New to NOVA . . A Few Questions- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New to NOVA . . A Few Questions

    1. Riding season. I'm guessing it doesn't get/stay nearly as cold as I'm used to (been living in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado), so the riding season should be longer here, maybe even year round. Except, it seems to be very wet here and I don't expect the ground freezes hard, making trail damage a strong possibility. So what's the scoop on riding in the Captol area over the winter? When do things break loose in the Spring?

    2. Leaves!!! Holy crap! Pine trees don't do this. For as long as the riding season lasts, where, if anywhere, are the worthwhile rides (i.e. reasonbly technical singletrack) with the least leaves?

    3. (This one is OT--skiing) I know I can't get the huge vertical, ridiculously steep, powder covered slopes I'm used to, but I figure I can get by without all that if I can just find a decent mogul field. Are there any resorts in the area (prefreably within a day trip) that don't groom everything to death?

    Thanks in advance,
    Fischman
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  2. #2
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    riding here can be done year round. i actually rode earleir today. some trails drain better than others. the general rule is to wait 24 hours after a hard rain to let the trails dry out. places like gambrils (in frederick, md.) drain really fast because its mostly rock. the ground will freeze here in jan, feb, and march assuming its cold.

    leaves: most have fallen at this point. the trails are already starting to clear up a bit. at least the ones that see a reasonable amount of use.

    for local skiing: some places won't groom certain trails if they have a good base. other who ski more, may have more info for you.

  3. #3
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    You may want to check out Snowshoe's "Western Territory" when it opens. Lower Shay's is never groomed and turns into a mogul field from hell. But after CO, any snow riding over here is probably going to seem lame.
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  4. #4
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    Check out the MORE (mid atlantic off road enthusiast) website at www.more-mtb.org and you'll find all you want to know about riding in NoVA. Every Tues/Thurs night there is a group ride at Wakefield Park just off of Braddock Road. The trails there are essentially ultra buff and offer not even the slightest bit of technical challenge, but it's a good group of riders (can be anywhere from 10 to 40 +/- riders on a given night depending on weather) and they'll get you hooked into the local scene. On the MORE website you'll also get a good idea of the local trail networks and you'll be able to find other group rides to help introduce you to the area.

    Anyways, for technical stuff I would steer you towards Gambrill State Park and the Frederick Watershed in Frederick, MD. It's all rock, tons of trails, and even offers the area's best shuttle runs if your into the dh thing like I am. Depending on where you are in NoVA, Frederick is typically a 45 min drive at best.

    Some of the NoVA trails, such as Fountainhead, offer a bit of technical fun and break up boredom that you'll come to find with Wakefield and Accotink. Wakefield is fun in the dark, mainly cause your just working out the stress from the day with like minded and passionate riders, but beyond that it is extremely boring to ride there IMHO.

    For the most part, riding is generally year round, which was a totally new experience for me when I moved here three years ago! Rainouts aside, most places dry within 24 hours like someone else mentioned, but you'll also notice on the MORE site that trail condition updates are posted frequently. The leaves are pretty much off the trails by now and the surface will start to freeze soon, but be prepared for mud and slick stuff anytime your out riding....it's just a fact of life in this area.

    As for skiing, Snowshoe, WV is going to be your best bet for this region. I can make it up there in about 4 hours on a good day, which isn't great by any means, but it's certainly do-able as a day trip. I used to work up there and still have friends in the area, as well as family only about 1.5 hours away in WV, so I have never day-tripped it per say. For simple kicks and day-trip ability, Wisp and Whitetail are going to be your best bet. Wisp is about 3 hours door to door whereas Whitetail is only about 1.5-2 depending on traffic, but Wisp has better snow conditions and slopes even though they are short.

    Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions or need any more info. You'll find the cycling community as a whole here is quite large and diverse, albeit a bit more xc/29'er heavy. I ride/race dh, and even moto, so I can help out with suggestions in that area to if your interested.

  5. #5
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    The Hulk offered up a lot good info. Riding here is definitely year round. I'd add that for technical riding you should also check out the George Washington National Forest near Front Royal. About as close to the Frederick riding for the NOVA people but for some reason they all seem to head north. I'm in Frederick and it takes me about 1:15 to get there, should be about the same from NOVA areas.

    As far as skiing, Snowshoe is probably your best bet, but if you are looking to make a weekend of it head to New England. Killington is probably 7-8 hours from NOVA.







    Last edited by riderx; 11-27-2008 at 05:32 AM. Reason: added photos
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  6. #6
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    Thanks, all

    Things are looking up. I hit Patapsco yesterday and, as Captain America said, the heavily traveled trails are already showing some recovery. Either that, or I'm making my peace with all the fauna. Probably a little bit of both. It was my first trip to Patapsco and there was a surprisingly good variey of trails there, although I think Gambill will always be my favorite in the area. It was also surprisingly uncrowded--I figured there'd be a lot of people off work and the weather was prime.

    I learned to ski in New England before I got back out west. I can't bring myself to make a 10 hour drive for that, especially with a family of 5 after having had a season pass to Vail/Beaver Creek/Breckenridge/Keystone/Arapahoe Basin. Even Snowshoe is a bit much for a day trip. I did see a pic of a "local" slope (I think it was Seven Springs) with a couple ungroomed slopes--looks like that may be my first target.

    Thanks again,
    Fischman
    All other things are rarely equal . . .

  7. #7
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    I've seen a few good competition mogul type skiers at 7 springs. They even seem to sculpt some of their bump runs as well. More locally, Roundtop can be slightly entertaining compared to Liberty and Whitetail.

  8. #8
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    How do you like the riding out here compared to MT?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fischman
    Things are looking up. I hit Patapsco yesterday and, as Captain America said, the heavily traveled trails are already showing some recovery. Either that, or I'm making my peace with all the fauna. Probably a little bit of both. It was my first trip to Patapsco and there was a surprisingly good variey of trails there, although I think Gambill will always be my favorite in the area. It was also surprisingly uncrowded--I figured there'd be a lot of people off work and the weather was prime.

    I learned to ski in New England before I got back out west. I can't bring myself to make a 10 hour drive for that, especially with a family of 5 after having had a season pass to Vail/Beaver Creek/Breckenridge/Keystone/Arapahoe Basin. Even Snowshoe is a bit much for a day trip. I did see a pic of a "local" slope (I think it was Seven Springs) with a couple ungroomed slopes--looks like that may be my first target.

    Thanks again,
    Fischman

  9. #9
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    Actually, theres no comparison . . .

    . . . whatsoever.

    Climbs--Much better there

    Descents--Much better there

    Scenery--much better there

    Wildlife--I have yet to see a moose or elk in Va/Md!
    (but the turkeys are cool)

    People--Way too many out here

    Trails--longer there, epic actually. Hard to get lost out here. Better surface out there. More rocks, way more technical fun.
    (except Gambrill here was pretty good--looking forward to exploring the watershed as well).

    Weather--way better there. Less rain. Less humidity. Reasonable temperatures in the summer, not the sauna we get here. And the trails drain/dry faster, so when it does rain, you don't have to wait long, if at all, to ride!

    I guess here I'm within a weekend trip distance from Tsali or Snowshoe. But wait, there I was within similar distance from Canmore/Banff or Jackson Hole!

    Not to be a downer--There's some decent riding here and I'm riding whenever I get the chance (work, weather, and family permitting). But no matter how well I make peace with this place, there's no deluding myself into thinking this place can even be mentioned in the same breath as Big Sky Country (or Colorado, where I had the pleasure of living before that).

    For a quick hit of my Montana passion, see the attached link.
    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=457565
    All other things are rarely equal . . .

  10. #10
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    Montana rocks. Wish I could find a job out there. I've been to Bozeman a couple times and seen everything from there up to the Glacier Park area. The only thing this area has on Montana is you don't have to worry about getting mauled by a grizzly

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fischman
    Climbs--Much better there

    Descents--Much better there

    Trails--longer there, epic actually. Hard to get lost out here.

    I guess here I'm within a weekend trip distance from Tsali or Snowshoe.

    Not to be a downer--There's some decent riding here and I'm riding whenever I get the chance (work, weather, and family permitting). But no matter how well I make peace with this place, there's no deluding myself into thinking this place can even be mentioned in the same breath as Big Sky Country (or Colorado, where I had the pleasure of living before that).
    The excerpts above tell me you have not yet hit the GWNF west and south of Harrisonburg (and you'll likely want to wait til spring at this point). You are in for a pleasant surprise. I'm not saying that it equals the best western riding, but I guarantee you will enjoy yourself... and hopefully realize that you are ~3 hrs to some of the best riding in the east (if not the country). Check out the Southern Traverse, Douthat State Park, and the trails that make up the SM 100. Epic can be had. You can find solitude. You might even get lost.

    I used to live in Steamboat, CO (and still visit often) and I consider the trails in western VA to be some of the best stuff I've ever ridden. I live in Georgia now and I'm kicking myself for not taking more trips to GWNF when I lived in DC.
    Last edited by chickenlegs; 12-15-2008 at 09:34 AM.

  12. #12
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    Right you are, Chickenlegs . . .

    . . . and thanks for the stoke. GWNF is indeed on my wish list, as is Douthat and I plan to hit a number of routes out there when things dry out next year. I got here in the fall and by the time we settled in, things had pretty much would down out there. If I can find some long climbs/descents and some rocks I'll be happy as a pig in ****. As for getting lost, I suspect it may be even more likely there than out west. In Montana, you can alway see some nearby high peak which gives you a point of reference. Even basic map-reading skills will get you through just about anything. There's so many trees here--and not pine trees--the big leafy kind that obscure your view . . .
    All other things are rarely equal . . .

  13. #13
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    fischman: Also, come summer you've got to visit West Virginia for some of the best technical and epic riding here in the mid-Atlantic. Canaan Valley is my personal favorite area, and there's plenty of passion for the Slatyfork area on this board too.

    The skiing here will never compare to out west - but if you can make it out past the Allegheny Front to Timberline or Snowshoe we get plenty of light and dry "Lake Flake" and if you time it right we do have powder days. Both the Canaan Valley and Showshoe area receive between 150"-200" of natural snowfall each season.

    Repo

  14. #14
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    Dig up the Sept./Oct issue of Bike magazine for some east coast riding info including an article covering the GWNF stuff.

    Besides the GWNF, the Frederick Watershed and Michaux State Forest have tons of technical riding. You might get sick of rocks when you are done riding all of those trails If you leave the city and suburbs of DC you will be rewarded with some great riding.

    Jeff and Todd at the Watershed


    Jay at the Watershed


    Larry at Michaux


    GWNF - Elizabeth Furnace


    GWNF - View from Buzzard Rock
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