I hadn't ridden the SGA for probably 2 years and I was definitely out of shape last time I was there. (not very good memories) This time was different. Trail was in good shape (and so was I), there are some technical drops and long-steady climbs. Overall, lots of roots I noticed. Nothing much to note here.
So, onward to Ski Hill. As suspected, we had to ride on some roads to get between all the trials. The roadie in me, had me taking charge of the hills like no body's business. Felt good pounding the pedals on the roads.
We looked for a rumored "back entrance" to the Ski Hill from Egypt Valley road and eventually found it. Very new trail, it was soft, hilly and overall a leg killer. I had to granny-gear it most of the way. I was swearing under my breath about taking this trail instead of the roads around to the front of Cannonsburg. Well, it didn't last long and before we knew it we were on the regular trail. I haven't ridden Ski Hill in at least a year or so either. The climbs are long and not steep, but painful none the less. They just seem to keep going and going and going. About half way through, I was starting to lose my focus and was failing to keep my line in some technical areas. I was using my forearms to keep me from bouncing off of trees, several of them were wacking away at the tips of my handlebars. It was also around this point in the ride where I discovered that I had little to no use of my front disc brake. It wasn't doing much of anything. I guess its time to bleed the line. I was lucky and escaped any traumatic damage.
Next was Luton and we were going to have to battle the hills on Myers Lake in order to get there. I used my "extra weight advantage" to fly down the hills and let momentum carry me the first third of the way up the hills, find the right gear and grind out to the top. Then repeat no less than 5 times. At this point I was starting to lose Marty, so I stopped and waited maybe 15 seconds or so for him to catch up at the light. I took lead in our 2-man paceline all the way to Luton - we were flying. Anywhere from 18-26mph....on mountain bikes. Was feeling good. Found our way to Luton and both of us didn't start feeling the pain till Red Loop. Its the one to push you over the edge, if that is where you are at. And we were there. Of course, not being babies, we survived just fine. Rode all the loops without issue. The road ride back to Marty's house just a few miles from Luton, was good for me, more painful for Marty I think. I was big-ringing it all the way there. Flying. On such a great ride, I had to empty the tank.
Overall, a GRAND day for a mountain bike ride with one of my best friends. Three hours pain, sweat, swearing and best of all...muddy smiles.