Eli, Joe and I rode yesterday morning from the Dog Pen in what I’m sure will go down as one of my most and least favorite rides of all time. I’ve been working on my Salsa Dos Niner, I’ve got tubless tires that are holding air, a solid drivetrain and now a suspension fork on it. I was jonesing to take the bike out.
As soon as we got on the frozen terrain I knew I had made the right choice. The Dog Pen is nearly in downtown Eddyville IL. which boasts that it is the trail capital of Illinois. It certainly gets a great deal of horse traffic and has a mazelike selction of trails and fire roads to enjoy. The ground was frozen solid but rough from the horse hooves. The suspension fork was making short work of the rough as a cob terrain and the Dos Niner’s 1 inch of rear travel was helping out too.
We rode to Jackson Hole and parked our bikes entering the natural area on foot. For the next half hour we wandered around the bluffs and photographed one of the most spectacular frozen waterfalls I’ve seen.
All the walking and scrambling caused half the soles of my Lake Winter Boots to become separated from the shoe. It was a precarious situation, I was fine as long as I remembered not to pull up on my pedals and risk taking them the rest of the way off. Clipping out of my shoes became a problem as well since the clipping out motion was dampened by the loose soles.
We continued on and rode a mix of new bench cut and old school trails eventually coming to an old cemetery with very interesting gravestones.
It was beginning to thaw out but still rode pretty decently until we arrived at the final climb out for the day. I was starting to slow down, Eli and Joe can ride all day on a bottle of water and a 25 cent package of crackers, literally 5 hours of riding on water and crackers, but I was starting to run out of juice. The last couple of miles were on new benchcut that was completely thawed out, chopped up, and stickier than honey. It clung with great tenacity on our bikes. Joe and Eli even had to stop and scrape mud out of their single speed frames to keep them moving a couple of times, but for me it was a lost cause. Along with the mud was a vast amount of fallen leaves. The leaves stuck to the mud, which in turn picked up more leaves and more mud.
My bike was frozen, the wheels were locked up with mud and after I cleaned it out it was gummed up in less then 50 feet. I couldn’t push the bike, and I didn’t have the strength to carry it. I gave up and sat on the trail for awhile then it hit me. I don’t need this stinking trail. I cleaned the mud out one last time and pushed through the woods making a straight path to truck. I was lucky, they call this trail head Dog Pen because a guy keeps a pen near by full of bird dogs that bark like mad. All I had to do was home in on the barking.
Another great Shawnee Adventure.