Rediscovering an Old Friend

Man life has been hectic for the last month as I was doing my first solo project at work and it consumed a lot of my time and mental energy.  Now that I have successfully gotten my first notch in the belt with the new career, I am looking forward to getting back into a routine that has some balance and normalcy.  Over that last month, I have been thinking about some of the cool riding I did while back in Virginia in September.   I still have trail reviews to get around to but it was my bike that is on my mind at the moment.  Over the last two years or so my Intense Spider has been getting less and less action as I have been favoring the more aggressive type trails and have generally have been willing to lug the extra weight of an all-mountain bike around.   It seemed I was either on the All-Mountain rig or a Single-Speed most of the time.    It got even worse for my Spider at the beginning of this year when a Intense 6.6 found it’s way into my bike stables.    All-Mountain performance with light trail-bike weight, man I was in heaven. 

6.6 Jump

When I was preparing for my trip to Virginia I wanted to take the 6.6 because well, I love that rig.  Then the airline rules of flying with a bike came into play.  The recent rule changes on baggage force even a bike box to be 50 pounds or less to not get charged an overweight fee.  In the past I could throw all my stuff (Maybe 70lbs) in the bike box, pay $75 each way and be good to go.  That is not case any more. It cost $125 each way for a bike box if it is 50lbs or less.  If it is over 50lbs you get spanked with an overweight charge of an additional $125.    $250 each way is just freaking insane.   Now the bummer part, the really nice airline baggage certified bike box I have had since 2003 weighs 27lbs EMPTY!    Even with my 6.6 weighing 31lbs and change, it was not going to make weight.   So in comes the Spider.    I had to put the tires and tubes in with my other luggage along with rest of my biking gear, but 49 lbs and 15 ounces got checked on the flight.  The cool thing was they only charged me the regular second bag rate of $25.   Murphy’s Law here dictates that if I had tried to sneak in a little extra weight I would have gotten spanked.

Freedom Park 

So the Spider and I end up in Chesapeake, Virginia, elevation – maybe 20 feet.  The max elevation I would see during my visit – maybe 200 feet.     What I did get to see was plenty of twisty, tight single track that just seemed to go on forever in some places.  These trails had more turn per miles that any stuff I have ever ridden anywhere. 

During this trip I fell in love with my Spider all over again.  It was the perfect weapon of choice.  It’s steep head angle, short chainstays and light weight were a joy in the winding rooty stuff of coastal Virginia.  This is one singletrack carving machine that just begs you push a little harder in the next turn, get in that one more stroke before you have to hit the brakes.  Snap, flick, accelerate and go, this was a freaking Porsche on these trails. I was just as giddy on this bike as I was the first time I hit some sizable air on my 6.6. 

Lake Maury

I got to thinking about how many cool places I have been on that Spider, the Philippine jungles, Copper Canyon in Mexico, Hawaii, hike-a-biking Mount Fuji, and all over Southern California.  

Mt Fuji Hike-A-Bike 

Geez I have really been neglecting my old friend.  I am going to have to dedicate a bit of time to give my old friend some TLC in the form of a good cleaning and lubing.  Maybe even slap on new cables.    One thing is for certain, I’m not going to let her stay idle for so long again.

Bumrushed with Life

So not much in the way of blog post in the last couple of weeks.     It is funny how life has a way of taking over your life.   I’ve been back from my east coast trip for a week and have been throughly swamped with honey-do list, work-list, and the kid’s hockey stuff starting back up.   Somewhere in all of that the site and mountainbiking was pushed down on the list.    Moss

I have a couple of places on the east coast, that I have yet to put up pics and talk about.  Probably some of the best stuff I rode out there, York River State Park and :Gatewood”.


The twisting singletrack of that I rode along coastal Virginia was a lot of fun, but there was not much in the way of elevation change at all.   This Friday I rode Lake Calvera and I probably got in in more climbing in one session there that I did in a week back east.    I was very pretty darn non-energetic on the ride.  I imagine that huge Mexican combo plate I had for lunch did not help much on the ride.   I planned on going for a ride today, but I spent the better part of yesterday painting the trim on my house and I’m just too beat down today to give the bike a go.  Yeah, call me a waahbulance!  Oh well , things should settle out in the next week or so and I can regain a routine.


Until then, enjoy a few imagines from the east coast.

Freedom Park

I got a chance to ride Freedom Park near Williamsburg Virginia a couple of days ago and took it.  This a county park that encompasses about 700 acres of mostly hardwood forest set on rolling terrain.   There is about 10 miles of of pretty nice single track. Compared to the other places near hear this trail network has some elevation change.   Nothing like what we deal with in Southern California, but my do they use the terrain to its fullest here.  Flowing and swooping is the theme throughout most of this trail network.  

Flowly Singletrack

I can’t tell you how many flowing turns like this one I went through

Sometimes the humidity is not a bad thing 😉

It is hard to describe but because the wonderful contouring layout of this trail system, you just don’t seem to “remember” the short climbing portions of the trails.   These leads to to a feeling like you have been gradually going downhill for more than half the ride and somehow managed to end up at the same spot.   Pretty Cool.

I did all of the trails in one direction and went back and did about half of them going the other direction.  I would have loved to ridden more but I ran out of daylight.  

There are some optional line that provide some technical features and small stunts


This is a pretty short teeter-totter, you have to pretty much have to get all of to the end of the teeter, before it will tip.   Ride up, wait, wait, wait, ride off.


The Eastern Virginia Mountainbike Association are the prime stewards of these trails.  I happened meet the President, Vice-President, as well as a couple of highly involved members of the association and for our conversations, these folks are doing really good stuff in the area.    Freedom Park is a good example of thier work and the county and park are already on-board with thier plan to bring the Freedom Park trail systems up to 25 miles of singletrack.     I had a good time here with 10 miles of trail, boy what a place this will be when there is 25 miles!

Harwood Mills Park

The last couple of days I have been hitting up Harwood Mills Parks in Newport News.   This is another fun area with a little over six miles of single track that flows really well and makes the most use of the natural terrain.  


This place is pretty much flat, with the picture above being pretty much the most elevation change you will see at one time.


 This is the toughest obstacle in the trail system.  On the other side of this ramp there are two chunks of this log used as steps.


So while the trail is not tough at all, it was of little concern to me as it was just fun to get out and go on this trail.  The trails really scream at you to see how fast you can go.  The three loops out here are all one-way trails with the novice trail being closest to the trailhead and the expert the furthest away from the trailhead.   I have to say that the grading criteria for the “advanced” and “expert” are not what I am accustomed to seeing.   I’m guessing that the rating system is based how much skill it takes to maintain a fast pace on the trail.   The expert trail has much tighter turns than the novice trail.   None of the trails has much in the way technical drops, really large roots or challenges beyond the log roll pictured above.   Going fast seems to be the primary challenge.   I’m pretty sure a novice can get through all of these trails if they take thier time.


When not trying to rip through this place, it is a cool woods just to take a look see around.  These woods here are good deer habitat and I saw about 20-25 deer over the course of two rides here.   I even got to see about half a dozen fawns will thier spots still.   It was a real treat, just like this trail system for a post-workday quick escape into the woods.

More Ipswich Fun

I managed to catch some more late afternoon riding fun out at Indian River Park AKA “Ipswich” late last week.   I managed to find a few more trails that I had missed in the other excursions out here.  

Through the trees 

I also ran into some fellow Mountain Bikers (Dave, Kevin and Doug) and chased them around the trail network.  It is amazing how by this point I had ridden pretty much all the trails here, but by following someone else the same trails take on a different feel.   There are lots of permutations to the way you stitch the trails together.  Once again this place may be small but you get more fun out of it than the mileage states.

A frame in the trees
Scoping things out

Doug showing how it is done.

Kevin giving it a roll as well.

It is pretty darn cool to have this trail so close to my hotel.   Even with just an hour or so of daylight left I can zip over here and get in a bit of dirt time.   Last time time here, I used pretty much all of the daylight and I was glad there were plenty of streetlights on my way back to the hotel.

Indian River Park – Chesapeake VA

I was not expecting much of Indian River Park AKA “Ipswich”.  That name comes form the home development that boards about half of the park.  It is a rather small plot of land and the topography is pretty much flat.  Okay I must say that I was surprised with what was out here.  The trail builders have made some exceptional good use of what they have.   Just about every small contour is used and the place has been spiced up with some bridges and stunts to keep thing interesting.    Once again I am digging the greenery of the east coast trees.   All together there is a somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 miles of singletrack here.   


This trail system is just a 2 mile street ride from my hotel so I have been here two days this week after work and riding right from the hotel.  The first time out here was getting to know the place by sticking to the  main trails.    It did not take long to feel like I could be hamster-wheeling out here.  This was a wrong assessment, because there is a maze of secondary trails that can be combined for quite a bit of fun.   I found myself trying to see just how fast I could get around this place.   The more forks you take the more you find and before long I found pretty technical to downright insane type stuff.

log ramp
A nice over a log feature 


This monster is crazy.  The raised platform is about seven or so feet off the ground.   The teeter-tooter is also pretty short so you will have to wait for the drop.  Props to the folks who built this thing as it is rock-solid.  

Ditch crossing

I’ll be hitting this place up at least a couple time a week after work when I don’t have time to explore some of the other trails further away.  Including the mileage to and from the hotel I can get in about 11-14 miles out here but doing a couple of loops through various maze options.¦lt;/p>

Bike Luggage Bingo

What a pain the butt, I had over the last couple of days getting by bike packed up and ready to go to the east coast with me on a business trip.  The original plan was to ship the bike ahead of me and have it waiting for me at my hotel when I arrived.   So I packed the bike into my Trico Sports Ironcase Bike Box.   I have used this thing in the past and it is great.  Through your bike as well as most of your other bike stuff in there as well.  Well the price checking this box in as luggage has gone up from sometimes free or $75  to $125.   UPS was quoting the weight as about $70 to ship it.  Great, I could save some money and not have to fuss with the bike box through an airport terminal.    I get to UPS and HOLY CRAP!   Seems that due to the size of the box it falls it falls into the irregular catergory and they want to ring me up for $153 each way.   No thanks, I’ll take check it on the flight.  

I live about 10 minutes from the Carlsbad commuter airport that I would be flying out of so I decided to swing by on my way home with the box and make sure I would not have any problems beyond dropping some coin to get it on the flight.  At first the guy was like, “sure no problem, a bike box is a bike box.  Pay your $125 and you will be good to go”.  At this point I questioned him because I read somewhere that I weight restriction had changed as well and I did not want any surprises the morning of my flight.   After a bit of keystroking, he confirmed that there is a 50lb weight limit is in addition to the special charge because it is a bike box.   This means that the airline wants $250 one-way to take my bike along for the ride.  I would need to get this bike box down to 50lbs to make it even worthwhile to bring.

So I took everything out of the box and weighed.   Ouch!, the box along weighs 27 lbs.   That does not leave much room for the bike.  Out goes everything but the bike.  Crap! Still over weight.   I finally take the tires and tubes off the wheels off.   Geez, just a fraction over.   Off goes the water bottle holder.  BOOM!   50 pounds 0 ounces.

50 pounder

Now I had the problem of dealing with all the crap I took out of the bike box.    Now I’m traveling for three weeks and I have to both some work presentable attire as well as chill out clothes, and I only want to do laundry once a week.  Then means I have a little more stuff than I would normally bring along.  So clothes, camelbak, helmet, shoes, pedals, tires and tubes all go into a chick-sized suitcase.  I weigh it, DAMN, 51 pounds!    So I transfer a pair of shoes into my carry on back and all is good.

crap to get in luggage

So time to travel.  When I checked in at Carlsbad, the ticket guy checks the weights, calls it all good and charges me as regular baggage, all total just $40 bucks.  Sweet!   We will have to see how the return flight works out.

The flight to LA was uneventful, but the rest of the trip was a different storry.   My flight out of LA is delayed because they are servicing the plane. I had a tight connector schedule so I hopped on the phone and had my connector into Virgina switched to a latter flight.  Two hours later, the call is made to switch us to a different plane and about an hour later we are shuffling onto another plane.  Once loaded on the plane, we are informed that the engine may have sucked up something into one of the engines while the plane was taxiing to the gate and the engine would need to be inspected.   After one hour of seating on the plane at the gate, we are shoved off.

Needless to say I did not even make my latter connector.   So I get a free stay at Hyatt O’hare.  I’m pretty sure noboby ever books a room at his hotel, it is all stranded  travelers.   The following day, I would finally get into Norfolk.  The rental car place would turn out to be a silver lining in this little storm cloud.  I get hooked up from an econobox speck to a respectable gas guzzling SUV.   Sweeet, big pimping and I get to help melt the polar icecaps…..I’m cool!   But hey lots of space for a bike with the seats folded down.   More to follow…..