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Old 04-14-2013, 05:32 PM   #1
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Southern Maryland Adventure Riders in George Washington National Forest (WV/VA)

About 2-3 times a year, a few of us load up and go out for a long weekend. We've used Sugar Grove MWR Navy base as a lodging base, and it does work out splendidly.


Sugar Grove

It's a two bedroom cabin that can sleep 5/6 (couches, beds and roll-aways). At $70/night, it can be cheap. While they are called cottages, they are fully furnished, Marriott quality sleeping quarters.

It has a nice MWR club (air hockey, darts, bar, pool table) with a nice dinner menu, and BOQ mess hall for a bfast.

Our normal plans:
Friday: Leave So. MD early, and have a half day ride around Sugar Grove (100 mile tracks)
Sat: All day ride (150-200 mile tracks)
Sun: Ride in the morning, and load out NLT noonish (80 mile tracks)
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Old 04-14-2013, 05:58 PM   #2
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Friday Festivities

We left around 0700, which put us slightly behind. Luckily, we played leap frog with EOD3MC and Phillygal all the way out.


The weather was a bit ominous, maybe foreshadowing of the events to come?


We followed some road signs for a quick tour of the Bourbourville Ruins, but never found them. We did pass these nicely restored beasts:


They stopped in Fredericksburg for some bagels, and we stopped in Harrisonburg for lunch. If anyone needs a place to pickup a dozen or so slightly hung over college girls, try Mr. T's Bakery and Bagels on RT 33 behind Waffle House at 10-1100 on Fridays.

Off to Sugar Grove we go. Rather uneventful, and we check in.

We've only forgotton our keys for the hauled bikes at Eagle Bay, so made double sure that we had those. Blaster grabbed his GPS keys, but seems it was for the other bikes mount. Looks like he'll be flying blind this weekend.

No worries, soon enough we are off riding. Here the track, with a minor variation due a closed road.

Download GPX files here




We couldn't have canned better weather. Despite the morning rain showers, there was low humidity. Temperature was in the high 60s and sunny. It was truly a pleasurable day to be looking through a set of handlebars.

I seem to have this uncanny knack. Somehow, I always have too much track for too little day light. None the less, we were back to cabins before dusk (barely).

The track was meant to warm up everyone, as it was the first time EOD3MC had his steed outside the confines of Eagle Bay. I also benefit from a slow start. Blaster11 and I were off the training class at CornerSpin, so we designed a course to hone those newly acquired skills. I don't think we hit a water XCing, but we did find lots of fast turns roads. EOD3MC and Blaster have some nice rocks pelts from roosting each other all.day.long. Children!

Feeling cheeky, EOD3MC was spying a hill climb. Sure enough he finds himself one. Up he goes. Wheelie, and down he goes. Seems WV is a bit steeper and softer than his Californication Rawhyde training.





Blaster, aka the gas tanker, found his calling today. Seems EOD3MC doesn't have a respectable reserve on his new tank. Furthermore, I would have thought the Katoom rider would know better than to drive past the only gas station we pass all day. So, about 17 miles from the cottages he's flat out done. Try the trick of laying it down to swish it over the pump lobe. No luck.

Never fear, we have a 1 liter water bottle and Blaster has over 1 gallon left He pops off the petcock hose and fills her up.

Gas tally for the day:
DR200 uses 2 gallons (for the win!)
DRZ 3.7 gallons.

Had a hoot today on Sugar Tree with my new CornerSpin talents. It's true, never lost the front end while I was on the throttle.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:34 PM   #3
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Day 1 Continued..

Overall, Day 1 tracks is extremely nOOb friendly, big bike friendly, and if not for some rock pelting on the little bikes might be somewhat a bore on those.

Most of the track is high-speed, well groomed gravel. A great place to practice CornerSpin Of course, the only important part here, is not to let the back of the pack around you! Take whatever evasive action/bad line...but do NOT let them around


When in doubt...deploy your rock chaff


EOD3MC actually ended up the on the losing end of this for the day. When he got off the bike, literally had a pile of pea-sized gravel on the front of his seat. I guess that is another built-in-feature to a high tank...gravel stowage!

This was the only water crossing I think the entire day. It seems the yellow bikes were having a splash contest. Meanwhile, the blue bike decides to practice lofting. Clearly by lofting he missing the splashing action (what fun is that? ). However, you will notice that bike always ditch hunts to the right. This fact will be more noticeable on day 3 when the water get deeper.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:16 PM   #4
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So the funny thing is that I run way wide in one of the turns (in the video) because I am riding Dave's ride and not my own. Things start looking bad, I then quickly realize the corner is coming up fast and I haven't set up for it. I told myself that even though I haven't set up properly that this corner is easily doable....I got my head back in the game and let the training take over and easily recovered. So I tell Dave over the comms what just happened and he and I both break out in laughter because we both know that we have been pushing it a bit and that we should back'er down just a bit. So we did just that but it didn't stop either one of us from roosting the other....what a fun day and ride!!!!
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:27 PM   #5
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If I remember right, one of the roosts were described as "opening the tap on a gravel hose"....I was laughing hard enough after that I had to pull over and stop....
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by EOD3MC View Post
If I remember right, one of the roosts were described as "opening the tap on a gravel hose"....I was laughing hard enough after that I had to pull over and stop....
Yep....it sure was a gravel hose and it just kept coming and coming!
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:41 PM   #7
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Can it really be a homemade dinner, if the fire alarm isn't chiming?

A big kudos to PhilyGal. She's been keeping the tummies full and been serving up some good eats. Who's going to want to go home after this fab weather and yummy food...not I.

We get home after filling EOD3MC bike up for the 4th time, but this time from a proper gas station vice Blasters ride, and Philygal has dinner ready. She pops in the garlic bread and it's done.

Somehow, we missed the food porn! Speghetti with two kinds of meatballs and garlic bread. Blaster although exhausted wants to find himself something sweet. You should have seen his head snap around when Philygal mentioned homemade cheesecake!.

Then it was some satellite TV to wind down the evening.

Here were the more notable clips:





And the first day comes to an end...
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Old 04-16-2013, 05:10 AM   #8
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Day 2: The Main Event

Here was the planned attack for Sat. Fun, challenging ride for the little bikes. Basically to boldly go where most women haven't rode (and even some males).

Main Event on Sat. Challenging day--Slate Springs, Dunkle, German River, Vepco and even included a possible alternate track for 2nd Mountain




We saddled up spritely early, and traversed the mountain to the start of our track. Today was our main event, starring no other than Union Springs. The weather by all accounts was a bit chilly for the first 45 mins, but as soon as the adrenaline rush came, the weather didn't seem to matter much.

I can actually say I had the previous misfortune of riding a fully loaded bike big bike up Union Springs, and the little bikes are way more fun on a road like this. It also cracked my oil pan and put a big 'ol dent in Blasters HP2 skid plate. With that, you could probably ride Union Springs on any bucket of bolts, but don't be shocked when you need to get your game face on. There are multiple rideable lines, but you had best stay committed. I might feel froggy and decide to take the big bike again in the future, but it's not my first recommendation.

Union Springs starts out calm enough. Paved through a neighborhood, pavement ends, gets a little rocky, then a little steep. By the time you have made the decision that it is time to retreat, you are probably 1/2 way through (beyond the point of no return). The GPS will lead you to believe that it is better to press on, but there a 3-4 long steep hill ascents remaining. I would rate Union Springs as a solid intermediate level. Much fun on a small displacement bike, but without any intel this ride can be daunting.

The road is also known as stone camp for this marker:


One thing I need to focus on, is taking the safe option. For example, the first time we rode Union Springs last year we had panniers on which wouldn't allow us to get the track we really wanted on ascent #1 because we would have been too wide hitting a tree. This is where we believe the majority of the skid plate/oil pan damage came from. Hindsight, we should have taken off the panniers, lugged them up the hill, then reloaded. Seemed like a lot of work... While we were close enough to civilization to escape our previous mistake, that might not always be the case. This lesson will also ring true 24 hours from now.

Here the first big asecent on Union Springs, notice the step at the crest of the hill.
[/QUOTE]

EODs camera


We didn't pass any Jehovah Witness' or any hookers, was Union Springs upset not to have a sacrifice offering? We had 3 go-pros running, and nary a single dirt (rock?) nap. Where's the fun in that? EOD3MC was smitten to use his Rawhyde skills.

About 60 seconds into this vid, you see a primo campsite which overlooks the valley. There is always scrap firewood. The bad part is you better plan on getting there early in the day, as a dusk or later arrival would be very tricky due to the terrain. Oh, and don't plan any beer runs. Be on your game, as leaving there are two large ascents (also shown).

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Old 04-16-2013, 04:49 PM   #9
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Somewhere about middle of Union Springs is a somewhat tricky descent. Remember, when engine braking going down hill use your front brake. If you use the back brake, odds are you will stall the motor out. This doesn't appear as steep on vid as it rides. However, since EOD3MC is just plugging along, I know it must be steep!


After Union Springs, we headed downhill on Dunkle Hollow. Dunkle Hollow is really a fun ride downhill. And after the warm-up lap, was nothing more than a nice ride. We headed down Dunkle Hollow and ran into a parade of 4x4s tangled on the switchback corner. I was concerned that we'd be sitting on the trail for the next 2 hours. They were uber nice and shooched over enough for us to swiggle by.


Later EOD3MC commented he was upset that Union Springs had dropped us onto Dunkle after switchback of death corner. Little did he know, he has grown substantially as a rider. The switchback of death is now not only not discernible, but also cluttered with Jeeps forcing us to the inside track and he doesn't even recognize it! In fact, it was an eye-opening weekend. In a little under 2 years, the group had transformed. Rides would have eaten us, are now a romp around the town. Blaster is now a speed monster. EOD3MC is savvy. And Dorito, while still turtling slow, at least is not spinning on her shell every 10 feet.

The water was bit deeper than usual all weekend long, purportedly the snow had just melted from 5-7 foot drifts a few days ago. But we gallop in..


A we find a few small sookie holes on the way through too.


Anyhow, we've all worked up an appetite so off to Franklin RT 33/Sugar Grove Rd for lunch and gas for the bikes. Wow, had some schrumpcous fried mushrooms and layed like lizards in on the hot tarmac in the parking lot. After yesterday's fiasco, EOD3MC even filled up with gas. I think he was somewhat forlorn to do so. I think he really wanted to find out where empty is. You know the old theorem: One data point is an anomaly, two data points is straight line, and three data points is a trend. He only has the single data point to date, and it's going to be a LOT of loops at Eagle Bay to find empty again. Tummies full, pottied and gas tanks full, it was time to head out.

Or was it?

Seems there was a yellow DRZ that would have none of it. I almost could hear the DRZ braying like a mule. Stubborn. She won't even turn on a headlight.... Determined to get he started, we spend the next hr trying to trouble shoot. Seems we are down to a faulty ignition switch.





As if one broken bike isn't enough, we even conned EOD3MC into taking his steed apart to get test parts such as relays..


We do managed to borrow a multi-meter from a local,


But soon enough the reality is there is nothing left to do, but send her Harley style (e.g on the back of a truck) to the cottage.


I usually rib someone after their bike misbehaves. You know the old addage, strike while the iron is hot. We should have just abandon the DRZ in place and tell Dynamick to come pick it up (hopefully before some local stole it.) The last 75 miles of the track will need to wait for another day. The bike is hauled home, and after a few hours of lizarding on the back deck under the soft afternoon sun, the temper has faded to disappointment. Blaster realizes in 3 decade of bike ownership, this is the first one to ever lay down on him. Ever. This would not bode well for the DRZ. Bikes have left the stable for far lessor offenses.

Nonetheless, EOD3MC and Blaster start the dismantling the DRZ nose to expose the soft underbelly of wires. Out pops the WD-40 and each connector is painstakingly disconnected, tapped, wiggled, and sprayed with WD-40. Meanwhile, I am looking for DRZ know issues and wiring diagrams on the interwebs. As the sun is low on the evening horizon, I hear the soft rumble of a DRZ. It's alive! What a relief that this was such an annoying, but simple fix. Tomorrow we have options to either finish today's track or ride the cool down route.

For dinner, we sauntered over to the MWR Rec center. I had a ribeye steak and everyone else had salmon. Very tasty, and $15/head. I've never seen someone with dessert taste test, but EOD3MC negotiated one. Of course, who would order cool-aide pie without a mouthful first. Although he had some quizzical facial expressions while he cogitated on the taste, the electric green pie reportedly tastes like cotton candy. Somehow we got glued to watching the movie Life of Pi. What a bizarre movie.



Another day comes to a close.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:45 AM   #10
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Day 3: The “CoolDown” track




The day started before sun up. The plan was have all kit packed in the truck and riders up at first light, and get the final track ridden. Hopefully, we’d be back before noon so we could change before checkout. This would also get EOD3MC home in time to help with math homework.

It was the coldest morning we had all weekend, and coupled with the earliest start time there was no waiting for the frost to rise. It was an uncomfortable feeling to leave base without heated grips or gear. However, Blaster with his 2 pairs of gloves was perhaps the best prepared.

We rolled the bikes out of the parking spaces, to jump on them without disturbing too much of the serene quiet. It was a bit too quite as Blaster’s DRZ refused to come to life. While we all thought we had sorted the electrical problem last night, apparently not. With that, then there were two riders leaving.

The sun was an evil mistress that morning. She would gently warm you, but as soon as the mountain shaded you a terrible cold covered you as fast a light switch. By the time we reached Monterrey, the sun was high enough in the sky not to worry about cold. Delighted that it is spring gobbler season, the gate on Sounding Knob would be open. The track was good to fast with lots of uphill water diverters/jumps.
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:12 PM   #11
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A few of the water diverters/jumps


We ran into this Jeep too. They seemed nice enough and waved. However, over the course of the next few hours we'll run into them a few more times. Hindsight, maybe this is what West VA does for fun..watch the carnage unfold with the non-locals?


Lower sounding knob is nice ride. I imagine this would a fabulous place to cool off in the dead of a hot summer day.


Soon enough, we pop back onto the Bull Mountain Road for some tarmac twisties. We are about ½ way through the track mileage, and ½ allotted time remaining. Perfecto! As I slow down to turn onto McClung, I look for the gouges in pavement I left last time I was here. No dice, there are gouges everywhere on that corner.

With that, we sprint by the “4x4s only beyond this point”. Soon enough we are at the first water crossing. While it’s got a concrete bottom, the river is moving swiftly. I’ve ridden this a few times, and this is highest I’ve seen it. However, I can’t seem to remember where the “high water mark” should be. For a fleeing moment, I consider that we should walk this first. Again, too much effort and boy does that spring snow melt look cold. EOD3MC "bravely" decrees that he’s got more ground clearance so he’ll go first. Without much ado, I give him the only advice is that it dips on the right side before you exit.
Off he goes. As soon as he has both tires into the water, I have this sinking feeling. The water is clearly deeper than it has been before. Then the river snatches him and begins to drag him off course. I guess that low hanging gas tank lobes make for a positively buoyant bike. Down he goes. The snow melt water penetrating his helmet must have negated the need for EOD3MC's signature ninja roll. Yep, the name of today’s track is “Cool Down”, and EOD3MC is all about that! Within 15 seconds he’s back on his feet and trying to right the bike.


Notice how when your wingmate is drowning, how thoughtful I am in returning to turn off my petcock, and then for a second time to turn off the ignition. Then you'll notice how spritely I gallop into the water. All I was thinking was this is how Blaster feels when he has to get me out of the water trough. And didn’t realize it at the time, but I also added my signature laugh. Seems to be omen bad things are happening!
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Old 04-17-2013, 04:17 PM   #12
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Soon enough, I am in the river and the water is about mid-thigh. I feel like Sasquatch walking through the river. The concrete bottom is slightly slick, and the river is bloated with an angry current. There will be no running across this river, and I will be lucky not to end up swimming to get to him.

Demo of Sasquatch walk


I will give Aerostich TLTec Wind Blocker Fleece Pants liners a plug. Obviously, I had soaked them and then will need to ride in them. They are more like wool than cotton and didn’t chill me as much as I would have estimated. Almost didn't have that drown rat feel!


I reach EOD3MC who is now safely on the far bank. (Next time I am naming the GPS track files "Lucky" or "Damn Dry" instead of "cool-down"). Luckily, he’s always got a leash for his mule. And without too much grunting and panting, the bike is now back on terra firma. It’s almost guaranteed that the bike is flooded.


Not having ATT, cell service will not happen in WV. With EOD3MC in safe hands, it’s time to call on the forces. Fatefully, we are 30 miles from the cottages and the furthest point. After sasquatching my way back across the river again (It's still no shallower incase you were wondering), the little DR honks good-bye and we begin rescue mission part 2.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:20 PM   #13
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One of the best weekends riding....(with the exception of Blaster's DRZ issues)
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:38 PM   #14
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One of the best weekends riding....(with the exception of Blaster's DRZ issues)
Agreed! Hopefully I will get the Gremlins worked out this week.
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Old 04-18-2013, 03:01 AM   #15
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A few miles north, I run into the same red jeep we past a hour ago. It’s two guys with a lifted jeep and the top off pulling off the side of the road. Most jeep guys I’ve known have loved the thrill of “recovery”. I pull a u-turn and approach them. Seems they are out turkey hunting and we previously interrupted them (strike 1 for the home team). Undeterred, I see if they might want to go float a bike across a river. Nope (strike 2). The conversation ends with them asking if I was from “around here”. Figuring Sugar Grove was “basically here”, I chose that. (strike 3) Later come to realize a military base in a secluded community like West Virginia is the bane of their existence. I would have done better to declare myself a Leper.

No fear, 22 miles back to the cottage. Surprisingly, Garmin found me some nice twisty roads. However, it seemed was longer than 30 mins back home. As I enter the parking lot, Blaster has loaded his bike and is sitting on the tailgate. I tell him the story, and he is calmly assembled for rescue. Philygal is 90% ready, and with Blaster’s help we are turned around in less than 10 mins.

We head out caravanning. The DR200 in the lead, Blaster’s big silver dodge and Philygal in the red Colorado. Surprising the little DR200 outpaced the trucks. She was far more nimble on the country roads, and from a dead stop at the base of the RT250 mountain pass she has both agility and weightlessness on her side. Much like many rides before, I honked to the peak of the mountain and then had to wait for the poky ones!

As we approached the water crossing, I tried to convince Blaster not to drive the truck into the river. It had just eaten a bike, and now it was going to become the Bermuda Triangle of West Virginia. Blaster later tells me that water over my knees doesn’t really mean too much as short as I am.

And with that, I hear the roar of a Hemi motor entering the water. The truck entrance is better than the bike, and for a moment I am relieved this might be fine. Then the 6,000 pound truck gets to the deep part, and begins to drift a bit sideways. But twice as many wheels and 20 times the weight of the previous lightweight opponent, the truck is no match for the river.
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