Thanks Columbus – One Horse Gap

The Monte is a mountain biking machine

Why is Columbus Day still around?  Is it really that big of a deal anymore?  Who cares, I get out of work that day.  So what should I do, ride of course.  I took my mountain bike to the famous One Horse Gap.  OHG is one of the most popular equestrian destinations in Southern Illinois.  Every August the Nine Day Trail Ride, is hosted there.  I’ve never been to the Nine Day, but I think its been going on for over 50 years and is probably one of the biggest events in Southern Illinois. 

There are plenty of Overlooks on the Rocky Top Trail

Here was a very technical downhill, the dirt resembles moondust.

So anyway since so many horse ride this area its kind of a crap shoot, if it’s wet you’re going to find mucked up, hole filled trails that are practically unrideable; if its dry, like it was yesterday you’re going to find extrememly flat, beat down, dusty trails that make for fast and fun riding. 

I did a 12 mile ride and stopped to check the GPS map way to often since I got lost here once.  See riding here, and most places in the Shawnee is like a Choose Your Adventure Novel.  There are 20 ways to get anywhere, connectors, bypasses, rough singletrack, and dirt expressways.  It’s easy to get turned around, especially if you’re direction sense is as good as mine.  I manged to find One Horse Gap lake by heading in the general direction of it, and following the occasional sign that marks a few of the major trails.  It was a beatiful place to take some photos and eat a Cliff Bar.

One Horse Gap lake on a splended fall morning.

The Gap from the bottom, even though you can ride a horse up it, I can't ride a bike up it.

Next on my tourist list was One Horse Gap itself.  The Gap is litterally a gap wide enough for one horse in a huge slab of limestone.  On top of the Gap is a large slickrock floor.  As I approached the Gap I began to smell food.  When I came out on top of the Gap I ran into a 7 girls doing yoga.  This is weird.  I rarely ever see anyone in the woods, and if I do it’s always a redneck cowboy, hunter, ATV rider, or the very occasional hiker.  I never, ever see young co-eds doing yoga.  There was a guy with them cooking.  One guy and seven girls, either a dream come true, or the worst nightmare, anyway it made for a good story.

I finished up my ride without accident.  On one rocky trail I had to do an emergancy dismount where I leapfrogged over the handlebars.  I somehow got both feet over the handlebars and landed with my bike in my hands behind my legs.  I think if this was a few years ago before I made the gym routine and lost weight I would have endo’d into my face. 

Besides the Yoga club I also ran into a 2 groups of hikers, and 2 groups on horseback, everyone was friendly and nice.  It was a beautiful day, one of those mornings that makes me glad to be alive. 

Good night and thanks for reading.


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in lifestyle, Mountain BIking, Rides and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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