Monday, March 23, 2009
Sherman & Veach Gaps, EF
The EF ride was awesome, even with all the mishaps. Camp had a plan, ride up Sherman, down Veach, over to Mine and hit stuff on both sides of the valley. It was going to be a long, hard day. Weather gods smiled upon us and it was going to be a spectacular day. 28 at the beginning, high near 60 meant extra layers were going to be shed. The approach up Sherman was rocky goodness. The first section paralleled the stream with not much elevation gain. A fine technical warm up before the hard work began. As the grade increased, so did our effort and the Big Dog was owning the climbs. JoeP and I were grinding up some steep stuff and Camp suggested we pull it back and save ourselves. "Lots more climbing ahead" he mentioned and he wasn't kidding. The trail took a turn for the nasty and we were doing a lot of hike-a-bike. Way more than I cared for and I started to question the route. The final pitch was simply ridiculous and Darius resorted to portaging his bike. I opted to push, but, had to carry it over numerous "steps" were your footing was questionable.
Dkeg suffered the first two of 4 flats after we made the turn onto Veach Gap. Insanely tight tires made these flats troublesome (to say the least) and our ride organizer was getting frustrated after getting his third just moments after 1 and 2. Fresh eyes and hands took care of the potential issue as we cracked a couple cold ones to pass the time.Patched and re-fueled, we headed down the Veach Gap. Each new high speed turn down the rock strewn trail made that miserable climb a fading memory. Our hoots could be heard through the woods as our group snaked down the twisted trail. A section of high speed double track caused David to suffer his forth flat and Darius' first. I'm sure these mechanicals weighed heavily on David as we entered the last section of rocky terrain and the semi-dry stream bed.
Wet tires and off-chamber rocks are hard to negotiate when your mind is clear (just ask JoeP who went OTB on one section), when concerned with multiple flats, I know it's hard to go with the flow. I assume this is what happened to David as he stuffed his front wheel in this section and went down hard, on his face. I was trying to clip in when I saw it happen and knew there was a problem when he just laid there, bike twisted on top of his body. I pulled the bike off him and saw a lot of blood on the rocks below. A major face plant resulted in a split upper lip and a broken tooth. Joe ran back grabbed David's bike and we got him moving after locating a napkin to handle the blood. The one saving grace was that we were at the bottom, done with the rocks and had smooth double track until meeting the others at the road.
We still had 4 or 5 miles of road riding before the cars and proper first aid kits. The road through the valley is beautiful, but, narrow roads and impatient drivers can make it quite dangerous. Another casualty of the ride was my camera that got dropped while taking a picture of an old well pump. JoeP suffered an apparent pinch flat on the road (not sure how) and we were passed by a runner for the second time that day. Our humbling ride ended with Darius patching up DKEG's lip with Steri Strips and beer. We dropped off Darius and decided to hit the ER at Frederick Memorial. Several hours later David's lip was all stitched up and looking better.
After all the chaos, all the flats, all the hike-a-bike, the one memory that out shines them all was that descent down Veach. It was that good and I want to hit it again.......soon!