I've been riding for quite a few years now, but in all that time i'd somehow never ridden Elizabeth Furnace. yesterday i drove up from harrisonburg, where i'd spent the night after the Tour de 'Burg, and met up with my brother and some friends to give it a try. They've done the normal route up there many times and wanted to extend the ride a bit by riding to woodstock tower and then back along the ridge before finishing the normal ride up to bear wallow.
the fireroad up to woodstock tower wasn't that bad. a little steep towards the end, but nothing too bad, and the views at the end from the tower were worth the ride. from there we worked on finding the massehutten trail to ride back north along the ridge. the entrance to the trail was overgrown but once we found it we were treated to miles of undulating and technical ridge trail. this trail was great fun as a technical challenge, no good for a beginner rider, but a lot of fun if you want to push yourself and don't mind the occasional fall. most of the trail consisted of slow-speed rock obstacles that at times were just shy of belonging on a trials course, but if you took your time most were rideable. i normally consider this kind of slow technical riding one of my weaknesses, but i amazed myself with some of the sections i was able to ride.
from the ridge we had a rocky downhill back down to the fireroad that we had climbed up to the tower on and were soon at the point that we'ed broken away from the usual bear wallow route. we climbed up to and around the reservoir on the fireroad and then started bear wallow, riding for as long as we could before the start of the hike-a-bike. i managed to ride a few sections near the top of the climb, but this far into such a long ride i didn't try much. we took a pretty long break at the top to let everyone regroup and asess our situation. a couple of people were completely out of water & food, so we redistributed as much as we could before we started on the downhill. once we got past the really rocky section at the top, bear wallow was a really nice downhill, not as smooth as the downhills in the harrisonburg area, but still a lot of fun. a couple of flats on the way down slowed the descent down a bit, bit it still seemed - as it always does - too short.
my brother and i had planned on staying down in harrisonburg on last night and then heading down for a ride at douthat today, but yesterday's ride was longer than expected and the rocks really wore us down. with an important soccer camp coming up this week, my brother decided that another ride would be too much, so we came home last night.
my legs are pretty sore from this weekend, so i think i might hit schaeffer this afternoon for a quick recovery spin.