Monday, September 1, 2008

Spire Falls asks "How big a boy are ya?"

Answer: not big enough; or, conversely, too big. Clearly my options at this point are to lose a few and join the ranks of my more svelte BCC-brethren down in the southland, or to get some meat on my legs and learn how to ride up hills. Either way, I clearly have my work cut out for me.

The day started reasonably enough, with Dan and I loading up our 29ers and heading about an hour north of Albany for a set of trails know as Spire (or Spier) Falls overlooking Moreau Lake State Park. As we got off the thruway the roads got twisty, ridges rose around us, and I realized that I was in for a good time. We parked near an inviting lake, but quickly turned our eyes to the hills and headed up.

I've learned something about the north in the past few weeks: people here do not warm up. Whether as a result of trails that jump on you from the word go, or from some sort of biologically programmed, high-powered starter, of the three rides that I've done with others here, each began with a bang (possibly the sound of my heart exploding). Back in NC I had a bit of a reputation of pushing the pace a little too hard from the beginning (as a result of youthful exuberance, I'm sure), but I have nothing on the few ankle-breaking beginnings I've experienced here.

Since we'd parked at the bottom of the hill there was no way for us to go but up, which we did immediately and continually for several miles. Notice that I do not say quickly, as while Dan motored his way up the tight, twisty, and rocky climbs, my ever-enlarging posterior was soon plodding slowly up each rise on my two left feet. On and on I seemed to walk, with only the relatively low weight of my Ferrous as inspiration.

Every few hundred yards I found Dan waiting patiently for me, he having happily spun up the slopes that were crushing me. The moniker emblazoned on the toptube of his Ellsworth Evolve is "Gnarly Old Dude," and while that certainly fits, I would also like to suggest "He-of-stoic-patience-and-hill-crushing-legs." It's been a while since I felt like I was the anchor on a ride, but Dan was understanding, as well as just being happy to be out on the trail.

Luckily for me, after we approached the top and I was able to ride -- as opposed to push -- my bike, and after I got a minute to let my heart rate dip below 200 bpm, I started to get a rhythm again and began making a few climbs and bashing through some of the more technically difficult sections. I was far from putting on a clinic, but I didn't feel any longer like I was ruining someone else's day.

Our route was a circuitous one around the ridge that borders the Hudson river to the south. The trail system up here is rugged (to say the least), but as the holiday weekend had families out to the state park, we saw some hikers venturing up the trail. No other bikes, though: while Dan and some of his friends ride these trails relatively regularly, it appears as if there aren't a whole lot of other people taking advantage of these climbs. And the trails are rough: we did a little exploratory route-finding, and found ourselves walking some extremely steep up- and downhills. So steep, in fact, that I actually fell while walking, in what I think was the day's only 'wreck.'

Neither of us had a computer to log our miles, but by the time we got back to the truck we'd put in somewhere around four hours. Since we weren't exactly flying along (largely because of me), I'd guess we actually rode around twenty-five miles: not a huge amount, but plenty for this southern boy at the end of August.

After we were done we took a quick dip in the Hudson River to wash off the dirt. I'm getting used to the swim-after-ride tradition up here, and even if it's a little chilly I like being able to wash off some of the worst of the ride funk before heading home.

Here are a few pics from yesterday. They're people-, bike-, and trail-less, but hopefully they give you an idea of some of the scenery.

Here's hoping that the Shenadoah rockers are heading happily home after 100 fast miles


co2cycle said...

Brutally fast starts? If it were anyone other than the Pirate, I could sympathize. But it is good to see you get a taste of your own medicine...bad medicine.

DukePirate said...

Ah, the poetic genius on Bon Jovi:

I ain't got a fever got a permanent disease
It'll take more than a doctor to prescribe a remedy
I got lots of money but it isn't what I need
Gonna take more than a shot to get this poison out of me
I got all the symptoms count em 1,2,3

First I need
Thats what you get for falling in love
Then you bleed
You get a little but its never enough
On your knees
Thats what you get for falling in love
And now this boys addicted cause your kiss is the drug

Your love is like bad medicine
Bad medicine is what I need
Shake it up, just like bad medicine
There ain't no doctor that can
Cure my disease

Bad, bad medicine
Bad, bad medicine

Yeah, I got's mine.

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

Any chance the Ferrous will see a bigger brother added to the family for next season? One with two shocks and twenty seven gears?
Not that you need it, but sure sounds comfy. :)

DukePirate said...

I'm tempted, tempted indeed. For now I'm still planning on rehabbing the Ferrous first, but if I change my mind (and if I find a bunch of spare cash) I might have to do some hunting around next spring. New wheels, then gears, then rehab the fork, then...

Brian said...

Just planting a seed, that's all~ :)