Saturday, October 27, 2012

Acquainting Myself

Now that I have a proper mountain bike, I'm super motivated to get to know some of the local stomping grounds a little better. At the top of my list right now is Riverside State Park, an area that I really haven't spent much time at, and therefore don't know well at all. It's a big enough area that it can be kind of intimidating, and so I've come up with a plan for us to get acquainted with each other.

The first thing, of course, is to get out there as much as possible. But you also want to make the trips productive.  There are trips out with other riders that know the area, and these are great because you don't have to spend time sitting around scratching your head, wondering where you're at and you get to see a lot of terrain and people point out different things and use names for different sections, etc.

But I think some solo time is also important, because sometimes you need to slow down and figure out where you're at and yes, even get lost.  It forces you to connect the dots and gives you a greater depth of understanding of the terrain.

In addition to wanting to learn the lay of the land in general, I am totally fired up to the do the 24 Hour Race next Memorial Day Weekend, and so I also intend to learn that course like the back of my hand.  So I've decided that I'll take the course in sections and get familiar with each part of it, and the trails surrounding it.  That'll form the "backbone" and give me some context from which I can branch out.

Today I had a couple of free hours and worked the solo part of the plan. I was able to pull a gpx track of the 24 Hour Course off the internet and load it on my gps, which was a great help.

I basically rode the section of the course from the start/finish line up to Inland Road. I also wanted to check out the new trail that runs between 7-mile road and the top of 5-minute hill, along with the new connector trail between Inland Road and Pine Bluff Road, so I headed out Inland Road, past the ORV park, and hit those trails on the way back.  I'd been on most of this on last week's ride with Dan, Eric and Chris, but I didn't really know where I was or what I was looking at.  Now I get it.

This is the new trail, heading south, just as it is about to drop off the ridge and descend down to tie into 5-minute hill.

This is the actual descent down. This part of the trail is very well built and all swoopy and super sweet.

That's the new trail on the left, just as it spits you out onto 5-minute hill.

This is the connector, peeling off Inland Road and heading down to Pine Bluff Road.  Dave Nelson was out just yesterday working on the trail to open it up and make it more visible from the road, thus the fresh-looking cut. The stop sign in the distance is 7-Mile Road.

All in all, the solo ride today, combined with last weekend's ride with Eric, Dan and Chris, combined with the ride 2 weekends ago with John and Glen are all starting to add up to a very basic understanding of a very small section of the park. I can hardly wait to do some more building on this meager foundation.


Anonymous said...

I did the same thing 4-5 years ago. I just got lost out there and carved out my own loop. It's a great park and there's really never anyone out there during the week. I've ridden where that new trail is and had always hoped someone would build a trail there....I'll have to check it out. Have you ridden "devils down" yet? That's a good section of trail on the western edge of the park up on the ridge.

Matt B. said...

So Pat, I'm curious -- what does this bike offer for trail riding that the fat bike doesn't?

Pat S said...

Anon, cool. Yeah, I've ridden devil's up/down a couple of times, but am definitely looking forward to riding it more and getting to know it.

Matt, I'm sitting here trying to think about how to answer your question and be honest with myself and it's a really interesting question. I guess I'm still figuring it out. The fatbike shines in soft stuff, where floatation is king, obviously. But it will do things like swoopy singletrack and technical climbs just fine. The FS bike is definitely a smoother and less energy-sucking ride over the rough stuff. I guess I would have to say at this point that they're two totally different experiences over the same terrain, both with their own appeal.

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