Monday, June 16, 2014

Empire State Muni Festival 2014

This weekend I attended the Empire State Muni Festival at Beebe Hill State Forest in Austerlitz, NY, brought to us by the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and the Hell on Wheel Unicycle Gang.  Unlike a race in which we basically ride separately, this was a munifest in which we stick together as a group, socialize, and stop to session difficult sections of trail.

My family made the 4+ hour drive on Friday afternoon and camped nearby Beebe Hill at the Fox Hill campground.  My wife actually blogged about it.  The first ride was supposed to be on Friday evening, but thunderstorms were predicted so that got canceled. We got the torrential rain in our last hour of driving, but thankfully saw no rain while we set up camp.  Robi and Liz also camped at Fox Hill for the weekend.  My family and I enjoy their company.

Saturday and Sunday were a lot of fun.  I believe we had about 20 riders on both days.  Riders varied in skill level but we all rode together on the same trails.  We moved a lot slower than I would normally because we had to wait for less experienced riders.  The trails were generally intermediate to advanced making it possible to session challenging sections and obstacles while waiting for slower riders to catch up.

Saturday night many more riders camped at Fox Hill and more joined us for a preplanned bonfire and party.  Paradox Brewery provided the beer!

Here is a photo album of the weekend:
Empire State Muni Festival 2014

I liked how the trails were sprinkled with cool obstacles to keep things interesting:  rocks, drops, logs, and one awesome skinny.  The skinny was especially awesome because it was fairly long and had some elevation off the side of the trail.  I was proud of myself for completing it on my second try.  I wish I had some video of it.
On both days we climbed a winding fire road up to a fire tower.  It was a long lung burning, leg burning climb.  Steveyo and I were especially fighting to climb it with no dismounts.  On Sunday Steveyo made only one dismount with a short walk to get to a less steep grade to mount again.  I managed that steep section but dismounted twice in other places.  The camaraderie and view at the fire tower made the climb all worth it, but the downhill trail was the icing on the cake.  It had roots, rocks, drops, descents, and flowy sections.  A great trail.

My wife had fun with the kids throughout the weekend while I rode.  One thing they did was hiked the same trail we rode down from the fire tower.  She also blogged about that and has some great pictures.

The weekend was awesome.  Seeing other riders' abilities to learn from, and having other riders praise mine has me psyched up for more riding.  I wish I could ride those particular trails and keep trying to conquer the parts that I couldn't.

Here are the five rides I did:

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