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Jim Thorpe
July 20-22, 2001

 Spokejunkies............Meet Rage
After an alleged “8” hour car drive from Columbus to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, the first encounter with the Rage Boys was at a local steak and ale joint. I say boys because all promises of hot Rage chicks that were made to Moab seemed to fall through leaving me as the lone woman with 6 new mountain biking men - a true female fantasy ride. I won’t say who but spokechickies you definitely missed out on some hot ones! That first night we discovered the local lager and couldn’t resist bringing a couple cases home with us that weekend. The Rage Boys forgave Moab’s distaste for camping in the wild outdoors and met us the next morning as we drove in from the motel. That’s when the talk began of a 25 miler that day. Please tell me there are bail out points!!!!
Everyone checked out the rigs, took the quintessential group photo and we were off. “Pace myself” I thought - 25 miles and just look at these mountains we’re in!!!! So I settled in behind Sweet Lou on the first stretch of single track. That turned out to be the perfect vantage point to catch Lou trying to make out with a tree - an encounter that left him with a smudge of passionate red lipstick on his cheek. Maybe it was the 24 ounce steak from the night before that threw him off balance. Witnessing Lou’s demise made me slightly cautious as we entered the first mine field of rocks that are truly telling of the terrain yet to come. At the first fork in the road, I heard some of the Rage Boys exclaim that was the fastest single track they’ve ever been on. “That totally sucked” one of them complained. What the hell! I thought. Are they joking? Must be an east coast thing I don’t get. But damn if they weren’t serious! It was a very fast singletrack for them.
I could only imagine at that point what they would think of our Ohio trails and how much I would suck as a mountain biker in Boston. Not 2 minutes later, the group had an encounter with a rare beast of nature. I never did look at it cause I didn’t want to cause myself horrendous dreams but the first rider (‘full face helmet boy’ who may later be referred to as ‘Hot Dog’) had a near miss with a 4-5 foot rattlesnake. As we approached the commotion, we heard the loudest, strangest sound ever - the snake was loudly rattling where he was perched and seriously pissed off a couple feet from the trail. We all zoomed by quickly on to enjoy some of the first rocky downhills of the day. Boink, boink, boink. That’s about all I can say about that.

We didn’t hit the first real climb until we got out under some power lines in the scorching sun of course. It was one of those mentally challenging, don’t look up at how far you have to go kind of rides. We made it to the top only to wait for Lou who was experiencing mechanical problem #1 for the trip. His chain was tightly wrenched into his chain ring. Does Lou ever not have some kind of mechanical? That makes a climb a bit of a challenge. After some time and effort, it was soon repaired. That gave us time to witness the technical prowess of some of the Rage Riders as they bunny hopped, leapt and track standed on top of a nearby large rock. Not to be outdone, Ohio was represented when Bryan Adams quickly and easily cleared the rock at high speed. Eventually, we made our way on to a nice lookout, snapped a few pics and realized we had already done around 14 miles and still felt pretty fresh (fewer uphills will do that to you - why can’t we plan trails like this??). 
Up to this point, here’s what I had learned about the Rage Boys - they all qualified as boys when you compared their ages to the Spokejunkies representing on this trip (I won’t name names!). They had no trail names so we’d need to make some up to keep things interesting. And considering all the rocky technical terrain they ride on, why did so many of them ride hardtails!??!!?
We tried to force Sweet Lou to ride in the big ring by installing his chain on the outside of the front derailuer but he caught on and said if we didn’t fix it right he would take his bike and go home. He was about to kick Moab's ass when the Rage guys fixed it right and Lou backed off. I never knew Sweet Lou could be such a bad ass…must have enrolled in one of Moab's classes. With everyone happy again and rested we took off up a rocky trail to a spectacular overlook. Everyone refueled and took a few pics while I chatted with an elderly hiker. He told me that he used to bomb these trails back in "48" on a fifty pound rigid Schwinn cruiser. He said one of his homies had tried to ride the drop off the overlook but it had gone bad and his ghost could sometimes still be seen riding these trails. I turned to check out the drop he referred too and when I turned back around he had vanished. Great place for a night ride huh?

Jason, our most excellent local guide, then led us to the next leg of the ride, which brought us to the steepest, rockiest downhill of the weekend. Most of the guys raced down ahead of me but after two endos I took the hint and walked the nasty section. I like to leave that stuff to the kiddies. When the rocks and drops got a little smaller I hoped back on and bombed the rest. It turned out to be a blast that left my hands aching by the time I reached the bottom.
On the long drive over I had been telling Moab about my trip to Alaska, especially about watching bears catch salmon. Now all you guys know what an adventurer Moab is after he has had his naps…. in the middle of a wide creek crossing he decided to try it himself. In midstream he leapt off his bike and plunged spread eagle in to the water.(click here for pic) He surfaced gasping from the cold water and worried about water in his hubs. No salmon were caught but he succeeded in drenching me as I tried to photograph the stunt. It was a great change of pace from all the pics of him doing "perfect" stream crossings.
We then headed to some more tame singletrack which landed us on a railroad bridge that was missing a board every 5 feet or so. . It was indeed a scary walk over and untrusty bridge(see pic) but the view was astounding. From there it was onto an old Railroad tunnel that was used for trains back in the day when Tucker was still using the outhouse. Some decided to walk to the other side while the others guarded the bikes. There was a nice view at the other end of the approxinmately 100 ft. tunnel.
After showering and stuffing ourselves at the local restaurant we headed out to Mauch Chunk Park (whaadda name huh?) to hang with the campers. We had some great beer and exchanged stories with the guys around a blazing fire. It was an historical meeting with representatives from three of the most powerful clubs in the nation. Spokejunkies, COMBO, & RAGE. We decided that we were all pretty cool and could rule the mountain biking world together. One incident did threaten to break up the happy meeting. John (Hot Dog) tried to defect from RAGE. We talked it over but decided that the Spokejunkies need more chicks…not dudes….especially ones that could out ride most of us.
By this time we motelers were yearning for our soft dry beds, TV, and AC so we set up a meeting time for the next day and bailed. Turns out we just missed a raid by the Mauch Chunk Anti Fun Coalition. The ranger threatened to kick the campers out for relaxing and having fun without a permit. Seems the dude was more uptight than Jerry Falwell. The guys finally convinced him that they would cease and desist having fun immediately and he chilled out, wandering off to smother someone else's good time. Mauch Chunk must be native for "Me got bug up ass" - Tucker & Moab

As the Massachusetts contingent was heading back home on Sunday, a short ride was planned to finish off the trip. But first, a hearty breakfast at the diner in town where Sweet Lou (aka Stomach Lou) managed to order and put down 3 buttermilk pancakes (heavier than lead), eggs, toast, breakfast meat and hash browns, too I think.We all met up at the campsite and left from there.

A short, rooty singletrack was followed by a gentle cruise down a 'rail to trail' trail....only to be brutally slapped in the face by a climb that would've made Lance Armstrong's pulse rate go up to 60 bpm. Mine sat at around 200 bpm through 2-3 miles...starting on pavement and degrading to broken pavement. We were trying to link up spots of pavement like connecting the dots. Jason's (our guide's) brother Ronnie schooled us up the hill...although he did have the freshest legs of the bunch. Sorry excuse.

A quick rest was followed by a gently trail climb....gentle if it weren't for the baby heads. And then the descent...not quite as sphincter-clenching as the day before, but pucker inducing never-the-less. What was probably a nice babbling brook during the spring thaw was a white-knuckle rocky, rooty, steep ol' descent in July. Nice clean American fun. Brian Adams (no relation from what I gather) aka B.A. (no relation to Mr. T from what I gather) thundered down along w/ Rager John Pansire. Kudos to the hardtailers in the group (Duval, Paul, Sherdy and Shawn) as FS seemed like a prerequisite for the trail. No major diggers although B.A. did get run into the woods once.  
Back to the parking lot on the same rail trail...and we knew we needed more. Jason then led us up the Upper Switchback trail which went up and up and up...and we barely noticed. Gentle as a climb could be. We took advantage of the photo-op at the top overlooking the valley below. B.A. proceded to take a sweet wheelie drop at the top as we headed for one more exciting descent.
So as was explained to me by our guide Jason, the Switchback trail was used to ferry coal from the upper mountain to the town. The cars were then pulled straight up a steep slope back up to the top...and that was our descent. Straight down, around 40-45 degree slope, wide, over a mile long, some dirt, lots of grass and railroad ties as erosion bars. Lock the rear and it starts skidding out on you sideways....let go to straighten and gain 10 mph in 2 seconds. And you keep reminding yourself to pull up when you hit the railroad ties or you might endo and tumble 100ft past your trusty steed. And then it was over...dumping into a playground...brake rotors or rims hot enough to cook a 24 oz steak.

Rager Shawn was heard saying something like...'Well I haven't fallen hard yet and as this is the last descent of the trip....yada yada yada'. You can all guess what happened next. A nasty double-flatting digger. The result...a hurt shoulder and a long wait as we finished up the trip with a gentle climb back up to camp and picked him up down below in town. Well gentle climb for most. Tucker (aka Taco) managed to plant on a pretty inocuous looking section of rail to trail resulting in a taco severe enough to require stepping on the rim and banging it against a tree. But he managed to limp it on home. 18 miles and it was time to head back to Boston.

Back at the parking lot, we said our goodbyes. A great time was had by all and I think that all of us wish that more of our friends were around to enjoy it. But then again, the size and the makeup of the group was perfect. Moab was riding smooth - and much drier on Day2. Sweet Lou kept on soldiering away. Tucker - running strong, although a bit wobbly at the end. BA - damn fast and smooth - we gotta get you into Vietnam in Mildofrd, MA. John Pansire - Tigger like on the flats and bombs away on the downhills. Duval and Paul - showing us how its done, east-coast hardtail style. Shawn - riding fast and strong up and down....just hasn't learned to avoid tickling the gods of fate. And Sherdy...always smiling, riding hard and willing to teach us the difference between shit and shite. And me - happy to be riding on great trails w/ great people.

Bottom line.....it was damn good fun. Nice riding with you, Spokejunkies. Feel free to contact us anytime you're in the Boston area....and bring your bike. - Nori