Sunday was maybe the last Big Ride of the season, heading to Mohican State Park for the 25 mile loop there. I've only ridden this once before--about six weeks ago, buddy Marc and I hit it, and that time I sailed through the trail without feeling broken and old by the end. Things weren't so smooth this time around.
We had a group of four riders. Kelly, Chris, and Peter were all Mohican newbies. Sunday was clear but cold, with the temp about 30F when we started riding at shortly after 9:00 am. The trail starts off with a long, steady climb. In fact, much of the first eight miles is mostly climbing:
Kelly and Peter were having trouble warming up, so at mile two Chris and I split off (since I had to be home by 3:00). I was feeling good at the start, but by mile six or so, I was already starting to wear out. We carried on up to mile eight to see the gnomes. We stopped there, because:
Tough guy Chris wore shorts, even in the cold:
I wasn't feeling great, but a little better, so we carried on, all the way down to the bottom of the "V" at the covered bridge. From my last trip on this trail, I recalled the next few miles were a mix of tough uphill switchbacks and mediocre trails. So instead, we took the road to the next trailhead at mile 15. One mile of easier road climbing vs. three miles of tough trail--I was ready to make that trade!
Miles 15 through 19.5 or so were a great drop, mostly through a pine forest that created a soft bed of needles on the trail. By then, I knew I wasn't up to the shorter but intense climbs ahead, so we again broke for the road and used that back to the parking lot. I was beat, so I packed up and headed for home. Chris started back up the original trail to try to catch Kelly and Peter, who had planned to ride to the gnomes and then backtrack back down. In the end, Chris came back down to the parking lot ahead of Kelly and Peter, who did indeed make it to the gnomes--they both started getting their second wind around mile four, and enjoyed the rest of the ride.
All in all, Chris and I probably did 17 miles of trail and two miles of road. It turned out to be a nice way to shorten the trail, if you're not up to the full 25 or don't want to do the first eight miles as an out and back. I spent the rest of Sunday in a worn out haze.
Bike thoughts: I rode my FSR last time, and it worked admirably for me. This time, going slower, I got caught in a few instances where I felt the smaller wheels hang up. I think my Niner might have gotten through some of these spots easier. Next time: Niner + gears + sus fork + Thudbuster.
Chris and I both rode 1x9 (or 1x10) setups. That worked fine for me. Back in the parking lot, I saw a guy unloaded a rigid, single speed Karate Monkey. I can't imagine taking that bike on this trail. More power to him.
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