Thursday, October 24, 2013


Started out in the Sun....
Well, well....that first snow didn't last long! It came and went yesterday but it was quite cold yet Wednesday morning. Cold, wet, and yet it was sunny, at least to begin with. A good day to go exploring in George Wyth State Park.

The park is basically right in Waterloo and Cedar Falls' back yard, nestled in between the two cities on the North side. It's super easy to ride to, but to save some time, I trucked over with the Blackbuck single speed. I had heard that there was some new single track marked out so I figured I would have some fun finding it and helping "burn it in" by riding it.

Word was that this new bit was on the eastern end of the park, so naturally I started out on the Western end! The old bits are intimately familiar to me. I don't mean to brag, but I was around and riding on those sections when they were new "bandit trails" that the State Park Ranger had no idea about. That was back in the 26"er, rigid front fork days when most of us didn't know there were anything other than thumbshifters. My how things have changed!

Well, maybe if I could go back in time with the Blackbuck, many people would not notice much different with my rig! Certainly the bigger wheels would draw attention, but other than that and disc brakes, the Blackbuck could have come from 1989 just as easily as now. In fact, my skinny steel tubes and big fat knobbies are a retro touch which I enjoy about the bike. Only skinwall tires could make it even more retro-like, and you know, those sort of tires are out there!

....then I wiped out!
The snow from the day before left a lot of moisture trapped in the fallen leaves, and in Geo Wyth, that can cause some slick spots. The silty dirt gets a greasy consistency and when hidden by leaves and warmed by the Sun, it can be a dangerous trap. A trap that closed its jaws on me once again. I slid out on a left hander and smacked my right knee pretty good on something. But that's part of cycling in the woods. Its part of the "fun" of it.

I dusted myself off, rearranged my clothes, and picked up my bike to continue onward. I found myself drawn to an old, little used fitness trail spur and followed it down until I was pretty much in the middle of the woods and not very sure about where I might come out at. I was a bit surprised, really, that there was so much untapped woodland back in there. Of course, I was hike-a-biking by this juncture, but I was okay with that. I couldn't get over how I had not been in this part of Geo Wyth before. Heck, had I known how much potential there was back there where I was walking I may have built my own bandit trail back in the 90's!

But I don't have the time nor the energy for such mischief these days. Besides, the CVAST group is doing a bang up job without my interference in those matters, and in fact, it was that new bit of trail one of the members of that group had put in that I was really back there to find anyway. So, I stopped my fantasy thoughts and focused on finding my way outta there to see if I could ascertain just where it was I was.

Still an awful lot of green for this late in the year.
It just took me to look up, and see where the open area in the trees was, and I was guided right out on to a service road, and then not much further down to the two track access road where I knew that the new bit of trail was supposed to branch off of. That's where I was!

I was plunking along through some wet  mud puddles in the road when I finally came upon the line of flags. Okay, you never know how some folks are flagging trails, so it can be a crap shoot sometimes, but the person responsible for this flagging obviously knew the "Rule of Right", wherein a flagged trail always has its flags on one side. Then if you come at it from the direction of where it had been started, all flags would be on the right. Now I could be wrong, but the description I read claimed the trail "dumps out at the gravel road", which is the end I came upon first, so I just kept the flags to my left, and all was easily found, even though it is far from being clearly scratched out into the woodland floor, it is so new. Right or wrong then, I say, "Well done folks. Well done!".

Now I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the trail proper as I am about how it was marked, but it was a short section and sort of anti-climatic after all the empty woodland I had just walked through. But never mind that, I am sure it will be a valuable way for folks coming from the East to avoid paved bike trails even more. That's a good thing.

The Cedar River at Geo Wyth State Park
At any rate, I decided to head on back to the truck. I took mostly the older way back, but there is a couple newer, CVAST built bits I like through here that I strung into the route getting me back.

On the older bits, I still can clearly see in my mind how things used to be, and I found myself murmuring out loud about how a certain section had dove down and back up a ravine back then, but now we were using the cut-off that arose from folks who weren't as brave to ride the steep banks. No one would know that unless they had been around back then. But it is still a good little trail.

I finally made it back to the truck and loaded up the Blackbuck. By that time the bright sunshine had given way to gray skies, typical of late Fall. Cold, gray, and damp. A recipe for chilling to the bone. I don't think my fingers warmed up for ours afterward!

No comments: