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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Friday, February 28, 2014

Games Loop/UWF Pensacola Florida

If you are ever near Pensacola, and need to get in a ride, check these trails out.  Don't let the No Trespassing signs throw you.  The sandy Trailhead parking lot is to the right, with it's entrance right before the first No Trespassing sign, this is the UWF side, the Games side is directly across from that entrance with a closed gate.  It was not obvious, there were no TH parking signs.  Nor were there trail markers pointing to the Games side, until you get past the gate.  The directions from were spot on though.

The trails are marked well with really nicely carved and painted wooden posts. The posts are Supplemented with the original arrows and blazes.  There are a lot of cross trails that lead into the pits and stunts on the Games Side.  The UWF has less of that, but there is an unmarked turn, that probably goes to the 10 mile TH and once you get to the far end, you get a red arrow to turn you on to a power line or fire road for a short bit.  But the wooded posts keep you on the the fun stuff for the most part, just don't overthink it, like I tend to do the first time out.  Just don't turn unless there is something pointing you in that direction.  The one exception is in the Bayou on the Whiskey trail.  The trails old flow is the the left, but there is a right turn at a piece of orange tape.  You don't want to miss the WTF section, more on that later.  If you hit the Dogs trail, you just missed WTF!

Both sides handle water/rain very well.  It is said that they are actually better after a good rain.  The first time I rode these trails, was the day after a good couple days of rain.  The Games side hardly had a wet spot on the single track.  There were some big puddles on the fire road and the clay in the pits looked wet in places.  The UWF side was similar, but the elevation change actually had runs that flowed the water to low spots, that still had standing water even two days after the rain.  Both sides had a enough pine needles laid down to keep you on your toes!  The UWF side seemed to roll faster the Games loop, that first ride after the previous days rain.  The 2nd time, two days after rain, the Games loop rolled faster than the first time.

At about 11 miles, Orange marks the outer Games Loop, it is mostly easy, with some intermediate sections.  Mainly big V-gulches, some with bridges at various heights, some at the top, some almost at the bottom, this section is aptly named Donkey Kong.  The Blue trail is about 6 miles with milder intermediate sections and the Pink trail is 3 miles of the easier single track.  The XC trail loops around a pit like in Santos.  This pit is mostly drop ins, dirt jumps and wooden stunts, including a one story tall start ramp, leading down to bridge like drop into a set of dirt and wood ramps jumps.  The pit area seems to be in a constant state of evolution, with new features among the old, as well as discarded stunts scattered about.  Unlike Santos that is constantly changing but always seems complete!  I saw enough rotted bridges and stunts on old decommissioned trails (often right next to or criss crossing the active trails), that made me pay special attention every time I rode over any wood structure!  All active bridges on the XC trails were solid though.  I rode the XC trails mostly, but dabbled in the Twister section a bit.  There was a center ridge with barely enough room for the the trail tread.  Several drops fell from either side of the ridge.  It was pretty cool.  Outside the pit there are some mild climbs that fuel some of the twisty single track downward slants.  The Games loop is a good warm up for the UWF trails across the street at the Trailhead.

The University of West Florida trails has four loops, Red, Blue, Green and White.  The longest loop is all of Blue at about 12 miles.  At over 1000 feet UWF has more than double the elevation change of the full Orange Games loop and more than you would expect in Florida.  The trails seem to always be going up or down and rarely a straight section.  Plenty of rooty stepped climbs and descents.  One local wished it was cut with more flow, but I like the raw, rugged natural old school feel to much of the system.  he also clued me in on the Whiskey/Tango/Foxtrot or WTF section.  Very twisty with a couple good change up surprises, such as a flow into a short steep climb that fades away to the left and drops immediately into a 10 foot V-gulch, completely boarded.  You'll want to do it again.  Except for probably the most drastic change up on Foxtrot near the fence line.  After a few short moderate to steep rooted climbs, you drop down say 10 feet into the bottom of a steep 15-20 foot wall, with a big cement block semi-protruding from the dirt, with a hard left at the top.  I made it all 3 times that I did it and am not sure quite how, especially on the SS with a 34x19 gear.  Keep your speed up and get around or over that cement block and you got it!

There are 2 mile(Yellow), 5 mile(Green), 9 mile(White) and 10.5mile(Red) options as well.

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