Yesterday, four adventurous souls from Ithaca trekked just south of Scranton, PA to ride at Moosic Mtn. This was one of Bill’s Adventure Series Rides that had been postponed from earlier in the summer. We met up with two riders from CNY D.I.R.T out of Syracuse at Moosic who were hosting the ride, so our group of four became six. Bill has told me time and again that Moosic will eat you alive, and either you will walk out of there in pieces, or you will walk out of there carrying your bike, broken into many pieces. Um… why was I doing this, again? Oh that’s right, that relentless streak of masochism that seems to run through my center of being and causes me to do crazy things.
We set off on the first trail, named “Conglomerate.” It gets its name from the conglomerate rock that lines and litters the trails. And by litter, I mean more like someone set off a bomb and blew the top of the mountain to smithereens, and it all came raining back down on the remaining hillside in all sizes ranging from huge boulders to “baby heads.” We picked careful lines between the rocks, just barely fitting our tires between them. Every few seconds I would hear a loud “POP” or “PING” or other worrisome scraping noise of rock against rubber when the rocks were just a little too close together, or I didn’t pick my line just so and rubbed up against some of that conglomerate rock . I kept expecting to hear a huge rush of air following one of these loud noises as a rock tore out the sidewall of one of my tires, but thankfully, that never happened. I also expected to break a pedal before the end of the ride. I lost count of how many times I smacked my pedal into the rocks. In the end, the only thing I ended up breaking was the buckle on the ratcheting strip on my left shoe. The shoes that I’d owned for exactly one week. Thank you, Moosic.
Normally, I like to keep my rear shock set-up fairly stiff. I rode a hard tail up until a year ago, and I guess I still haven’t truly adjusted to a full-suspension bike. However, I was experiencing some issues (probably user error) with my shock pump, so I ended up with about 50# of psi less than I normally run in my rear shock. This turned out to be a good thing. A very good thing, as it created a nice cushion for all the jarring that was to come. I still need to work on that rebound setting, though, I think. We continued down other trails, with pleasant sounding names, such Stonehenge, (ohhh, that sounds interesting), and the Gap trail, and the Waterfall Trail. A waterfall? I love waterfalls! How bad could it be? Actually, that one wasn’t so bouncy-jostle-y. Probably one of the less-technical trails found at Moosic. It was on Stonehenge, I believe, that I gave my most significant donation to the MTB gods, appropriately. The trails designers at Moosic had a penchant for not only squeezing you between rocks, but also trees. As I was trying to squeeze between two rocks, I literally got stuck. I put my left arm out to push off of a tree on that side and try to dislodge myself from the jaws of the two rocks, but I misjudged how far away the tree was and ended up falling over and dredging my arm against the super rough, sharp bark of this particular tree on the way down. I scraped myself and the bike up off the ground and noticed that pretty much all the skin from my elbow to mid-forearm was missing and probably stuck in the deep ridges of the tree bark. How lovely. And thank God for spray-on liquid band-aid.
Soon we were on the High Voltage trail, picking our way down through baby heads and loose gravel. A wonderful combination to test the true extent of your powers of grace and balance. Then we were off on Gene’s Trail, which Bill told me was probably the most challenging trail in the park. I noticed by the end of this trail that all the mud that I’d acquired the previous day at Shindagin Hollow had been bounced and jostled right off the frame, so my bike was pretty much clean again! Bonus! After about 4 hours of riding, we finally hit a bail-out point, just before a trail called Bruised Ego. I decided my ego, along with my body, had endured enough bruising for the day, and I was delighted to take the smooth, paved highway back to the parking lot. I changed my clothes and soaked in some sunshine while the other 5 continued up Bruised Ego and finished on the Blueberry Trail.
So, while I did end up being overwhelmed by the technicality of the trails at Moosic, I believe it’s merely because I haven’t had the opportunity to ride that sort of terrain. As you can see from the photos, it’s pretty much all exposed rock. Abbey and Alex loved it, because it reminded them of the riding they’d done out west in Moab. Bill loves it, because it provides him with a formidable challenge, and says this was the first time he’s been able to clean Gene’s trail. The two riders from CNY D.I.R.T. were phenomenal riders and loved it as well. Me? I haven’t decided yet. I really enjoyed the challenge for the first couple hours. It was a lot different than anything I’d ridden before. The rock is intimidating, for sure. It’s much less forgiving than dirt and mud when you fall on it. I looooooved getting a chance to utilize my slow, technical skills, so that was awesome. But, I think I just don’t have enough endurance to tackle the entire trail system yet and have a good time doing so. Maybe next year.