Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Food, Firkins,1 and Fat Tires: The Second Annual Bootlegger's Bliss (Part 1)...

I'm feelin' restless
Bring another score around
Maybe something stronger
Could really hold me down

—The Who, "Dr. Jimmy", Quadrophenia

If you missed the personally famous 2nd Annual Bootlegger's Bliss, well, a little self-flagellation should be added to your to-do list (unless, of course, you like that sort of thing, in which case you should abstain). Oh, and while your at it, might as well add next year's event2. Then, before you forget, head out to your local homebrew store and set yourself up with the requisite gear so you'll have something to offer at the next one. Now on to the recap...

On the chilly morning of Satyrday, November 3, seventeen of the finest homebrewing mountain bikers in the US mid-Atlantic region (and their friends) made the pilgrimage to Rosaryville State Park in Upper Marlboro, MD, to throw down and throw down. Some journeyed from as far away as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania to attend this intimate but nonetheless burgeoning little event. The gods of drunken debauchery were with us, compelling (as gods are wont to do) the unsuspecting park authorities to leave the park road gates open for our little blissful bacchanalia. We didn't complain about this oversight; driving in a little closer to the pavilion meant we wouldn't have to huck our beer and food and gear the half mile to our destination. I don't mind hauling things by bike, but yeast sediment has a different opinion.

After waiting for all the participants to arrive, the event gets underway just after 10:00 ayem with a pre-ride lap around the Pavilion 2 parking lot to warm up. After that, we roll along the park road en masse to the trail head, where we drop in one by one onto a ribbon of sweet singletrack.

Butch takes the lead while I sweep. We spread out along the roller-coaster ride that is Rosaryville, a roughly 10-mile loop of fast, buffed singletrack designed with a bent for elation over enervation. Single-speed friendly? That's putting it mildly. With only about three or four "uphills" to call its own, Rosaryville is the sort of place you make for when you just want to turn off your mind, have fun, and not feel like you paid a price for it—it can even make for a nice recovery ride, depending on how hard you choose to lay it down. "Bliss" is an apt word here.

This morning, the trail is freckled with fallen leaves, unusual for the time of year, when trails are normally inches deep in a musty blanket of leaf litter. A protracted Indian summer has left the trees in a quandary over when to begin shedding their mottled finery. Foliage is just sparse enough to allow good sight lines at the normally blind corners, making for a speedy pace where a little caution might otherwise be in order. The earth is mostly dry, but not dusty, owing to a little rainfall whose essence lingers like an aftertaste here and there in the shade. Perfect conditions.

We stop occasionally to regroup. About mid-way through, we decide to hit the trials section to let the gifted among us showboat a bit and to give Gary and some others3,4 who hucked their cameras along a chance to shoot some pix. Among the daredevils who step up are local legend the Single Speed Outlaw, Dave B. (fixed gear!), Rickyd (fixed gear!), DmofoT (SS, front brake only!), the Disco Cowboy (fixed gear!), Butch, Ernie, and a hard-riding chick named Lynn, whose talent and ad-hoc yarbles put us slack-jawed gawkers to shame. They take turns riding the log curve; some gain access via the barely-ramped ends while others choose to side-hop their way atop. Thrills and spills ensue, and this little episode ends on a chicken joust of sorts, with DT at one end going up against Rickyd at the other. Two matches conclude with one win apiece and a ton of laughs for the rest of us.

We mount up and head off again. Soon, we come upon the single log ramp at the trailside just before the park road that bisects the trail near mile five. The same characters (minus Lynn and Ernie) take turns putting on another show here. They shift and shimmy, start and stop to stay in balance as they trundle along the narrow log to launch off the end. The results are often comical, as when Rickyd muffs a reverse attempt and ends up giving new meaning to the phrase "sporting wood"—cue the banjo, if you catch my drift. After taking some shots, Gary decides to head back along the road to the parking lot to meet us on the other end of the trail for some more action pix.

The rest of us venture across the paved road and back into the woods for a short climb. The second half of the trail at Rosaryville always seems faster to me, and with the increase in speed comes a trebling of fun. We spread out a bit here, and I abandon the sweep and soon find myself behind ShivaSteve, who is skinny-tiring it on a fixed Il Pompino cross bike and making good time. It's Steve's first ride here, and he's carving the twists and turns as if they're already tattooed on his cerebral cortex. I stick to his tail for a while. At some point, he cedes the lead to me, and I angle around him and lay it down. I catch up to Lynn, who is, oddly, riding toward me. Seems she's lost the trail proper at a four-way intersection and needs a little guidance. I set her straight, then wait for the others to make sure no one makes a similar error.

Back on the bike, I catch several riders before the last climb, a short, somewhat steep up-n-over that gives way to a curvy downhill to the parking lot, where the sky once again expands just beyond the tree cover. The chilly morning has quitely surrendered to a most favonian afternoon, bringing with it a pronounced thirst for some tasty beer. I circle the lot to wait for others to emerge, after which we all begin the slog back along the park road to the pavilion, where the feast and gifts from the yeast await.

End, Part 1

1. Okay, truth be told, no firkins were on hand, but really, nine gallons of beer from any one brewer might have been excessive, even with this typically hard-drinking crowd. It's in the title only because I'm a fiend for alliteration—a shortcoming, I know, but let me wallow in my wanton weaknesses.

2. Speaking of which, rumor has it that DmofoT may host a springtime Bliss up in Massachusetts.

3. Photo credits, in order of appearance: B. Ramsey (1st); D. Ross (2nd through 5th); G. Ryan (6th, 7th, and final)

4. Links to more pix of the finks and the drinks and the hijinx are here and here and here and there. Additional perspectives may be found here and over at this little-known gem of a site.


gmr2048 said...

That should probably read:

"Gary attempts to head back along the road to the parking lot to meet us on the other end of the trail for some more action pix, but ends up getting himsef lost in the woods and retracing ~3 miles of singletrack. He eventually stumbles his way back to the parking lot, only to arrive *after* the main pack of riders."

iconoclaSSt said...

Um, that would be Part 2, Mr. Spoiler.

gmr2048 said...

D'oh!! Sorry man. Feel free to delete my original comment (and the follow-ups for continuity). Sorry for jumping the gun.

YuriB said...

My left pinkie for the time to homebrew.
Looks like my kinda afternoon.

iconoclaSSt said...

Gary, no worries, ha.

Yuri, brewing takes 90 minutes, racking to primary, cooling, and pitching, maybe 15 minutes, preparation (cleaning, sanitizing, assembling ingredients) let's say 45 minutes to be generous. We're talking 3 hours tops in one block, and that's the longest process. The length of two insipid Hollywood offerings back-to-back or down time when (if) the weather sucks too much to ride.