Monday, 27 May 2013

Wound up on a little impromptu WV mountain biking adventure the last few days.

The turn off the highway to go to Spruce Knob.

I started off in Canaan Valley, at the Canaan Valley State Park Resort Lodge. Kind of a dump, but I wasn't there for the accommodation. Would much have preferred to stay in Davis proper, as it's closer to more riding and more food options. Nightlife is slim but exists. The shop (Blackwater Bikes) in Davis is outstanding, if they don't have it you don't need it and Roger gives great advice on where to ride given any day's conditions. Also, buy the map. The trails are BEAT UP from Hurricane Sandy and the derecho last summer. They need more people helping with trail maintenance, there aren't enough people local to get it all done. There's a good variety of riding, most of it quite technical. I wouldn't say I was under-gunned on my XC race 29er hardtail but a dualie with some mega fat rubber would have been good. Rolling resistance means nothing there - Ardents are like a race tire for there. For most of it if you aren't pedaling you're not moving. Sirianni's Pizza and the Purple Fiddle have good food and beer. Mountain State Brewing is right there and sells growlers for take away.

Looking down a high section of Judy Springs

Looking up Judy Springs. High mountain meadow. The picture is 10% as cool as real life.

Seneca Creek from the bridge at the bottom of Judy Springs.

Top of Spruce Knob, looking west.

I'd definitely go back there, but I'd wait until like August. First the place needs to dry, still. Second, that's when it's nice and cool there and gun show hot here. I think I didn't get anywhere close to the best riding that this area has to offer but what I got was very very good and probably the best to be had while I was there.

The next stop was Elkins, primarily because I saw a rack card for a place called the Brewstel, which is a combo hostel/brew pub (brew pub not yet open). This being an adventure, what the hell let's go there. A BEAUTIFUL 90 or so minute drive and there I was in Elkins. Check into the place (which is kind of a dump but hey it's a hostel and $25/night), ditch what I don't need, and go to Joey's Bike Shop. Fantastic shop, got the lowdown from Joey on what to do, and headed to Seneca Rocks/Spruce Knob.

The drive in is outrageous in every sense. Then you gravel road climb for 6 miles (I nearly KOM'd the climb and it took me a half an hour - you go up a lot), and buckle your chin strap for Huckleberry Trail. Holy. F-ing. S. Batman. It's alternating sections of "there's no way I can ride over those rocks" and really fast spruce forest with that unbelievable loamy, tacky hero dirt where you can just throw it sideways no fear at all. But mostly rocks, and it's a freaking ball. You're going downhill but you'd never know it. Then after about 4 miles you get to Judy Springs, where you know you are going down. It's TIGHT singletrack, and you can't quite just let it rip because the rocks would ensure certain doom. If you have way bigger balls than I do, you do the rock drop and then the last section is much firmer ground and you haul ass to the bottom where you cross Seneca Creek and start going out on Seneca Creek Trail.

The first day I did it, I had a route that took me up Swallow Rock to Allegheny (yup, same trail, like 50 miles away), and IT SUCKED. All flooded peat bogs, totally unrideable and it wasted like an hour. Bailed out back to Seneca Creek and to the parking area. A long drive back to Elkins (the highway part is short as hell, the rest will kill you) for a shower and dinner at Jabberwock. Fantastic burger and Great Lakes Brewing Co bottles for $2.75. What? Name a place that serves Bud Light for that? I had two too many. Fortunately Jabberwock is next door to the Brewstel.

Sunday I rode the same loop but cut out the Swallow Rock bs. 2 hours on the nose from car to car, which left the dilemma of do I do it again or not? Did the gravel road climb up, figured it would be smarter to get rolling, and bailed back to the car.

The coda on the whole thing was riding Patapsco today. The big mountain stuff is absolutely amazing and I'd go back and do Spruce Knob tomorrow if I could, but Patapsco is phenomenal. Very mellow ride, very very fun.

I am now the undisputed king of coin op car wash mountain bike washing. Fortunately you can't swing a dead cat in WV without hitting a coin op car wash.

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