Thursday, March 27, 2014

Barton Creek Austin, Texas

With a 34/15, I was geared great for much the river valley trails and made most of one of the big offshoot climbs, before the first underpass.  The Hill of Life, was another story altogether, I be back with gears, cause one gear that makes that climb, maybe doable, would be painfully slow on some of the trails along the creek.  There are lots of rock gardens and features to work your technical skills, a few would have benefited from a lower gear too!  There are two entries on Single Tracks that kind of overlap, Barton Creek Greenbelt and Barton Creek Wilderness.  From the topo maps they  look like slightly different versions of the same trails.  Distance and descriptions vary quite a bit though.  My best take on that is that the Greenbelt encompasses the main trail along the creek and the Hill of Life and the Wilderness trails are the unmarked trails across the creek from the main trail head in Zilker park.  A nice warm up would be to go east toward the river/lake, cross the first bridge and head west up to the road, around the construction and access the unmarked trails, just up the road a bit.  Take them to the karin and go right across the creek, back to the main side.  It looked like the trail may continue on the unmarked side, but I was uncomfortable riding through what looked like someones property, no signs, just a patio and a landscaped walkway.  Even on the main side there are many offshoots, some come back to the trail, some dead end and others go back down into the creek.  Some reviews on both entries mention the Hill of Life, but I do not think that you could get there in the 4 miles listed for the Wilderness, but the topo map includes it, but seems to miss the unmarked trails across the creek from the TH.

This is the first time since I started running the Knard/Blunt 35, that I got to descend big rocks and drops, maybe since Pisgah even!  Now while I was not descending like a I was on a downhill rig, I felt in more control and I did not feel like I was going to be bounce of the bike, like at Farlow Gap!  While not quite as intense and gnarly as Farlow, descending the Hill of Life and other sections of Barton were a good test.

I love the technical aspect of these trail and the first real climbing in quite a while.  They can get pretty busy at peak times, so plan accordingly.  Zilker park has a lot of other activities, such as canoe and kayak rentals, swimming holes, playground a kids train and a garden.  Zilker also gets you access to the Town Lake bike path, which was even busier, due to its tame wide and flat crushed stone surface.

Ironically, at first these trails reminded me of other river valley riding that I did way back when in the Minnesota and Mississippi river valleys in Minnesota.  Just throw in lots of rock gardens from my more recent home town trails in northern New Jersey and a couple big climbs.  It was "ironic" cause part way along as I was about to take another dead end, a rider comes by and I tag along.  His name was Tim and he also was borne and raised in Minnesota.  He left when for texas when he was 21.  Small world for sure.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bruce and Lois

Bruce, messaged Tammy and asked for some medium rides, for a trip they are planning later in the year.  Years ago back in Jersey, Bruce and Lois helped me through a tough period in my life and helped keep me riding after I got slow and fat and depressed.  I don't know if they know how much it helped.  I have had many friends that seem to come into and out of my life.  I like to think of it as our paths coming together for a while, before they diverge.  Even when I met, Bruce and Lois had been riding for many decades and liked somewhat technical riding and would not interested in Strava KOMs or accumulated feet of climbing.  Just having a good ride.  There have been times that they had to put the Mountain Bikes away for various reasons.  It is good to see them even planning such a trip, leaving sunny California.

I would recommend the following Epics:

Kansas Switchgrass
Kerr Scott, North Carolina
Dupont State Park, North Carolina
Ocoee Trail, Tennessee
Big South Fork, Tennessee
Rock Lake, Cable, Wisconsin
Levis-Trow Mounds Wisconsin
Cuyuna Lakes, Minnesota
Alafia River State Park, Florida
Santos, Florida
MOCO Epic, Maryland
Maah Daah Hey, North Dakota
But only well after a rain and when it is not scorching hot, kind of a small window in the end  July, early August I guess.
Copper Harbor, Michigan
This does have some tough climbs, but they are not too long.  But it may be my favorite trail system yet.

For rides not on the IBMA list:
San Felasco Hammock Preserve, Gainesville
Bethel Biloxi Mississippi
Games Loop/UWF Pensacola Florida
Balm Boyette Florida
Lake Leatherwood Eureka Arkansas
Redbug Lake Overstreet Tallahassee, Florida
Tom Brown Tallahassee Florida 
San-Lee Sanford North Carolina
Tannehill Forge Alabama

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Dupont IMBA Epic

Dupont has a trail to tickle almost any riders fancy. Slick rock climbs, like the armored Jim Branch climb, where your tires stick like glue even when wet. In fact the trails hold up nicely even after a rain.  More slickrock, long and steep, going up and down Big Rock, it is a nice challenge.  For a more moderate climb, Laurel offers some nice singletrack, with some nice flow and a few corners that make you work to keep the knobbys planted.  Mine Mountain moves the needle back to steeper side a bit, more rugged and faster change ups.  Mine Mountain is fun in both directions.  Pine pitch and Three Lakes combine to takes down the oxygen debt from climbing, quite a bit, but leaves plenty roots and change ups work your tech skills and become more challenging the faster faster you go.  And I would be remiss not to mention the Airstrip DH, as anybody that I have talked to, that has traveled to Dupont, ask me how I liked the Airstrip trail.  Airstrip is one of the shorter trails at Dupont, but it loses a fair amount of elevation though, with some tough roots, rocks and sharp hairpins and a couple jumps, for those so inclined.  You pay for that fun with a good fire road climb, but you can repeat it a few times pretty easily, if you like.
Going to Church, Greg Heil's article on

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Surly Knard on a Velocity Blunt 35 First Look

Back on February 20th, I built up a Velocity Blunt 35 29er rim, to mount up a Surly Knard 29x3 inch tire, 29 plus to all the cool kids.  Both my bikes are suspension free and riding in Pisgah, particularly Farlow Gap, got me thinking, as I walked way too much of it.  I was calling it semi-fat, but 29+ is more succinct.
See the follow up here Surly 29er+ Velocity Blunt 35 Knard to Follow and Follow Up

Here is the freshly built front wheel

I will only be running it on the front.  Like suspension, it is most important on the front and it would not fit in either of my bikes in the rear.  I was sure it would fit in the Bontrager Switch blade and pretty sure it would fit in the Blacksheep fork(turns out that,except for Maah Daah Hey quality mud, there is more than adequate room).  

Here is the Knard/Blunt compared to a 2.2 Ikon/Stans Arch

On the Blunt 35, the Knard casing measures out to 71.6 mm or 2.8 inches and 75.6 mm knob to knob, nearly 3 inches.  I expected less, considering it is mounted on a rim 15 mm narrower than Surly's intended rim the Rabbit Hole.  Luckily it still fit in the BlackSheep fork.  You have to angle the big old tire past the brake caliper on both forks.

Stay tuned for my trail experiences with the Knard and the Blunt 35, sounds like a superhero team from Jay and silent Bob.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Lake Houston Park Kwik Stats

With like 18 miles of total trails and a big loop of 14 listed on Singletracks, I figured I could do a couple loops, with some exploring on the first one and get 30 plus.  Well I managed 35 miles, but the loop was kind of impeded by a big boggy area.  So went to that point in both directions, plus some exploring.  The Ameritrail, was pretty fun, I liked it best on the way back.  The rest was either dual track, with sporadic mud holes or Forest Service roads.  Some of the Dual track was almost like single track, kinda.  Numerous places had a slightly greasy layer, that put me down once and made for lot's of two wheel drifting around corners, which made up a little for the lack of tech and twists.  Got some practice with the Knard in the mud.  The 34/15 was a decent gear, except in the mud bog.
There is a lot of potential here.  But some serious work would need to be done.
At least the green slimy mud did not stink!

 I did not see any Though

 Big Mud Bog at 4.5 miles along the Ameri-trail

If this is the rainy season in Texas, They got there average of 3 inches in February and 2.48 of 3.84 inches so far for march.  Something must be jamming up some drainage.

 Follow the Blue Posts

Ameri-trail mostly follows along Caney Creek, Mostly.

 Before Too Much Mud bathing

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jack Brooks Kwik Stats Single Speed

Went back knowing the segments, to see how I stacked up. I warmed up by taking the Park road the the other entrance on the other side (my knees were happy!), shore up my understanding of how Autobahn turned off of Hermits Run, then rode part of the loop back the the TH. I love that this trail is one way!

Jack Brooks is full of surprises. That first bridge that goes down, across and up a huge gully, that turned out to be a water collector. Even though it had not rained since Sunday and was dry on Monday, today it had water in it. But the bridge was above the water, no problem...Right?
Turns out the bridge is on pontoons and was floating on the water. So it was kind of like dropping down onto a floating dock for the first time, without foreknowledge of such floating of said bridge. It was a cool sensation, to say the least, like riding a wave, on a bike on a boat.
There were a few more greasy spots than on Monday. Locals, were not aware of any rain since Sunday though. For my Strava runs, I rode every stunt except for the concrete cylinders, the water step over right after that and the super long skinny. I ran just over 13 psi in the Knard, mounted to a Velocity Blunt 35, up front and it seems to be the sweet spot, very forgiving, with just a hint of that unnerving tire deflection. I ran a 34/15. I was getting a pretty bad skip, so I did my best to keep tension in the chain. For the 2nd lap I tighten the chain, but still got one clunk. It may be time for a new freehub body or at least pawls. The Full loop has a short loop in the middle that is repeated. That is how the segment reads. So I did it that way. I did one without that duplication as well, which makes more sense to me. Except for one pretty cool naturally bermed hairpin, no other stunts or features were included in that duplicate quarter mile or so, go figure.

Spider Drop

Long Skinny

Compound Teeter


Garbage Clean Up!

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Jack Brooks TX Kwik Stats

I usually overlook trail systems as short Jack Brooks in Hitchcock Texas.  But Tracy from Bethel Mountain Bike Trail Group said to check it out as it was close to this weeks camp.  Follow the Written Directions at and turn left at the T, the map apps have you tur right.

Like Ridgeline at Balm/Boyette. Super steep ups and downs await any takers, several have bypasses, all have roots.  Commit or go home.  You need to rocket down and pedal hard, as early as you can, to make it up and over the next short steepy!  The orange arrows are sometimes hard to see, when you are on the rivet and more than one direction changeup comes up while you are fully ensconced in just making the hill.

Then you get to the teeters, ramps, tree splitting ramp up ramp down tabletops and skinnys.  The first teeter is actually a compound or double teeter, with the first teeter making a tabletop with the second, before you tilt the second teeter down.  The next teeter became a jump/wheelie down ramp at speed.  I am not that into stunts, but these were all super fun.  Even the up ramps, to get even more height, for the drop down ramp feeding small jumps.  One down ramp was so steep, I did not see it, until after I chickened out.  Of course, I had to go back and do it over!  The main skinny had quit a qualifier, 3 big stumps in a rough pyramid, cut with a canted peak, which took me 3 tries to clean the 30 or so feet remaining.  All this is interspersed with tight twisting rooty single track and the Brickyard, which gives a post apocalyptic urban archaeological feel, through the Never Ending trail.  If you keep following the arrows after turning onto Never Ending, you could get stuck in a feedback loop and never get off the Mary-go-round.

I did not mind doing laps, with all this variety.

The only downside, aside from being longer, it is intense straight off.  So, if you are like me, you will need to warm up first, if you don't want your knees or other body parts to complain.

Except for a few greasy turns, the trail was hard as baked mud, even though it had some rain yesterday and bad storms the day before that.  Although the record book only showed a few tenths between the two days.  A couple riders, I spoke with, said it was "treacherous" when they rode it wet, two days ago.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bethel 3rd Times The Charm

Went back to try the Full Monty with a 34/15 gear, before meeting up with Tracy, Jae and Duane from Bethel Mountain Bike Trail Group at 3:30.  The gear was just about perfect.  I thought I would stand a lot more, turns out, it was just a little more.  My back bothered me less this try for some reason.  After meeting up with the guys, we road the Badlands, Couch and Briar Patch in reverse.  Then met up with Bart.  After a good natured ribbing and and general bull session, Tracy's potato soup lunch got the better of him and Duane decided his freehub body was to bad to continue, Jae, Bart and I wet out to do the Standard 10.5 mile segment.  Jae went over the bars early I slowed to check up on him.  He was fine, but Bart was long gone.  I already had 35 miles in, so I was happy to sit on Jae's wheel, video is usually better with a subject anyway( I'll Post it when I get a chance to edit it) .  Jae you are fast enough to move up to cat 2 for sure!  20 pretty fast miles shows it.  See some videos from my first ride with Tracy.  The Trail was pretty dry with .75 inches of rain on 11th.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bethel Videos

Read the Article Here

Best viewed in HD Recorded in 1080
Use the arrows at bottom left to scroll though the videos
After that you will find a play list button on the bottom right, to see a menu of videos

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Bethel Kwik Stats

Bethel is a blast at speed, so I returned on the Single Speed Lynskey.  I went a one tooth harder cog on the rear.  I should have gone even harder.  I did not have a 17t so I put a 16t on for a second lap.  Probably could have gone for a 15t cog with the 34t chain ring.  At least for the first lap.  Not sure it would have netted a minute 22, but maybe.  The Previous 4 days were rainy and gloomy.  With less than an inch between them, the trails were hardly wetter than before the rain.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bethel Biloxi Mississippi

Always looking for 20-40 miles of riding, I saw Bethel in, listed 30 miles.  Well that was an error or old info.  The Directions are for the northern Trailhead, which is now for Motorcycles and ATVs.  I put in a correction to Single Tracks, so it may be accurate when you read this.  There may have been 30 miles when the north trails were for bicycles and the south was for motorcycles and ATVs.  A few years ago, to keep everybody happy, things were switched around.  So while there is a Bicycle TH sign of of Bethel rd to the north, after a fair ways on a graded dirt road, you come to an unmarked clearing with only a couple orange arrows and ATV tracks on the trail.  The current TH is just a short way up FSR 426, just off of route 15, with a map kiosk, cinder block restroom, picnic table and fire ring (bring your own H2O).  Located in the De Soto National Forest, it is easy to feel that you are nowhere near civilisation.  Strange how quickly that happens after leaving Biloxi Mississippi.

There are currently between 19 and 20 miles of mountain biking at Bethel, with only one on the forest service road and another on old double track.  I bumped into and rode with Tracy and John from Bethel Mountain Bike Trail Group.  Tracy said there were plans to replace the fireroad between the  Couch and the Badlands, trail with single track. While there are no bluff on the Badlands trail, the tall grass was reminiscent of the Maah Daah Hey, though it was named for the oppressive heat in summer due to the lack of shade, also much like the MDH of North Dakota.  The sandy soil handles rain much better than the slough of the MDH,  Tracy pointed out several places that used to be big drainage problems, that they had successfully ameliorated.  Some bridges were replaced with spaced pavers on the bottom of the washes.  Different sections of the country have different views on paver is the water crossing, I am not sure why, yet.  There are a just a few places that still hold water.  Pavers have also been used make berms, in certain fast corners to firm up the sand.  There is still sand inside the turns so those die hard old school riders can still play in the sandbox and get their sand on!  They are also working on new sand management methods.   

To me the trails have an old school, natural feel, not overly manicured, yet well maintained.  Some sections flow and some corners test your skills more than others, a nice mix.  Pine needles made themselves known as well, they have good traction up to a point and then just slide out!

No big elevation here, about 1k for the Full Monty.  But it is not as flat as the non-pit sections of Santos, more like Paisley in north central Florida.  It is more akin to the Games loop in Pensacola FL(but longer), which is not surprising as they are so geographically close to each other, even down to the touch of clay.  But not the elevation change of UWF, just across the street from the Games loop.

You won't find pump or jump tracks or pits, just good old fashioned singletrack, with enough personality change from trail to trail to keep it interesting.  There is a nice section of Couch that follows the Tuxachanie river.  The system can be done as one big loop or shortened at several places that cross the main fire road or FSR 426 or a trail aptly called Bail Out.  All the major intersections are well marked, most with a map with a "YOU ARE HERE" star.  The only tough spot is the Clay climb, which is basically a stair case for giants.  It suffers from erosion, so a much more gradual switchback was made around it.  There are may water drainage, mainly dips between humps and usually small, though a few bigger ones sneak up on you.

They have a really cool Google Earth map for your smartphone.  You need the Google earth App on your phone to open it, but once you load it, it uses your phones GPS signal to show you where you are on the map, regardless of cell reception!  Pretty darn cool.

Here are some videos

There are a few other trails that are available like these from SAMBA

Standard trail Map

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