July 20-22, 2001
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 wont say who but spokechickies
you definitely missed out on some hot ones! That first night we discovered
the local lager and couldnt resist bringing a couple cases home with
us that weekend. The Rage Boys forgave Moabs distaste for camping in
the wild outdoors and met us the next morning as we drove in from the motel.
Thats 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 were 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 Lous 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 theyve 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 dont get. But damn if they werent
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 didnt 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. Thats about all I can say about
We didnt 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, dont 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
cant we plan trails like this??).
Up to this point, heres 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 wont name names!).
They had no trail names so wed 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 didnt 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
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
.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
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
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.