The Tuesday Night MTB Ride got back to its roots!
The Skyline Ridge Skedaddle featured a variety of trail types, but the descents were mostly rooty, made all the more fun by some thick humidity from the sky.
Ten of us met at Pearl Creek Elementary School and right off the bat it got interesting. Mark, who rode from home, realized he showed up to the ride with a faulty chain. One link was partly busted. Eric dug out his tool kit and helped Mark with the fix, but too late. Mark was clearly the Missing Link on this ride.
Eric started the ride with words of wisdom from an august tome: All New Dad Jokes. Much wisdom was groaned at. Mark furthered the groaning by attempting his own Dad Joke but messing it up. A true Missing Link Dad!
George showed up with a nice full suspension bike he purchased from the FCC Bike Swap! He bought it for his son, but he gets to use it if his son isn’t riding. Score!
We headed up the Skarland Trail and while approaching the Death Gully (aka Skarland Downhill Ski Slope) Missing Link Mark said he would pay anyone $20 who could ride up the gully without putting a foot down. When at least one person said it was ridable, Mark realized he needed to hedge his bets. He said Ken would have to pay him $100 if Ken didn’t make it. That way Mark could cover at least five riders by just making sure to push Ken over on the ascent.
Several of us did make it up the gully in one go, but we didn’t make Mark pay. You really can’t take advantage of a guy who is missing a link.
We started the ascent of the Lower Secret Trail, having a jolly time with the roots. When we came to an intersection with the Ridge Trail, several people decided they had had enough of the jolly time and went up the much-less-rooty Ridge Trail while others tackled the upper part of Lower Secret for more roots.
We then continued up the Ridge Trail, which has been turned into a downright civilized trail by the Fbx Boro Parks and Rec Department. Along the way we zoomed by the informal Tuesday night gravel riders heading the other direction. Nice folks, but those bikes sure are silly. Not at all good for roots!
At the high point and far east end of Skyline Ridge Park, we turned down for a descent of Secret Trail, the upper part. By that time the humidity was so thick it appeared to fall from the sky. That made the roots nice and slick! And there are a LOT of roots on Secret Trail. Even in places where optimists swear there are none.
When we got to Ski Boot Hill Road, Eric offered to return to the cars with anyone who had had enough of the slick roots or rain. Owen decided he had had enough. Travis and Sarah also decided to call it a night. The two had gotten married recently and some of the group were wondering about Travis’s decision to invite Sarah on this “honeymoon” ride. But Sarah was in good spirits. Besides, she plans to get Travis skiing more, so she’s got a whole winter for revenge. They all knew how to get back to the cars, so Eric stayed with the group.
Down to seven. We headed back up the Ridge Trail and at the top headed down After Hours. AH is not quite as rooty as Secret, but some of the roots are bigger. We felt glad to make it down without any spills.
Then we headed up the Skyline-Goldstream Connector Trail (aka the Van Trail). Along the way Helpful Ken pointed out that the climb has 21 water bars (actually rolling grade dips). And so the counting ensued.
After 21 water features, we hit the intersection with the Ridge Trail and had another roots decision to make. The rootiest trail of them all, Heart of Darkness, was ahead. Did anyone want to take the Ridge Trail instead? Nope, only the masochists were left. We headed into the Heart of Darkness. The horror! The horror!
That was fun! No big crashes, but several were caught dead in their pedals by the twisting, turning trail covered in wet roots. (The rain had stopped earlier, but for some reason the roots were still wet!)
When we were through the worst of it Ken’s bike started speaking tongues. A strange dialect with a strong clicking element. After lots of poking, prodding, and prognosticating by wise individuals, we determined it was Ken’s freewheel. (During the maintenance wait, we lost Ron, who had biked from home and so still had to bike back home. No more waiting. Down to six!)
But poor Ken. He could no longer live a freewheeling life! It would be walk and coast for the rest of the ride.
But no! Ken figured out that he could ride by keeping constant pressure on his pedals or by coasting with his feet off the pedals, which wanted to keep spinning. That led to Ken alternately looking like a serious biker who knew was he was doing and looking like a dweeb. Missing Link Mark rode behind Ken, encouraging him with loud belly laughs.
Then we passed the turnoff to Mark’s house. He had also ridden to the ride start and so headed home. Down to five!
When we hit LaRue Lane, Ken decided to stick to the roads back to Pearl Creek, forgoing the last bit of trail back to the cars. Down to four! (Though we didn’t really lose Ken so much as give him his privacy for a bit.)
So, five of us finally made it back to the cars for snacks and drinks. No broken bones or contusions. A great outcome on a wet and rooty ride.
Report by Eric