Tuesday, February 24, 2009

grinding the tracks

Trails in the immediate vicinity of my house are non existent. But I do live about 500 feet to the left of some railroad tracks, and there was no way I could blow a beautiful day on a road ride. So I decided to grind the tracks.

From Tracks

(almost there)

Riding along the track's fist sized gravel is wonderfully painful. There is no good way to pedal on the stuff. Its to continuous to stay out of the saddle, but to rough to stay in the saddle. So it beats the hell out of the body.

From Tracks

(does it ever end?)

I had read on mtbr that there were a system of trails connecting my home town to a neighboring one about 11 miles away. My plan was to find the trails, and possibly use them to commute some mornings. The review said "...turn right, pick a trail, and welcome to Latrobe!" This was, as Id soon discover, grossly simplified.
The first step of the journey was to ride along the tracks for about four miles to Twin Lakes Park, where I would find the supposed trails.

From Tracks

(it freaks me out when a train goes by. they're really big.)

Eventually I found a side trail and took it. And suddenly I was covered in mud. The soil stuck like wet cat litter to my wheels, shoes, and back.

From Tracks

(i had to hike up this one. its a wee bit steep)

The trails I had turned on to were all of the ATV variety. It seems like an ATV trail should make a good MTB trial, but it doesn't. Quad riders live to spin they're tires as much as possible, and climb straight up the steepest hills they can. And why wouldn't they? Its no more work for them to go up than it is to go down. But all they're spinning translates as digging on the the "trail" which becomes more of a loose, muddy, trench than a path.
On the first big down hill I came to, I crashed. Hard. I hit a big rock on the way down, and bounced right into another big rock, then was deflected off of that rock into the ground.

From Tracks

I made sure to take a picture of the bike right after the crash. I have my priorities straight. Notice the direction of the stem. My hands were still attached when it twisted like that. I think I landed on the saddle with my quad, because it started throbbing. I proceeded to ride for three more hours on it.
The next climb was hard because my leg was hurting. But eventually the trails turned into some nice single track that ran back down to the rail line. After a few wrong turns I hit the summit of this hill.

From Tracks

Once a developer knocks down all those pesky trees that is going to be a lovely view.
I rode back down the trail, made some more wrong turns, then found another set of atv tracks. The PRIVATE PROPERTY, STAY OUT, and BEWARE OF DOG signs on the sides of the trail were starting to bother me a bit, but I know for a fact that I was not on private property. People in western PA are strangely protective of their land. And well armed.
I exited the woods in a Christmas tree farm and sat down to have some pb n' j.

From Tracks

(break time for the steed.)

The next section of trail was a blast.

From Tracks


Then at 2 1/2 hours I hit my destination. I turned back, and making all the right turns it only took me an hour to get home. In all it was a great ride.
30 minutes later I was off to work.
From Tracks

(maybe my butt was itchy)
And I still can't bend my leg. But it was worth it :D

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