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.
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,
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.
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.