Summer Camp Rides
It was a beautiful Friday after several days of crappy and cold weather. Nace invited to take me out on these trails he rides that aren't open to the public. They're on the land of a local girl's summer camp. But because he used to work at the camp and lived in the area, he's gotten the ok and cherishes the privilege. I was really excited to ride the trails after hearing so much about them.
We parked at his friend's summer house out near the camp. Nace told me about the time he lived in the house across from where we parked as we rode passed all these nice summer houses. He said it was a location and beautiful, but man it was cold during the winter! The houses weren't built for year-round living and the winters got chilly. Cycling up a gravel road we turned onto a short section of narrow and off-chamber single trace. The blue sky and mountains peaked through the woods. From there we ride through part of the girl's camp, past the horse stables and onto this large pasture where the horses usually hang out. There weren't any horses that day. The pasture rolled upwards toward this gnarly old tree that stood on its own.
A double track led us to this brightly painted red gate. Nace told me how the camp had talked about replacing the gate with a newer one, so he came out and repainted the gate to show them how much life and character the gate still had.
We went through the gate, made a sharp left turn, up a short hill, and then Nace suddenly got off his bike. "What do you see that's unusual?" Hmm...I laid my bike down and looked around. Nothing I could see, but I kept turning in circles, trying really hard to figure it out. Then I look up...Holy shit! A high ropes course. HIGH ropes course. It's no longer in use though, which is why I was nervous when Nace started to climb up. I told him, "You can't go higher than your head!" Besides, he's in bike shoes. (Perhaps sometimes I worry more than necessary.)
The ropes course spans across several trees. But I couldn't visually connect the course back to the tree that Nace was on. And there were actually two different heights route on the course. We may have to go back and climb to the top of one of the platforms next time...when we're not wearing bike shoes!
We stopped at an old cabin that the campers may or may not still use. It's easy to ride right pass the cabin if you're not looking for it.
Nace pointed out a Pipsissewa plant. It's also known as the Striped or Spotted Wintergreen. This plant/herb was used by Native Americans and early settlers to treat kidney stones.
The trails were a mix of techie climbs, fast downhills, jumps and tight turns.
Some of the trails are marked with hand-made signs. "Those campers are kayakers, horse backers and sailors - not English majors," Nace said as we rolled up to the sign below. I follow Nace in and out of trails that are true to Appalachian style - following creeks and streams.
We come across another cabin, a lot larger than the last one we saw. This one was at the top of a long climb and is still in use.
Our ride back to the car didn't go as Nace had hoped. I got a flat, which wouldn't have been a problem except that I brought the wrong size spare ($*!#&). And Nace's spare wasn't much help because it had a hole in it. We decided not to patch his spare since we were close enough to a road. Nace rode and got the truck to pick me up as I walked to the road.
Lessons learned: check the size of a tube before blindly grabbing one and a 26" tube can be stretched to fit a 29er to get you out.