The trails in and around Advantage Cycles were a big part of my early bicycle shop experiences. More on that here.........
As I have written, the trail building in George Wyth State Park was in high gear in 1994. The flood of '93 was done, and a new lake with new lands were added to the Park. Alice Wyth Lake was a basic man made overgrown pond with no real access at the time the State put the body of water in. It wasn't long before this that I recall riding down the paved bike path that bordered the lake, before it was a lake, and watching a farmer plow the field that was once there. Times change!
At any rate, new road construction during the late 80's early 90's also was a part of the new trail developments. An elevated expressway was put in on the park's western boundary. This spawned a trail on the western end of George Wyth that we all came to refer to as The Bridge Trail, since it started near to the bridge built for the expressway. The Bridge Trail was the handiwork of Brian, who I suspect was one of the original Dead Bikeman group. At any rate, this fellow was/is a master at building a flowy, fun trail out of what once was a mere ditch. Amazing talent there.
Like many of the early trails, the entrance was concealed and the exit was........well, originally there wasn't really an exit. The trail truncated at the border of an old barbed wire fence and a deer trail that went out to the paved bike path. You were obliged to hit up the deer trail to make your exit. This kept the trail from being discovered by those in authority, and indeed, it worked. The Bridge Trail was safe from the Park rangers, but not from popularity.
The word got out, and if you hadn't ridden The Bridge Trail, you were missing it, man! That was the primo single track at that time in this area. The '93 flood didn't do much to it, thankfully, but by '94, the folks that had discovered it were grousing for more, and sure enough, a few intrepid younginz started making an extension to The Bridge Trail into the area opened up by the Alice Wyth Lake addition. Ryan, a friend of his, and maybe a couple other riders were in on this.
I was riding my '92 Klein Attitude to work one day, motoring up the paved bike path in the Park, when I ran into Ryan. He asked if I had seen the "new trail" yet. Well, as I have mentioned before, "new trail" was like offering crack cocaine to an addict, so I said "No! Where is it?" Ryan asked me to follow him, and of course, I forgot all about work! We flew off the trail, up the now well worn in deer path exit/entrance to the Bridge Trail, and then took a right over a piece of plywood over the old, broken down barbed wire fence. This was new territory for me!
Ryan was lithe, young, and very fast then. I had a hard time holding his wheel as he motored on ahead of me at a blazing pace. New trail that was unfamiliar meant I was really sketchy in the corners, but the Klein and I held on. I saw Ryan flip something over his head, and before I could react, or really know what it was, a vine was across my neck!
The vine wasn't attached to anything at one end, thank God, or who knows what might have happened that day, but the rough bark was sliding across my neck at a very fast speed as I tried to stop myself. Once stopped, and with my head still attached, Ryan came rolling back towards me. He had heard my cry as I was in pain, holding my neck with one hand. Ryan said I was bleeding, and sure enough, I was. Not bad enough to bail out on checking out the rest of that trail though!
The trail wasn't finished yet. Ryan told me the plans they had to turn back eastwards at the spot where it was dead ended at and go along Alice Wyth Lake back towards the Park. Very cool, I thought. But I remembered I had to get to work, so I motored off as Ryan stayed to mess with some of the trail work.
When I got to work, Tom laughed so hard he turned red. Apparently, the appearance of my scraped up neck and the story were rather humorous. I had to suffer about three weeks worth of Clint Eastwood/"Hang 'em High" jokes, but in the end, I was all right.
Next week: Even more "secret trail" and stories........
Trans Iowa 13: The Soggy Bottom Toys
2 hours ago