Tracking the Dirty Chain Gang
It was desperate times. Unable to make the 8:30 start, I figured they had, at the least, a thirty minute jump on me, and if we were doing even roughly the same loop, those thirty minutes seemed improbable, if not impossible, to make up. Yet if I cut a few corners, and factoring in a regroup or two, there just might be a chance. The Dirty Chain Gang was running through Bonelli Park again this morning, and as it had been a goodly while since last I joined in on one of their little rampages, I committed to giving it a go.
Attempting to judge the freshness of some tracks leaving the stream crossing, out beyond the jungle, proved futile other than to tell me that they had been laid down many [MANY] minutes previously. Hell I couldn't even be sure which direction they were going, couldn't imagine anyone riding through the water which looked like black death. Never-the-less the evidence proved that someone was in the area, and the possibility that they may have been dropped by the Gang compelled me to double down along the Puddingstone single track in pursuit.
Discussing the route, top of Phatt Hill
It was about this moment we were accosted by a roadie named Miklos. His account of the encounter may be different, but don't you believe it.
I will now be incorporating this little loop, out beyond the hilltop microwave facility, into my regular rides. It gently weaves its way across a, one second wooded, the next second open, hillside.
The dam was key to my plans - being convinced that they would drop down and then have to climb back up before following a perimeter trail to reach the far side, and in that way spin along almost entirely on dirt I, instead, snuck across the top of the dam in order to cut them off at some distant pass. When a line of riders appeared snaking their way up a switchback I saw my plan coming to fruition. As the line grew longer I wondered at the size of the Dirty Chain Gang today only to discover that these riders were not the DCG, but the back-markers of an Xterra race whose leaders were already putting down footprints across the distant hills.
Phatt Hill was next up, and riding its circuit, short as it is, made my riding down the Gang unlikely, especially if they were out patrolling along the perimeter. Having thus given up my pursuit made our surprise encounter that much more pleasant. My descent off the top came to an end just as the Gang was beginning their ascent; I broke a quick turn into the center of the bunch to make the easy climb again, and then finished off the day riding trails with the Gang, including an entirely new section (new to me anyway) out beyond the areas I typically track across. The usual chow down at Norms brought the morning hours to a close - little did we realize at the time that fellow rider, Max (who I didn't know before today), who departed the table early, deposited enough cash to feed the whole grungy lot of us. Thanks man. We'll see you on the trails again.