“Ride start is a steep and long climb, bring the big boy/girl pants and leave the complaining at home.”
And it did start steep, too. The push up Hearthstone had us mortals in the group on and off the bikes many times during the relentless grind required to the top. Near the ridge line, the trail was choked off with blackberry vines pretty badly. Much blood was drawn from the tough guys in shorts and short sleeves. We also put the handsaws in action, clearing several trees from the trail.
Fall is in full swing in the George Washington National Forest. Enough leaves were on the ground in spots to hide the singletrack, but most leaves were still on the trees providing spectacular scenery along the ridge. Temps around 70 made for perfect riding weather. It was an absolutely perfect day to be out in the mountains on a bike.
Brandon joined us for his first ride on these trails since his Tillman West wreck last year. Early in the decent on Wolf is a set of large drops in rapid succession. Brandon is a superhero and charged at them full steam, getting a clean line off the first, squirrely on the second, poaching a third drop off the side of the trail, and then plowing headfirst into the ground. Scary moment, but he recovered quickly and got back on the bike to finish the ride. We later discovered he had taken a chunk out of the side of his helmet during the ordeal.
The rest of the downhill was a mix of rocky and not so rocky flow along the crest of the ridge. Flow sections were broken up with short, steep, technical climbs. These provided some welcome relief for hands permanently curled around the brake levers during 10-15 minute downhill sections.
At the bottom, the group split up with one half climbing to the top of Tillman West for a second session of downhill. The rest of us rode the gravel back to the cars.