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Elevation of of the entire ride (starting from the right)

This trip, a three day 350-mile ride on the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal, was planned as a continuation of the budding “bro-mance” between Russ Adams and Paul Morris, so naturally I invited myself along :) .  Several more joined on as the planning progressed and we started the trip last Thursday with six:  Russ, Paul, Barry, Dee, Michelle and myself.

http://www.atatrail.org/tmi/maps.cfm
http://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/upload/chohparkmap.pdf

The Fix

Prologue
The fun started weeks before the actual departure.  We met up at the Gaithersburg DFH on Thursday night for a couple of beers and a little bit of food, then headed up toward Pittsburg, dropping off Michelle’s car in Hancock so she could go to work on Sunday. Found the hotel after a very scenic accidental tour of the heights of Pittsburg (“Uh, guys? Our road is down there. WAY down there”)

Day 1 (125 miles): We have a slight problem….
Michelle had brought the wrong skewer/parts for her wheels, rendering her bike unrideable. Our early departure plans were put on hold while we woke up local biking friends, googled the closest REI, and waited for a nearby hardware store to open. Russ and Paul get the McGyver Award for working with the guy at the hardware store to fashion an excellent substitute.

Finally on our way... (note the beer in Russ's hand)

By the time we reached Ohiopyle it was getting cold and dark. We put on lights and extra layers, stuffed warmers in our shoes, and prepared for the 30 miles between us and the hotel. Barry was busy pumping up his tires and the others were swapping gear around, so Dee and I started down the trail to keep warm. We had paused for a few minutes when we heard a loud gunshot, practically on top of us. “Huh…. they’re shooting a little close to town, aren’t they?” Then the texts came in: “Stop! Barry popped his tire and they’re going back to Ohiopyle to fix it.”

Michelle: “It sounded like a gunshot and then Barry fell over. We thought he’d been shot.”

We weren’t sure how long the tire and wheel repair was going to take, so Dee, Michelle and I started riding, knowing the boys would catch us somewhere before dinner. When they did at the base of the biggest climb, we realized we wouldn’t make the Morguen Toole Co. hostel in Meyersdale before the kitchen closed, so we stopped in Rockwood to find food. Now, Rockwood is a very small town, and it was pretty much shut down at 8:30 on a Friday night; the only sign of life was coming from the VFW hall across the street from the trailhead. Russ must have been quite a sight to behold clad in black lycra and a balaclava hat when he walked in there; once they got over their initial shock and realized he wasn’t there to rob the joint, they told him the only open place in town stopped serving food in 15 minutes.

The end of Day 1

The reaction Russ got at the VFW paled in comparison to the group of us walking into Rock City Cafe.  It was a small, one-room bar completely filled with, um, good ole boys. By that time, we had literally 2 minutes to order, so Paul ordered two of everything. Russ was in bad shape and the fried food which was touted as “the best wings on Main Street” did him no good at all. Right before our eyes, he went from chilly and hungry to hypothermic and really sick – which included a trip to the bathroom to throw up. So for the third time that day, we entered problem solving mode. The waitress brought us a phone book and phone (since there was no cell service in Rockwood), but the lone taxi service didn’t answer. We considered duct-taping him to his bike and towing him 12 miles to Meyersdale, but thankfully Terry, the very kind owner of the bar, came to our rescue and drove Russ and his bike to the hotel.  Russ still won’t talk about what he had to pay Terry for providing this service but he will confirm that Terry probably saved his life that night.

Crossing the Eastern Divide

As the bone chilling sleet descended on us, that was the longest 12 miles I have EVER ridden.

Morguen Toole Co. hostel was awesome: they kept the bar open for us to get warm blueberry pie and a much needed beer when we rolled in at 11:30pm. We all stayed in one big hostel room; except for Barry, he slept alone in a room with his dirty laundry. All of our dirty laundry, actually. It was very … pungent …. in there. The hostel used to be a morgue; there were skeletons and old tools decorating the halls and we had the entire building to ourselves the next morning. Barry took advantage of that by unlocking the door to the hostel (the entire hostel, not just his hostel room), in, um, extremely casual clothing (fyi, he’s a boxer man).  This unusual behavior by Barry would come back to haunt me again later in the trip.
Day 2 (95 miles): “My brain works better’n yours does.”
Saturday was a short day at 94 miles, and those 30-something missing miles made a huge different in how the day went. We could actually stop to take pictures!
We had a B&B reserved in Hancock, another very small town (the entire building to ourselves, again… all the sane people must have ridden the GAP/C&O trails earlier in the year). Like the night before, we had to rush to get dinner before the restaurant closed. The employees at the Park N Dine were very nice, even though we walked in 10 minutes before they closed and thankfully we were the only customers in the place so we could fully enjoy the beers that we brought in with us. Our sweet waitress had the best line of the day. After helping Barry locate his credit card (he was sitting on it) she said, “My brain works better’n yours does.”  This was a valid point at the time and one which Barry was never able to refute.

See if you can figure out the hidden meaning in this one

Day 3 (125 miles): “Barry, if you start singing that monkey song now, I swear I will cut you”
Michelle left us on Sunday morning to return to real life helping America prepare for the Turkey Day festivities; Dee, Russ and I were riding 70 miles to Point of Rocks, where Russ’ wife, Debbie, would pick us up.  Whereas, Barry and Paul were riding all the way into Georgetown (125 miles).

Kissing ass at the start of the C&O Canal in Cumberland

As we headed off a drizzly rain began.  By midday, we were tired and stopped for a delicious lunch at the Sweet Shop in Shepherdstown. Unfortunately, upon emerging from our lunch pitstop, Barry realized that he had yet another tire issue as this time his front tire was flat.  Russ and Paul leapt into action and put a tube in his tire, while poor, sweet Dee worked on her dance moves in an attempt to keep her promise to herself for the weekend.  Let’s just say the locals were not impressed and she fell short in her attempt :(

Shortly after lunch, three straight days on the trail started to take a toll on our minds and bodies and we found the best way to make the miles go faster was in deep, philosophical discussion. Barry tried to do a training exercise he learned the week before at work: “OK everyone, close your eyes and relax your entire body.” “Uh, Barry? We’re kinda riding our bikes right now.” “Huh, this may be harder than I thought.” Barry also brought up some YouTube video about a baby monkey riding on a pig and I thought if that ridiculous song got stuck in my head I was going to completely lose it and I secretly wished I had ridden home with Michelle instead of still pedaling along this trail.  But pedal on we did, and on and on….

Just before Harper’s Ferry, we found someone’s phone on the trail and trying to find the owner helped pass a few more miles.  Then as nighttime approached I relished the fact that I was near my finishing point and would soon be home relaxing in a warm bath with a glass of wine in hand.

By Point of Rocks I was D-O-N-E and thankfully our savior Debbie was there to rescue us!  We said our goodbyes to Paul and Barry who stole all of our remaining water and hotties handwarmers and headed off into the descending night.  This is where the boys take over the story and it gets kinda weird…

The first two hours went by smoothly as we ramped up our pace a bit and worked together in an effort to get back home to Washington.  In fact, just past White’s Ferry with 30 miles to go we stopped to eat and felt so good that we called our ladyfriends, Cathy and Charlotte, and suggested that they meet up at Chadwicks tavern in Georgetown @ 8:45 to celebrate this accomplishment and welcome home the conquering heroes.  At this point, we knew we were going to finish and were experiencing the thrill of victory.  However, this trip that had been full of challenges throughout and had one last surprise for us – the agony of defeat.
Barry put Paul on a towline so that they could make better time in the home stretch and make our Nachos n Beer appointment at Chadwicks.  After stopping to hook up our last working light battery between us, we really picked up the pace and that was precisely when the angry beaver appeared.  It wasn’t the first time on this trip there had been run ins with angry beavers.  In this instance, we were at milepost 10, with less than an hour left to ride, and an angry beaver reared its ugly head and scampered across the trail in front of us like a black cat in the night.  Less than a mile later on a slight downhill we got tangled up with the towrope- Paul let go, Barry slowed to a stop- and we both looked down defeated as Barry’s derailleur had been ripped clean off his bicycle.  That meant a laborious 8 mile tow of Barry into Georgetown by Paul in order to finish.
We all knew this trip could only end one way – with a disaster – much like it had begun.  Nevertheless, we made it past the Park Service Police that were in search of a missing person and surprisingly not at all interested in our angry beaver sighting and we finally finished the ride some 350 miles later as evident by our Milepost 1 photo before heading down the hill to Chadwicks in search of Nachos n Beer.
Perhaps the moral of the story is to always treat angry beavers with respect, but I like to think it should be about getting out on your bike and riding with good friends no matter what obstacles present themselves.

By Barry

Freedom Center, home of the Snotcycle mtb race, which will be run on Saturday, January 26, 2013.  (This is the second year at this venue. In years past, the race was held on Rockland Farm–home of the Baker’s Dozen mtb race–though because these races were disrupting farm operations they relocated the Snotcycle. I for one, miss having to bunny-hop the frozen cow patties.)

For those of you who are doing or thinking of doing the Snotcycle next weekend, here is some trail recon.  Disclaimer: my memory is not so good so please take this review as a general flavor of the trail, though not a recipe.  I am not a cook, as the famous saying goes.

Dave and I rode out to Leesburg on Monday, January 21 to scout the race course. Our plan was to do two laps, though after the first lap the temp rose to 40 degrees F and the trail thawed which made it, as my pal Joey Baird described it, a greasy mess. We turned around and did not finish our second lap as it would not have been good for the trail (or us).

We were pleasantly surprised to see the race director Mike…or was it Tom?–I get those guys confused–on the trail blowing leaves with a friendly grin on his face. We thanked him for rolling out the red carpet for us. I think it is thoughtful of a race director to come out in advance to make the course more appealing and safe for riders.

Based on our ride and a quick driving tour, the camp and property at the Freedom Center seem pastoral and quaint–along the gravel roads, one can find about 20-25 old cabins/cottages/meeting halls with a couple of caretaker’s houses interspersed. No frills but looks like a good, low-budget venue to host retreats or a Snotcycle race…

In general, the trail wasn’t as unpleasant as I had heard, especially since it was frozen when we got there and we had decent grip. It kind of reminds me of a condensed Lodi Farm (near Fredericksburg)–lots of turns, quick ups and downs, not a lot of coasting, though nothing very technical. It does have more ruts in it than I would prefer from riders riding when the trails were too soft. As long as you’re paying attention, you can ride over or through the ruts without getting your wheels caught. Perhaps the trails would benefit from a more strict open/closed policy and posting such on the Freedom Center website and Facebook page. Brian may roll his eyes at this regulation, though I maintain that certain regulations are good for humanity.

I recall there are two log ramps: on the first log ramp–about a quarter mile into the trail–as Dave was rolling over it, I think he hit some frost on the top log and his bike slid out from underneath him, fast and hard though he popped up quickly, smiling. Other than a slightly sore elbow, he seems to be OK. The second log ramp, about a mile and a half in, has a go-around to the right, which I took and will probably take again during the race. There are also a couple of smallish-mediumish trees/logs you must cross, some of which are on slight climbs. They are all rideable though on one of them, I was in too big a gear and didn’t have the momentum to ride over it, so I had to quickly dismount and hop over it on foot.

There are some, though not a lot of passing opportunities. If you want to be competitive, you should muscle your way to front of the pack at the start. Otherwise, I think it will be a rolling ant train.

I was riding Specialized Renegade Controls on both front and back of my Epic. At the end of the lap I began to fishtail and slide. I also went down twice at Rosaryville Saturday on slickish spots, so I plan to switch to Captains before the race. If you have knobby tires, I recommend using them (and make sure they are clean so they are more likely to wick away muck or snow).

I believe I have a touch of Raynaud’s syndrome which quickly renders my hands and feet quite numb and useless quite quickly. I didn’t think it was very cold when we started though once we got moving, I lost feeling in my hands and feet.  Dave graciously loaned me the Hotties he had in his gloves and after a while feeling came back to my fingers and I could shift and brake again. If you have any such problems with the cold and it’s going to be freezing or below, bring your Hotties or drop me a line and I’ll bring you some from my stash. We experienced about a 10 degree drop from Falls Church to Leesburg.

Meteorological models are currently unable to predict with precision conditions on race day 5 days out. If the temp is 35 or below, I think the course will be OK. If it rises higher on race day, I predict the course will be a slimy, mucky mess. No one said Snotcycle was supposed to be easy or pleasant so realize that the conditions suck for everyone and roll with it and have some fun.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4GLTE smartphone

Spokes, Etc and Kirk’s coaching company Veloworks hosted the inaugural Santa Smackdown Computrainer race. The format was 4 compu-trainers set up in the shop with 4 members racing per trainer. fjallraven kanken españa Kirk had a big screen in the front of the room and the race course was set for Central Park in New York City. Mochilas Kanken Baratas Racers could watch there progress as they raced. Nike Air Max 2016 Heren Zwart It was kind of like a great big video game console but with a lot more sweat. Nike Air Max 2016 Dames Grijs Beer and pizza were generously provided as well as race shwag for the top finishers. Nike Sko Nettbutikk Anthony and I were the ImONPoint.org and TeamHalfwayThere.com representatives. Women Air Jordan 6 Final results (quoting Kirk’s email): “- Shane pedaled away with a stunning 1st place– on a 29er mountain bike no less! – Colin did the Ironman thing and quietly motored along into second, barely breaking a sweat! – Stacia absolutely killed it with a crushing third! – JimmyMac duked it out with a solid forth! Team Men are from Lars (changed to Men are from Shane, since Lars FAILED TO SHOW;) rode away with the overall team lead (and three in the finals) finishing more than 5 min ahead of the second place Barstucks … Team Just Wone (Justin– we miss ya) and Team Bretstrong who had the best kit all rode like champs too! The fixie community was represented by Spokes own Marc and Chris who pedaled furiously in monster gears and tight jeans (chris) Thanks to Spokes for supporting with pizza and beverages and Julie for a wonderful prize. Nike Air Max 90 Pas Cher Pour Femme Also appreciate the help everyone gave getting the bikes on and off the machines, timing (Kim, Tom, Matt) and other stuff. Mens Nike Flyknit Anyhow … Fjallraven Kanken 7L ridestrong and get ready for next year’s Smackdown …