Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dirt Fest weekend with the York Area Moutain Bike Assoc.

May 21-23 was the Dirt Rag Magazine/Dirt Fest at Lake Raystown. This event would offer the usual beer sampling, bike sampling, trail sampling, bros not pros sampling as well. Friday and Saturday would be the bulk of the days for riding and mayhem. I contacted my local IMBA affiliated club-- the York Area Moutain Bike Association and booked a campsite with them.

YAMBA was ahead of the curve with this event, attending Dirt Fest for it's second year, they realized that getting a group campsite for the club has it's following advantages:

1- Non-primitive camping (i.e. showers, warm water).
2- Camping for the group would be contained to a cul de sac of the club member's tents, campers, etc. thus reducing the amount of 'I can't handle my alcohol, single speeders/mtbrs' potentially. At least we had only one guy that couldn't handle his alcohol and well, quite frankly, with one guy and ten 'sort of sober' riders, makes for better odds.
3- We were still within a mile of the festivities and could hop on the shuttle bus if we need to check things out on the event's peninsula.
4- The Fest's designated camping area was on the side of a hill. 'Nuff said about that.

Friday I rolled out in caravan fashion with one of the club members. Make a note here-- use the Yakima Rocket Box next time for transporting the Bianchi EZ-Up tent, more on that later in the post.

I was super pumped for this weekend on many levels. I'd heard great things about the Lake Raystown/Allegrippis Trail system for over a year now. The Army Corp of Engineers and Raystown collaborated with the IMBA Trail Care Crew, planned/designed the trails for nearly 5 years and spent 2 years on the construction (I think my stats are 95% accurate here). Professionally build trails! I'm familiar with the lay of the land near LR and know that it offers wonderful boating, road biking, hiking and outdoor access. Pennsylvania is a great place for vacationing. You'll need to do your homework in order to find the right spot, but it's worth it none the less. I've seen some articles in Decline Magazine covering the trail system and the flow of the trails sounded irresistible to a trail hack like myself.

YAMBA is a trail advocacy club based out of York, Pa. Or as I refer to them---S.O.Y! Straight Outta' York! I stole that abbreviation from the now de-funked band Live and their early attempts of an email newsletter entitled, S.O.Y. back in 1999. I've been out for their group rides as well as past trail maintenance days and let's just say that they put there shovel where there mouths are; not really but you get the picture. Working closely with Mike Fobes of the York Co. Parks Commission in the past decade, YAMBA has created new trails, maintained the usable ones and created sustainable multi-use trails in place of ones that became erosion nightmares over the years. Keep up the great work guys! You can access their website--->here!

YAMBA's club president, Skip Durgin, has been my partner in crime for mountain biking since 1990. On again, off again riding, racing, the best man at my wedding, Christmas parties and now the Dirt Fest weekend, had put me back in touch with this Old Trail Head. I was looking forward to ripping up some new trails with him and the club as I drove northwest towards State College, Pennsylvania.

We ate lunch, geared up and rolled out for an early afternoon trail session.

While I don't remember the names of all the trails we rode, I came away from the weekend with a nice laminated map of the Allegrippis Trails from the Dirt Rag boys that should prove to be handy on my return trip. Skip and Dan were familiar with the trails so we just followed their wheels.

Professionally built trails mean what to me after this weekend? Have you seen
Star Wars Episode IV? Remember when Luke was training with Ben and had the blaster shield on and deflecting the floating orb that shot mini-blasts at Luke which he tried to deflect with his light saber? Yeah that. You can relax your brain and let your instincts take over. The trails have a lot of swales used to slow down the speed of water, so it's a roller coaster everywhere you ride. The bench cutting of the trails is just wide enough that 25mph speeds can easily be reached. Little to no rocks or roots. Although it took me a couple of miles to get used to that great of a singletrack speed on my Bianchi 29r as I was turning into the bench cut corners a bit too early and bouncing the front tire off the entry of the inside turn. Let's face it, there aren't too many trails in central PA where you'll see that kind of speed on singletrack for more than 5 seconds.

Tire pressure is critical and an 'over the handle bars' riding position to keep the front wheel firmly planted in the corners. My bike had loads of grip with the tubeless tire and air pressure I was running. My only thought was I really need a double ring crank on my 29r; something like this--->

2x9 is in my future. The only time I'm in the granny gear is if I'm injured and most of the time I'm in the middle or big ring.

Friday evening:
YAMBA firestarter Kevin. Actually, Kevin is a professional firefighter, lover of freeride bikes and fully blown Subaru rally cars. When a guy shows up for a weekend of camping and riding and starts tending to the fire with Nomex fire gloves, you just step away and let the man do his work. Kevin also has a habit of strapping a GoPro HD camera to his chest in order to capture his trail antics. His
VIMEO site can be enjoyed--->here! and with his speed on the trails, there's a good chance he'll keep you in the frame. In fact, I was blessed by Kevin that weekend as he captured some of my pedaling from that in the video window below. I'm the skinny cat in the blue long sleeve DAKINE jersey, then the occasional red/wh/blk Monster Health Care jersey on Day #2.

Just some Rides from diggingtrail on Vimeo.

Kevin wears the GoPro with a chest harness and has it angled just right to capture the horizon. I like how his bars in are in the foreground. It kind of reminds me of a mountain bike game for a gaming console...hmmm Diggingtrail for the PS3?! Any game developers reading this...?

More riding, 9am-12pm.
After two days of massive amounts of trail flow and high fives, the inevitable rain storms moved in Saturday late-afternoon. We finished up the last ride on Saturday and returned to the pavilion to share stories, beers and food. The rain had put some what of a damper on the evening's Dirt Rag Fest area so we retired to our tents (or my car since I slept in the Element that weekend) instead of hanging around for the bands to play.

Sunday I waited out the rain until late morning, then packed things up. At least I didn't have a wet tent to break down but I had a wet, spider inhabited EZ-Up tent that would have been better in the cargo box on my roof rack instead of in the back of the Element. I think I've killed all the small bugs by now or at least my son and daughter haven't seen any lately.

The Allegrippis Trails get two thumbs up from this guy and Lake Raystown is terrific place to vacation with the family too. Less than 3 hours from Harrisburg, Pa, it's practically in our backyards. Thanks to YAMBA for all their local trail work and for putting together a site for us to crash at for the weekend. More props to Abington Wheel Wright Bike Shop for getting my bike's brakes and suspension tuned for the core stuff! Thanks to Dirt Rag, IMBA for making trail riding solid in Pennsylvania.
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