Stayed off the computer for the majority of the weekend, ( mission accomplished!) and got to run up to Decorah, Iowa to meet up with Jeff O'Gara, Rich (Deke) Gosen, and other locals to check on some of the trails we're going to use for The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo in June on the weekend of the 23rd and the 24th.
I met up with the guys at the trail head. They were ready to rock and roll right when I pulled up, so out I jump and grab my stuff to ride as quick as I can. I always feel nervous when folks are waiting on me, since I really don't like waiting on others. So, off I go into a big climb right off the bat after sitting in my car for an hour and a half. Can you say, redline? Yeah, and it was that way pretty much for the next hour and a half straight, before I finally settled down. (More on that in a minute)
The trails up there are all singletrack, all up and down, and 90% off camber. Tough, challenging, and lots of fun. I was shown a "Pines Section East" and later a "Pines Section West", either one of which was twice as long as any other pine section I've ridden in Iowa, that was super flowy and fast. Most of the mileage was done on the classic, newer trails put in since 2004 up there though.
I was getting a groove going, (finally) when I approached a big down/up section. Probably a drop in and right back out of about 15 to 20 feet with a narrow exit between two busted up tree stumps. I thought, "Speed is your friend", dropped in with no brakes and found out the transition from down to up was a little more severe than I had thought. The Dos Niner's suspension launched me, after a full compression, off line to the left which put me off line for the exit. Needless to say, I piled it up spectacularly, taking a rib shot from the handlebar and tearing a little hole in my Bontrager Tubeless Ready tire's sidewall that the sealant couldn't deal with. Later I found other scraped and bloody sections on my body, but right then, all I wanted to do was get the flat fixed and move on. After what seemed like an eternity, and a borrowed tube, (mine had a hole in it, doh!) we moved on.
Now, I am not sure exactly what all was going on, but my mind was really out of it for quite awhile after that biff. Could it be that a combination of only eating two slices of pizza, no real riding since before Trans Iowa, and having to actually climb was taking it's toll on me? Naaaah! Are you kidding me? I probably just sucked, that's all! (Heh heh!)
I've said before that walking has become an integral part of my mountain biking experience, and Decorah was no exception. I was really hurting. Mostly my head, not so much my body, all though my legs were wobbly for a bit after that crash. My head just screamed at me in pain and I couldn't catch my breath at times. Weird. It didn't kill me, so on I trudged/rode.
Anyway, Rich was kind enough to baby sit me through the rest of it so I wouldn't get lost. (Thanks! I owe ya one!) At the end of the ride, oh say for the last half an hour, I came back around. I started feeling a lot better, and the riding started to come around to me again. I could actually climb again, although by this time the Dos was creaking and groaning in agony! (Gonna hafta tear that bike down and check it out!)
We ended the ride on the River Trail and then headed to T-Bock's for refreshments. A great riding day and everyone looked like they had fun. I got into my car, and stopped at a convenience store where I stuffed two of those cheapo cheeseburgers that the Trans Iowa racers were eating not but a couple weeks ago into my mug and got home about sunset.
The equipment I used was as I mentioned, the Dos Niner and I mounted up the Bontrager Tubeless Ready wheels and Dry X tires, tubeless of course. The tires were absolutely scary bad on the off camber trails of Decorah. There rounded profile and lack of real side knob bite had me puckered up several times and actually dumped me a couple more. Next time I'm bringing a "real" trail tire up, like a Rampage, or even an XR, which another of the guys was riding and had more side knob bite than the Dry X did. Conditions were dry, hard packed, with a bit of dusty/dirt loose on top. Suspension wasn't dialed the way I would have preffered, and I think a hardtail would be a better choice from a climbing aspect in Decorah.
I'll be back again to assail these trails again, or most likely, get spanked like yesterday! I say, "Bring it on, sucka!"