. The Swank will be a good way to start out the IMBA 5000 meter climbing ending 11-9
P.S. I finally got the Ferrous set up as a SS, But have not ridden it yet!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Racing Swank 65

Swank gave me over 6K ft of climbing. My Garmin showed 6K, Strava was 6,250/(6,146 elevation corrected). Garmin Connect registered 6304/(11,670? Elevation corrected).  It was advertised as 8K. Any way you slice it, it was a lot of climbing in just 40 miles (65 km).

Without help from Heather and Todd from Blue Ridge Adventures, I would have had to sit this one out.

Very low key and relaxed, yet started on time, just like the Couch Potato. Most races I do have many classes and age groups, Swank and Couch Potato keep it simple with just mens and womens Open class. It was sort of a controlled start down the fire road crossing the creek on a narrow bridge or a cold shower to start the race with wet feet on a coldish day. Still, some took the creek to jockey for a better start position.  I took the bridge.  The race was on!

I decided to to use my usual strategy on longer races, go hard but not in the red zone. I passed a few after the official start and closed that gap. We had a nice conga line going into the first single track connecting to the Cove Creek climb. Passing was tough, but not impossible. I followed Paula Burk (Eventual Womens winner) while she picked off a few groups of riders. Then I passed Paula (only for her to pass me on Pilot MT later on). I put a good gap in, still well behind the leaders. Then as I made the end of Cove Creek onto 225 to Daniel Ridge.  I saw another rider that was caught up in the pack and had made it through. I forget his name, I believe I did a night ride out of Sycamore with him a week or two back. I tried to stay on him and did so for a while, as he was reeling in another rider. Once things started going down, he pulled away, he rode it like he knew it and I just couldn't go as fast without suspension. I did catch a couple other guys on the way down. I thought I heard Wes Dickson of Sycamore Cycles at rest stop one, later I learned he broke his chain in 2 places on the start. I put in a good climb on the fireroad to Glouster. Joe did catch up just before 471D. We rode and talked a bit up towards Butter Gap. I asked him if he was a good descender and he said I caught him on Daniel Ridge and let me lead on the Butter Gap DH. We slinkied a bit on the rollercoaster climb that is Long Branch, emerging back on FS 475 almost together. Joe stopped at the rest stop. I still had juice in my camel back and bottle and did not want to carry any more. Joe complained a bit that I did not stop, but caught up quickly and we paced each other for the first mile, when I had to go to the granny and watch him slowly pull away. Paula and one other came by before Farlow Gap. I got close to someone a few times, riding more than I expected of the rugged DH hike a bike. By the time I was back on Daniel Ridge, I was alone all the way down to FS 475 and Davidson River Trail. I thought I saw a single speeder there, but he turned left on 475. Some folks were attending to a rider that took a header on Davidson River. I had only been down 475B, a fast DH. The climb was not as bad as I anticipated. I knew it would be about 4 miles up 475B then 4 miles down Cove Creek. What I had not noticed were the descents on the initial climb up Cove Creek, but they became apparent on the way "DOWN". I was happy to clean the final creek crossing. Finishing 21st of 97 starters. Almost an hour out out of 2nd and 3rd, which were 25 minutes off of 1st! Sam Koeber rode all of Farlow Gap on his Fuel EX.

Here is some awesome video from Land of Sky Media

2014 Couch Potato

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Couch Potato Videos

After helping park cars, I videoed some of the race start. Later on I pointed folks left after the creek crossing at the end of the Cove Creek DH.

I was amazed at how low key and yet on time the start was.

Some folks got off course. I had no such problem the next day at the Swank. But I could see how one could miss the, even the sometimes HUGE, signs, if due to nothing else, being beat up by the rugged Pisgah terrain. The combination of fatigue, hyper focus and pack following, on occasion, had me questioning my turn choice, even after a big sandwich board sign on a part of the course I was pretty sure of.

As I marshalled the penultimate turn, more than one rider asked me which way to turn while I was pointing and standing next to the left turn sign and blocking going right. They were probably more concerned crossing the creek and the short tech up, just before the the turn. Very few riders made it up clean.

Here are videos I got between the creek and the finish.

Monday, November 11, 2013


I generally don't pay much energy on Strava challenges. But they had a 5000 meter (16,404ft) climbing challenge from IMBA. I am in climbing heaven and Swank gave me over 6k ft. And I had worked out a century road ride with 2 HC climbs, netting over 10k. But the spirit was dirt so I went back out and got over 5k each on a Pisgah explore/bushwack, (Walking counts right, forgot my machete) ride and an awesome Dupont ride. So I got the spirit of the challenge, but it took a lot of time and it exhausted me to the point that I am just getting to blogging and video editing.

Damn you Strava!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Swank 65/Couch Potato

My focus has not been on racing this year. As such I don't look for races. The Couch Potato and the Swank 65 are this weekend November 2nd and 3rd respectively. I was riding Saturday and ran into a Mike and Alastair and  rode with them for part of their ride. Today I found Mike's file,which he named Couch Potato. I downloaded his file to my Garmin to do as part of today's ride. I wondered what the name meant, until Chris and Chad rolled up while I was talking to some guys about wheel size. They were looking for the racecourse this weekend and 650b guy (sorry I did not ask their names) gave Chad and Chris directions. I asked them if I could tag along. Then I put together the name of the race and Mikes file name. I heard about the Swank on the Sycamore Thursday shop ride. I just assumed it was far away.

Also, I have been busy riding as, almost all my rides out of our basecamp Adventure Village has been an epic. See them below.

The Couch Potato is the "easiest" of the two races, with only 4,000 ft climbing over it's 30 miles. The Swank spins the dial way past ten, breaks it off and throws it in the fire, ascending 8,000 feet in only 40 miles! Holy crap! Even the easier course is epic, the Swank is EpiHC.

I have to ride Farlow gap, before I decide which one to take on. There is so much climbing in Pisgah that I do not think the SS is an option. On top of that most folks here use full suspension. Chris and Chad had hardtails, they were looking to do the Couch Potato, cause Farlow gap apparently needs a dually. Here I sit with only fully rigid bikes. I may have to put the gears on my Lynskey with the Blacksheep fork, then maybe I would have a chance. I have not ridden SS since I have gotten to this neck of the woods. I rode Dupont SS last November though. Dupont is no Pisgah!

2014 Couch Potato

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Bike Farm Pisgah

I meet some very interesting folks a the weekly ride is led by the tour company "The Bike Farm Pisgah", I know, the name, does not exactly fall off the the tongue. I needed co-owner Cashion's business card to remember it, but I am a bit dyslexic. Although, the tagline is more memorable; " Cultivating good times from the dirt up"  Look them up on the  Web and on Facebook. If you want to get some history on them, read Eva Surls and Cashion Smith's original Blog.

I found out about the weekly Wednesday night ride after a stop at The Hub bicycle shop in Brevard, North Carolina. The ride rolls from from Oskar Blues Brewery at 6 pm. You will need lights this time of year. I pulled out the black tape to help shim one young riders Night rider to his 25.4 handlebars. The first couple miles on the paved bike path would usually serve as a warm  up, but a gusty cold front was pushing through. It was nice to get into the woods. Cashion pulled a light for a rider without one. After the set up we got going down the gravel that slowly became more and more flowy.

This is a more casual, no drop ride. This night we had a dozen or more riders. Some had been out for a few hours already. We went up Grassy and down Sycamore. Eva said that this ride was a little shorter than the usual couple hours, due to that. We finished up at the brewery. I would have joined the others for a pint, but since going gluten free, I have not had a beer. I thought it best not to tempt myself.

 For best results play at the highest quality, 1080 preferably. The second video, in the playlist, is my first time filming in the dark,so I got just a little usable video. Go to the bottom for the night ride on Vimeo. Seems like they do HD with less fuss.
TheBikeFarmPisgahOdarkOclockb from MTB Epic Rides on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tour de Lilly 2013

More thanks to Travis Olson for sending me out the word on the Tour de Lilly from Blackwater bikes in Davis, West Virginia. In just the nick of time, might I add. This is a pretty low key event on some of the same trails as the Revenge of the Rattlesnake . Low key but high quality and fun. They even laid out  a major spread for lunch out on the trail. You could try, but you would be hard pressed to find a better trail guide than Blackwater's owner, Roger Lilly, and he still gots some skilz. I followed his line more than once.

35 strong, we rolled out from the back of the shop at about 10:15 on a beautiful dry Saturday morning. Particularly in contrast to snow they had one year and the damp, rainy, cloudy summer they had this year.

The dirt starts just out of town, on Blackwater Road. It is a nice warm up on fairly level dual track. The first single track climb was leaf strewn (the season was aptly named Fall), with several logs as obstacles as well as a bunch of natural rock features. While every rock, root and log were ridable, I doubt many cleaned the entire trail. There was just enough mud for variety.

We were treated to a real estate pitch from Susan Hayward, I think she was joking. :-)

We rode part of Plantation to Lindy and after some lunch headed back to town, while the rest of us went down the Allegheny trail to check out how the trail maintenance was turning out. Then back up.

Roger took the main group down the pipeline, while Jonathan took a few of us down Davis. Davis is a rockin DH, that kept you on your toes, demanding total focus, especially on a fully rigid bike. We finished up on the Yellow trail. I can't remember the name, but a slight change of spelling was more descriptive of the technical nature of this short, steep, rocky/rooty featureful trail that led back down to Blackwater Falls Road and back to the shop. Post up if you can tell me the name of this trail. Thanks.

Also let me know if you can tell the difference in quality of the first two videos in the play list below. The were similar on my iPhone, but on a PC they were different.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Videos

More to come. Subscribe for updates!

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More to come. Subscribe for updates!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks IMBA Epic

Truly Epic ride! I met Travis Olson on Strava, where I asked him about his North Fork Death March ride. I missed the second one, though, just couple weeks back. He also told me about the HC road climb up to Spruce Knob.  On a very wet, chilly, foggy sometimes rainy day, he brought a small crew to do the Epic. This 40 plus mile, up road/down trail (at least it was a West Virginia DH, plenty of elevation gain on the way down) IMBA epic. We could have shuttled up to the top, but then we would have missed a whole bunch of climbing and sketchy road descents, with gravel showing up randomly on Lower Timber Ridge rd, making the wet leaf strewn sharp curves even that much more... um sketchy. We would have also missed out on the downpour that hit as we got onto route 33 back to Seneca Rocks, getting back exactly at sunset!

The fun started at mile 24, where Huckleberry leaves Spruce Knob. With little elevation lose, the first couple/three miles was nearly constant rain slick rock gardens. Rob got a flat early and Travis pumped it up to see if the Stan's would seal it. It got soft again when they got down to us (Mile 27). A repump and letting the Stan's pool at the hole a while, was the next try. Then the plug kit came out and held for the rest of the ride(Mile 29). It was a pretty small hole in the sidewall and not a scrape or slice ( I had no luck plugging a sidewall slice early this year).

Huckleberry is gnarly and went from wet rock gardens to wet roots and mud. We had not gotten far when a hiker couple leap frogged Mike, Jason and I, while waiting to regroup. The hikers were making better time than us and we never did see them again, they took different turn we supposed. But they were nice enough to let us know about the mechanical. Up till now we had gone through several fits and starts as Rob was learning his rock skills, as I wrote earlier it was plenty gnarly (it is not possible to overuse that word in regards to this trail!)

Although we had not descended all that much by that time, the chilled to the bone sensation we experienced at Spruce Knob and the other times we stopped was all but gone now. Particularly right next to our friend the Mr. Pine Tree. Mike made his own deer bed in the straw grass and seemed quite comfy. Totally different thermocline or should I say Coldocline?

We then connected up with the Horton trail, mostly down to falls on Seneca creek, sometimes steep and nasty(did not want to use gnarly again, HA!).

Crossing the creek was an adventure all on it's own. So recently out of hypothermia weather, only Mike attempted to ride across. Jason literally skated across the rocks he tried to walk across. Travis was the first to try the big down tree that spanned the creek, Success! Rob tried to scoot along, till I grabbed his bike, to hand off to Travis, so he could walk. Travis waited at the ready for Rob and then myself, while I kept my bike for balance. The knots where branches use to have been, made it hard to to make small steps. Alas no swan dives and ironically Travis submerged his foot as I got to the end.

Now for the 1.5 mile hike a bike out of Seneca Creek. It was tough going, I tried to ride as much as I could (it was easier than lifting up my legs hiking), but probably rode less than half of that steep greasy,off camber, slick as snot rocks and roots.

Now at the intersection of the Allegheny trial. Only 6 more miles of trail to go! But we had plenty of greasy barely doable climbs and several momentum robbing down trees on the DH's. We had been riding in the clouds since well before Spruce knob and it was getting thick and the next turn was a hard one to find. A little back track to be sure we were on the correct path and we start what would be the final descent. Steep and sketchy, at times, we were losing elevation quick. This turned into a narrow off camber switchback descent to Whites Run rd. All of a sudden we were out of the clouds and the ground was dry, and then it was over except for the pouring road back to the cars.

Truly epic ride in epic conditions! With an epic crew, just the nicest guys;
A youngin with only BMX saddle time (what he lacked in conditioning he made up for in skill)
An ex runner turned triathlete/MTBer with new knees and lots of enthusiasm.
A bike shop owner, with plenty of skill and endurance.
And the Man, ride leader, Travis Olson. Who watched over his flock, better than a border collie.

Monday, October 7, 2013

MOCO Epic 65

On the first day back on m quest, I sit in one of Maryland's neighboring states, just a few hours away, preparing for another epic. I think back to April, when I was treated to great mountain biking in (at least to me) a very unlikely setting. Being so close to Washington, DC and Baltimore and all. Many different parks linked together by roads. Little Bennett probably had the most technical climb of the bunch. Michael Bonsby took me around the loop. Initially to do the 50. We were making good time so we upped it to the 65. I used my geared bike that day.  A couple days later I rode the 50 on my SS. Both rigid as usual.

The official event is coming up next weekend. Register here:

Thanks GoogleTube for being so hard to use and process so quickly.

MoCo Short 848x48 saved as 1920x1080 from MTB Epic Rides on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cuyuna Lakes IMBA Ride Center

Mountain biking in my home state of Minnesota has really matured.

Cuyuna has the funnest "Easy" or beginner trails that I have ridden! They have a pretty sweet flow and are far from boring. Conversely, many of the Expert trails (Black) are not really more difficult that the "Most Difficult" trails (Red) or even "More Difficult" trails, in some instances. Timber Shaft in the Yawkey unit is an exception and is an awesome skills section, that needs to be sessioned! Bobsled is a favorite of those I spoke with. Nice twisty berms, gravity fed of course. I need to learn to berm!

The main unit, Mahnomen, has the bulk of the trails. One of my favorites is Mucker Mountain, a "More Difficult" trail with really nice flow. The Chute earns it's "Most Difficult' rating, while Ferrous Wheel really only has a hard fast switch back. The trails are pretty well marked in general, but the entrances to many of the trails are across a dirt road from Easy Street are not that obvious. But many of the exits are well marked to let riders coming off of them, know that the trail is now two way. For fun and safety, many of the trails are one way only. Mountain bikers have their own parking lot, but for someone new to the system and kiosk or a sign pointing to the trail head would be nice. I ran into Joel Hartman, who recently was interviewed on the local news. I mentioned it and he said he would bring it up at the club meeting that night. Pretty cool.

Leave the Sagamore unit for winter riding, like the signage says. At this point the trails look more like XC ski trails and the flies are ferocious!

Now understand that Minnesota does not have huge elevation changes that some of other venues. I think only Florida had a lower elevation per mile ratio. Not surprisingly these trails have some striking similarities to both Alafia and Balm Boyette in florida.

CLMTBT (Friends of MORC) has really done a great job here, making MTBaide out of strip mining lemons.  It is awesome that the state of Minnesota is working with local groups to make such great resources that so many can enjoy!

Cool upcoming event September 14th

Monday, August 26, 2013

Copper Harbor IMBA Epic

Most fun trails yet! Can I back this up?

I think I can. Plenty of elevation gain, but not just up a mountain across a ridge and and back down, like Shenandoah Southern Traverse. Not nearly flat like in Santos or Alafia River State Park.

Nice stiff climbs, that reward you with that gravity gain, every so often. Not a fan of climbing, just wait a few minutes and enjoy a technical descent. Don't like it rough, smooth flowy trail is right around the corner, need to drop in or ride some banked planking, they got you covered. Just got to have a bermy flow trail, they named it The Flow, just so there would be no mistake. You can even choose Daisy Duke for a side dish of table tops and doubles towards the end.

It is weird though, cause I really am not fond of all the planking. particularly banked planking. I watched their video of the Edge and I saw the rider rail it, but I guess it is part of that berm thing I still am working out. Michigan, like Wisconsin, use a lot of planking. Going down Stairway to Heaven, had me say "Here We Go", ironically the name of my favorite downhill trail here, followed closely by the red trail. Stairway to Heaven, had me thanking a deity when I finally made it to that nasty rock drop at the end, of which I was much more comfortable with! Those twists and turns while gaining speed or trying not to lock up the rear tire, rivaled any pucker factor I can remember. AND it is a two way trail. Luckily, out of 3 times down, I only came across one rider coming up. He stopped and luckily again, it was one of the few places that you could step off the planking with less than a 2 foot drop or greater. I would vote for this one becoming one way.

While the IMBA Epic loop described here can be ridden in full, they have taken Paul's plunge and John Lincoln Green off the the map. Deep in the woods there is a sign for Paul's Plunge, but I saw nothing for John Lincoln Green (it may be what another map called Kamikaze XC trail).
Note: Go Left, when taking the turn off of Say Hello on to DZA Beet.

There are new trails and with this being one of the shortest Epics, I think some of the new stuff needs to be added to the Epic.

Mango could replace Paul's Plunge altogether. Mango is a funner, well thought out trail. Paul's Plunge is old school and could be prone to erosion. While Paul's Plunge is still there, but taken off the map, it is best if Mango takes the majority of the traffic. You will lose about a mile from this already short epic, but add Bullwinkle in to get it back. I put it all together for a still short 14 mile funfest;

Copper Harbor Loop, Garden Brook, Woopidy Woo, Bullwinkle, right on Garden Brook, Blue Trail, (do not go to the lodge, go down the water line to) Dza Beet, Here We Go, Ma Maki, Say Hello, left on Dza Beet, Simeh, De Deet, Red Trail, Mango, right on Ma Maki, right on Manganese road, left on Clark Mine Road, left on Pauls Plunge, left at bottom (John Lincoln Green maybe), stay right after the bridge, left on  Manganese Road, right on unnamed trail, Ma Maki, Der we Went, Stairway to Heaven, Copper Harbor Loop to Trail Head

Note: Very easy to miss towards the end. Once you start up the Manganese road a steep trail juts off to the right.  It is a fall line trail and steep (the only place I needed the granny ring)

Most riders will be happy going left on Ma Maki off of Mango. Paul's Plunge is definitely a double black diamond and the unnamed climb is just to say you are a tough guy!

I wish there was a way to add in The Flow and keep it a loop. There is a slight duplication on Ma Maki as it is. So what's a racer on sabbatical do?  He does three 11 minute intervals up Brockway mountain road, then took a right down The Flow twice, Daisy Duke on one of them. And then took a left down The Edge. And filled in with things I missed the previous ride and tried some things in reverse.

Race Memorial Day Weekend

I followed Dave down the red trail to get this video:

Here are some links that might help you out:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Levis-Trow Mound Epic

Let me start of by saying that I always feel a little funny with more than a few days off of hard riding. From the various sources I was expecting 25 miles plus of riding, so I stayed mellow as  I followed the IMBA Epic arrows. On the Onset, I often fear that I will be disappointed, I am looking for Epic rides you know. This feeling grew as I continued on Lower Glen and Swamp Cut. I was like"This is nice" but it seemed like I was getting closer and closer the north end and the miles were really not adding up. But 15 minutes to warm up is not a bad thing eithrt, then I get onto Yellow Jacket and I started to get interested. The Goat Dance climb started to bring it and the backside delivered the goods. I prefer the Yellow jacket climb up to the top of Buck hill, but there is less doubling back using Secret trail out and the Buck Hill switchback up to Sidewinder to Upper Hermosa (one of my favorite flows), finished up Hermosa and Lower Hermosa and use Dead Turkey to connect to the Corkscrew climb to Toad road that leads to (the banner trail) Plumbers Crack, Switchback, Cliff Hanger, North Face by the bench if you need a rest and a view. Continue in Porky's Point to Upper Glen. Part of which is under a reroute. Back down to Lower Glen and the IMBA loop is complete.

The Reroute did not move the IMBA sign yet, so I missed it at first.  It looks Like that reroute will eliminate a fall line portion o f trail and also connect to other parts of the trail system. The North Face DH looks to soonly boast a bunch of berms, as well. Maybe making a flow trail finish near the trailhead. Being an old fogie I like old school trails best, but flow trails are a fun variety, getting very popular, they help get new riders hooked and are good for a change. I have to learn to berm.

Levis Mound is a well marked trail system. For the most part, the IMBA loop is marked and easy to follow, mostly. The IMBA sign after Dead Turkey for the turn on to Corkscrew needs to be replaced, or you might just go down the wrong part of Toad Road and miss Plumbers Crack.

 The IMBA loop is a little short as Epics go, at just 17 miles, not 30 as the IMBA website states (did I miss something?). There are about 25 miles of single track in total. Only a few trails are one way; Sidewinder and Lucy's trail (Which I never found the start of) for example.

After my recon IMBA ride, I rode a bunch of the trails in reverse, that and being warmed up led to a much better experience on Lower Glen/Swamp Cut. So I made sure to warm up for ride two a couple days later, which made Lower Glen/Swamp Cut come alive in the IMBA direction as well! Other trails I liked in both directions were; Toad road (including Plumbers Crack), Corks Screw, Yellow Jacket, Select Cut, Snodgrass.

The sandy switchbacks become a climb in reverse on Goat Dance and Switchback and are definitely best in the "IMBA" epic direction.

The Reroute did not move the IMBA sign yet, so I missed it at first.  It looks Like that reroute will eliminate a fall line portion  of trail and also connect to other parts of the trail system. The North Face DH looks to soonly boast a bunch of berms, as well. Maybe making a flow trail finish near the trailhead. Being an old fogie I like old school trails best, but flow trails are a fun variety.  They are getting very popular, they help get new riders hooked and are good for a change. I have to learn to berm.

Levis Mound is a well marked trail system. For the most part, the IMBA loop is marked and easy to follow, mostly. The IMBA sign after Dead Turkey for the turn on to Corkscrew needs to be replaced, or you might just go down the wrong part of Toad Road and miss Plumbers Crack.

 The IMBA loop is a little short as Epics go, at just 17 miles, not 30 as the IMBA website states(did I miss something?). There are about 25 miles of single track in total. Only a few trails are one way; Sidewinder and Lucy's trail (Which I never found the start of) for example.

After my recon IMBA ride, I rode a bunch of the trails in reverse, that and being warmed up led to a much better experience on Lower Glen/Swamp Cut. So I made sure to warm up for ride two a couple days later, which made Lower Glen/Swamp Cut come alive in the IMBA direction as well! Other trails I liked in both directions were; Toad road (including Plumbers Crack), Corks Screw, Yellow Jacket, Select Cut, Snodgrass.

The sandy switchbacks become a climb in reverse on Goat Dance and Switchback and are definitely best in the "IMBA" epic direction.

They have a 100 miler next Saturday August 24th .

They have a 100,50 and 25 miler on Saturday August 24th

See other Links Below.

Great views abound. Be sure to hit Clarence for the coolest overlooks, like:

Here is a article on Trevis Mound And Trail Info

Here is one From Greg Rides Trails

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Balm Boyette

Balm Boyette is not on the IMBA Epic list, but if Alafia River State Park is on the list so should Balm Boyette!

SWAMP puts up an impressive network. Brian McInnis (from JRA (Just Riding Along) Cycles just outside of Boston in Medford, Ma) and I discussed connecting these two parks,. With the facilities and sweet trails at Alafia and the even better trails at Balm Boyette, Swamp, may just have the makings of a IMBA ride center.

I actually like Balm Boyette, just a little bit better than Alafia. More over all mileage and Ridgeline does give Moonscape a run for it's money! There seems to be more advanced trails, Abyss, Pandemonium, and Garry's loop, at Balm Boyette. I admit it is a close call. Spider Berm  and a few others are better too, but North Creek and Roller Coaster at ARSP, have to be given there due. The Quadrants at Balm Boyette, do pretty much blow away any of the easy trails at ASRP though! Picture Endor with palm trees.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Maah Daah Hey 30 miles + 50 dirt roads

If it rains wait at least 2 days to ride the following part of the the Maah Daah Hey trail!

Don't take my word for it, click on the picture for a closer look


A good storm passed over the National Grasslands Monday night. So I decided to not ride on Tuesday and extend our stay one day, enabling a Wednesday attempt of the Maah Daah Hey. After getting the 411 from Dakota Cyclery in Medora and my second ride to the south, I opted to start at road 50, about mile marker 73, instead of at CCC trail head at mile 98. Tammy waited at the trail head for half an hour in case I found that it was still too bad to ride. But it sucked me in and was just OK enough for me to keep going, thinking "This is not too bad and it should get better as the nice sunny day and low humidity goes on". Well I was so wrong. I would get the bike muddy and then shake some off on a fast section. This pattern repeated over and over again. Each time adding a little more than would shake off. Then the turn for the Ice Caves. "Oh, I want pictures of that!" I thought to myself. I had to give it up, after only a tenth of a mile, maybe less. I had to find a stick and dig mud and grass out of the bike, only for it to start building up immediately again. I am glad I brought the derailleur free bike with lots of mud clearance. While there was some sweet single track, it was too far and in between mud, creeks, rivers, deep ruts and trails overgrown with tall grass, sometimes all at once! The scenery is spectacular in places, but starting from Bully Pulpit was pretty damn scenic too and I could see most of this scenery from the dirt roads. I have over four hours of video, I doubt that any of it is that interesting. Just tall grass, cows and me finding my way through creeks, rivers and bogs.

Maybe after a drought, this trail may be OK. But fun, I am not sure. If you want to test your resolve and stubbornness, this is the place. Ride south of Medora if you want. I considerthat  fun single track, before it overgrows. According to the shop, the sequester has taken a lot of park workers out of the equation and trail upkeep has been suffering. Hopefully they get it together for the August race.

I wanted to stay on top of my H2O. I filled up a bottle at the camp Magpie hydrant, with water nearly as brown as the creek of the same name that I just crossed. I still had most of my Camelbak and part of the other water bottle.

Then at about 29 miles, "I had all I could stands, could stands not more!" to quote Popeye. With no race on the line, I jumped on the fire road for the next 50 miles or so. I did detour to the camp Elkhorn trail head in hopes of finding clear water. The water was clear, cool and refreshing. As it was a long down hill dirt road to camp, I thought I would try the trail again. I soon turned back and took my knocks on the dirt road, preferring the climb to the mud and the tall grass trail, that only hinted of a trail.

I was temped once more. With less than 10 miles to go, the dirt road crossed the trail again. The trail I saw from the road looked good. It turned out that once again the cow path was rideable, but the MDH only paralleled it for a short while before getting back into deep ruts obscured by tall grass (a bad combination!). I went back to the dirt road. There was a short section on 94 (apparently legal to ride a bike on, in North Dakota), before exit 24 to Medora and paved bike path into town, where Tammy was waiting for me.

I will reiterate,  for a good time, ride the Deuce from the Bully Pulpit trail head a few miles south of Medora!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Maah Daah Hey Epic

Day one found me starting at the Sully Creek trailhead of the Maah Daah Hey.The creek crossing itself was not bad, only a couple feet deep and water was only moving moderately swift. But don't be deceived by what appears to be almost dry or dried mud. The mud on the MDH is insidious all by itself! Put that mud on a partially dry river bottom and surround that with at least a quarter mile of river sand! Let's just say it does not make for a good time. I tried to talk a group of helmetless riders, some on rental bikes and hybrids, not to start there. In this case, ignorance is not bliss, but they thought better of my advice. Another couple of mountain bikers saw my bike after I cleaned it up after just a couple mile jaunt and chose another trail head and told me about the Bully Pulpit trail head just down the road.

I had the good fortune to run into Lance Larson, Kelly, Steve and Ashley, just as they were getting ready to embark from the Bully Pulpit trail head. See them in action in the preview below. The trail for 15 miles south of Bully Pulpit was really nice and easy to follow and seemed to be getting ridden in. These are newer but more mature than the trails out of Tom's Wash.

It had rained early on day two. I had planned to do Buffalo Gap out and back but the north sections were still wet at noon, so I drove the dirt roads south until the mud did not instantly accumulate on my shoes.

Maah Daah Hey from Tom's Wash south was a lot of hunt and peck for the trail and crossing a lot of fields with no apparent tread. Although there was machine packed trail up to the gate and a new bridge near the next trail head (which I turned around before); I had had enough. But was glad I did not stop when I got back to the car. The trails north of Tom's Wash, were hard to follow in some places, all in all it was much better with more steady riding. The views were great from both sections.I did not make it up to the new campsites for water, but it was getting late anyway, due to the late start letting the rain soak in. The whole ride was less messy than the few miles around Sully Creek trailhead. The first one to ten millimeters seem to dry quickly, but in some areas a greasy goo awaits the uninitiated. particularly where the hillside has sloughed off due to a previous rain.

It is hot today with severe thunderstorms forecast from this afternoon into tomorrow. Ride tired today or see what the ever changing weather brings tomorrow? Hmmm.  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Switchgrass IMBA Epic Wilson Lake

Warning there are biting flies!
This is one of the most scenic rides yet! My wife even enjoyed the video!!
The humidity of Kentucky and Tennessee was behind us, as was the flat lands of southern Kansas. We had almost given up hope of seeing anything else. That is until we turned north on 232 towards Wilson Lake.

The vista became much more aesthetically pleasing. Rolling hills that opened up to reveal the man made lake, that is ocean blue due to the high salt content from it's source river, aptly named Saline and flows towards Salina.

This trail epitomizes What an IMBA Epic should be. It has stacked loops, so that you can bail out and make virtually any length loop you want. There is a easy loop as well as a kids loop.

All are very well marked. All though it took me a while to figure out that the Lettered signs signified decision points. Dashed lined arrow pointed to the short cut and the solid lined arrow sent you along the full loop.

There are 3 main loops, Golden, Marina and Hell's Creek.

Day one it was very hot, near 100 degrees and I was trying to follow a GPS file from the race on May 5th. I missed a turn on the prologue and ended up missing some of the golden trail.

Every one I spoke too was there for the first time. While popular it is over 2 hours away from Kansas City.

One rider said he was not used to so many rocks. I thought to myself "What Rocks?" I must have missed something. I went back and did the Golden loop.

It was getting hot so I skipped the Hell's Creek section.
I came back the next day to overcast skies and steady degree temps. As I was driving the next day, I wanted to keep it short. But at just half an hour I needed more, so I banged out the whole course in 2 an a quarter hours. It was good to be on the Single Speed again, it had been a while.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Bone Collector Screaming Beagle

This trail is just down the road form Buzzard's Roost and the trail building is just as good, maybe better, with the added flare of bovine skeletal remains displayed as if to say, "These could be your bones if you are not careful"! Throw in some forest road climbs and rim trails and you get 20 plus of good solid riding to. I followed a GPS file from Strava (while you still could) and I am glad I did. You can not even see some of the trail markers until you are on the trail. I wish I was able to hook up with a local. I mostly know the system now, mostly. I have to come back to the Black hills when I have a month or a lifetime to ride them.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Buzzards Roost

I rode this small (10 miles) trail system before riding the Bone collector down the road. It is a blast to ride and just four miles out of Rapid City South Dakota. It kinda reminded me of the rocks of northwest New Jersey, with a little of that sandstone I came across in in the Kansas Switchgrass, but with greater elevation changes. The Video should be good! A guy from Fargo, which is almost Minnesota, where I was born and raised, he thought some of the trails were so rocky that they impeded the flow. But my Ninja Jersey honed skills was loving it. After all New Jersey is the Rock Garden State, at least the northwest corner!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tatanka 100

Tammy asked me how finishing the Tatanka 100 made me feel. This is because I am "Sense of Accomplishment Challenged" (I am sure that it will become a diagnosis and treatable by pharmaceuticals in the very near future) :-)
Well, my answer was that everything else pales in comparison. The athletes that take on these events are my new heroes. Before the Tatanka, 100 was just a number. At this point, I am not sure if I will do another one, but maybe....

How did I feel?  I felt AWE!

It transcends a sense of accomplishment.

The race started at 5am. Anybody that knows me, knows that I am not a Morning person. But recently being on the East coast and changing a couple time zones did help, albeit slightly. I slept well and got up ok.
Ryan Heerschap and I were the first ones at Woodle Field for the start. The shear wall of the cliff behind the stadium glowed ominously from the WoodleFfield stadium lights. The neutral roll out from Sturgis, South Dakota, famous for the motorcycle rally, had us pushing about 20 miles per hour. I spun my single gear and drifted back, while up front, Ryan felt like he was already on the rivet. We climbed Bulldog Canyon Road (see us coming back down from our pre-ride in the video below)
I was staying conservative and would ride up onto someone's wheel and many would just let me by, even before I asked..

There was walking involved, particularly the infamous vertical skree climb to switch valleys. I would catch people, only to be dropped later, and catch them again or not.

Endurance sports really are an equalizer between the sexes, six women came in front of me and I was not ashamed to take a draft from one of the ladies. I found out that I walk up hills slower that a lot of people and most gearies walked what I had to walk. And then there was the Mickelson, with my 34 chainring and 20 tooth cog, I could not wait for the incredibly shallow grade of the rail trail to end. I could only manage 10-11 miles an hour. Ryan said they were only doing 12-13, so I did not feel so bad. But I did draft that woman at 12-13 as long as I could; about half a mile total. Then a guy came by at 14 and I could only hold that for about a minute.

I took a little long at the Englewood aid station (last bag drop), almost leaving then deciding to leave my Camelbak and fidgeting with that way too long, a few gearies got in and out faster. I was pleasantly surprised that when the topography turn more jagged I could still climb and was immediately on two that made speedier stops than I. They split and I went right by one gearie and was closing on the next as he caught a third. One caught me back on the, not flat, but still too gradual descent, leading to the final aid station. As I could only coast around 13 mph and could not pedal faster, I ate my molasses cookies. So I only had to take on water. That gearie was trying to get an idea what next lay in store, I just went. Then another gearie, older than me even, pedals past me as I am coasting around 20 mph. He asked "Will this ever end?" I answer, "They tell me it does", then he exclaimed "What! another climb!" I just start pedaling up and past him. There was hill after hill with wicked fast descents after each one.  I was making every climb and was in the zone on every descent. Just as I entered the culvert leading back to Woodle Field, I caught up to the woman that towed me for a bit, back on the Mickelson. She was with her SO or husband and teammate. None of us were in the same class and I could not break them up as they crossed the finish line holding hands.
Finishing in 11 hours and 19 minutes. 14th out of 17
So all said, a reasonable first 100 mile mountain bike showing. Particularly since I have hardly trained for even short races. I climbed more in the first 22 miles than I have done on some of my 30 to 40 mile rides this year and twice as much as in the 50 milers and almost exactly twice the duration, from last year. See the Bear Scat Strava Link below. Consider that my average training time has only been 6 hours and 45 minutes and my longest week was 16 hours.

I have done Hillier Than Thou with that much mileage and climbing but that was on the road!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tatanka 100

I was going to say and that ain't no bull, but I am sure that cliche is as tired as I will be after the race in Saturday. 5 am start. Anybody that knows me knows that I am not a morning person.

There was one big happy coincidence. We cut our stay short at Wilson Lake, near Sylvan Grove Kansas, because it was forecast to be 100 degrees or more, most of the week. "So why not extend our stay near Mount Rushmore". That way we could do more site seeing and there has to be good riding in the area as well.

Well, one of my Bulldog teammates Ryan just happened to be coming out to do a 100 mile race that weekend. I managed to get a late entry.

Of course I was running low on my favorite calorie and electrolyte source Powerbar Perform.

Ryan had left before I could wrangle him into stopping by Cycle Craft to get me some more.
So Gatorade and rest stop fare will have to do!

On single speed, I have done the Bear Scat 50 a couple a times and a 4 hour race at Iron Hill Maryland (I think)
Years ago I did the Twelve O'Muchy, which ended up being mostly on a single speed, due to the mud. Not only was this my first time racing a single speed, but my first time riding more than around the block on one!

The Mickleson is what concerns me. It is 10 - 20 miles of barley up hill. It makes gear choice tough. High enough to rock this section and I may be walking a lot more of the other climbs. Hmmm

Here is the course profile;

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lake Leatherwood Video

Eureka Springs Arkansas,
While not on the IMBA epic list, it is a very fun place to ride.  I rode it just after a Xterra. We had rain in the AM but it was very dry in the late afternoon. about a week later I was not so lucky. It was very slick and it was like Jersey in August. Sweaty rocks and roots.  Punctured a tire and Stans would not seal it. That is what I get for crackin' wise, when the guy that did support for the Xterra said there were a lot of tire slices during the event. When these rocks are wet they are like ice and extra sharp!
 I fared better on Monday. With rain moving into Hobs, a trail system about 45 minutes from home base, and supposedly not at Leatherwood, I decided to ride there again. I had been getting chain suck and my chain was somewhere between .75 and 1 on the old Park chain gauge. I put on a new chain. All seemed fine on that first ride, but Saturdays ride was nearly intolerable, big and middle would skip under high load, usually I can where these in, but this time I just wore them out!. Back at home base I had a 33t  E13 gear that was not round enough for the SS in my spare parts, so I took the opportunity to experiment with a 1x9. I changed the crank as well and the granny was not compatible with Hollowtech. Except for the fact that I did not lock out the front derailleur and should have checked the low limit on the rear derailleur, the drive train now functioned properly, barring human error.

I now knew the area well enough to get a warm up in, instead of going straight into a climb! But it did start to rain on me. But I new to respect these rocks when wet! I had two local GPS files loaded in my Garmin. I did not start out using any this time around, but I saw the sigh to Eureka Springs via trial, I had to pull up the file for what a couple locals call the Rowdy Beaver Epic. No doubt named after one of the fine establishments just down the road from home base! There are lots of trails here that you would never see. Hell I had trouble finding them with a GPS, even when backtracking sometimes. I managed a good deal of the Rowdy Beaver, but turned away from some cool looking switchbacks, due to a no trespassing sign. I got poured on first in Eureka Springs and had to skip a couple trails, due to previous shenanigans, and got rained on again as I got back to the car at Lake Leatherwood.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lake Leatherwood Eureka Arkansas

Almost a week since my last ride and boy did this fit the bill. Decent climbing, twisty single track a fair serving of rocks, made for a excellent ride in low humidity, despite passing rain the previous twelve hours. Very little mud. I was following a GPS file and missed and could not tell which purple line to follow sometimes, so I did a 4 mile section twice :-) The trails are really packed in there and turn in on themselves, but you hardly ever see the other trails, only their purple line.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Munson Mondays Video

They have a time trial series at Munson, here in Tallahassee Florida. I sort of had my own.  The guys and gals get together and kind of roll out in two groups. I uploaded my preride Strava file to get an idea where I stood. I went out with the first group.

Important note, most folks ride the loop counter clockwise.  It is a two way trail and the there is an arrow that points in the clockwise direction. The loop definitely flows better counterclockwise.

The surface is undergoing a change from it's natural sand (very deep at times) to imported clay. The clay, for the most part, has been formed and shaped into berms and some bump/jumps.

The clay is much debated locally. Some say the sand was too tough for many folks. Some say the clay makes it too easy. All say that it makes it faster. The clay does open it up to more casual riders, I even saw some hybrids on the trail.  The nearby Twilight trail is still in it's natural sand state for the purist. I only got a brief glance of Twilight after a wrong turn on my first CLOCKWISE lap of Munson.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shenandoah Southern Traverse In The Sun

So, I admit it. Yea sometimes I get swayed by Strava. I know some of you love it and some of you hate it. Well I don't go out to cherry pick, but when I do a ride and I miss the KOM by a margin that I know I can make up, it is enough for me to do the ride again. Even less than 48 hours later, instead of a local shop road ride. Only few dozen riders have uploaded this ride to Strava, but still!
I started in the morning, instead of my usual noonish or later start times. This was to beat the heat coming later. It was still a bit damp and humid, but the fog had burned off and most of the rocks in the gardens were dry. My short warm up was a little better too. I took 30 seconds off the 28 minute climb at the start, Still in 2nd by 8 seconds, oh well. I knew I could take the loop KOM as my Rolling time was better than Levi's KOM from last year (I bet he is faster now) and I spent a lot of time finding a cell signal to ward of my wives worries. I was happy getting a total time under my previous rolling time. The conditions did help. I was able to see more than a hundred feet, so I could go a little faster. Except for the trail near the edge of almost a cliff, but not quite. I still have a hammer mentality and am happiest moving at a healthy clip. I actually road more of the rock gardens the first time around. I am glad I went back. I had much more fun the second time around. I downloaded an app, so Tammy could follow me more closely via the phones GPS. This app did not need a cell phone connection. I also down loaded an app to tell me when I had a signal, so I could make more efficient use of stop time to check in. Helps my wife worry less when I am out there alone.

I got video of the final down hill. I edited out the fire road though. Fun to blast down, but makes for boring video.

I was treated to a nice view when leaving the National forest as well.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

SST Epic not so Kwik Stats

Due to the SETI dishes, the only cell service is via DSL at businesses and some residences. No cell towers as they may cause us to miss a call from ET.
It was very humid and cool. Not my favorite conditions. But it was not cold. It rained some and the rocks were wet. But I rode most of the rock gardens. I stopped towards the end of one and as I went to remount, I almost took a tumble down the steep embankment that most of the trail ran along. I stopped at an overlook and forgot to turn on the GoPro for the main 5 mile descent. I may go back Tuesday...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Beyond the Thunder Dome!

Rich Hobbie (Hobbie Heat and Power) has been way too good to us! Here is just one example. He made this awesome bumper for our motor home. It includes a Park work stand donated by Brendan (Terminus of the Buck at Cycle Craft).

Got it's first use today, taking the pedals off off Tammy's bike.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Douthat State Park Too

I rode with Carter. Carter, the self acknowledged intermediate, represented himself pretty well, here at Douthat. We started with the east side and were treated to only slightly more moderate climbs than I rode the previous day. I was going to ride gears again, but Carter showed up on his Spot belt drive SS,

so I pull out the Lynskey SS and made the tires have my happy pressure and we were off. I could not let Carter enjoy more suffering than I. Evil Grin.

The first climb, while more moderate in general, still seemed to keep going forever. With some steep sections that were just a little too much, on day two and with one gear. I would stop and Carter would say "You don't have to stop on my account." I would have laughed if I wasn't still catching my breath as he made his way up to me. I normally do not stop for much, when I have my way or don't need photos, but On this day on this mountain, I was more that happy with all the stops for scenery and snacks.

The Rock over look
Tuscarora Overlook

Stony Run Water Fall

 The Garmin Stopped adding elevation about half way through.