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Last Saturday was my second chance to ride some Jamaican singletrack.
jon-singletrack-jamaica


The pickup procedure would be the same. I would walk across the street from our resort to get picked up. Then we would go get Sanchez (my personal guide), and head for the trails.

But this time, Jon (co-owner of Singletrack Jamaica) picked me up instead of Norval, his shuttle driver (Jon-top, Sanchez-Bottom)

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After loading the bikes, Sanchez returned to his house to get a few more things. His two year and two month old son (SJ) took that time to show us a few skills on his Strider.

He grabbed his strider, pushed it across the yard, and promptly rode it down over a large root protruding a few inches out of the dirt. At one point he had both wheels off the ground! All this before I could get my camera ready! Wont be long before he is enjoying some great Jamaican singletrack!


After a few minutes of driving we dropped SJ off with Andy (the other co-owner) for the day and headed to the trailhead.

When we had traveled about a half hour Sanchez asked if Jon could stop the truck so he could get something to eat. Jon said he didn't think there would be any such places before we arrived at the trailhead and something else to the effect that Sanchez needed to do a better job of planning ahead. Within two minutes we were at the trailhead.

When we arrived Jon unloaded the bikes while Sanchez and I put on our packs, helmets, and gloves. No more was said about food.

Jon gave me a quick rundown of the trails ... John Crow's Gully went left, Pressure Drop was in the middle, and Carlton Pass went to the right. Seconds later Sanchez and I took off on John Crow's Gully (trailhead shown below)

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We instantly rode straight into a vegetation tunnel, encountered a smooth trail with some ruts, roots, and rocks, … ducked under a few low tree limbs, and popped out of the tunnel.

I did have to stop once near the top to remove my sunglasses. Two days earlier I found my glasses were just too dark for riding under such thick foliage. I do have a pair of clear ones but, of course, those were at home.

We were able to maintain high velocity as the trail merged onto a smooth, dirt road.

Looking ahead I saw Sanchez approach a large, well dressed, middle aged, local woman on her left side.

Suddenly the woman jumped a foot in the air and a foot or so to her left, right in front of a racing Sanchez, who made a subtle move to the right and barely avoided crashing into the woman ( a lesser rider would have crashed, but Sanchez has unbelievable bike skills).

Based on the lady’s reaction you might have thought he had hit her.

She cut loose with a loud barrage of words, none of which I could understand. Sanchez tried to explain how he was going to pass her on the left and she would have been okay if she had not jumped in front of him … but I think she was claiming he tried to run her down. She wouldn’t let him complete a sentence before she began to rage on!

Finally the lady cooled down and slowly walked off down the road. We parked our bikes against the bridge and waited a few minutes for Jon to pick us up in the truck.

Once back on top we did the same run again … this time much faster. We didn’t run over anyone and spent some time with some of the local kids on the bridge.

One of the boys was closely inspecting Sanchez ‘s bike so he let the boy ride it around while we waited for Jon. I thought about letting one of the other kids ride mine but since the bike belonged to Jon I thought I’d better not.
I did get a good photo of Sanchez with the kids on the bridge.

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I had the opportunity to ride out of Rusty's Excellent Adventures in Negril back in 2003. A taxi took me from our resort to a hut in the jungle at the end of a deserted road. I was very nervous, and I think even the cabbie was hesitant to leave me there, but the resort knew where I was, and soon a friendly guy with some semblance of credentials appeared and unlocked the hut which contained about $20,000 in bikes(!). We pedaled up limestone quarry cliffs to views of the ocean, then descended rough animal trails amidst cows, goats, and dogs. It was all about scenery, and the riding was a different type of challenge. My guide was a sponsored rider with a bunch of German-made gear I'd never heard of. He was adamant that I not be out of his sight, and sometimes he would say quietly "No stoppin' 'ere, mon". I guess we travelled through some rough areas where tourists do not belong alone - where funny smelling smoke wafted out of all 4 open windows of a corrugated shack. After riding, we retired to the hut and he split open a coconut - maybe just for the theatrical value - and drank the water out of it. I don't know that they're still in business, but it was the kind of "adventure" you don't forget.
I'm glad you enjoyed yours!

-F
 
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