Almost a month ago Angry Catfish hosted the Cold Catfish Cup fat bike race at Carver Lake on the east side of the Twin Cities metro. Fat bike riding and racing has exploded over the past few years, and I wanted to capture the race, winding through the woods, racing on packed snow covered trails with 4 inch wide tires.Read More
It has been a little while since I've made a new post on the blog, and not for any lack of making images. I spent the last week of May back in my home town of State College, Pennsylvania for a close friend's wedding, but also for a little vacation riding the mountain bike trials that fill Rothrock State Forest. As always, The Bicycle Shop, where I used to work, treated me well and loaned me a demo bike for the week. This time it was an awesome high-end Specialized carbon Epic 29er. Memorial day morning I hit the trails for the first time of the week, climbing up to one of the classic ridge top trails, riding the rocky and rolling ridge, before dropping a steep, fast descent to make my way back to the trail head.
Tuesday I found out I had been riding only a few ridges over from one of the biggest mountain bike races held in the area all year. Somehow I had totally missed that the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic was happening while I was in Pennsylvania. The TSE is a seven day mountain bike stage race, covering much of Rothrock State Forest, and few other local riding areas. Wednesday morning I set to watch one of the best spectator days of the race, the Enduro stage where riders only are timed on five big descents, but still climb up the gravel roads between. The course took the riders over a number of trails I know well, including the trail I had just climbed to the ridge top on Monday. In the end I was able to catch the racers on three of the five timed descents. The trails of Rothrock are technically difficult, resulting in a few crashes, but the challenge is one of the parts I love coming back to. After watching all the fun, it was time to head out another of my own mini epic rides.
I learned to mountain bike on the trails of Rothrock State Forest. They are some of the rockiest technical trails around, but absolutely beautiful as well. Having grown up in the area and riding the trails for years, I took the trails for granted. Now that I'm living in the Twin Cities, I really miss having this beautiful and extremely extensive trail network in my backyard. Each time I come back and ride, I really cherish the opportunity. Many times I've tried to capture these trails with just quick iPhone snaps, but they have only come so close. Tuesday night I joined my old shop's weekly ride (The Bicycle Shop) that meets at the trailhead past Tussey Mountain Ski Area. This time I decided to carry my dSLR despite the weight and potential for damage – its more common to crash on at least one of the many extremely rocky sections than it is to ride all the sections cleanly. With confidence from my test ride last week, I wore my LowePro Photo Sport backpack and carried my D800 with 24-70mm zoom. To be able to get some shots, I'd pull to the side of the trail and whip out my camera, capturing the riders as they would round a switchback. Otherwise, I'd sprint up the trail a minute ahead of the group after each break when we would regroup, finding a section of trail with beautiful light and exceptional scenery. I'm really happy with the images from the ride, with only stopping for photos less than 10 times. Next time I'm in town, I'll definitely be carrying my camera while riding, capturing further the great riding of Rothrock State Forest.