I first want to say something to those who ride mountain bikes. Not those that own a mountain bike and ride them on the road or MUPS. I mean the folks who really ride the single tracks and double track fire trails. When you ride these trails, especially for the first time, but even subsequent rides, do you feel more like you are on an adventure and not just on a ride? MAN I DO!
Ok, first of all, the ride I intended to take was not the ride I took. When I left the house, I drove to the West trail head of Cedar Lake Trail, south of Carbondale, IL. From the trail head, it was a fantastic downhill that was a little over a half mile with soft terraces that allowed just enough air to make me think I am cool. This run was actually under a power line and out in the open. Then the trail took a right and headed in to the woods at the south end of the lake, still going down hill for at least another half mile but with much steeper grade.
A little over half way to the lake I started encountering MUD!!!! UGH!! I don't mean the kinda mud that is fun and gives you the skunk stripe. The kinda mud that you can't even power through. OMG!! It just kept coming. I stopped and accessed the situation and realized that from the topo that I had looked at, this was going to be the norm for most of the rest of the ride (9 miles).
So, the little voice in my head screamed "Damb Ass!! Stop!! Go Back!!" So I did. The next mile was all uphill and mostly MUD!!! This was a good decision.
When I got back to the truck, I loaded and decided to find a higher ground ride, and chose the North and South Rim Loops of the Trail of Tears State Forest west of Jonesboro, IL. Thirty minutes later, I was off and riding again. This is a double track fire trail that circles the park on top of ridges. The North Loop starts as a short steep climb to a ridge that runs about 5 miles in a sweet roller coaster fashion. The trail then does a severe descent back in the park, before another viscous climb back up to the South Loop. When I say climb, I am talking the kind that your back wheel, with the best of technique and my clyde weight, still slips. I honestly thought I could feel my heart beating in my toes!!! The South Loop is another 4 miles of ridge line. Very nice.
Below are some pics from today. No great vistas, and really not a very good representation of the scenery, but the best I could get.
After the climb to the ridge.
The artsy bike shot.
The trail does a weaving roller coaster kinda thing for most of the 5 mile ridge. Often times there are drop offs on both sides of the trail....Very Cool Feeling.
These little shelters are spread out about every mile along the entire 9 miles. They are intended for horse camping.
Love my 29er!!
This is funny, because it is true. If they didn't tell ya there was a hill, it would kind of stun you how steep that drop off is past the sign. Crazy really. i tried to get pics of it, but I just could not do it justice.
What Fire Trail would be complete without a Watch Tower?
And finally back at the truck. A good ride is evidence by a sadness that come over you when you realize it is over.