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Posts Tagged ‘Rock Bridge’

SMSG MBT Race Rescheduled

October 30th, 2010 [print] No comments

After spending a lot of time getting my bike (and myself) tuned properly for the Show-Me State Games MTB race last July, rain hit, and the race was canceled.  I was pretty bummed about it, especially since I’d decided about a year before that I would race it this year.  In fact, it was just the night before the race that I was out on the trails, checking trail conditions, and seeing what changes were made by park officials to counter destruction due to heavy rains in the spring.  As I was 3/4 through with a lap, thunder hit, the skies went black, and I high-tailed it to my car, just in time for a massive storm to hit.

Anyway, the race was called off, and we were told we’d have to wait until July 2011.  A lot of racers were disappointed, though, and I guess there was a push to bring the race back.  I found out last Tuesday that it would be held today, but with no really prep time, and a bike that would need to basically be rebuilt after my rail-trail mods, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort.  Besides, who wants to race in the cold?  It would have been over 100° in July, but today it was about half that.

Oh, well.  I’ll still be waiting until next year, and by then, I’ll have a little more angst to take out on the race track.  In the mean time, I’ll get the race results posted as soon as they’re available.

Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

Hateful Rock

August 11th, 2010 [print] No comments

After I slammed pretty hard last week, I figured I’d take a couple weeks off from trail riding to heal.  Of course, I got bored with that idea about 4 days later, and headed back to Rock Bridge for a re-do.  Along the way, I found the rock that I faceplanted on when I flew over my bars.

It was still sitting on it’s side, same as it was when my chin came in contact with it.  I snapped a photo, then chucked it about 30ft into a lower-laying creek bed.

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The little fucker is about 5" high and 9-10" long.  Had it been on its side, I doubt I would have made contact.

Anyway, the whole point of my ride was to put together the ultimate Rock Bridge ride, flowing as much as possible, and hitting all the major trails (aside from Karst, which is too far removed from the rest).  It also has 5 climbs:  one is a long, two-stage climb that’s part of the SMSG race course, with lots of rocks and roots; two are in the High Ridge series of trails on grass; and two others are damn near impossible, just the way I like ’em.  As soon as I get a chance to put a map together, I’ll post it.  All together, it’s a little less than 13.5mi, which is doable even after a long work day, but still challenges you quite a bit.

Categories: Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

OTB Friday

August 7th, 2010 [print] No comments

One thing I’d prefer not to get in the habit of each week:  flying over my handlebars.  As much fun as it sounds, what with the flying part and everything, it’s actually much more painful in the long run.  The problem may be that I wasn’t in the air long enough to become distracted, thereby forgetting that I was flying, missing the ground completely, and continuing to stay airborne (props if you get the reference).  As it turns out, I was very aware of my impending doom, and had little time–about .5sec–to think of anything else.

With August finally bringing some dry weather, I decided to head out to Rock Bridge State Park for a long ride after work.  I had the whole ride mapped out:  basically, taking the SMSG race course, but veering off at the top of Sinkhole trail, which I would take counter-clockwise in a complete loop back to the Boy Scout connector.  Then, at the intersection of Spring Brook and the White Connector, I’d hang a right (instead of going straight), take the cliff–side section down to the parking lot, head over Highway 163, and loop around the extended section of High Ridge Trail, in a sort of figure eight.  Back over the highway, I’d head up the nearly impossible rock garden climb section of Spring Brook, hop back on the White Connector, and finish the race course.

If you’re not familiar with Sinkhole trail, coming counter-clockwise from the top is some of the cleanest singletrack in the entire park.  It’s slightly wider than everywhere else, and since it’s up high, it’s usually dry.  It’s also slightly downhill most of the way–eventually leading to a steeper downhill section before a sharp left turn–and just windy enough to be fun, but not so much so that you have to brake for the turns.  After the sharp left-hander, you’re no longer on dirt.  The trail turns into an old, dried-out creek bed/rock garden, again on a slight downhill slope.  It’s made of larger, chunky rocks, most of which move as you roll over them, with larger, flat rocks firmly attached to the ground, sometimes covered in moss, and usually slippery.

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Categories: Cycling, MTB Tags: ,

Show-Me State Games MTB Race Canceled

July 24th, 2010 [print] No comments

Canceled

We got hit with rain the night before the mountain bike race, so park officials have canceled the race.  It sucks for me, since I’ve been planning to have this be my first race for an entire year now.  But, it also sucks for all the racers who traveled to Columbia, MO from around the state, only to have to drive back tomorrow without having had a fun race.  I guess I’ll see you all out there next year, and maybe the weather will be a little more cooperative.

I headed out there tonight–the night before the event–to see how well the trail had been cleaned up over the previous week.  The park crew did an excellent job re-routing parts of Deer Run trail that had been damaged due to fallen trees, as well as a swelling creek that has come a little too close to the edge of the trail.  I was really impressed with the effort, since they’ve apparently worked O.T. just to get everything in order; even more so considering we’ve had triple-digit heat indexes over the same time period every single day.

In the middle of my ride, I came up on the Walt’s crew as they marked the race course, and Sarah–the race commissioner–said she hoped she wasn’t putting the markers up in vain.  Twenty minutes later, the trail went extremely dark, thunder picked up in the near distance, and an out-of-town racer and I left the rest of the crew to head to our cars.  I hopped in mine literally the second a monsoon hit, flipped on the A/C, dried off, and waited for the rain to back off enough that I could see past the nose of my car.  I finally drove home at half the posted speed limit, barely able to make out the roads, disappointed that I missed what would have been my first race, but glad that I had a thrilling final practice ride.

Categories: Cycling, Missouri, MTB, News Tags: ,

SMSG MTB Race Hanging By A Thread

July 21st, 2010 [print] No comments

Per my previous post, there’s a chance the 2010 Show-Me State Games mountain bike race won’t happen if the rain doesn’t stop.  I emailed an event organizer yesterday about whether the race might be canceled or postponed, and here’s the response she gave me:

"The park folks are supposed to let me know on Sat afternoon if they are going to cancel the race.  They are a bit more lenient because they really don’t want to have to cancel it.  If it is wet there isn’t a rain date for the race, so there just won’t be a race this year. "

Mid-Missouri was hit with a huge storm on Sunday, and then another on Monday night, into Tuesday morning.  More is expected for the weekend.  I’ve been planning this race for a year, so this pretty much sucks.

Categories: Cycling, Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

Racing, Rain and Tires

July 19th, 2010 [print] No comments

BAH!

That’s what I have to say about Missouri’s increasingly wetter July’s.  We had a nice, dry run through the latter parts of June and early July, but now the storms are here again.  Normally, I’d just be annoyed, but this time I’m getting pissed.

The Show-Me State Games MTB race is less than a week away, and the forecast is grim for race day, with a good chance of showers.  However, if it’s dry enough to race, I doubt it’ll be called off.  What this means for me is, my proven fastest tire choice has to be tossed out, and I have to prepare for sloppy conditions.

I discovered last Fall that my fastest tire set-up happened to be a skinny 1.8" Kenda Klimax Lite in the rear, with a 2.1" Nevegal up front.  The rear spins up quickly for sprints, while the front adds extra suspension (at 25psi) and better braking.  So long as I keep my ass planted in the saddle, the rear’s excellent L3R compound gives it plenty of grip, despite a lack of tread.  However, that only helps if it’s dry… which it most likely won’t be.

My options are this:  keep the current tire set-up, have less weight in the back, but less grip and braking in the mud.  Or, put on a heavier tire, lose some speed in the flat areas due to weight, but have ridiculous climbing grip.  Light weight is worthless if I’m just spinning my tire, so I’ve gone the heavier route.

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Enter, my new set-up:  the 2.1" Nevegal in the rear, with an old and proven 2.35" Kinetics Stick-E up front.  In the past, I’ve run a pair of Kinetics Stick-Es, and nothing has ever come close to the grip they offer in slick stuff, which Rock Bridge park is full of.  The braking grip of the front tire–even with my antiquated rim brakes–will just about pop your eye sockets out.  I’ve never run the Nevegal in the rear, but it seems to have performance matching the Kinetics, only at a lighter weight.  Since I have no time to order something else, this is going to have to do.

In the mean time, I’m going to pine for the old days of dry, horribly hot Missouri summers, where we’d go for weeks without rain at times.  It makes the trails more predictable, and for my first race, I could really use that.

Categories: Cycling, Missouri, MTB Tags: , , ,

8 Days ‘Til Race Day

July 17th, 2010 [print] No comments

Show-Me State Games

The 2010 Show-Me State Games mountain bike race is next Sunday on the 25th.  I told myself last summer that I’d race this year, and now it’s getting close.

I checked out the condition of the race course a couple weeks back, and it was in really bad shape.  I think I had to dismount and climb over 5-6 trees, and there’s a really deep gully where there used to be only a small, very shallow ditch; it’s deep, and I can see riders going over their bars if they’re unprepared for it.  It’s basically hidden around a corner, and you don’t know it’s there until you’re right on top of it.  Also, where Deer Run trail runs along a creek, the trail is dangerously close to the edge in a couple spots.  Normally, people like to point at bikers for trail destruction, but this is entirely weather related.

Over the last two years, mid-Missouri has been hit with one rain storm after another, especially in Spring and Fall.  The creek is continuing to widen as the dirt gets loose, and massive trees are falling into it.

Open on Flickr Open on Flickr

In two places where the trail used to come within a couple feet of the edge, it’s now literally on the very edge, and it doesn’t help that in both spots, the trail is curved.  Racers unfamiliar with the trail could easily over-cook it and head right over the edge, which is about a 10ft drop into the creek.  To make matters worse, the hardpack top soil is gone, replaced by 2" deep sand.

I went back out this week, and noticed a lot of the fallen trees have been removed, but there’s still one that forces a dismount.  I had my loppers with me and cut off all the eye-gouging branches that jut out from it, but the tree was too large for me to remove.  There’s another broken tree on the newer trail that the Boy Scouts made back in ’08, with a huge, pointed section of tree that you have to lean sideways as you pass to avoid getting hit in the face.

Assuming the course stays relatively dry, and the hazards are cleaned up in time, I’ll be out there next Sunday ready to race.  It’s my first race, so I’ll be in the 30-39 Beginner class.  I’d like to win, but it’s really about getting over my first race that I’m focused on.  After this one, I’ll probably join the Sport class next year, and finish mid-pack or lower.  I won’t be too concerned with it, I just want to finish well this time around.  Wish me luck.

SMSG.org

Categories: Cycling, Missouri Tags: ,

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park Map

August 17th, 2009 [print] No comments

I realized there are no good Rock Bridge Memorial State Park trail maps online (this one on the official MO State Parks website is not only small, but horribly inaccurate), so I emailed DNR and asked if they had a better one.

Since we’re talking about state government here, they obviously didn’t have one, and mostly likely won’t anytime soon.  So, I took it upon myself to make one…

I scanned one of the trail map brochures that you can find at any parking lot, screwed around in Photoshop with it for a while, and ended up with a very large, accurate map (save for the exclusion of the new Springbrook — Sinkhole Trail connector) for anyone who may be looking for one.  Why the parks department couldn’t provide it, I have no idea, but I guess that doesn’t really matter now.

Click the photo below for a 2500 x 2050px version (also on my Flickr Photostream):

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Hopefully this will be of help to others.  Enjoy.

EDIT:  Here’s an additional map, showing the course used for the Show-Me State Games Mountain Bike race (click for larger view):

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2009 Show-Me State Games Mountain Biking

July 26th, 2009 [print] No comments

My wife and I headed out to the Show-Me State Games at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park today to cheer on our friends, Josh and Val.  Although Josh has raced many times before, it was Val’s first, and she finished mid-pack in the Beginner Women division, despite having an incident at the creek crossing, and stopping to help a fellow rider who ran into problems.

Lots of people were on hand, including riders, and the staff from Walt’s Bike and Fitness, who were helping organize the event.  I stood around and took photos while Val ran her race, but left before some of the longer running races were over.  Something about being surrounded by bikes made me want to get home and go for a ride of my own.

I’m also somewhat inspired to race in 2010, but that’s still up in the air.

Photos and results below:

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Show-Me State Games Mountain Biking Set on Flickr

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Categories: Cycling, Missouri Tags: , ,

Pics of New Trail at Rock Bridge

July 13th, 2008 [print] No comments

My wife and I went for an early morning walk down the new Sinkhole-Springbrook connector trail to take some pictures.  The local Boy Scout troops did an excellent job on the trail, even if it is a little too easy to ride.  A couple logs or roots along the trail would have added a little extra fun, but I’m not going to complain.  Hopefully, it won’t take nearly a decade for the next trail to be put in!

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Categories: Missouri, Photos Tags: , ,