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.
After making it back to the car and reloading on water and food, we headed out for another 3 hour loop, riding down one of the most technical downhills I've ever had the pleasure of riding, riding up the "Death March" climb and generally winding our way up, over and through large piles of rocks. We eventually emerged from the woods after the rocks took their toll on Dylan's chain and my tires and we called it a day.
Here are a few shots of Mike and Dylan clearing a section that we'd thought might not be fully rideable:
And, here's the ride data from Strava.com:
Our next team ride will be in two weeks (weather permitting) back on the MoCo Epic loop. Hope to see you out on the trails.