Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2011 Canaan MTB Festival Recap

The 3rd annual Canaan MTB Festival was a really great time! It was a fun-raiser and fund raiser for the Tucker County Trails (TCT). We made about $800 dollars for the trails, which is just a drop in the bucket of what is needed to build and maintain trails in that area. And its paltry compared to the amounts that can often be secured through grants. But every bit helps. The Festival hopefully helps people to realize that in a small town like Davis(population 600) and a small county like Tucker(pop.7,000) money and people power are needed to upkeep and make trails. The STP(same ten people) can't do all the work all the time. Often times donating some money and/or your time can go a long way in not only getting things done, but also keeping the locals stoked on working on the trails. Tucker County and West Virginia are destination spots to go mountain biking. The fairly recent phenomenon of urban mountain biking has left some of these special mountain town destinations out of the spotlight for trail monies and bodies to do the brunt work.

The Festival unofficially kicks off with the famous ride at 5 from Blackwater Bikes. It left at approximately 5 and the groups split up a little...Melissa led a mellower ride and Mr. Jeff led a group of us up the back side of the Moon Rocks. The Moon Rocks should be on the National Register of Super Awesome Places to ride a mountain bike. No matter what direction, they are a wonder. I often follow the local's line which I know I can ride, but Tim has me inspired to try the hard lines that go over many erosion gaps instead of skirting around them. We found one small batch of blueberries and then a big fat rainbow! And to end the evening...a Hellbender's burrito.

Friday is Ladies Day...all the singletrack ladies! I wasn't sure how many Ladies were going to show up and I was so psyched when 26 showed up ready to ride. We headed over the Blackwater Falls and did some skills practice and we talked a lot about mindset for mountain biking. I make the Ladies take the Pledge to be open to learning, to be positive and to leave the baggage in the car. Everyone did great and there were lots of smiles and laughs. Those smiles never dimmed, even as we climbed up Canaan Mt. It was not a beginner trail, but all seemed up for the challenge. We rode to my house for lunch of Tamales, Thai Salad, Pasta Salad, Strawberry Shortcake, Cookies, Fruit, Beer and Lemonade. This group shot on the steps of the Icebox is one of my favorites ever and even Ruby who usually turns her head to the side in pictures, posed. We rode back down Canaan Mt. to Hypno where we had wine, chips and guacomole. Everyone was glowing and laughing. What a super cool day!

Saturday is all about the group ride. This year people could buy a pint glass for $20 and get a discount for beer at Sirianni's Hellbenders. Mountain State Brewing and Hypno. That $20 all went to the Tucker County Trails. It was really great of those businesses to support that. And of course Blackwater Bikes and Roger Lilly provided us with space, shelter, restrooms, moral support and beta. Roger has the best quotes ever(I'll tell you what...) It was amazing that we had 90 riders show up for the three suggested rides. Those rides were the Nature ride with Chip Chase. Chip knows all the flora and fauna, local history and trails. His ride ended up doing a bunch of singletrack out off of Camp 70. Mr. Jeff and Rob Stull lead the Davis State Championship Loop out to the Moon Rocks. This was a big group that had many off shoots and lots of Hoots and Hollers coming down off the HooDoo rocks.

The largest group came out for the Adventure Ride led by Chaga Todd and Chaga Sue with the sweetest trail sweepers of Van, Ian, Jacob and Max. The idea was to take the long way to lunch at the Trail Mix on Timberline Road. The group worked their way out to a often overlooked vista across from Railroad Grade Trail that looks out the the stunning Blackwater Canyon. We then worked our way towards Canaan State Park and through the Park. We arrived at the Trail Mix starving and they had some complimentary food and drinks and then folks bought tons of food and drink, too. Max Yax who designed the festival poster has a gorgeous mural on the building.

It started to get cold (for summertime), so we hit the road with bellies full. We had a nice road ride up to Canaan Heights and then down into Davis. I love this shot of Collin with the houses of Davis and the Windmills outside of Thomas in the distance. What another incredible day that was topped off with some dancing to Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside at Mountain State Brewing.

We did have a strong group of 20 out for the Festival trail work which was double of what we had last year. It was a motivated group of both locals, part timers and out of towners. The project was to build a bridge, do some rock work and bench cut new trail. We worked on a brand new section of trail on the Canaan Valley Institute land near the Blackwater River on Aqua Drive. Ken Dzaack of CVI led the group. He is so energetic and so great and giving everyone a job to do. Trail work can be so fun because you get to talk and work and imagine the bike riding lines as you are building the trail. Also, I love being in the woods and could hear the Wood Thrush singing and found a Yellow Spotted Salamander and some Bolete mushrooms. Big Thanks to Roger and Ken for leading the trail work and all the folks that got up and got to work for the trails Sunday!

With just an hour to spare, we prepared for the Bike Hash. A Hash is basically a fox hunt, but with bikes. We had three Hares...Matt, Karl and Rob. These 3 are the williest, smartest and slickest Hares ever. I tried my best to import some young guns to get these Hares. Because as Katherine says, the best way to kill a rabbit is with a gun. Well Hashes are always a little chaotic and confusing and rabid and this one was no different. Some senility on the part of the Hares and some disregard on the part of the hounds left us all wondering who "won" but as Ruth said, "Fun was had by all, that is what we do know". Sirianni's and Mike Goss made some tasty pizzas with loads of summer veggies. Luke made us a bike specific sacred vessel and down, downs were done. Thanks to all who made this a great Hash!

Most likely, the 4th Annual Canaan MTB Festival will be in late June next year. We would love to see folks come out and ride, do trail work and make a donation to the Tucker County Trails(TCT).

Ride On!