Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mountain Biking and Camping

Really beautiful three-day weekend. Drove Friday to Blackwater Falls State Park, first with a stop by Blackwater Bikes in Davis for map and advice, lunch at Hellbender Burritos (fiery good), then tent set-up at campground.

Rode from camp to Plantation Trail. It didn't go very well. I crashed about five times, mostly landing in duff, but sometimes sticks and stones. Trail was very washed out due to about six weeks' rain, plus I guess I was tired from sitting in car four hours. After the ride, read in guide: "This trail will jolt you, pound you, hammer you and throw you off at times." Another: "Technical, technical and then a little bit more technical. One of the most challenging cross-country trails in the country." Huh! Mission accomplished. I got stomped. Dinner at Blackwater Lodge, then snug in my "Tundra Dome" tent.

I haven't camped for many years, last time was high in the Tetons with Nate, Paintbrush Canyon. Camping is, like, roughing it. And I've grown soft. My aim is to harden-up for Tour d'Afrique next January. I'm riding Cairo to Khartoum, across the Sahara. Except for two rest days (Red Sea, Luxor), we'll tent camp every night. This weekend at Blackwater was a test. My tent worked well (very sweet rig), and I rode pretty hard, about five hours, five hours and two hours in the saddle Friday-Sunday. Here are some pics and notes.

This is "Tundra Dome" ... an expedition tent I got on sale about half price from EMS. Very sturdy. It's mission is to keep me tight in high wind and sand in the Sahara. One thing I can't say enough good things about is the Blackwater SP campground -- great set-up, hot showers, a short ride down to the lodge for dinner and drinks (and WiFi) ... not so roughing it, but a start ... lots of ride options in and out of the park ... and only 20 bucks/night, to boot ...

This is a map of my ride out to Plantation Trail, and down the trail and such. I'd like to re-try it sometime, maybe later in summer when it's a bit dried out and I'm sharper. Again, this puppy kicked me. Here's a small bounce, over a root and a two foot drop down to the creek. And a picture of Black Lion in a tree (numerous fallen trees blocked the path) ...

Despite Friday's agony, the beauty of trails around Blackwater is immense. It lifts me up even when my legs are dead. Here's a shelter and field off the Allegheny Trail (near Plantation). And the Blackwater Canyon.

On Saturday I did a nice long loop on Canaan Loop Road, which left from Blackwater and "circled the mountain," with a lot of challenging rock, creeks and mud for about the first half, then generally pleasant gravel road by cascading streams and sharp evergreens.

My favorite ride, which would have been a better warm-up Friday, were the many trails about the Canaan Valley Institute (CVI), running out of Davis. I did a two hour out-and-back Sunday, before packing Tundra Dome and driving to DC. Here's a map of my CVI ride, plus a couple nature pics. More pics start here. This was a great out. I'll be back!

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