"Man! It's like riding in the jungle!"
That's Captain Bob's exclamation there from yesterday afternoons ride in the GW. (That's George Wyth State Park for you non-locals) Yeah, it's high summer in Iowa and the vegetation is at it's peak right about now. Tree branches full of leaves hanging down, slapping you in the face as you speed along. Weeds with itchy oily secretions making it burn! Nice thorny scratches across your shin bones. Yep! It's a jungle out there all right!
We have this overgrown state of trails every year. This year is a bit unique though. A lot of early vege was frozen off after a really early warm spell was followeed by three days of super hard frost. I recall the temps getting down into the upper teens one of those mornings. This was after about two weeks of temps up in the 60's and 70's which spawned all the spring growth. The result was that a lot of the early plant life was killed.
That's resulted in a bit better trail condition than normal this year. Most years we all would be banished to road riding by now as the trails would be impassable due to the choking weed growth that would not allow your passage. This year it's still passable out there, so we're still riding those river bottom trails. It's nice, but don't be fooled. The vegetation that did survive that late season frost is thriving!
And then there is all the flying protein supplements that are available while you're out there in that jungle. You can't help but suck down a few of those every ride. (Just ask "Shrek"!) I could see the little insects all about me in certain places. Like a cloud of specs hanging in the air. You zip through them, gasping for air as you hammer along and gulp! You get your daily requirement of live food in an instant. No time to stop now, you've got to stay on that wheel that's in front of you, ya know. Just swallow and keep on keepin' on!
It's all part of the summer time riding experience here in the Mid West. Gotta take it while you can. It won't be long before all of this starts to die off and we are running in a sullen brown land that is fast falling asleep for another long winters nap.
Get out and ride that jungle! Don't mind the bugs. They aren't that bad, really!