Yesterday, Sunday 12-11-2016 was a call to arms for all dirty dirt riders to come out to the Reading Anthracite Coal Company riding area for a toys for tots benefit. $20 to ride for the day and bring a toy donation.
Here's a link to the ride area info: http://readinganthracite.com/access-permits/
RAC is cool because there are virtually no rules. You can ride sunup to sundown. $125 permit per calendar year. I'm joining in January. Now versus AOAA, it's not as structured. You won't find marked trails really and it's pretty much go anywhere on anything on about 30 square miles of PA mountain forest.
Saturday I ran out to the store and got some Marvel Superheroes Lego sets and a 20,000 piece jewelry making craft kit. I don't have daughters but I do know girls like sparkly things so I'm sure someone will like it.
The rest of the day I spent getting Green Fury ready. I didn't want to use my Mojavi bags. On advice from NY3MY and the B class racer we chatted with last weekend the thought was "get all that crap off your bike." A pack rats worst nightmare, telling him he can't have his stuff.
I spent hours fooling with some Giant Loop pannier pockets. Didn't like them upfront because they got in the way of my knees when up on the tank. Tried them as little saddlebags. Didn't like them there either as they got in the way of my boots standing. Went to the old standby, Wolfman Enduro tank bag. Got it mounted perfect, loaded with my stuff and then realized this was stupid and looked like a humpback whale and took it off.
Went digging into my giant tub of bags. Saddlebags, three or four Chinese fanny packs, rucksacks, dry bags, you name it, I got it. Once I bought a whole tub of surplus Alice packs from E-Bay. Why? How the hell do I know. Cuz backpacks?
Then I remembered my Kriega R15 backpack. Whew! I was almost in seizure mode. I ran to the adventure closet and grabbed it. (Yep I have an adventure closet - divorced dudes will understand). I was able to pack first aid kit 2.0, black bear edition in it, my beanie and my water bladder. I almost stuffed in my micro survival kit but resisted. Yeah but what if? Shut up brain, it's a trail ride not an E&E from behind hostile lines.
Still had my Giant Loop handle bar bag on. Gots to have some pouches. Holds my keys, headband light, pocket knife and Gatorade chews. Drama over I went to bed at 1:00 AM.
Next morning I got the bike loaded on the hitch carrier and per usual left later than I wanted. I guess if you ever make plans with me you can pretty much figure I'm not leaving my driveway until between 8-9 am despite the best intentions. So keep that in mind for scheduling. On the plus side I do always show up.
The RAC area is a wee bit closer to my place than AOAA so after the obligatory stop at the general store to ponder which Cliff bars to get and whether I want a Slim Jim or a Slim Jim cheese combo pack I headed out of Chocolate Town.
There's something you need to know, my GPS is a prick. There's no other way to say it. If it can find the most obscure route it will. I got off 81N at the right exit, turned right and followed the prompts. Right to a dead end closed road. You Mother-F'er. Now I was gonna be even later. I drove around to the other side of the mountain, "Recalculating, recalculating!" "Shut up!" "Shut up!" Then I spotted dudes towing bikes. A-ha! I followed them in and got there.
There was a whole mess of people there and more pouring in. Final count was 189 riders. Awesome. Side by sides, four wheelers, bikes of all types. Lots of interesting characters to chat with and pickup tips. Aside from the money donation a big trailer was filled with toys for the local kids. The organizer reports that the toy donation people were floored by the amount. Good!
Parking lot people doing parking lot things. Incidentally this is what PA looks like 65% of the year. Grim, like Chernobyl.
These guys wanted to trade all these bikes for my KLX, no way I said. You're one bike short of a square deal.
I got the bike unloaded and warming up. Time for me to dress. Now here's a tip, or more of my weirdness. I wear my under armor cold gear stuff and then a pair of basketball shorts, a hoodie and my fuzzy deerskin slippers when driving out. Why is that important? It's probably not, but it sure is nice putting on slippers for the drive home after you've abused your feet in MX boots all day. Once I arrive I get suited up in all my knee brace stuff and armor.
Behold. Green Fury ready. Looks almost naked without luggage. You can see it was snowing a bit. Temps were 26-31 F or so. No one thought heated grips on a dirt bike were dumb that day.
I registered and attended the riders meeting. There was a group ride for big bikes and dual sports that was going to be led and then a led Enduro loop for the young and the brave. I decided to do what NY3MY calls freeballing, no wait, free riding. I just wanted to explore around.
Speaking of which I saw him riding through the parking lot but he totally dissed me and acted like he didn't see me. Lol. Just kidding. He was looking for a buddy and I blended in with all the other grey and black clad riders. Plus the dudes behind me that were firing up a pack of two strokes drowned out everything.
Gear of the day. The Bell MX-9 ADV MIPS proved to be a good cold weather trail helmet. The Alpinestars Rage Drystar gloves, even though they are marketed as sport street, were great cold weather trail gloves.
Off I went. I turned left out of the lot on the main trail and explored a bit. I found some single track in tight woods that was cool. Most mud puddles were frozen mud puddles so that was new. I came back out of the woods after awhile and followed the main trail to the end of the leg I was on and found this.
There's a path down or a cliff drop, the path down was slightly less steep than the cliff.
I took this picture from the opposite side of the huge hole. I guess it was a pit mine. The bottom has a rain water lake in it. If you look middle upper in this photo you can see the sliver of trail I was on where I took the above photo.
I went exploring on side trails in this area and found a bunch of steep descents and immediate climbs that cut down from this grassy, hilly area to the main dirt road on the opposite side of the pit. I decided to go for it and did a bunch of these to practice. They are much steeper than the camera shows and this was a mild one.
Later in the day I did a long and steep hill climb that overlooks the valley. It was cool but by then the mud had frozen so there was zero traction. I diverted to the grass field along the edge of the trail and used that to get up and down. The awesome thing about RAC is it's like a spiders web of trails. You go up one and then you see three or four branches. Some easy, some super hero level.
A cliff on the main route. The trees up top are full size forest trees. It's really tall. You can get back up in there.
Next I headed back towards the lot. At the midway point there is a rocky climb off to the left that heads up into the terrain. Once you get up there it is awesome. There are trails with berms, little whoops and all kind of rock climbs and just cool stuff. I explored around for awhile and then headed back out to the main trail again and went past the lot entrance. I will say that it's probably smart not to go full throttle here until you learn the trail section you're on. It's possible to go off a rock ledge at points.
Back on the main trail, and down the way a bit I found another playpen of loose rock and dirt I could goof around in. I love that stuff. Practicing flat track style turns in trail dirt, seeing what the bike does in deep loose stuff. Good fun.
Holy smokes the organizers did a great job. Hot dogs, hamburgers, meatball sandwiches and even coffee from Dunkin Donuts. They did a raffle after lunch and gave out a lot of cool prizes that you'd actually want to win. Nice.
After lunch I went back out and explored the other end of the main trail. I found another cool cliff formation in the woods. I guess I like rocks. This is actually humongous tall.
Spotted a possible bear or animal den in the cliff side towards the bottom. There is a small stream down lower.
Here is a very steep descent I was gonna do. There were no rocks I could see going down. It was really, really steep. Steepest thing I would have ever done, and high up. For some scale, the tops of the trees growing up from the bottom were not much higher up than where I was sitting on the bike.
I thought I could make it but I was by myself and there were no other guys around I could ask to watch me for a min while I tried. I decided not to be dumb. I'll save it for next time. Holy smokes, I had a moment of adult judgement.
I spent the rest of the time exploring around and practicing until close to 3:00 or so. I spent a lot of time tackling rocky climbs and descents. My confidence and bike handling were much better.
By 3:00 the snow had started to pick up and all the mud was frozen. Rocks were getting iced. I decided that was good enough and went back to pack up.
When I got back to the parking lot I found this KTM no one wanted so I let the clean up crew know so they could throw it out.
Well that wraps up this one. Another dirt ride, more skills practice and no crashes or injuries. Yay.