encounters with rednecks, flat tires, and stomach bug aftermath
I woke up Saturday morning thinking that with the long-overdue abundant sunshine it would be a good afternoon to go for a run. However, Brian texted me to see if it was possible to go on a ride that afternoon. We knew that Travis was working that day, and that David was tied up with coaching duties. But, a quick text to our new riding buddy Kyle B confirmed that he was a definite maybe. Time was set for 3:15 to 3:30, with hopes of getting in up to two hours on the trails behind Mt Laurel. Kyle had never been on the trails up there, and I was excited to get to introduce him to our backyard playground.
Little did we know until he arrived, but Kyle was coming off of having the stomach bug for a couple of days and was visibly not looking like he was up for a large ride. But, considering Brian and I were both on singlespeeds and really wanted nothing more than a casual ride we were totally on board with a slow tempo.
We opted to save a few minutes and take the short hike-a-bike trail that leads from Spoonwood Lake up to the top of the ridgeline where it tees into the paved Double Oak Way (well past where it is gated). Kyle’s heart rate was quickly rising while hiking up the trail, so my guess was that we might get to see him pass out and/or vomit at some point during the ride.
Once on top of the ridge, the smooth semi-flat pavement ride for the next mile gave us a chance to regroup before hitting the first section of jeep road. After coming to the fork in the road (around 2.75 miles from where we started in Mt Laurel), we chose to go right, which leads to a set of power line crossings before ultimately dying out (choosing to go left would have taken us another 6 or 7 miles all the way to the crest of Hwy 25). After a mile or so, Kyle just wasn’t looking good and told Brian and I to go ahead and that we could catch back up to him after we turned around at the power lines.
So, Brian and I motored it along on the really fun section of mostly downhill trail until we had a brief encounter with some hunters in a pickup truck. The driver belligerently questioned whether we had a permit to be up there and basically insinuated we were stupid for riding up there during deer season. He didn’t seem to like my answer that I knew where all of the hunting stands were located and that certainly he wasn’t hunting without a stand. After a sort of Mexican standoff for a minute or so, where neither party was moving, the hunters drove off. We started to worry that they might say something to Kyle, so Brian and I headed back as well.
We ended up meeting back up with the hunters (turns out there were three of them….we originally couldn’t tell due to the illegally dark tinted windows on his camouflage-painted truck). This time they were outside of their truck and the driver barely gave me enough room to pass between him, the truck, and the trees on the side of the road. Then I noticed that Brian stopped, and my first thought was that the redneck decided not to let Brian pass. So I turned around to offer some help when I noticed that the redneck’s attitude was starting to change. Apparently Brian stopped on his own and decided to question whether the hunters had permits to be up there….basically turned it around on them (well played, Brian). As we got to the truth, it was discovered that the driver was borrowing his dad’s property permit and that he didn’t know any of the higher-ups at EBSCO who were in charge of all of the land. After a quick chat that turned fairly friendly, we took off again in search of Kyle.
We thought for sure that we would find him near the crest of an extremely steep uphill section (averages around 17-20 percent grade for around 1/8th of a mile), but we kept riding and he was nowhere to be found. We even ratcheted up our pace and still didn’t see him. I started to worry that he got to the designated last-resort meeting location and had to wait on us. But lo and behold, here comes Kyle going in the opposite direction looking much better and faster. Apparently the electrolyte fluids kicked in and he got a second wind.
We all rode together to the point where Double Oak Way turns 90 degrees and drops down to Hwy 41, then turned left onto an old dirt road. From there Brian and I showed Kyle a nice little overlook with some rock cliffs facing the valley between 41 and 43…one of the many hidden gems of this trail system. Then we decided to drop back to Hwy 41 by way of the Jones Valley Urban Farm, which meant a fast downhill on a relatively smooth jeep road.
It was here that Brian discovered he had a flat rear tire. No big deal though, as he runs tubeless and certainly his sealant would work once he aired it back up. But unfortunately that was wishful thinking and Brian had to ride the last 2.6 miles with a completely flat rear tire. Luckily 1.6 of those miles was on the smooth pavement of Hwy 41 with Kyle leading the charge so that Brian could draft.
All told we only rode 13 miles in 117 minutes (actual moving time of 90 minutes), but it was the most fun I’ve had on my bike in a good while. Some days I just want to crank up the pace by myself and get in a good training ride, while other days I really enjoy just getting out with friends and doing some exploring. Luckily this day was the latter, and was exactly what I needed after weeks of cold weather with rain and grey skies. I’m looking forward to showing Kyle more of what the trails have to offer, because we didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the vast miles of singletrack, doubletrack, and jeep roads that exist up there.
Ride data and map can be found here:
A couple of pics are below.