GORC Road Trip - Slatyfork, West Virginia, Tea Creek Trails

as reported by Matt Hayes to the best of his knowledge. Facts might be inaccurate here or there... The GORC crew planned a quick escape to Slatyfork, West Virginia, after John Donjoian (the GORC Kingpin) got word that his job was flying him out there. Not wanting to be left out of the gnarly riding, Scott Whitaker, Randy Houck, Mike Donais, Matt Stenberg and Matt Hayes signed on.

Early June is supposed to be hot but Miss Nature decided to wet it up a bit. In fact, Mamma had drenched the trails before we even got there. The twelve hour drive ended on Friday morning when we arrived at the rustic Elk River Lodge (www.ertc.com) nestled in the rolling mountains of Slatyfork. The tiny entrance and small bridge over the rolling creek made for some tight maneuvering in Scott's massive truck.

We decided to ride our epic that day as our lodge host explained that Saturday was to be a complete wreck with even more rain. So we drove up to the Tea Creek trail network, unloaded, and started down the legendary Tea Creek Mountain trail around 1pm. Trail conditions were better than anticipated but still extremely wet. The mudholes were soupy (thank god) and didn't cause tire clearance issues. But some were deeep!

The severely rocky and rooty trail tested our handling skills but we held our ground. 2003 is turning out to be a strong year for GORC since none of the crew fell off the pace. At times it seemed as though we rode in Tea Creek with streams of water and debris following the length of the trail. A few people (ahem, no names please) crashed here and there but that's the price of insanely fun singletrack. Mach 3 endos, mud fishtails, and knee crackers don't even register on radar when you consider the overall abuse these trails can deliver.

Ah, but the best part was to come at 6pm when we decided to let our leader take us up an "easy" hill climb back to the truck. Little did we know that the trail we were on was the wrong one! We knew something wasn't right when we walked precariously across ledges that were sliding into the creek.

Or when the trail got so damn rough and technical that not even our best rider could stay upright. Yes, we were lost at 7pm, probably 12 miles from the truck, a little more than halfway into the epic ride. We decided to push on for 6 more miles of the hell trail to get back to another trail that would take us to homebase. As we crossed Tea Creek for the 17th time (literally), walking our bikes, feet wet, spirits damped, the posse came to a crossroads and we were on our way!

We got back around 8:30, had a few beers, ate a $50.00 meal at the lodge (Matt Hayes had 2 long islands to kill the pain...it worked) and went to bed. Overall, the riding was great, except for the 8 mile hike. What would Saturday bring us...

Everyone woke up early to fat rain drops, wet bikes and a trio of fellow riders of the female variety. The lodge guy suggested Laurel Creek trail (8.2 mile loop) 30 or so miles away because it was designed to IMBA standards (mostly) and would keep the mud factor down. We hit the trail around 11:30 along with Aaron, a former GORC guy. He had driven down with his girlfriend (who rides strong and fast) from Michigan to meet up with us. A single speed freak at heart, he and Johnny D led the entire way.

For a while everyone wondered if the lodge guy was on crack because the lower valley portions were "creek" channels and grassy, wet mud pits. However, once we climbed to the peak the trail rocked. The swooping contour lines made for fast pedalling. Despite the wet leaves, ice roots and occasional rogue rock, the trail was buff for WV standards. The upper 4 miles ended with a 3/4 mile drop back to the valley. Sweet.

We got cleaned up, checked out Snowshoe, ate some dinner and drank the night away. We even came up with a new 'PG-13' team name. Matt Hayes got renamed Isaac to differentiate him from the other Matt...and because his hair tends to afro out as the night wears on. Beer ranged from Heineken to Icehouse, Honeywheat to I forgot. Degenerates for sure. We ended up trading bike stories with the female trio (Grace, Jen and Jill) who, in Mike's words, "Rock!"

We packed up our skanky gear and left for the STL around 10:30. Johnny D headed to Virginia for work. Twelve hours later we arrived home after several deep conversations concerning crapping tactics and Church's Chicken. Once again, the GORC represented in the only way they know how.
Full tilt.

Be sure to ask about the Idaho trip. We've still got room if you want to go. The Slatyfork trip was only the prologue to the mayhem that is sure to follow come August.

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