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Posts Tagged ‘exploring’

Even the worst rides have great opportunites for taking pics.

For exaple, today’s ride ended up taking me on trails (or lackthereof) that were so rutted out, there were creeks, craters, mud bogs, or rock gardens, luckily, the elevation of an average 8% (felt more like 20% up or down) allowed for some pretty sweet downhills after the steep hike-a-bikes.

 

I went exploring at our local airport, hearing there was a trail around it…. FAIL. There was nothing but tall grass that went over my handlebars.

After that, I was looking for a way out, and ended up on a deer trail that led me onto a private farm. There were a few cool things to take pics of, but this one was the best op:

Eventually, I made my way onto a familiar road, after having some hereford cows mooing at me for being in their pins (on accident). Decided to take a detour on a gas road I had not been on for a while. This linked up to a VERY STEEP power line trail. Another crappy travel, another great pic:

A view of a good portion of Buckhannon‘s downtown! Look at the powerline angles! 😮

By the time I got home, I was tired, hungry, and cut up like no one’s business. I even managed to find a tick on my arm 😦

After stopping, I could really tell I was bushwacking in deep grasses…. Take a look at my rear hub:

I really wish I would have gone on a road ride with my buddies, but every once in a while, it never hurts to try to break new ground, no?

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Velominati’s post about non-paved road riding made want to get on the mountain bike. Yes, riding the 29’er is pretty shameful to do in perfect road riding weather, but I couldn’t help myself… I just had to go out for a few hours. Trying to decide exactly where to ride at was nearly as difficult as climbing some of the local mountains. Either the trails were too far, or I had spent so much time on them in the Fall and Winter that riding them would have been as lame as riding one of these:

velominati bike blog mountain bike trail finding garmin GPS

All issues aside, I needed to be on the 29er, and find a new trail to ride around on… but where? How do you, the readers, find new trail systems to ride on?

  • Ask friends or your LBS?
  • Exploration?
  • Check Internet/Garmin/Forums/The Google Maps?
  • Use Other Types of Trails?

I have heard stories of people finding trails using Topo Maps, following jeep trails and gas wells. With this technique, and a bit of freestyle exploration, I was able to find some pretty sweet gas well routes that resulted into ATV trails going into the woods. If there was ever a honey pot of local trails… this would be it!

velominati bike blog mountain bike trail finding garmin GPS

After a ride or two, I have been able to map out just a fraction of the entire trail network on just one side of the forest. I’m guessing there is around ten miles of rideable trails, but with the amount of the paths going up and down a 200+ foot climb would make it a hell of a ride if you tried to do it all at once. This trail system is going to take a while to fully explore, but I think I’m willing to take the time to document it for local MTB’ers.

It all goes to show you that spending some time, and taking an educated guess can really pay off. Having ten or more miles of trail less than a mile away from home is such an amazing gift. I’m very glad (and very lucky) that such elaborate trails were found.

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One of the few things that bothers me about mountain biking is searching for people, places, or means of finding kick ass trails. Seriously, you have to be an adventurer, or know like fifty million people to become privy on where some of these unmarked wonders are. Some people do not give up and disclose info about where local trails are because of the encroachment on private property; and if the trail blows up, it will be shut down. Living in an extremely rural area also limits knowledge of local trails just due to the fact that not many people ride.

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This lady knows where some hot trails are, but she's not telling...

Growing tired of trails immediately around my town, I started stretching out and looking for others in a still local area. First stop, MTBR trail reviews. MTBR’s trail listing for West Virginia is pretty hit-and miss for Upshur County. There are one or two locations that are just flat-out wrong on the provided map, or the directions might as well be told to you by a parrot with a doctorate in Swahili;. Seriously, a few times, it has been the complete opposite of helpful… I heard about a trail on Boy Scout Camp Road, and wanted to check it out… I had no clue what I was getting myself into.

The first thing against me was the MTBR Trail Review itself. The listing shows a point somewhere, just a few minutes outside of the center of Buckhannon, near a trailer park. EPIC FAIL. First off, I decided to do some reconnaissance driving to see if I could scope out the area and find a decent place to start riding from. The road was only ten miles from my house on the highway, so I went out for a weekend joyride.

boy scout camp road

Proof I was looking for the trail!

My first drive was quite unsuccessful, and ended up with me reaching points on a road that was too much for my 1992 Dodge Caravan SE, and I did not feel safe driving over mud and large rocks anymore. I backed up off the hill, and went home. Deciding that some of the area around Boy Scout Camp Road was inappropriate for my pristine and classy ride, I took the Gary Fisher in my van back to the area. I parked in a vacated area close to the sign up above and set off. My first hunch was to traverse the road that I was not able to fully drive up. After a three-mile climb up this dirt road, all I saw were No Trespassing signs EVERY 20 FEET on both sides of this excuse for a road.

Traversing back down the road was a breeze, and it was off to the other side of the bridge in order to see if the other area had any signs of trail riding. (If you viewed the YouTube video, you’ve already spoiled the surprise.) I met up with a fat, hairy man who I could only assume was the caretaker of a large camping area which I stumbled upon. He told me that several riders a few years ago went on a road which led to the railroad tracks; I thanked him and went on my way after he gave me his blessing of permitted usage.

This so-called road that the man pointed to was an edge along a riverbank, not even ten feet wide in some sections, how it was called a road… I have no clue. Maybe the guy was suffering from dementia, he did look old afterall… This whole area around the Middle Fork River was covered in hiking trails, abandoned jeep trails once up on the hill, and very little singletrack. The free area, and winding paths would be great for taking a group of people wanting to ride together at a brisk pace; think MTB peloton…

The sun was going to set in less than an hour after I found the trail, so I wanted to hurry back after exploring for a while. I felt like Indiana Jones, but in lycra and on a mountain bike… it was awesome finding trails that have not been documented to my knowledge. Somehow after taking a spill on a soggy bare tree branch and resting for a minute, I lost my bearing and ended up in path-slash-sand pit of doom; things were not looking well. My feet were soaked, my legs were becoming tired and I just wanted to get back to the vehicle. I ran across some more No Trespassing signs right next to a house, so I did the stupid thing and rode right through their treeline. Rolled past their garage and luckily there was a man waxing his little wooden fishing boat. He politely gave me directions back to Boy Scout Camp Road, and I was off! Got back to the van, got in and turned on the feet vents for the heater. I was on my way home~

indiana jones mountain bike

Driving home, I thought back on my effort to find more local trails for myself and others in town. I was glad that I found land that was permitted to use on bike, and was encouraged. The terrain was fine, and the trails do need a little bit of maintenance (fallen tree moving), but overall it was a great adventure. Completely worth the time and effort. This just shows anyone in WV that with a little bit of determination, fun can be had just about anywhere.

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