Got in a couple mountain bike rides and a camping trip this last weekend. My brother and I went dispersed camping on some Shawnee National Forest ground Saturday night. I got into several discussions with people about camping before this trip. I was told by some friends that I wasn’t allowed to camp anywhere I wanted, I had to camp in a designated camp ground. Others said I needed to get permits and clearance from the forest service. I knew right away this was incorrect because people hike the River to River trail over several weeks and camp along the way, and during deer season the forest becomes packed with hunting camps.
I found out from the “Gatekeeper” of the Shawnee that dispersed camping means to camp anywhere that isn’t an official campground and is legal everywhere in OUR national forests except for where it is prohibited. You can’t camp near a designated camping area to avoid the fees, you can’t camp in natural areas, you can’t camp within 200 ft of a lake or river and you need to be at least 300 ft from a road.
I rode Saturday night alone but still had an enjoyable time. I left around 6PM and took my helmet light and needed it for the last 45 minutes of my ride. Forgot how much fun and scary it is to ride in the dark.
Sunday I met up with the East Side Boys for a ride at One Horse Gap. I was feeling good and riding well, which perhaps led me to be a bit more “heroic” then usual. We approached a section of trail that Joe said was unridable, then Eli “Gatekeeper” said, I’ve seen it ridden once.” As we rounded the corner I saw the rocky climb go nearly vertical. I’ve had alot of success climbing these tough sections because they require alot of power for a short period of time and that’s pretty much my only skill.
I slid forward and began hammering up to the first foot high step in the climb. I threw my weight back and pulled on the bars to lift my front wheel up but instead I found myself catapulting over the bars and slaming into some rocks. My elbow was cut and my quad took a huge beating. I have no idea what went wrong, but I do know that I was so committed to the climb and pushing so hard that when it did go wrong I could do nothing but crash.
Fortunately the crash really didn’t leave me more then superficially injured. My quad hurts as if I strained it from squatting 400 pounds, and my elbow has some roughed up skin but I was able to finish the ride at near full power.
Another great weekend of Southern Illinois fun.