I woke up naturally without my alarm. The houseboat was swaying gently and I could hear the soft sound of water lapping the hull. I smiled. It was just like when I go camping. My body adjusts to the clock of nature. It was about 7:30 am and the birds were chirping.
I walked out into the living room and found my boat mates were beginning to stir as well. Soon, Heather had coffee started, and I could smell the egg/potato/bacon casserole warming up in the oven. I opened up a small carton of orange juice and relaxed on an armchair as I waited for breakfast.
After cleaning up, the group suited up for our ride. Our friend Dennis joined us and we rode our bikes up the long steep hill to the trailhead. We let a few riders go ahead of us and we waited to let a gap open up. Our efforts to give ourselves a nice section of open trail failed, because in no time, we’d caught them. We began to go insane riding at this slow speed. George was leading and he executed a pass here and there, but it wasn’t really getting us anywhere. The trails were just too crowded.
We coasted and braked down hills that should be taken fast. We climbed at a snails pace as we waited for people to execute the steeper sections. Sandie shouted, “George, can we please pass these people!” It wasn’t working for any of us!
We got off the trail as soon as we came to a road. We climbed on the pavement and covered a couple miles to get to the very top of the park’s trails. We were certain we’d be able to fly if we got far enough away from the masses of riders. (And by the way, that was only time the trails were congested. It was only because everyone was trying to begin his or her ride at the same time, and on the first trail that they came to.)
We dropped onto the Buck Trail and we finally were able to see what is so great about the Allegrippis Trail System. The trails are loaded with banked curves. There is very little off camber stuff. You can really dig in and lean the bike. All of the hills are built like rollers, so when you descend, there are constant opportunities to get air. Because, a descent includes all the uphill portions of the rolling hills, it actually takes a long time to descend to the bottom. You honestly feel like you spend more time going downhill than you do climbing.
Speaking of the climbs, while there is quite of bit of elevation change, the uphills incorporate the rollers as well. So, as you go in a general uphill direction, you get constant opportunities to roll down the other side of each roller. These regular downhills give your legs a break. It takes longer at Raystown Lake to feel like you’re climbing, compared to back home, where an uphill remains an uphill until you reach the top.
We paused at junctions and took a few breaks in order to keep everyone together. We took turns leading and everyone changed positions within the group at times. For awhile Blake and George switched off. I think Dennis led as well. The girls took a pull and I really enjoyed my chance to lead.
I felt like I had plenty of time to go fast and push hard, the way I like to ride my mountain bike. We also had plenty of rests and picture opportunities. At the farthest point on the trails, there was a tent set up with free Gu samples. Thank guys!
After about three hours (two hours of moving time), we decided to head back and get lunch. Many in the group were ready to get into the water and start drinking, but I wanted to do more riding! We’d only done 19 miles. I ate a light lunch of a leftover baked potato and some fruit. Some folks talked about riding in a little bit, but every time I asked, it kept getting pushed later and later. Many of them wanted to save their energy for our night ride.
Larry suggested, I just head out and ride. Great idea! Why didn’t I think of it? Right as I was beginning to gather my supplies for ride number two, my friend Rob H. from Ceres Park came to the boat and asked to use the bathroom. I told him I was about to ride, and he said , “If you can be ready soon, I can join you.” Done!
I finished getting ready and waited out at the road. Soon Rob rode up, dressed and ready to go. Within minutes, a truck full of five more pulled up. It was some of the Ceres Riders: Jim, Clint, Joanna, Rob G. and Dan. We loaded up our bikes and hopped in. It was so nice to not have to climb that huge hill on our bikes again!
We stopped at Dirt Fest so a bunch of them could pick up their demo bikes, and then we began a pretty stellar ride. Right at the start, I took off fast following Rob H and Rob G. At a junction we stopped to make sure that everyone was there before we turned. The others didn’t come along.
We worried someone might have gotten hurt, so we went all the way back to the road but didn’t see them. I have no idea where we’d lost them. We went on just the three of us, and it was awesome! The pace was faster than my earlier ride. My legs were feeling it, but the trails at Raystown Lake allow for recovery moments. I felt like I rode well. Rob G paid me a great compliment when he said, “I was pushing really hard because I knew I’d be riding with Angie.”
We passed other riders on the trail and they let us by. We were flying! We hammered up a longer climb and paused at the top, literally panting. We descended down a fun trail and got a little too carried away on the tabletop jump. Rob crashed his demo bike. We took it easy after that, since he couldn't shift the rear derailleur anymore. As we helped Rob get situated, I admitted to myself that I might have crashed on that tabletop as well. I was going very fast and I don’t know if I would have controlled the bike on the landing. I’ve never mastered tabletops at speed.
Nine miles later, we headed back to Dirt Fest so Rob could return the bike. I said goodbye to the guys, and then we streaked down the paved hill back to the campsites. As I sped past the beer tent, I heard George calling me. He told me they were about to head back to the boat to start dinner. I told him I’d go back to the boat for a shower and see him there.
Back on the boat, the dirt and dust from the trail just melted off my skin. I soaped up and shaved. When I got out of that shower, I felt like a new person! Showering after mountain biking has become so much more pleasurable than it ever was before I started riding!
Matt made pasta and sauce for dinner. He also served a large salad. I had one drink, trying to keep sober for the night ride. Soon we were suiting up to do our night ride. My third ride in one day!
We rode the trails that had been so crowded earlier. My legs were a little fatigued, but I still felt pretty good. The night air was humid, yet cool. It reminded me of racing at Marsh Creek. We didn’t ride long, just five and half miles. The general consensus was to save our energy for tomorrow.
As we plummeted down the paved hill back to the campgrounds, Rob G crashed his single speed. He was trying to maintain the speed he had from the descent. As he stood up to hammer up the other side of the hill, his foot popped out of the pedal cleat and flew into the wheel and front fork. The wheel locked up and he flew over the bars at over 30 mph. Dennis yelled, “Turn Around!” to George and I who were in the front.
As we came around and pedaled back to them, we could see Rob lying in the road, not moving. What a scary moment. His knee took a huge impact but luckily he was wearing shin guards that protected his knees. He had lots of road rash, the worst of it was a gaping gash on his arm.
Within a few moments, he was in good spirits and telling us what happened, laughing and saying he was fine. We were worried about him and tried to find some medical personnel to clean up his arm. By the time I’d come back with a Dirt Fest staff member, Rob had given up waiting and gone back to his campsite. George told me that we should just go back to the boat. Later Rob texted me that he was fine and that the Ceres guys helped him bandage up.
George and I boarded our boat and found a bunch of guests had joined us. It was fun talking to Zack, Levi, Rob, Mark, and Jen. I met some other cool people too. Many of the guests had been invited by our boat mates and had been there on the boat earlier that day, or the day before.
The night winded down with a few more drinks, snacks, and conversations. Then we turned in for the night. Another day of riding was ahead of us.