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  1. #1
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    Demo section in Wiss....nice

    I crawled out my cave, smelled the newly bloomed flowers, dusted off my bike, and went out for a ride at the Wiss this past Sunday. I did a normal loop of the park by starting out on the white trail that starts from the east side of the creek across from the Valley Green Inn, and after about an 1 hour or so, I eventually made it over to the west side starting at that little, white bridge and continuing on the yellow trail. I was biking and struggling for control of my bike as I usually do, and came upon a "FOW DEMO TRAIL" sign. I continued biking and was very impressed with their work. The trail was very flowy and fast. As I approached the "Thanks for experiencing the sustainable trail initiative" sign, I suddenly became a little queazy. I don't know if I have been hibernating too long or what, but has this section existed for a while and has anyonelse rode it? Anyway, I just wanted to give support and encouragement to the workers who are striving to make the Wiss trails better. You're doing excellent. I might even help out some time.
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  2. #2
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    I just noticed this area in the last couple of weeks. I think its great, now if we can just get them to put up some banked turns. I'm a big fan of the 10 foot log, great for balance.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by extremeb
    I don't know if I have been hibernating too long or what, but has this section existed for a while and has anyonelse rode it?
    Yes, you've been hibernating too long. (Time for a new alarm clock)
    Yes, it's been there for months. (There was a post here at the time, but I can't find it right now)
    Yes, I've ridden it several times and it's great - but I can't figure out the section toward the end (just before the descent to the road) that looks nearlyflat as a pancake but makes me work like I'm riding uphill...
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  4. #4
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    Stick I know exactly what you mean! WTF! I'm riding along and it looks flat and then, WHAM, my legs die!

    It's the Wissahickon Triangle.
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  5. #5
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    ha ha!! I've experienced the same thing as I drop the hammer in big gears, and then I am gasping for air.

  6. #6
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    just wait ANOTHER new section set to be built this summer.

    but we don't know where yet.

    if you want to help come by and sign up over at http://www.phillymtb.com

    if you didn't know the demo trail existed maybe you also don't know that philly now has it's own mtb club and so far our main goal is to help maintain the wiss

  7. #7
    Central High 269!!!
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    I actually tried to become a member on their website, a month ago, but I never recieved a confirmation letter.
    Anyway, how long will this whole sustainable trails initiative take? So far, i'm impressed.
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  8. #8
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    new trail

    At first I hated it. When they cut it in last year it seems like it was cut with a plow or something - 6-8' wide, loose, flatter then the trails they replaced (which, of course, is the point in order to stop erosion). As the trail was ridden more it narrowed (odd, opposite of many trails that grow wider with use) and got packed down. Now it's a nice flow-y somewhat un-Wissahickon-esque section. I like it alot.

  9. #9
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    they just need to continue it now. the trail off of bells mill(? the road to the valley green in), that goes up behind that abandoned hut thing is awesome too. those two areas have so much flow. im still partial to pennypack. which has master flow.
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  10. #10
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    un-Wiss Wiss

    "trail ... behind that abandoned hut thing"

    That is one of my favorite sections of the loop I do from the hut thing all the way to where you pop out on the road. Now that the new trail has gotten packed down and rides better the two sections combined make for an uncharacteristicly smooth and narrow section of singletrack.

    At Pennypack is it easy to find and follow the trails? I'm thinking about heading out there next Tuesday. I'll be coming south on Rt 1, any suggestions on where to park?

  11. #11
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    Park at Verree or Pine Rd. Keep your eye open. Pennypack has many hidden treasure trails. A lot of them have very twisty narrow singletrack. Others are more open fire road type of thing. Nothing is too technical, except for a few "dips" on the trails. I wish I could get out there this week, but my bike is out until tomorrow, and then Im out to French Creek to practice my lines and gears for the race this coming Sunday.

  12. #12
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    Wiss is all about the nasty stuff. Smooth singletrack seems so out of place there. That said, I ran into that demo section last week and it was a good piece of trail. It gave my rear a nice break from all the rough stuff.

    My favorite Wiss section is across the covered bridge heading towards Bells Mill where you pass by the statue at the top of the initial climb. There is some fun, very rough downhill sections on the way down.

  13. #13
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    i dont know my way around it, but the guy i ride with does. we go for two hours and cover tons of great technical, rolling, single track. its great because you can really get into a rhythm and the flow is amazing.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by squads
    Wiss is all about the nasty stuff. Smooth singletrack seems so out of place there. That said, I ran into that demo section last week and it was a good piece of trail. It gave my rear a nice break from all the rough stuff.
    It's funny how different individual perspectives can be. In the grand scheme (with a few noteable exceptions), I'd consider wissahickon to be on the smoother side, overall - not just the new demo trail, compared to a lot of the other popular riding areas in the state.

    Sure, wissahickon has it's share of rocks, but there are lines with exceptional flow throughout the park.
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  15. #15
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    It must be the sections I tend to ride. I am still learning the area so I must be missing alot of the flowy, smooth sections of trail. Its not a very straightforward ride there because of all the forks and intersections.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by squads
    It must be the sections I tend to ride. I am still learning the area so I must be missing alot of the flowy, smooth sections of trail. Its not a very straightforward ride there because of all the forks and intersections.
    It takes a while to figure out if you do it by trial & error. But frequent backtracking, U-turns, dead-end trails, and random exploration builds character anyway, lol!

    Seriously though, look at the map:

    http://img519.imageshack.us/my.php?i...ahickonpm6.jpg

    As a very general rule - the trails on the east (top, when looking at the map, opposite side of creek from Valley Green Inn) side of the creek are more 'technically' difficult than those on the west side. The section between Northwestern Ave and Valley Green Rd on the east side is the rockiest area in the park that comes to mind.

    The west side has more big hills and is much more flow-y, overall, w/ fewer sections of continuous rocks.

    At least, that's how I tend to think of it. Maybe I'm crazy. Regardless, even the 'nastiest' trails through the valley (on both sides) have great lines. You'll figure 'em out sonner or later.

    Have fun!
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  17. #17
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    i agree with everything Stick said. even the most rocky section that he mentioned (east side between bells mill and valley green rd) has some spots that are smooth and flow really well.

    not sure if its my riding ability or the park's evolution or a combination of both but the park seems much less rocky than when i started riding it about 10 years ago. just about ever section that is rocky now was way worse back in the day and a few spots that are quite smooth now used to not be that way.

  18. #18
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    rocks

    "seems much less rocky than when i started riding it about 10 years ago"

    I think this is true overall, although some trails have gotten rockier with the bad storms in the past few years when all the dirt was just stripped away. Other trails have been picked clean by some well-meaning group. For example, the first big climb on the west side after crossing Bells Mill (I've heard it called "Quadzilla" and "The Widow Maker") used to be a typical rock strewn Wissahickon climb. The distance and grade of the climb would put a hurting on you and then, when at your weakest, you'd lose traction on some loose, sketchy rock section. Now it's picked almost perfectly clean. Still a brute of a climb, but it's a shadow of it's former, fearful self.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Burgess
    "seems much less rocky than when i started riding it about 10 years ago"

    For example, the first big climb on the west side after crossing Bells Mill (I've heard it called "Quadzilla" and "The Widow Maker") used to be a typical rock strewn Wissahickon climb. The distance and grade of the climb would put a hurting on you and then, when at your weakest, you'd lose traction on some loose, sketchy rock section. Now it's picked almost perfectly clean. Still a brute of a climb, but it's a shadow of it's former, fearful self.
    That one's most often dubbed 'The Monster', and it wasn't 'picked clean' by anyone, it was literally bull-dozed & filled by the FPC. Can't remember how long ago, exactly, but I was there the day they did it. Possibly 2 years ago already. This hill is definitely easier now. It requires no skill to ride now, just legs and lungs that don't quit. Call me grouchy, but I definitely liked it more before. It was great for demoralizing people in the midst of friendly competition! (How many people have watched someone vommit at the top? Say Aye! )

    'Widow Maker' is/was the name people used to give to the climb immediately south of the Valley Green Inn, back before it was rerouted. It used to go more or less straight up from the area adjacent to the Inn (where the patio is today). Now, it has that 90 degree bend in it. Before that was added, it was a classic steep climb over perpetually slippery (either due to dust or slime, depending on rainfall/humidity) 'babyheads' for the first 50 yds or so. It was a mother...

    Now, the start is a piece of cake, but the middle has been torn up by falling trees, washed out by runoff, etc. Still v. challenging, but not as tough as I remember.

    Of course, none of this really matters. The park will continue to change and mature, for better or for worse, so there's not much point in pining for the good ol' days.

    And, to lanceh's point - much of perceived decrease in difficulty as years stretch into decades ( ) has at least as much to do with increases in skill as with taming or 'sanitization' of the trails (probably more).

    I took a noob-coworker riding with me after work the other night. Went to High Rocks. I've ridden there so much over the years that, for me, it's a very casual, easy loop that takes about an hour. Aside from a good deal of erosion, by and large, the level of difficulty hasn't changed dramatically in 15 years. When he asked me what to expect, I said, "Nothing to worry about, it's a little technical in spots - but you'll be fine."

    Watching a new rider make his way around gave me a bit of insight into how far I've come personally - because when I was a noob (learning how to ride in the same park) I struggled like hell on those same climbs, rocks, logs, etc. Now? I didn't break a sweat.

    Also - it helps to keep in mind the advances in key bits of technology that help us. 15 years ago, I was riding a rigid trek 820 w/ 1.95" tires, a sloppy pain in the ass headset that always worked its way loose, and crappy cantilever brakes with levers so big 'cos you had to squeeze with 3 or 4 fingers! Now? The only thing that hasn't changed much is my frame (still a steel hardtail, but with more relaxed geometry). But 5" fork w/ 32mm stanchions, 7" hydraulic disc brakes and 2.3 - 2.5" knobbies goes a hell of a long way toward making difficult (and occassionally scary!) terrain feel downright placid by comparison.

    Wanna make the wiss more challenging? Revert back to 1992 for a bit. It'll be interesting, I'm sure...
    [SIZE="2"][/SIZE]"mmmm....Beeeeeeer." - Homer J. Simpson

  20. #20
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    stick i did revert back to the '92 technology to "keep it real"

    lots of freaks out there these days i see riding and even racing with no suspension or even gears. it seems to me that eventually all the technology made riding TOO easy and now there are a group of idiots like me trying to bring the fun back into riding by taking the technology back out.

    btw, if you think the wiss is technically challenging (and you like technical riding) you owe it to yourself to ride thorpe, micheaux, state college, or even french creek sometime. racing 50 miles of micheaux this weekend really puts the wiss in perspective for me. micheaux is hard, the wiss not so much really .

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stick
    Wanna make the wiss more challenging? Revert back to 1992 for a bit. It'll be interesting, I'm sure...
    don't worry i made it plenty more challenging starting last year when i switched over to a single speed and will be content with this challenge for a good while.

    interesting about 'the monster' vs. 'widowmaker.' i never knew the one next to the inn had a name...and i do remember the way it used to be. can't say i've attempted that climb or come down it for a long long time. i rarely ever start from the inn and if i do for some unknown reason i always cross the valley green rd bridge and start on the east side. could be a subconscious fear of that hill. when i end at the inn it's always when i'm doing the park CCW and i drop down on the east side.

    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill
    btw, if you think the wiss is technically challenging (and you like technical riding) you owe it to yourself to ride thorpe, micheaux, state college, or even french creek sometime. racing 50 miles of micheaux this weekend really puts the wiss in perspective for me. micheaux is hard, the wiss not so much really .
    speaking of 50 milers...who's up for the Stoopid 50 at rothrock?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stick
    15 years ago, I was riding a rigid trek 820 w/ 1.95" tires, a sloppy pain in the ass headset that always worked its way loose , and crappy cantilever brakes with levers so big 'cos you had to squeeze with 3 or 4 fingers!
    Some things never change eh? Were you able to figure out what was going on with your headset?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill
    btw, if you think the wiss is technically challenging (and you like technical riding) you owe it to yourself to ride thorpe, micheaux, state college, or even french creek sometime. racing 50 miles of micheaux this weekend really puts the wiss in perspective for me. micheaux is hard, the wiss not so much really .
    Not sure if this was intended for me, or just anyone in general - but I've been to JT, State College, and French Creek many times. Done 'em all on rigid bikes, too. Never single speed, unless you count riding out after breaking a derailleur? It's getting lost in places like those (on those rigid bikes) that taught me how to ride. But, honestly, riding down 'The Edge' w rigid fork, shitty brakes on the aforementioned 820 or a '94 Stumpjumper M2 that's so stiff it defies all logic (and a few laws of physics) was never *fun* - except in the sense of elation one felt when it was over. I haven't been back to hit that trail in 8 years or so, but I can still remember the near-crippling hand cramps I got last time.

    OK, so it was fun... but I think I'll keep my discs and squishy fork.
    [SIZE="2"][/SIZE]"mmmm....Beeeeeeer." - Homer J. Simpson

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by stymie
    Some things never change eh? Were you able to figure out what was going on with your headset?
    lol.

    Nah, not yet. I haven't bothered to pull it apart yet. Maybe tonight when I get home.
    [SIZE="2"][/SIZE]"mmmm....Beeeeeeer." - Homer J. Simpson

  25. #25
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    Widowmaker

    What do I know, when I started riding there I was just a Piney from South Jersey. We called the climb off Bells Mill "Widowmaker". Other than naming the steep and twisty trail at the other end that ends at the monk cave "Raccoon Trail" after the rabid raccoon my friend saw there, I don't know any of the trails' or climbs' names, real or imagined.

    Like Max-A-Mill, I went retro. I ride Wiss (and everything else) on a fully rigid SS (fully rigid and single, just like in college!) w/ canti brakes and fat, 2.4 tubeless tires. Stuff I struggled with on my Dean hardtail years ago, back when I thought my SS'ing friend was certifiable for riding at Wiss, I clean regularly on my SS.

    I think Wiss is technically harder then French Creek although I agree Michaux is heads above both. I haven't ridden State College, but I'm going to the Stoopid 50 just for the opportunity for a healthy sampling. Same goes for the Rattling Creek 50.

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