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Monday, May 12, 2008

The Spirt of Mountain Biking Henry Clay WVMBA #4

The Henry Clay WVMBA #4 at Coopers Rock State Forest, West Virginia. What a day for a race. The trails already muddy and more rain arrived even before the race began. The rain let up before the race started and the clouds let the sun show for a little while but half way through it all started back up again. Mud, wind, rain, thunder, lighting, the sound of tree branches snapping overhead, and wet muddy rocks.

Now most everyone prefers the trails dry and fast but 'A little rain never hurt no one', (excuse my urge to quote Tom Waits) or even a lot of rain, but rain it's just no reason to take your bike and go home. This is what Mountain Biking is all about. Riding trials has always been about adversity, challenge and pushing yourself. There's a reason mountain bike races run seventeen miles, it's about the challenge, both physically and mentally. Think back when you first started: there were all the hills that we couldn't quite climb, logs that we couldn't make over, rocks sections that we couldn't quite ride. Everything a challenge; so I view this race as more adversity to overcome. For me seventeen miles is quite long, I tire at about thirteen and the last four miles I'm really straining to push myself to the end; but slogging your bike through 17 miles of muddy trails and wet rocks, now there's a challenge. I could whine and complain about the conditions or I could just go out there and deal with it. I was up for a challenge.

This was my first time on the trails at Cooper's Rock, and in spite of the mud the trails were a blast. Race highlights:
  • Stick in my eye! Next time I make a pass I'll think twice about riding through an over hanging tree branch. A broken branch pointed in my direction deflected off my glasses and found it's way underneath. Scratched my lower eyelid and then catching on the rim of my upper eye socket. I can still see; mostly, it's all good.
  • Nearly riding off a 20 foot span and the one handed seat post save to keep my bike from going over. Now I know what combining wet wood with rubber tires gets you; that bridge deck might as well have been ice but I'm obstinate; I wasn't getting off and walking. I made a feeble exhausted attempt at squaring off my turn to get a straight on approach but I was a little crooked when I pulled myself up on the bridge deck. Shwing there goes the bike flinging over the side, myself, I just focused on staying 'on the bridge', quick reflexes and a left handed grab and I keep the bike from going over the side, not letting that bike go over was paramount. I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do is go down there and fish my bike out of a creek bottom; Earned a nice whack on my shin off the edge of the bridge deck. It's amazing how during a race you can maul yourself like that and not even notice. At the end of the race I look down at the huge goose egg and scrape on my shin and think, I have absolutely no idea how the hell that happened. Couldn't recall, not once, crashing the entire race... oh yeah the bridge deck.
  • Then there was the roadie that would let me blow by him every downhill, in seconds I was gone, totally out of sight. It felt good to look back and see that he was absolutely nowhere to be seen. The good feeling short lived because 3 minutes later he'd catch up to me on every single climb. I gotta say letting me pass was much appreciated. Muchos gracious amigo.
  • There was the single track that tunneled it's way through thick interwoven mountain laurel almost tight enough to block out the light. I've never ridden through a cave but this has to come pretty close. What a cool section of trail!
  • Then the fast section at the base of the giant rocks. They had to be stories high but who's looking up, I was moving fast as hell through there. Eventually the trail pushed through a narrow crack between two squared off building size boulders, at that point the trail was maybe four feet wide with rock walls on either side. Unnerving, but how cool! It ended in a steep section where we grabbed our bikes with one hand and crawled up out. Now that was the sweetest section of race course I've ever ridden!
In spite of the conditions I finished under two hours. I should be happy with my time but I feel like I could have placed better. More training, more training.

Gregg's Recap of 2008 WVMBA #4 Henry Clay at Cooper's Rock
Aaron's WVMBA #4 Henry Clay Blog Entry


  1. Is Roaring Run Open?

  2. If you mean Roaring Run near Seven Springs, I believe this is still and will always be closed. It's one of the few protected watersheds in the state. That's why they closed the trails. The Roaring Run in my blog is out near Apollo.

  3. Shred,

    great article. I definitely want to check out coopers rock. You should check out my google maps project Pittsburgh Mountain Bike Map which is an attempt at aggregating MTB data for the Pittsburgh Area. Also I wanted to see if you wanted to exchange links with PORC. You can reach me at nick at brookwoodstreet dot com. I wouldn't use comments to reach out to you, however I couldn't find your contact info.


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