Canaan Valley Mountain Bike Report
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tgd
June 5, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
I spent the weekend mountain biking in the Valley with some friends. We managed 3 rides, some 27 miles, and around 2500ft total elevation gain over two days. The weather started off unfavorably Friday evening with rain; however, all told they received less than 1/4" of rain through Sunday AM.

Our first stop, as always, was Blackwater Bikes to check in on trail conditions with the owner Roger Lily. BWB ran the Revenge of the Rattlesnake race on Sunday. I considered entering this race as a first timer - until learning it covered 32 miles over the toughest terrain in the Valley - including the entire length of Plantation, Lindy Run, and Davis Trail. Once that brief flicker of competitive ambition was quashed, we "settled" for as much non-competitive trail riding as we could stand.

Our first ride was over the old 24 hrs of Canaan race course on the CVI property off of Camp 70 Road. I heard some great things about this area from members of this board and also on MTBR, so we were pretty excited about the ride. We put in 13 miles over there - including the infamous Moon Rocks section. Overall, we were not really wild about the riding here. I liked the first part of Moon Rocks (really the Baby Moon Rocks), but after clearing the first section we came to Moon Rocks proper. Whoa. None of us could find a decent line through there. I could ride a few feet at a time, but was never able to get any rhythm or momentum. We ended up walking most of the section. Everything else we hit in the area was ride-able with lots of technical challenge. The big downer were the vast sections of bog which though ride-able were not fast or fun. I think we missed some other decent sections in there, so I need to go back and do a little more exploring before I a make any final conclusions about the area.

After the CVI ride, none of us felt spent (too much slow bog riding I guess). We then headed over to Blackwater Falls State Park and rode Dobbin House Trail and part of the race course for another 5 miles. I must say, Dobbin and the connecting trails are now my favorite in the area. Still a pretty technical ride full of roots and rocks. But we were able to ride these trails pretty fast too. I really got a feeling like skiing by letting my mountain bike run on some of the technical sections - hopping, lunging, and launching over and off of obstacles while keeping a decent pace. This was the most fun I've had on a bike in a while. I want to go back and see what other trail segments I can link in to make an 8-10 mile loop there.

Sunday morning we did one final ride. A 9 mile loop I really like through Canaan Valley State Park. This loop follows the Back Hollow Trail through meadows and up behind the lodge where it soon picks up the Middle Ridge Trail to Club Run. At the cabins, Club Run brings you back to Back Hollow to complete the loop. The Middle Ridge and Club Run sections have the best singletrack. There are a few decent technical climbs and some nice downhills. The entire route can be ridden pretty fast, and even I have done this without putting a foot down.

We have another trip planned for August. I hope to sample the Canyon Rim Trail and the Between-the-Parks ride. I am working hard on 2 of my buddies to ditch their hardtails for some full-suspension fun. I know many people ride those trails on hardtails, even fully rigid, machines - but the people wearing the biggest smiles are riding FS.

Tom
BushwackerinPA
August 23, 2006
Member since 12/9/2004 🔗
649 posts
Hey Tom my FS XC bike is on order right now, and plan on heading down there to ride at least once this year. Want to show a strong willing newb around?
kennedy
August 23, 2006
Member since 12/8/2001 🔗
792 posts
I just got back into mtb this year after a long hiatus. I love it, riding fast single track so much like riding glades on a board it's awesome. I've mostly been hitting Wakefield Park here in Virginia because it's 10 minutes from my house but next year when I get more stamina I'll step up to some bigger stuff.
tgd
August 25, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
Hey Bushwacker, welcome to the tribe. Drop me a pm when you plan a valley trip and we can try to hook up for a ride. I am there with family at least 2 weekends a month. My ride schedule is shaped around time with them though, so when I ride it is on the early side - say 6:30-7am. I like to get my rides in before the girls wake up. This time of year, you will need to dress for transitions - last weekend I was in Canaan it was 49 degrees in the AM, moved up to 60 by the time I finished riding. I have been able to finagle a couple of guys bike trips this summer, but I'm not pushing that envelope further this season!

Tom
tgd
August 25, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
Kennedy: I'm a Fairfax local too. I live fairly close to Wakefield/Lake Accotink, and ride there pretty often. Once you get a little more adventurous I highly recommend Colts Neck trail in Reston (starts behind the Ice Rink off the W&OD in Reston) and Shaeffer Farms in MD. I recently started riding Fountainhead in Southern Fairfax. IMO, that is the best technical (read - skill-building) ride in NVA.

I got hooked on MTB for some of the same reasons you state - it feels a lot like skiing to me, and gives me a feeling of relaxation - when I focus on a tricky descent or technical trail section all thoughts of anything other than not crashing melt away - ummmmmmmmmmmm.
Tom
BushwackerinPA
August 25, 2006
Member since 12/9/2004 🔗
649 posts
Quote:

Kennedy: I'm a Fairfax local too. I live fairly close to Wakefield/Lake Accotink, and ride there pretty often. Once you get a little more adventurous I highly recommend Colts Neck trail in Reston (starts behind the Ice Rink off the W&OD in Reston) and Shaeffer Farms in MD. I recently started riding Fountainhead in Southern Fairfax. IMO, that is the best technical (read - skill-building) ride in NVA.

I got hooked on MTB for some of the same reasons you state - it feels a lot like skiing to me, and gives me a feeling of relaxation - when I focus on a tricky descent or technical trail section all thoughts of anything other than not crashing melt away - ummmmmmmmmmmm.
Tom




so well put, I will try to make it down that. 7:30 isnt early for me coming from Pittsburgh day tripping though that makes its really early, maybe a 2 day trip to the Canaan Valley is on order.
kennedy
August 25, 2006
Member since 12/8/2001 🔗
792 posts
I'm building towards other trails. I started riding Wakefield on a dept store death trap, fell back in love with it and bought a barely used Kona Hoss HT. The first few time around Wakefield were fun but kicked my ass. Now I'm getting to the point of just powering around it. Next step might be Colts neck and Shaeffer Farms. I know MORE leads groups around both so I just need to jump on the opportunity to go. I tried Fountainhead and has my ass handed back to me very quickly. I barely made the first loop. It involved more walking than riding because the climbs made my lungs feel like they were going to bleed and my legs just physically gave up. The crazy thing about Fountainhead is that it traps you. You start out on an awesome downhill run then have to climb like a beast and the wrong gear, too low or too high, will kill you. The bail out is even hard. It had to pick my way down a rock field that was nothing but head sized rocks with no good path then you face the humbling experience of Shockabilly and then you have the joy of trying to climb back out again. It's going to be fun when I'm ready for it but right now I'm nowhere close.
tgd
August 26, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
For all the years (6) I've been mountain biking in NVA, I only really "discovered" Fountainhead this season. Ridden there a couple times over the last few weeks. It is by far more difficult than any other ride in the DC area (not counting anything in the Elizabeth Furnace, Frederick, or Baltimore as DC). You are so right about the hills at F-head and selecting the right gear. My first ride there was misery - and I thought I was in pretty good shape! Last time I rode there was better - starting to figure out downhill-uphill transitions and gearing.

If you are cruising well at Wakefield and Accotink - then Shaeffer would be a perfect next step. Lots of fun, smooth, flowy singletrack there with no really big climbs. The loops we do there usually run about 10-11 miles.

Colts Neck is more technical and has about 4 short steep climbs. The out and back loop I do there runs from the Ice Rink to the Parking Lot at Difficult Run. This is about 14 miles total distance and around 900' total elevation gain according to my GPS.
kennedy
August 28, 2006
Member since 12/8/2001 🔗
792 posts
As I've heard some folks on the MORE forums say "Welcome to the F/head suckfest". The worst thing is that if you get in the wrong gear you can't change it for fear of popping the chain and even if you do granny gear is no good if you've lost all momentum. What really hurts though is that despite how difficult it is you know you just have to do it because like anything whens its great it's really great and nothing could feel as good as totally cleaning F/head.

In other news, I just put a set of Panaracer Fire XC Pro tires on my bike. Talk about a night and day difference. I had the factory stock Tioga DH tires on there and they have this really wide flat profile so they don't corner great and they buzz like a fiend on pavement. The Panaracers flow really nice, very smoth no tire buzz and corner nicely. What a difference a tire makes.
SCWVA
September 3, 2006
Member since 07/13/2004 🔗
1,051 posts
Tom & Kennedy,

I'm not sure where in Fairfax you live, but you can hop on the CCT trail at the Oak Marr Rec. Center. This may be closer to you than going to FH or Colts Neck. This part of the trail is lots of fun.

I ride the Colts Neck trail a couple of times a week. But instead of crossing Rt. 7, I go straight across the road and take the CCT trail back to the W&OD Trail. Take a right on the W&OD back to the ice skating rink. This loop will take anywhere from 40mins to 1hr. It's great for sneaking a ride in after work or as part of a longer ride. If there's snow and ice on the trail, it will take a little longer. (notice link to skiing)

MORE sponsors rides at Colts Neck on Wednesday nites.

PM me the next time you ride at CN and I'll meet you.
tgd
September 5, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
SCWVA: will drop you a note next trip out to Colts Neck. Looks like it should be pretty much a mudfest for the next few days though. I usually grab one MTB ride after work each week, then fit in early rides Sat and Sun (either road or MTB). Threading trail through the trees on the downhills at Colts Neck is good practice for tree skiing (ski tie-in). I learned the wrong way to catch air off one of those small jumps there last September. The air catching was fine - I'm sure I caught plenty of it - the landing part I need to work on (rubber side down vs. soft tissue and bone).
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