The ride through the hills and meadows of Laurel Hill will take you through a parcel of land that was once home to a Revolutionary war hero, thousands of reformatory inmates, and a magazine of inter ballistic missiles.
Tucked away in a small corner of Alexandria, in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, sits a small track (95 acres) of land that is undergoing a serious transformation. Thanks, in part to the local residents, and in cooperation with the Fairfax County Park Authority and MORE, legacy trails are being rerouted and rebuilt to create a system of sustainable trails in an otherwise underutilized portion of wooded land.
Located in Prince William County, in Gainesville, VA, James Long Park is a small community park with a little under 5 miles of trails. Plans are in the works to improve the existing trail network, including making several changes to make the system more sustainable and to possibly add more trails to increase the system’s mileage.
MoCo Epic riders along the Hoyles Mill Connector
It’s always important to be aware of your limitations. If the furthest you’ve ever gone on your mountain bike is 25 miles, now is not the time to bust out the MoCo metric century. Pick the ride that fits your ability level and follow these tips and you’ll have a great time!
Before the MoCo Epic
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before; avoid alcohol and begin hydrating.
- Get all of your gear ready so you don’t have to scramble the morning of the MoCo Epic and forget something critical.
- Make sure you wear the right clothes. Find your most comfortable pair of shorts or bibs and make sure they are clean and ready for the ride. Pack a light wind breaker just in case it gets chili or we get a few sprinkles, you never know.
- Pack an extra pair of socks (or two.) I learned this one from my days in the Army – nothing worse than wet feet. You never know when you’ll have to cross a stream and inadvertently soak your feet. Nothing worse than soggy toes for 30 miles.
- Throw an empty gallon ziploc bag in your pack (see wet socks above.)
- Speaking of shorts or bibs: I highly suggest you invest in some chamois cream; your ass will thank you for it. I’m partial to Paceline’s Chamois Butt’r. Your local bike shop should have the 8oz tubes or the handy single serving packs you can put in your pack and take along on the ride. There’s nothing worse than a chafed butt – trust me…
- Check your bike. Again, Check your bike; make sure everything is working and solid before you hit the trail.
- Double check your repair kit. Make sure you have everything you need in it before heading out. Although the MoCo Epic is a supported ride, having the right tools between aid stations is critical.
During the MoCo Epic
- Hydrate often. For long rides like the MoCo Epic I usually fill my 3 liter water pack and also carry a large water bottle with some kind of energy drink to augment the H20.
- Eat Often. But what? Your best bet is to choose high-carb/low fat foods. High carbs are digested and absorbed into your system much faster and require less valuable fuel to be processed. Some good examples are dried fruits like raisins. Bagels and energy bars are also great sources for carbs. I generally carry several packs of Goo and energy gels in my pockets and a sack of raisins.
- As a general rule of thumb eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty. On a long ride like the MoCo Epic you probably want to start popping gels and goo into your system 20 minutes into the ride and every 20 minutes after that. Around the third hour you might want to eat something “real” and “substantial” like a good bagel and peanut butter sandwich. Everyone is different, but make sure to fuel yourself to keep riding.
- Your bike is just as important as your body. You’ve checked your bike before the ride; Guess what, every now and then check it again during the ride. Aid stations are the perfect place to do this.
After the MoCo Epic
- If you’re like me, you’ll be spent after 35 or 50 miles (I won’t even mention the 100 because those gals and guys already know what they’re into.) You’ll want to fuel again; Carbs are great again here. Drink some more and keep moving to keep those muscles from tightening. If you’re planning on doing another ride the next day it is critical you re-fuel as soon as you can after you finish – within the half hour to hour.
- There will be kegs of beer at the MoCo Epic party; If you must drink, pace yourself and drink responsibly. Even though you didn’t cramp during the ride, a few beers later and you’ll get hit with a thigh-buster in the middle of the night that will have you screaming. Continue hydrating.
Other than that, go and have fun! Pace yourself and enjoy what the MoCo Epic has to offer: miles and miles of smiles in some of the best parks in Montgomery County.
Finally – when you are done, seek out one of the volunteers that helped this (or any other) event happen. Most of them spent months planning for the event and don’t get to ride it! Instead they work it to ensure we all can have a good time. A word of appreciation goes a long way. You can meet the Epic team on MORE’s Website…
There are several other regional events in addition to the MoCo Epic for which the tips below easily apply to.
Black Hill West is a relatively new addition to the MoCo MORE inventory. Flagged by veteran trail boss Dave Magill and trail liaison Rick Meyer the trail offers a new alternate route along the west side of Little Seneca Lake.
Located in Danville, Virginia Anglers is a longstanding southern Virginia mountain bike favorite. The trails in the park are clearly marked. A map adjacent to the bike wash station shows the layout of the system. There are 5 color coded loops ranging in distance from 2 – 12 miles.
Preddy Creek Park is a small park on the outskirts of Charlottesville that has a well groomed perimeter loop ideal for beginner mountain bikers an kids. Don’t let that dissuade you from visiting though.
The trails at Walnut Creek have been somewhat a victim to their success. Over the years, since they were first carved into the landscape, they have changed considerably. And every season, new twists and bends apear within the confines of this small park. Not because people are maliciously or illegally building new trails, but because the “severity” of the landscape often forces the people that maintain the trails to re-route them to avoid problem spots. The folks at the Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club continue to do a phenomenal job when it comes to maintaining these trails, and are often out in force ensuring that they remain a viable destination, not only for Charlottesville riders, but for mountain bikers across the region.