Monday, August 20, 2007

Dirt Roads and Double Track

After a weekend of doing overtime at work, Jeff was raring to get out on the bikes with me Sunday evening and we were both in the mood for some mountain biking!

We packed up the mountain bikes and gear and went to the Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area for our first mountain biking of the year. There is a nice variety of terrain there. A lot is easy, but some areas are deep sand, some downhills have washed out cobbles, some of the double track is deeply rutted and overgrown, so you don't really know what you are about to hit!

The route starts out with some lovely packed gravel roads like this one.

It felt a little strange getting used to it again, especially the flat pedals. On the first bit of bumpy downhill, I 'bear trapped' myself. That's some mountain biking slang for you =) It's when you slip off a pedal, causing it to slam you in the shin. Ow! On the first deep sand, I again acted like I was road biking and eased up the pedaling preparing to 'glide' through the sand. Wrong! On a mountain bike, that's when you pedal fast and furiously to get on through it! After those two experiences, it seemed to all came back to me and I felt good and kept up a steady cadence the whole way. We did two times around the trail.

The best part was making it up the fairly big hill that was so hard for me last year. I'd never gotten up it without dabbing a foot down a couple of times in the middle to keep my balance, but I made it up twice this time without trouble. The hill is long and is one that goes around bends, so just when you think you are getting to the top, you corner and see it continuing upward! It has a 10.2% grade and the surface is littered with fist-sized stones with occasional sandy/gravelly parts where you sink in a bit.

I stopped a few times for pictures. This is Jeff pausing along a stretch of double track that follows the edge of the swamp.

Here is a view of the swamp. Osprey have a nest on one of the posts that I didn't include in this shot. We saw one osprey perched on a dead tree.

A little logging is going on in one part of the swamp and we passed the yard.

We finished off our ride with 8 miles on the paved South County Bike Path which is conveniently nearby the swamp trail. We saw some ducks and a Great Blue Heron in the wetlands.


Kristen said...

I'll take the bike path over the mountain bike trail any day, thank you!

Lynne said...

Thanks for giving me a name for when you slam yourself in the shin with a pedal - ouch! I did that last week and abused my bike roundly. With my current bike, I'll stay on the road/path thanks :-)

Debby said...

I'm with Kristen -- I'll take the paved road. Glad you didn't get hurt too much -- that sounds painful!

Devorah said...

Count me in on the path vs trail. Ouch on the bear trapping -- I picked up some nice scratches that way this week.

More power to you for being able to do all of that mountain biking!

hege said...

How fun! I love mountain biking! :) Though I haven't done it for a while now... Looks like you had a great time!