Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blue Knob Trip 2010

So I'm sitting here watching British TV and trying to forget the pain in my legs. I've been in a training block with 12 rides in 12 days, (I did have one day of rest but I did a double day.) Tomorrow I get a rest day and then it restarts again.

The highlight has to be CAMBA's annual campout at Blue Knob State park in Pennsylvania. If you haven't gone, I can't recommend it enough. The beauty of this is it's free. That's right you get yourself there and then after that it's all taking care of (besides food, which if you sign up for the Saturday dinner plan is $5). What you get is rustic cabins, beautiful scenery, and great riding. It's really the weekend I look forward to each year.

But before I take you to Blue Knob using my wonderful prose, I must make a side trip, to my side trip to the Allegripis Trail system. It's located outside of Altoona and is about an hour away from Blue Knob, so if you can get off work the Friday before the camp out I would put this on the list. These trails have gotten a lot of bad press from some riders, the two most popular complaints is the tread is to wide and the trails are monotonous. Well the complaint about the tread being to wide, is now a non-issue, with a year of use under it's belt, the tread is coming in nicely. Now about being boring, well I guess that's is personal preference. My riding partner Mike and I had perma-grin's the entire time. We left at about 8 on Friday and arrived at the trail at noon. We started the trail by climbing up to the lake side of the trail. Once we got to the top we started the downhill, and most importantly the whoops and dips. A skilled rider can pump the whoops like a pump track and fly through the downhills and it's set up that you can pump the uphills and hardly have to pedal. I was instantly in love with this trail and was flying down the downhills and jumping some of the whoops. We ended up doing 19+ miles in under 2 hour. Could have gone further but we got smart and cut out before we killed ourselves. Highlights where the Hydro loop, which was a fast flowy 2 mile trail where you didn't hit the brakes once, nor did you really have to pedal. Then my highlight was the switchback climb. For some reason when I hit a switchback I just feel the urge to attack, so I really opened up my legs on that. After we got back we showered and headed over to Blue Knob State Park.

Friday night was chill, and we greeted everyone coming in, and went to bed pretty early. Woke up Saturday early got a quick breakfast gathered our gear and headed up for the ride. I would be in charge of the fast intermediate ride (AKA A ride). It would follow about the same route as last year, so I had a good clue where we'd go. The day started with a scorching downhill that shot you out right into a rock garden. Once you got to the bottom, you had to climb back out. That climb was a killer, in the wet condition almost everyone had to walk this climb, including me, even though I had my granny gear this year. Though this year I held down my breakfast unlike last year. Once at the top, we stopped at a road and while waiting for the stragglers we saw a big black bear cross the road about 100 meters from us. we looped back around to the campsite and started climbing clickity clack which is one of the favorite trails of all the riders. It follows a ridge line up the side of the mountain and is lined with flat rocks the when you ride over make a rhythmic clacking sound. From there we climbed 500 vertical feet to the top of the ski resort which is over 3000 feet above sea level. We were greeted at the top by some of the hardest rock gardens I've ever ridden and the picturesque overlook that you will see from so many pictures taken on the trip. From there we took a new trail to me, down the side of the mountain which included some tight and steep switchbacks. Then it was the race back to camp, which I came in second behind Brian Lowe after I overcooked the last turn. As soon as we got back, it started raining and Mike and I sat on the porch of our cabin and relaxed after a great day of riding.

Saturday night was all about socializing. Everyone cooked dinner and then we mingled around the mess hall, eating smores and telling stories. It was great seeing everyone again and making new friends...and I didn't wake up with any lingering effects from the "festivities."

Sunday Mike and I choose to do the short easy paced ride. We road the road up to ski resort and dropped into the resort side trails. On this ride thre wasn't a local to lead us, and I vaguely remembered the trails so I took over finding the trails. Only one misadventure down the ski slope and we had found the trails. Truthfully, we only missed the trail by 100 feet. We did about about 9 miles on the last day and headed back, flying down the infamous roller coaster trail, where all you can do is grab the brakes, and ride it out. We headed down clickity clack and about half a mile the skies opened up and down-poured on us. Overall, looking at the weather report coming into the weekend, half a mile of rain isn't to shabby.

Overall it was a great weekend, did about 50 miles in three days on some fast flowing to rocky and super-technical single track. Over the weekend we climbed 4,000 feet. Even though the trails were awesome the highlight definitely was the people. CAMBA has some of the nicest, most welcoming and most fun people to hang out with and to share a ride with. I can't praise these people enough and I'm happy to be a part of it. If you haven't done so yet, I can't recommend enough going on a group ride, outing, trail day, or camp out. There has yet to be a day with the CAMBA folk I haven't enjoyed.

See you at the next event.

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