A LITTLE MUD, A LITTLE MUCK, A LOT OF FUN -- December 28, 2015

It's become a tradition for my neighbor, Brent, and I, to head down to Potapsco Valley State Park in Maryland to hit the trails for some post-Christmas mountain biking.  We've been planning this ride for a few weeks and have been watching the weather closely.   It's been very warm on the east coast the past few weeks...but also extremely wet and rainy.   Today was the only day of the week that didn't include raindrops in the forecast.

The suspension bridge at Potapsco Valley State Park -- December 28, 2015
Brent and I planned to leave home around 7:30 today...which gave me plenty of time to get up and make breakfast for Robin.   Coffee with my wife is my favorite way to start each day.   Heading down Interstate 83, Brent and I stopped at the South York Diner for breakfast.   As I ordered my typical two eggs (over-medium), bacon, home fries, and toast, I felt very unhealthy next to Brent who ordered his veggie omelet. Brent commented, "How are you going to ride after eating all of that?"  Ironically, his omelet was twice the size of my breakfast....and I believe it was around mile seven in our ride today that he was regretting his big breakfast!  

Breakfast at South York Diner -- December 28, 2015
Potapsco has always been one of my favorite places to ride.   It has over 70 miles of identified trails that are open to mountain biking.   It is a gem of a park located right outside of Baltimore, Maryland.  Like all other Maryland State Parks, there is a fee to use the trails at Potapsco.   Four dollars is required for out of state residents.   At first this bothered me, because, in Pennsylvania, the state parks are free...until I saw how incredibly well maintained the trails and facilities are at Potapsco.   I always choose to park at the Avalon area of the park.   There is access to the trails on both sides of the river...as well as a big restroom and changing area.   We started today by crossing the suspension bridge and then climbing up Vineyard Spring Trail.  

The railroad tracks pass over the entrance to Vineyard Spring Trail -- December 28, 2015

Years ago, when I first started riding at Potapsco, I ended each ride coming down Vineyard.   The trail, however, flows up just as well as it comes down.  Besides, on a cool day like today, starting a ride with a climb is a great way to get the blood moving.   Our ride on the east side of the river amounted to a total of six miles of up and down, smooth and technical, twisty and windy trials.  Coming around Charcoal trail, and turning down the hillside towards the creek, Brent and I paused to take a break near a random tree decorated for the holidays.    Just another one of those cool things you come across while mountain biking!

A random Christmas tree in the woods at Potapsco -- December 28, 2015
Crossing the suspension bridge again, Brent and I headed toward Ridge Trail...probably the most difficult trail in the park.   Ridge Trail climbs and drops continuously for about a mile and a half.   All the way you will cross streams, ride though rock gardens, dodge tree branches, and pass abandoned structures that are remnants of the old flour mill that one stood in the area.  

Abandoned structures litter the landscape at Potapsco Valley State Park -- December 28, 2015

Taking a break.  Sometimes it is easier to build a trail around a rock instead of moving the rock.  -- December 28, 2015
Probably the most famous, and most populated trail in the Avalon area, is Cascade Falls Trail.   I love riding this trail...but I do so with extreme caution.  The worst biking accident I ever experienced was on this trail.   As a  matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that the trail was rerouted because of me.  A park ranger witnessed my epic crash back in 2012.   I'm sure there are plenty of stories told between the rangers of  "that moron" who tried to ride the massive boulder near the water fall.   That crash taught me a lot.  Mostly it reinforced that there are some things just are not worth getting hurt for.   Now, there is a very mountain bike friendly path around the spot where I crashed.  

A stop at the Ice Cream Cottage is a must -- December 28, 2015
Brent and I ended our ride today with a short hike down to the falls....then a fun little downhill back to the parking lot.   A little mud, a little muck, and eleven miles later, we ended up right where we started.   All that was left was a stop at the Ice Cream Cottage in Arbutus.  The Ice Cream Cottage is my all time favorite place to stop for ice cream after a ride....and a trip to Potapsco wouldn't be complete without it.   The ice cream is great, the service is awesome, and today I found out that they also brew an awesome cup of coffee. 

  Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 28, 2015

Cascade Falls -- December 28, 2015