I had unfinished business with Ben Hawes. I’m not talking about the guy Ben Hawes, but the Park and trail system in Owensboro KY named after him. A year ago we went on big day trip and rode New Harmony, Scales Lake and Ben Hawes, I was nauseous and sick almost the entire time. About halfway through Ben Hawes I had a near physical come apart and had a hard time getting out of the woods.
Ben Hawes contains the kind of mountain bike trails that would exist in heaven. They are only used by mountain bikes and foot traffic and they are so perfectly constructed and packed in that the closest experience that comes to riding them is a riding a roller coaster. Every turn is banked, and you can’t go 100 feet without hitting a sweet kicker. There is about 7.5 miles so the only real criticism that can level at Ben Hawes is that its over too soon.
I’ve never had a strong stomach. For instance, I can’t read in a car without my stomach turning. On a twisty turning road I turn green, don’t even think about getting in a boat on rough water, but on a bike not a problem, right? I was having stomach problems when we tried this ride last year but I didn’t expect to have stomach problems again today, I was wrong.
About 3 miles into the trail I was starting to fight nausea, on mile 4 I lost the battle. I assured the group I would be fine after a bit of rest and convinced them to leave me, it was surprising easy. I sat on a log for awhile and was eventually able to roll back to the truck being careful to prevent any unnecessary movement. I sat around on a picnic table for about 20 minutes and began feeling normal again. I started riding the Red and Orange trail which are walking trails and more geared to group hikes then bike rides, really fire roads more then trails. In a few minutes I was out of the saddle climbing and feeling like my old self again.
I ran into some riders and decided to return to the trails. It was great, whiping through the banked turns, pulling the bike off the ground on every lip and the digging left and right through the corners like a downhill skier, but in 5 minutes I felt it again, massive stomach acid, strong nasea, dizziness and overall weakness. This is weird. I retuned to my bench, took 15 minutes to recover and then rode a few laps of the fireroads again.
My curiosity about motion sickness lead me to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_sickness which provides a pretty good theory. Motion sickness occurs when there is a conflict between felt motion and seen motion. For instance, looking at book while driving your inner ear is feeling all the motion but your mind isn’t seeing it. This sets off evolutionary reaction in your brain, essentially it thinks you’ve ingested some kind of neutotoxic substance which is causing hallucinations and it’d be best for everyone if you just puked that poision out.
When I’m riding at Ben Hawes I’m staying very focused on the trail in front of me, probably too focused. I’m looking straight ahead as he roll through those heavily banked turns and all I see is the dirt in front of me. Damn my bodies evolutionary defense mechanisms.