made the annual pilgrimage down to douthat state park for the MORE fall camping trip this weekend. douthat is an amazing park for mountain biking. located in the middle of the george washington national forest in the bottom of a valley with ridges towering above the the lake and campgrounds. left the house mid morning friday and arrived mid afternoon. set up camp as quickly as i could and got together with mike, scud, mark, gary, dave, and travis and his family for a quick ride around the eastern side of the park. despite some navigational difficulties (all y fault) and a couple of mechanicals we had a great ride... ross camp hollow to mountainside to brushy hollow. it's a classic douthat ride: big climbs - but they're steady and never to steep, narrow contour trails snaking around the hollows, and a long downhill full of flowy singletrack and tight switchbacks. after the riding, all there is to do is crack open a beer, get some food, and wait for the campfire to get started.
saturday morning things actually got started a little sooner than usual, which was a good thing for me, since i needed to finish up my ride by 2 so that i could pack up, clean up, and hit the road by 3 to come back home for a party on saturday night. i announced that i'd lead a steady moderate group, planning to ride both sides of the valley, about a 25 mile ride. since these groups can get pretty big dan hudson offered to come along and split off with a slightly more casual group. in the end i ended up leading a small group of riders on a ride that was probably a bit on the more spirited side of moderate. we rode across the lower trails to stony run and then climbed up stony run to tuscarora overlook where we lost Joe Penano due to some miscommunications - we found him later in the day. after a quick stop at the overlook we consulted the map and decided to try the lookout rock downhill. i'd never riddedn it and afterwards i wish i'd ridden it before. it was a great rocky and rooty downhill, a bit steeper than the rest of the trails in the park. after a quick stop at the campground to refill waterbottles we went out and hit the mountainside to brushy hollow loop again and then went back over to the trails on the west side of the park for another quick downhill. we managed the whole ride in less than 4 hours and then i had to head home.