West Virgina – Country Mountain High

West Virginia – country mama

Tonight is my last in Virginia for a few days – I’m back to see Chrissy and the girls for 2 ½ days in Europe. It’s been a long break not heped by knowing I’m away again for another 2 weeks after. We’re going to make a quick trip to Barcelona, I fly out early Monday, then to Indianapolis for one day, then up to northern Indiana, then back to Winchester for 3 nights, off to San Fran and back on a horror flight to Winchester for two more nights before flying back to Belgium.

My investment - the bike has one speed - I had several!!

So there was good cause to go and thrash my new budget purchase a Trek Marlin SS 29r. I think I need to name her.

10 miutes in and onto the trail proper - nice

I checked with the local sports shop and got great advice to head to Capacon state park in West Virginia – about 28 miles away. I was there by 6:15 and on the trails for nearly an hour and a half, it was just awesome. I had actually finished my planned loop in an hour so threw in another half loop I was so buzzing (I admit – light became a problem).

This is my first 29r and my first single speed since the rigid steel framed all blue beast I used to ride to school in the late 60’s.

Picture postcard huh!

The frame felt great, the forks are a clunky piece of crap, and the breaks sufficient for someone who no longer looks to see how badly they can injure themselves on downhills and only weighing in at 66kg.

To be honest the 29r bit was, well hard to tell, maybe it was smoother maybe not, with crappy forks it’s hard to judge, suffice to say the bike rolled well and felt secure.

About now I think I'm crazy (for bringing my wifes brand new camera on this ride!). Rocks!

As for the single speed, what a drug!

I loved it.

I’ve never been a bike geek, but I have always celebrated the efficiency and effectiveness of bikes and nothing demonstrates it better than a single speed. At worst I probably caved on 15% of the uphill that I would have been able to ride with 65 gears! Other wise I held tough and ground out shortish climbs I never would have thought I could climb in single gear. It had a similar feeling to lifting a weight you never had before, fielding a great catch, drop kicking a goal – sort of momentary superhuman-ness, as completely delusional as that is.

OK not a photo of the bike - but don't you think they have a lot in common?? Simple/ Beautiful....

No worries about the chain jumping, the derailleur breaking on the rocks (and there were plenty), your gears gnashing themselves to oblivion. Simple just grind, and grind some more, and look a head and go to the bottom of the dip a little quicker than you would have otherwise because it will help you on the way back up.

Now onto the trails as you will see in the picture – or in fact not because they are hard to describe especially to New Zealanders – they are quite beautiful. These trials made Belgium’s look even more mediocre in fact parts of this ride were as good as anything I have ever done. Rocks, creeks, mud, boulders, fallen trees (some of which I could clear), squirrels darting off and later in the afternoon Bobtail deer running across the trail.

2 of about 12 Bobtails I saw

Generally the trials had picked a soft line, there wasn’t a lot of benching but it was a good surface to ride, some of the climbs were just plain brutal – due to the rocks unrideable even if I had a multitude of gears. The descents were nicely paced and of course heavy leaf litter is not something Kiwis get to ride very often so that was kooky fun to. If you liked to jump there were plenty of large rocks to launch yourself from, fortunately I had the excuse of being on a hardtail and having crap forks, so I bumped more than jumped, but it was great fun. Just the sound of snapping tree branches and leaves flying from under me, the other joy of the single speed – no rattling garbage!

Riding into the setting sun - well actually I was riding away from it... I bet half those cowboys were too..

Anyway the pictures give you some idea, but if you are ever in the vicinity of Baltimore or Washington DC this is not much more than 90 minutes away

Y’all come back now y’hear.