January 23, 2012

Full-On Winter Training Rides Continued

This past weekend I headed back to the Frederick watershed to ride with Mike and Dylan on a cold and snowy Sunday morning.  We got to the trailhead and it was 25 degrees -- it didn't get any warmer during the 4.5 hours on the trail and snowed off and on throughout the day.  The trails were covered with 1-2 inches of snow, plus a hard ice crust.  The conditions made for interesting steering; the crust could take your front wheel in an unintended direction and before you'd know it you were headed straight for a rock or a tree.

Mike brought his awesome motorcycle overboots plus a custom helmet cover to keep his head warmer.  My two pairs of wool socks worked OK for the first 2 hours, then got quite cold.  I did try my new Patagonia R1 gloves. They're polypro and neoprene and made for cold weather fly fishing and kept my hands warm, but they weren't breathable so my fingers got somewhat pruned from the sauna-effect in the gloves.  My hands were definitely happy with the new ESI grips on my bike.  So much better than the stock grips!

Dylan invited a bunch of other riders from the area and we started out with 7 people, Tony, Darius, Ian and (sorry, missed your name). 

January 09, 2012

Sunday Team Rides Continued - Gambrill/Watershed Park with Mike, Dylan and Jeff

Continuing on our Sunday team rides of 4+ hours, we decided to mix it up this week and headed to the technical rocks of Gambrill State Park / the Watershed located on the ridge of the Catoctin Mountains just outside Frederick, MD.  This park is known for being unrelentingly rocky, technical and unless you are "on" for the whole ride, the rocks will eat you up and spit you out.  That's pretty much what happened to me...

My new Scott Scale 29 RC arrived last week and this past weekend was the first real test on 29 wheels after riding a lifetime on 26 wheels.  I was impressed at how well the large wheels bridged gaps between rocks, allowed for easier step-downs from rocks and generally rolled faster on downhills and road sections.  I still need to relearn gearing and weight distribution as both are slightly different from the 26 wheel size.

We initially rode a 2+ hour loop on the Gambrill side of the park, riding down what's known as the "Death Climb"; a jumble of rocks that's just barely rideable on a good day.  I took one good fall, bruising my quads and tearing off a good chunk of skin from my ankle. The sometimes unstable and usually sharp rocks contributed to a few crashes from each of us, but causing no serious damage.

The trails are maintained by the local Frederick Bicycle Coalition.  From the number of cars parked at the trail head, many people agree that their trail network is top notch.