Friday, March 16, 2012

Hardscrabble



What most of the "trail" looks like here.
Okay, first things first- I didn't crash on the rocks. No split open knee, no skin lost today. In other good news: I got to ride in the desert again, and I was outside, in a beautiful area.

But there were a few mitigating factors. One was the wheel set I had on this bike. Oh my! Ya know, if ya can't say anything good about something, you probably shouldn't say anything at all, right? Well, I won't be saying anything about those wheels and they will be replaced as soon as I get home.

That probably says enough right there!

Then the seat post head came loose. This may have been an oversight on my part, but the tricky arrows that need to be aligned, of which there are three, were not all obvious. One, (yes, the hard to notice one), wasn't lined up, so I had an issue. But that is what multi-tools are for. Fixed it trail side with a multi-tool, a needle nosed Vice Grip locking pliers, and a rock. Plenty of rocks out there, I didn't need to carry that in the hydration pack!

And this is what a lot of it looked like too...
 Then I got lost. Yup. It's always a good ride when you get lost, right? Well, I've been on this loop several times and things started not looking right after a few "detours" laid out by someone. Then I got re-directed up a steep ridge side and once on top, I picked up another clearly seen trail leading upward.

Well, that started snaking around this really exposed section that I had no recollection of. Let me tell you- exposure burns some permanent memory in my synapses. If I'd have ridden this before, I'd have totally remembered it, but it had no familiarity to me at all.

So I stopped to reassess. I looked around and saw far above me the familiar brown of the State Park's gate work. I had passed a trail spur, (another thing I had never seen before), a bit back and it appeared that this would lead me right up to that barricade. (If indeed that is what it was.)

And some more of it looked like this...
I wondered if that was the high end of the park, and if so, where was the jeep road leading back to the same area? I couldn't see it at all.

With nothing at all jiving with past memories, and me being on a limited water supply, I figured I'd better see what that barricade/gate was, and get my bearings. Besides that, it was leading me closer to my start than the other way.

I rode a bit, but soon it became apparent that this was too steep to ride, and I hike-a-biked up to the point I had spied out. All was well. It was right at the upper end of the park, but the missing jeep road was still a mystery. Oh well! I had some nice down hill trail to shred back to the car, so I did that instead of solving the mystery.

I know it seems to be  me harping on how tough these trails are, but even I forget, and I was reminded again how difficult this mountain is to ride. The rocks are just brutal. There is zero flow, and you are "rock crawling" for a lot of the first sector, (when you find the first sector!). I got derailed onto stuff I had never ridden before and it was just difficult, slow work. Not that it wasn't fun, but it takes an entirely different mindset to ride those trails, I think. Nothing about riding in the Mid-West really works out here.

But there wasn't much of this!
In the end it was a fun day on the bike, despite the issues, one more of which was a loose head set, by the way. Stopped and fixed that up right quick. But I bring that up to say that if any bike has a weakness, the trails of Franklin Mountain will find them out right quick.

I may get another chance at spending some time out there again before I pack up for home. If so, it'll be a different experience again, as I'll be on the hard tail and single speed at that.

I know one thing, if I lived out here, I would be riding an entirely different mountain bike than what I usually get to bring down here. I still have never brought the "right bike" to this place.

One of these ol' days maybe that will work itself out, but for now I will be satisfied with just getting out there and spending some time in this very unique, hardscrabble area for mountain biking.

3 comments:

jkeiffer said...

So Crank Bros wheels are a no go? Bummer.

Nils said...

Hi GT,
I'm really glad you "adapted and survived". You were right where three local races play-- 12 Hours of Old El Paso, The Puzzler, and the Coyote Classic. It might be fun to time your next visit for one-- the Puzzler is legendarily evil! Thanks for your bloggage-- I've been enjoying GT, twentynine-inches, and gravel grinder especially. Tailwinds.

Guitar Ted said...

@jkeiffer: Like I said, I won't say no more about those wheels.(At least not on this blog)

@Nils: Thanks for the invite, but I am kind of tied to whenever my wife can get the time off from her work. Next time I come down it sounds as if I'll be down in the fall next year.