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Monday, July 16, 2007

Bavington: Haul Road to Airport Loop

This was my first ride at the Bavington area and by the underbrush encountered I may have picked the road less traveled, but none-the less these were some fantastic trails and overall a great ride.

I parked at the sharp bend North of where Kramer road meets Haul and took the trail east headed towards the model airport. If you are driving North on Haul you'll pass Kramer on your right. There's a sign pointing towards Kramer for the model airport. After you pass Kramer you'll come an open marshy lowland area and then the road makes a sharp left. The trail head is on the bend on the right hand side of the road and can be hard to find.

The trail starts at the bottom of a wash out. As you continue up the ravine the trail will start up the hillside on the right and double back.

This section takes you on a narrow winding path east toward the model airport mostly following the ridge line and paralleling Kramer road.

The trail is well cut but the underbrush was just growing over. In July it was very weedy but still manageable.

After a mile and half the trail will come to a ridge that overlooks Kramer road. At this point the trail is about 50 yards from the road. Soon after, the trail comes to a 'Y'; the left branch heading up and clockwise around the airport and the right branch heading down towards the airport gate.

I took the left branch following the loop clockwise. In July this half of the loop is too overrun with weeds. A couple of times I was forced to get off my bike to get through. It's a great piece of trail, it would be awesome if it was given some maintenance.

The other half of the loop wasn't all weeded up like this. I would suggest making a right at the Y. The trail will spill out where the drive way for the model airport meets Kramer road. This driveway cuts loop in half. Head up the drive way (North) toward the model airport. As you head up the gravel road you'll see a sign for spectator parking. Ride into this tear shaped parking lot and find the trail. This trail will head North a little and then start taking you back clockwise around the loop.

Eventually the trail takes you back around to the model airport driveway. You can take the path you came in on or explore the trails directly across the street known as Rolands world.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bavington - First Time

I've done a lot of riding in the area and I'm surprised I never made it out to Bavington. This place is fantastic. Many claim it to be the best single track in the area and I might agree. The trails are narrow twisting and windy. Way fun.

This place lacks what most trails in the area suffer from; extreme vertical variation. Too often trails in the area plummet into valleys and come straight back out again instead of follow valley contours or ridge lines. No matter which direction you are riding them in, you spend too much of your time walking your bike or devote most of your energy to nearly impossible climbs.

The trails at Bavington are different they are consistent and flowing; trails follow ridge lines and have gradual descents and uphills. I even road a switchback, such a novel idea out here in the east. Bavington gets my seal of approval.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Looked good on paper

Sometimes rides look better on paper, but let me start from the begining; I took my neighbor out for his first mountain biking experience. Now he say's he's ridden trails, like on his BMX bike as a kid and he really digs the rail trails but I said hey that's fun but you've never really gone 'Mountain Biking'. Mountain biking involves rocks, roots, mud, fast single track and grueling climbs. That's Mountain Biking; I love it!

So we spent a couple days getting my old GT back into a ridalbe state.

Now the only trails I knew close by was Frick, and Frick single track is just not a very kind introduction. So North Park came to mind and with a little research I thought I found a 'nice' ride. See my North Ridge Trail post below.

I could tell from the topo map there was going to be a climb involved and I invisioned a nice gradual climb following the contours out of the valley. I didn't want to pick anything too extreme. Like me he's out of shape and I wanted him to like mountain biking; not think of it as some kind of torture ritual disguised as fun and exercise.

So how grueling is that North Ridge trail climb? It's nearly half a mile and barely let's up. Let's just say he really gave it his best but my boy lost his lunch before he made it to the top. Now maybe those hot dogs we ate spent a little extra time in the the but I really think it was the climb. (See my road alternative to the North Ridge climb.

The image is a link to part of North Park on topo zone. If you're not familiar with topo zone click on the link and check it out. It's a great place to get topo maps.

Free Ride

Finally got to check out Free Ride. Free Ride is a bicycle recycling program that takes old donated bikes and helps someone who needs a bike fix them up. In return they ask for a donation of time or money. They'll also help your fix your bike. ' We won't work on your bike but we'll show you how to'.

They recruit volunteers and I always wanted to go there to see if I could help out a bit but I ended up there looking for a new bike for my son. We took his little full suspension tyke bike with us to donate and started our search. He found cool little silver diamond back single speed that didn't take much more work than inflating the tires. He was super excited with his find.

Don't think free ride is just for people without any kind of ride. I found quite a few things there to help out a needy trail rider. I found a suspension fork to replace my old blown out shock and pair of clipless pedles to swap with

If you feel like helping out, they seem to always be looking for people to help work on bikes, teach or even just straighten up and donating to them is a really cool and generous thing to do.

Free ride is in the city near the intersection of Pointe Breeze, Homewood and Wilkensburg. Here is their web site: []

Thursday, July 12, 2007

First Ride

I was introduced to mountain biking by my uncle when I spent some time out in Colorado. Yes the legendary Colorado single track. He gave me a quite proper initiation, as I feel we all should when we first start out. We started the ride with a fast climb rising several hundred feet on switch backs. At the top with temples throbbing they barely let me catch my breath before we took off on this wild downhill. I was trying like hell just to keep up, fearing I'd be left behind because they weren't waiting. The trail took me off of drop after drop, I just held on with white knuckles and my ass never even leaving the seat. Ouch!, my rear hurt so bad the next day. I was so happy to find them waiting up at bottom. I thought, my god this is the craziest damn thing I've ever done. I was afraid I might actually like it. Several years later I'm still here, alive and well with only a few bumps and bruises and only a couple very minor brain injuries. Riding has been good, I'm glad to be getting back into it.

Bridal Trail on North Ridge

North Park (North of Pittsburgh) has a lot of good Mountain Biking and lot's of single track. There are many many trails in and around the park but the trail 'system' and hell the entire park is pretty damn confusing. There's a lot of branching and intersections and none of the trails are very well connected. I've ridden there several times and ended up wondering around finding a trail here and there and not really getting a good handle on where I was or where I was going. But don't let that stop you from going, there is lots of great biking and that's what this site is for, to help you out.

So I did a little bit of online reconnaissance and came up with a nice little ride on the North side of the park.

North Park is North of Pittsburgh in the North Hills. From Pittsburgh take 279 to McKnight road and take McKnight up past the Ross Park mall. Bear right onto Babcock Blvd after the Peebles road intersection.

To get there take Babcock along the South end of the lake and turn North onto Pierce Mill Road. Pearce Mill Road runs along the lake. Up past the end of both North Park Lake and Marshall Lake there is a trail head opposite where Kummer road enters Pearce Mill Road.

The ride is pretty much all single track, not too technical, but has a steep climb. There's a lot of fun fast paced stuff once you get up on the ridge.

This trail begins where Kummer Road meets Pearce Mill Road and parallels North Ridge Road.

Park at the basketball courts on Kummer Road. [View on Google Maps]

Make a right out of the parking lot and go about 300 yards and bear right at the Y, staying on Kummer Road and cross the creek. As the bend straightens Brown road merges onto Kummer. Go about another 50 yards you will come to a triangle where Kummer road ends at Pearce Mill Road. Take the left fork of the triangle and the trail head is directly in front of you.

The trail head is directly in front of you, however unless your are in top shape I would recommend taking North Ridge Road to the top of the hill. The initial climb is manageable but it takes you down into a ravine and the second climb to the trail summit is very long (about 1/2 mile) and fairly steep. The trail is 100% climbable but it's long and doesn't let up much. Making this climb bottom to top without a rest is truly a physical and technical challenge.

Ok if you decide you are taking the road make a right onto Pearce Mill Road going South. Take this road 300 yards and make a left up the hill onto North Ridge Road. North Ridge road will climb for nearly half a mile.

After the trail summits it comes down and meets North Ridge road. If you are taking the road this is where you want to pick it up.

Follow the trail as is parallels North Ridge Road, there will be a couple of trail intersections and you'll want to keep right. This will take you to a picnic area at the top of the ridge point. Keep going and the trail will begin a fast but gradual descent. The trail merges onto another trail Look for the a trail on your right and take this uphill for a longer ride. Either direction will take to you to the down stream end of North Park Lake near the boat launch.

The best way back is to take the lower trail along the lake inlet. There is a section too steep the climb but this way gives you the best ride and least amount of walking. Keep an eye out for where you originally merged onto this trail on our way in. Take this branch up to the picnic area else you'll end up walking your bike up a very steep unpleasant and muddy section of trail. From there just backtrack.

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