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Mountain biking at Brown County

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

I haven’t done much mountain biking this year. More and more, I’ve been appreciating the fact that when I ride on the road, I can leave from my front door, rather than driving 30 minutes each way or more to a good mountain biking trail.
But last night, Dave and I rode at Brown County, and I was reminded of how much I love mountain biking.  Tight, twisty trails, holding on for dear life during the descents, harder climbs, lack of traffic, and more remote locations are all unique to mountain biking. And I love all of it. The mountain biking experience simply can’t be replicated on the road.

I rode well. We rode the North Tower Loop in good time and headed toward the Aynes Loop, which Dave rode last weekend for the first time since his wreck. Dave felt up for tackling it again, and I was hoping to ride it. The climb felt longer than I remembered, (and I remembered it being long). But it’s 10 solid minutes of climbing, and I can’t think of a road climb that compares. I can think of steeper road climbs (North Shore Drive, Boltinghouse etc) but nothing that requires the same level of sustained effort. And certainly nothing that throws a bunch of big rocks in your way just as you are almost at the top.

I made it over those rocks without too much trouble, but when we started down the other side, I picked the wrong line and choked by the even bigger rocks on that side. I’ve ridden over/around them enough times to know there are a few ways that work, but the way I was headed was not one of those ways. I  stopped and walked over those rocks. I did much better after that.

The trails were in superb condition. Some areas Dave said were mud holes last weekend are now just slightly soft, and overall the trail surface was just wet enough to be tacky. Traction was great.

The climbing on the Aynes Loop always pays off during the descent, and this ride was no exception. We flew around countless switchbacks. Over logs and rocks. Up a few more climbs. And finally made the final, rocky descent back down to the other trail. After another long climb, we really let loose on our way down to the parking lot.

Our ride was only a 9-10 miles, but it felt much longer (in a good way). I hope to get some longer mountain bike rides in soon; I’ve been missing it more than I realized.

3 Responses to “Mountain biking at Brown County”

  1. Marty Says:

    Well, at least you could stop. Even worse is when you realize you took the wrong line and there is NO way to make it better.

  2. indytriple Says:

    You’re right about it being a shame to have to get in your car and drive to a mountain bike trailhead. It stinks! But alas, since we’re not in Utah, Colorado, or California we’ll continue to drive to ride. The sudden surge and growth in mountain bike trails over the last few years has made this better, but we’re still a long way away from “garages as trailheads”. New trails like the ones being built at Ft. Ben State Park in metro Indianapolis will be great for locals that can just ride to the park to recreate.

    Brown County State Park is certainly worth the drive, though. Even $4 gas hasn’t dissuaded me from driving down there twice a week from Indy. They done such a nice job with the trails that it’s hard to stay away. There have even been large groups coming to BCSP from the Chicago area lately. BCSP are the nicest trails closest to home to Chicago-ans, and we’ll begin to see more and more people driving from farther and farther away to get to them. With only about 20 miles of a planned 50 mile system built, BCSP will become a mountain biking destination for lots of people, but especially midwesterners. This recent Indy Star article does a good job of summing it up:

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080628/OPINION07/806280397/1043/OPINION07

    Check out good, detailed, up-to-date information on BCSP mountain biking at:
    http://www.browncountymountainbiking.com

  3. Apertome Says:

    Yeah … in the past couple of years I’ve been a BCSP regular. And I’m an HMBA member so I’m very familiar with what’s going on there. It truly is an awesome place to ride. And it is definitely worth the trip, but when it’s an hour of driving for two hours of riding (or something) it’s a little hard for me to justify sometimes.

    Unfortunately with my finger injury I may not be able to go mountain biking for a while. Argh.

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