Monday, September 7, 2009
No SM100 meant my Labor day weekend was wide open and in need of activities. I saw a flyer about some community fireworks at the new marina and entered the date into the CrackBerry. I thought a nice over-nighter on the boat would be fun and was promptly vetoed by the Mrs. when I pitched the idea. No worries, it was still going to be a great day and the kids were ready to play. Like the last time, they spent most of their time in the water and it was hard getting them back aboard for dinner. As the sun began its descent, a large orange moon appeared on the opposite horizon. Crystal clear skies and a full moon provide an incredible backdrop for the pryo-technic display. I really didn't think this display was going to be a big deal until I motored around the bend to a river packed with boats. I later found out numerous clubs sail from far away to view this display and at its conclusion I knew why. It was amazing! If you find yourself looking for something to do next Labor day, go to the Rhode river (near day mark 7) and enjoy some amazing fireworks.
Sunday I decided to head a bit further north and ride Michuax with the MBM and/or Gettysburg crew. They were planning to ride most of the Teaberry loop and Travis mentioned something about Mackey, a trail I thought I had seen before. The lot was filling up fast and there were a LOT of people out for this ride. Not wanting to get stuck in a long line of bikers, I rolled out with the lead group that hit the trails running. There were about 15 of us pushing a brisk pace throughout the 13 miles of the beginner loop. This was a great piece of trail and a bit faster than the normal rock crawling associated with Michaux. There were still plenty of rocks, but, the gardens were smaller and you could carry some speed throughout. This loop was a great sample of what Michaux has to offer, only a little smaller and not quite as technical. A nice beginner loop for the Terror of Teaberry.
Back in the lot people regrouped and prepared for more, if you chose. Some guys from Philly (Harlan Price, Topher and a buddy) missed the first loop and talked to Travis about hitting Mackey via the single-track. I heard the other ride would have a lot of double track and the choice was clear. While many of the other riders were still returning to the lot, a small group of 9 quietly slid off into the woods. I was among that group. Our second loop started in the same direction as the first, but, only for a moment. A few minutes later we were on some trails that seemed vaguely familiar and that's when Travis mentions Rocky Ridge. Memories of an earlier ride with Camps and the Outlaw came flooding back. I recalled technical trails covered in briar's that shredded your skin, deer fences that prevented access and a tour guide who was not to sure of our position. The briar's were still there (cut back a bit from a dual sport race), as were the deer fences, but, Travis knew the route and kept us on task the entire time. At the third fence was a good bailout for people on a schedule. 3 in our party had prior obligations that prevented them from continuing. Our tour guide took this opportunity to stress the fact that what lie ahead were 4 more hours of ass kicking single-track and no water until the bottom. I'm riding with people I usually read about and the shit is about to get surreal.
We jump on to a trail called Virginia. It's new, or so it seems, and the freshly raked duff saps your energy. This group pushes a mean pace and the technical sections are the only thing saving my ass. The reward for all your effort was ear-to-ear, giggle inducing technical riding second to none. I kept asking "is this Mackey?" and Cheryl simply replied "no, it's something new". The further you went, the better it got. The rock work and line selection for this trail is spectacular, the builder should be proud. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better we pop out to a nice clearing with an amazing view. On the other side, just through the trees, was Mackey, the trail I thought I knew (and didn't), the one I came to ride. Mackey has been ridden a little more than Virginia and that was a welcome change. It rode a little faster and continued to reward you with some insane lines. I would have liked to session a couple spots, but, we had to keep moving and one shot was all you really got. I can't even go into too much detail about the trail because there was so much to it. Rocks, rocks and yes, some more rocks, there was little time to let the brain absorb what was happening to your body. Just the constant onslaught of line selection and power moves to get you through to the next section.
From Mackey we made our way to Rattle Dick. This was a good piece of trail that seemed fairly new as well. I'm not sure why, but, on my last few forays into Michaux I always end up on freshly cut trail, or trail that rarely sees tires. The latter may have been the case with Rattle Dick. It is a great trail, but, I was getting a little tired of grinding over soft duff this late in the day. It wound its way through the forest until we came upon Sucker Punch. "That was the last rock garden" Travis would proclaim, as if anyone would believe him. We just laughed and smiled as we made our way down this intoxicating trail, knowing a toll would be levied at the bottom. We found water down there, in the valley, at a picnic pavilion full of party-goers not willing to part with any extra cheeseburgers. A couple Shot Bloks and a goo would have to suffice for the long climb back to the cars. Harlen, Topher and their buddy (I'm terrible with names), took Stooges up the mountain while Travis, Cheryl and I stuck to the roads. That was a LONG climb back to the parking lot, but, descending Sucker Punch was worth the trip. Travis and I talked about hitting Mackey and Virginia some time with cameras and a little extra time. I hope he remembers that conversation.