Monday, June 19, 2006


Wow! Got in a nice 10 mile dirt ride with my girl last Saturday at Rosaryville State Park in Upper Marlboro, EmDee. First time either of us had ever been there, and I wanted to check it out before hooking up with Bootch-wah on Sunday morning for a group ride there with some newbie MTBers. It was my girl's fourth time out on her new SS (and her fourth time offroad on clipless pedals); she decided earlier that she'd had enough road riding lately and that it was time to return to the fun stuff. I gave her no argument.

We got to the park late in the afternoon and ran into Dave M., the MORE trail liaison for that area, and his son in the parking lot. They were getting ready to ride and gave us some beta on the trail, assuring us that the clockwise direction offered the most enjoyment. So we took it, falling in behind the two of them and exchanging leads on and off for the duration of the ride, thanks in part to a mishap one of them suffered involving a derailleur cage and a seemingly unmovable object (I didn't miss the opportunity to light-heartedly point out the obvious advantage that single speeds offer), and to the occasional urge to take in the scenery from a standstill.

Simply put, this place is pure flow. Think anti-Elizabeth Furnace. The route is a twisty (though not particularly tight à la those at Lodi Farm), meandering loop of singletrack that is so uncharacteristically smooth and featureless that a night ride there might leave one with the absurd impression that the whole sinuous ribbon was overlaid with asphalt. No rocks, no roots, no water-carved crevasses, one or two shallow water crossings, a few fallen logs, and short uphills. Lots and lots of whoopedies, plenty of speed, and—owing to the dearth of rainfall lately—velcro-like traction on the climbs and in the corners. And all under an almost continuous cover of shade from the dense foliage of interlaced branches overhead. What the course lacks in technical challenges it more than makes up for in exhilaration and simple enjoyment. Its genius lies in the fact that it doesn't try to be anything more than a grin-inducing carnival ride that lets you relax and just mindlessly carve the terrain like a renegade roller coaster. It's not a steady-diet kind of trail, because I think it would be easy to get burned out on it. But as a diversion from some of the more brutal locales (e.g., the Watershed), it certainly warrants an occasional place in the lineup.

Once again, my girl excelled on the bike, especially given the swoopy speed and blind corners that characterize this trail, and the fact that this place was new to her. She was never far behind me, ripping the twisty downhills and hammering up the climbs. A return trip is already in the works.

I got a little forced deja vu the next day when I returned to the trail with Butch, Charlie, and Justin, who borrowed Butch's Karate Monkey for his first SS ride. The latter two guys where somewhat new to dirt riding, but after ripping through the 10 mile loop, the poison was in the wound, to steal a line from Nabokov. After the ride, we hung out in the parking lot just long enough to offset the effects of the sticky humidity by throwing down some cold post-ride brews (thanks, Butch).

POSTSCRIPT: Props are due to Rich Edwards of IMBA, who I understand had a huge hand in the creation of the trail at Rosaryville. If you haven't joined IMBA yet, click here for instant, hassle-free expiation...your bike will thank you for it.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: Most online descriptions of the loop at Rosaryville list the length as between seven and a half and eight miles; however, recent trail work now puts the total closer to 10 miles.


gmr2048 said...

Nice write-up (as always). I haven't ridden out there since the loop has been complete. It's always on my "man, I should do that" list, but I never seem to get over there. Next time you're heading that way (and you're planning a fat-boy paced ride), give me a call. I'd love to check it out.

Mrs. Outlaw said...

There's a "Ride Like a Girl" group ride there this coming Saturday, 6/24/06 @ 10:00 a.m. Hope to see some of the chicks who frequent this site out there!

Hjalti said...

Thanks for the report. Sounds like that may be a good place to try with the kids, and/or the tandem.

Lee said...

Best review of that trail, or any trail i've read in a while... nice write up!

gwadzilla said...

I need to get my wife a new bike
I need to get my wife on the trail
I need to get out to Rosaryville

I read about people riding there
have never been there myself

sounds like a good option for the wife

now what do I do with the kids while I ride?