Getting dirty in Rosaryville State Park
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to ride a few loops around Rosaryville in the state of Maryland, U.S.A. Local friends described the location as “literally the most fun I ever had on a bike” so with such endorsement I could not contain my excitement. We packed the bikes on the back of two cars, another first for my Hunter, and left the city.
It had rained every evening that week in Washington, DC. The kind of rain that I have only seen before in places like Singapore. Every day the heat and humidity competed on who can get closer to 100 – Fahrenheit and moisture in the air, and then, in the evening the tropical rains came. The day, however, was clear and already scorching by the time we left DC (9:00). Quickly we forgot the previous’ evening downpour and concentrated on keeping cool until we got to some shade.
The entry to the trails was a little sign that said “TRAILS” with an arrow pointing forward. It’s not like there were any other options and the direction was clear. There were in fact two options: ride counterclockwise or clockwise. We decided before we even left the city to do two loops – one in one direction and one in the other. Once we got on the trail and found shade under the canopy of the trees and bushes I thought “oh that should be so easy, we should do more”.
After one loop I realized that there are things that are easy to say and things that are hard to accomplish. I managed to get mud in my eyeball for some reason, be covered in sweat all the way to my socks and develop the theory that the Rohloff gearbox was pulling me backwards. The trail was filled with trees and branches that were sticking out in a very “Indiana Jones” kind of a way, threatening our very fragile body parts with eminent annihilation. The trail kept disappearing into water paths, loose sand and mud. At some point I also realized that I was riding the brake levers so hard that my hands were turning black from the rubber.
After we finished the first loop I could not wait to do it again, in the same direction, now that I mapped most of the deadly spear-like branches in my head and knew where the path ends abruptly with a fallen tree. We dove in and this time rode much faster and with more confidence. By this point an additional risk was added to the trail – other riders. On a few occasions some unlucky riders came dangerously close to being hit by the joint mass of yours truly and Der Panzer -not something that I would recommend to any mountain biker.
After the second loop we were pretty well dehydrated, dirty, sweaty and were all bringing home many grams of Rosaryville mud. I did not get to bring said mud back home to Germany, to my great joy, since we quickly cleaned the bikes when we got home, but as we came out of the trail, Der Panzer looked like this.
Mud is fun and so are trails in the forest. Having disk brakes in such an environment would have helped a lot especially with all the water and mud around. Even with the stopping power of the Paul Mini Moto, I often felt that I was too close to really loosing it. For the German in me, the idea of riding in a car to a bike ride in a car was a strange concept. I love taking the train out of the city and then riding back in or riding in nature and then coming back in the train, but Rosaryville is not accessible by public transportation and is too far from the city. But having a car around also has its benefits. We could keep our things in the car (including the camera and food) and did not have to fight our aching muscles on the way back. The trail was also technically demanding and I was wishing for a much lighter and more agile and significantly lighter bike. Der Panzer is after all a touring bike that I am using as a 29er, but that’s just until Mr Van Der Mark is able to complete The One.