Its Saturday and there was no East Side mountain bike ride due to steady rain for the last few days. I could have slept in and enjoyed a relaxing day… relaxing? No my friends, today was no day for relaxing it was a day for living.
I rolled out of bed at 5AM like I usually do and lay in the floor for about 15 minutes thinking about going jogging. I actually felt pretty good once I got going. Once I hit the “hard part of my morning jog” I poured on the coals and laid down a 10 minute mile pace for a while. See Strava lets you select part of a course and compares anyone whose ever ran it to you, but it can also compare every time you’ve ever ran it. Kind of nice to see progression. Today I set a new PR for 2 miles, .5 mile, and shattered the hard part of my morning jog by 30 seconds.
But wait there’s more, as the day continued I decided to try climbing Eagle Mountain on my touring bike. Eagle Mountain is kind of legendary place here in Saline County. When I was younger and ATVs were legal in the forest it used to be covered in all manner of motorized vehicles. Now its still a popular road for gravel cruising, and mudding. The road is so steep in places that its hard to maintain the gravel and sandstone peaks out. I’ve only climbed it on mountain bikes and I wanted to see if my Touring bike with a 28 tire on the front and a 32 tire on the back could handle a rough gravel road.
I used my new Garmin Edge 305 on this ride. It performed flawlessly and I wish I’d bought one of these last year instead of the Polar I bought. The GPS altitude gave me feedback on just how much climbing I did. 1700 feet in 12 miles. I figure a real hilly ride will get you about 1000 feet for every ten miles, so this is above and beyond.
The hill really isn’t that steep, it just has a couple of really steep, 18% sections. I had to dip down to my ultra low granny to get over it. Once over the top and on down the back side I realized my mistake. I should have put the 700x32c up front where the larger tire would help steer through the gravel and absorb some of the bumps in the road. At one point I had both brakes squeezed and couldn’t seem to slow down. Cantilevers suck, I was wishing I had my mountain bike. The ruts in the road were beyond harsh on the 700x28c tire up front. I think I can fit a 35 up there for gravel riding. Going to try the same ride on a mountain bike next week and see how it compares.
Finally I wrapped up my day with a nature hike at Rim Rock and Pounds Hollow. Rim Rock looks like just about every other Natural area in Southern Illinois, big rocks, 50-100 feet ridges, gentle creeks and smooth lakes. There is a fascinating informational display at Pounds Hollow explaining the history of the Shawnee National Forest, vast erosion caused by over production during WWI left a wasted country side. The Civilian Conservation Core came in and set up 29 Camps and planted acres of trees, built miles of roads and trails, and pretty much created all the stuff that I take for granted every weekend. Thanks Franklin Delano Roosevelt, my favorite president!