Tim and I have been mountain biking together for over fifteen years. When we began, the only place that we knew to ride was Rocky Ridge and the Lakes. It wasn't until we began riding with Mark Lentz in 2006 that my mountain bike world was really opened up. In the beginning, It was just Tim and I. No special gear, unimpressive bikes, and we definitely did not wear proper cycling clothes. Heck...I would often ride in blue jeans. There was even a time, back in those days, when we wondered if we would still be riding when we were 35. Now, well into our 40s, our circle of biking friends has expanded, the list of places where we can ride has grown significantly longer, and Tim and I are still going strong.
|My 2011 Stumpjumper next to the entrance to the small & narrow tunnel that passes underneath Interstate 83 -- November 21, 2015|
Today's ride at the Lakes was special, though. On Monday, Tim is having neck surgery and will be on the shelf until March or April of next year. Yeah, we're still going strong....but I guess our bodies aren't what they use to be. Long ago...when we started riding together...and neither of us had heard of places like Michaux, Rattling Creek, Potapsco, or French Creek...our favorite "epic" ride was the one that took us through the tunnels at the lakes. For us, a journey under the interstate was just about as exciting as it got. This is the ride we chose to do today.
|The beginning of Trail 7 at the Lakes -- November 21, 2015|
|Tim riding ahead of me on Trail 7. Through the trees you can see Interstate 83 -- November 21, 2015|
Crossing the dam, and climbing up Trail 1, we came to the "jumping off" point where trail 7 begins (or ends...depending on your direction). Once you make this turn you are committed to the ride. The narrow single track leads down a steep slope directly towards, and then underneath, Interstate 83. This first tunnel is crazy narrow and dark. Because it slopes slightly downhill, there is no need to turn the pedals the whole way through it. The trickiest part is coming out the other side. The trail turns abruptly to the right. If you miss it you will go head over handle bars into a three foot deep pool of cold November creek water.
|The light at the end of our first water filled tunnel today -- November 21, 2015|
|Exiting the northernmost tunnel at the Lakes -- November 21, 2015|
Coming out on the east side of I-83, Trail 7 winds back and forth up the hillside. At times, the trail rides the ridge directly above the interstate...with only two feet of earth and a few trees preventing you from falling 50 feet down onto the highway.
Three miles into our ride it became apparent to me that the long sleeve Under Armour that I put on this morning was overkill for the 40 degree temperatures. Taking a break, I shed the unwanted layer and stuffed it into the rear pocket of my cycling shirt. Tim and I then continued on towards the backwater of Lake Redman where we rode last week.
|One of the many wooden bridges covered with chicken wire to prevent your tires from slipping on the damp wood -- November 21, 2015|
Hooking onto Trail 5, we retraced last weeks path through the often muddy and mucky areas around the back of the lake....hopping logs and crossing bridges covered with chicken wire. Unlike last week, when we skipped the tunnels to avoid getting wet (ironically, it was colder today than a week ago), we made our way to the other side of the interstate through a much wider southern tunnel. Even though I'm not required to duck in this tunnel, it is more difficult to navigate because of the numerous large rocks lurking just below the surface of the water.
|Tim's last hurrah...taking on the darkness, the cool water, and loose rocks in the southern most tunnel that passes under Interstate 83 -- November 21, 2015|
Crossing over Hess Farm Road, we passed the boat docks and the Lake Redman sign that is visible to travelers on the highway on the other side of the lake....ending up back at the parking lot near the dam. Even though this isn't Tim's last ride ever...I sure will miss riding with him the next few months. We use to wonder if we would be doing this when we got to be 35 years old. Now I can't imagine us not doing it. Just as long as we keep on pedaling and keep on moving forward.
Life is a journey, not a destination.
David A. Raymond -- November 21, 2015
Be sure to check out the rest of today's ride pics on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM web site.