Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Mountain biking

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

My mountain bike was not in working order for quite some time. The biggest problem was that the chain thoroughly rusted after some winter riding, and it was a while before I could find room in the budget to buy a new chain. It also needed some other work related to the winter riding, which really took its toll on the bike — especially since I foolishly put it away with snow still stuck to it and then forgot about it. Whoops.

Anyway, I finally got the mountain bike rolling again, just in time to fit in a ride last weekend. My friend Dave and I headed out to Brown County State Park. The trails there had just reopened after the latest round of storms, some of which were quite severe. There were even a couple of tornados in the area, though not exactly where we were.

Our ride was a real treat. It was hot, but once we got back in the woods, in the shade, it was a few degrees cooler, and a stiff breeze helped keep us cool.

We rode the North Tower Loop and had an absolute blast. Being Memorial Day weekend, we expected the trails to be busy, but there were surprisingly few people out. We did see  family hiking two miles into the woods in flip-flops, who seemed to have gotten in a little over their heads. Not too bad compared to the past, where we have seen things like people with babies in a seat on the back of their bike, taking to the mountain bike trails. Yeesh.

We were really enjoying the ride. The trails at Brown County have amazing flow and it felt great to be on a roller coaster ride through the woods. It’s hard to explain, but somehow it’s simultaneously thrilling and relaxing.

After we finished the loop, we decided to see if we could find the new Green Valley Trail that’s in progress. We had heard that part of it was done, and open. We found it fairly quickly and checked it out.

The new trail is a lot of fun. You can tell a lot of work has gone into this when you see some impressive rock armoring, or a bridge like this:

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Like all the Brown County trails, the Green Valley Trail has excellent flow.

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The scenery is wonderful, as you traverse a few different ravines and cross beautiful creeks.

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There’s quite a bit of climbing, but it’s the slow, gradual kind. It never gets overly steep, even though the terrain is quite steep. The trails more or less follow the contours of the land, which makes for a great ride. And, long, gradual climbs also means you get long, flowing descents. It’s just a stunning trail.

We thought the trail had enough technical challenge to be interesting, but not so much that it was unridable. Pretty much the perfect balance, as far as I was concerned.

When we reached the end of the finished trail, we took a break.

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Here you can see some of the yet-unfinished trail on the other side of the ravine. I love the way the trail skirts the edge of the ravine, and climbs gradually out of it.

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Because the trail switches back a number of times, we were disoriented. Here, Dave is trying to figure out where the heck we were. There was a lake not too far away, which looked pretty interesting.

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Since we had reached the end of the finished trail, we turned back and the ride back was even better. There was a climb that hit us pretty hard, though. Just as we were thinking we needed a break, the trail turned back downhill. Phew!

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After we finished that trail, we rode back to the car. The ride back is a lot of fun, too. It was just a great day to be out on the trails, and I felt a sense that I wanted to go mountain biking again soon. It’s not every day you get to ride a brand new trail!

Unfortunately, once back at the car, I saw that I have another broken spoke. I think that makes four on this wheel. I think I’m going to need to replace my rear wheel. Ugh. I have no idea when I can afford to do that. I have a 29er and 29″ wheels are, of course, more expensive than their 26″ counterparts.

Here’s a map of our ride. The new trail is roughly from mile 4.2 to mile 10.2. So, it’s three miles of new trail, or a 6-mile round trip. I think when it’s done, it’s supposed to be about a 4-mile loop.

7 Responses to “Mountain biking”

  1. Jon Grinder Says:

    Breaking spokes on brand-new wheels is usually a sign of a poorly tensioned wheel. Most wheels require fine-tuning out of the box, and it’s possible that your LBS neglected this step when they assembled your bike.

    I can take a look at it, for you, when I pass through (if you’d like). If you get a replacement spoke, I might be able to fix the problem by detensioning the entire wheel, and bringing it all up to tension, evenly.

  2. Apertome Says:

    You know, I sort of thought the wheel could maybe be retensioned, but the LBS hasn’t offered to do so and their attitude about it leads me to think that maybe they don’t know how to do that. If I don’t have the problem resolved by the time you come, I might take you up on your offer!

  3. Myles/ rattrappress Says:

    That’s just the kind of trail I like, not too technical and lots of shade.

  4. Pondero Says:

    I’m with my Texas colleague, shade is very good. The photos and happy narrative are inspiring. Apparently, there are some pretty good mountain bike trails north of me, and I’m thinking about giving them a try.

  5. Chandra Says:

    Michael,
    We need those trails here in TX. Can you email us a few, nicely shaded ones? 🙂
    I just got my chain replaced on the Co-Motion. They are pricey, what’s up with that?
    Glad you had fun!
    Peace 🙂

  6. Steve A Says:

    That trail looks – delightful.

  7. Tim S Says:

    Gosh I would *never* leave a bike laying around after a snow ride and have the drivetrain seize up with layers of rust and decay. Never. 😉

    Trail looks fun. If you tendered the invite I might have to take you up on it this summer b/c I still haven’t done BrownCo.

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