A few months ago I posted on the Shawnee Mountain Bike Association forum an idea for a long hard point to point mountain bike trail that would encompass several of the different riding areas we frequent. I called it “Tour of the East Side.” It kind of faded away but was brought back to life when a few guys showed interest. Last Sunday Dave, Tony, Lee and myself set out for the ride.
The route was originally going to be 60 miles, but I changed it to 40. That may not sound like alot of miles, but consider the terrain and trails we’re riding. This isn’t groomed single track, its nasty East Side horse trails. Things didn’t go exactly as planned for me. I experienced heat exhaustion and dehydration. Here’s the report.
So we met up at Millstone Lake, I hadn’t been here in years and last time the road was nearly impassible. Luckily the road’s been fixed and now is semi passable. Dave left his Jeep at Frank’s Track and we picked him up then drove to the Low Water Bridge on Raum.
I had been on the trails one week ago and found them excellent, I didn’t think it had rained since then so I was expecting dry trails. I was wrong. The trails were as wet as they’ve been all Spring. I made it up the switchback climb and according to strava set my 3rd fastest time up the trail. This is when I began to realize it was hot. I was pretty much drenched in sweat at the top. I was cruising along and figuring Lee might need a little recovery time after riding up that on is SS, but he asked for directions and then blasted off. Now at this point I was thinking about skipping some of the early single track that is technical and crappy, and it retrospect it would have been a very good idea, oh well.
Next half mile was mostly hike a bike through mud and rocks. Somewhere through here I started experiencing what I call, Face Melt, this is when I’m sweating so much that it feels like my face is melting. I was completely saturated and seemed unable to cool down. I tried to keep drinking but my bottle smelled like horse crap and was making it hard to swallow the gatorade. I had a couple of shifting problems and then a bike handling problem when I ran into a stump that threw me on the ground. I was barely moving anyway, but I got nice big bruise on my quad from it.
We arrived at the new Coon benchcut and I told everyone it was an awesome trail, a Strava segment, and I got out of everyone’s way. It didn’t take long for them to all ride out of my sight, and I realized pretty quickly that the trail was in no better condition then when I rode it back in April, spongy. I struggled up this trail and skipped the last 50 feet which are the worst, I was very surprised to see that Strava didn’t notice this transgression and gave me a KOM.
The next section was a downhill fire road to Raum. It should have been a nice recovery section but it was full of big mud holes that kept us on our toes.
The gravel hill up to Bethesda Church is a stiff climb but last time it seemed easy, this time I was begging for the end. We got back into the forest and I was suffering and off the back. The benchcut from the base of 2 mile climb up to Gossage road was where the wheels fell off. I have ridden this segment in 24 minutes, but this time it took me 50 minutes. I began to feel like my head was going to explode. I stopped and took off my helmet and attached it to my camelbak, this helped some. I told the others I was riding the road back to my car and getting the hell out of the woods, but they convinced me to ride with them to the Jeep.
The final climb back to Frank’s is one that everyone’s ridden and Eli knows it especially well. Once I attacked this climb once on a group ride and built a substantial lead on the Peloton, only to completely crack near the top and almost have an accident. Well I seemed to have a bit of recovery through here and I led the group about halfway up the climb, I was actually feeling like myself again. I made the gravelly switchback but got bogged down in the mud afterwards and fell apart. Tony was there at the intersection to ride with me to the Jeep. We began to hear thunder roll and the skies turned dark. It was raining when we arrived at the Jeep then it became a monsoon. Lighnting was striking all around so we hid out bikes and got in the Jeep. It had taken us 5.5 hours to ride 23.5 miles. I’m sure that the others could have cut an hour or more off that if that hadn’t had to wait on me so much, but even then we still had 20 miles to go. So it was time to pull the plug.
Dave had a plethora of supplies for the continuation of the ride, he had really gone above and beyond preparing. I felt bad that it ended this way. A few hours after the ride I found myself with an unparchable thirst, then I woke up in the morning around 4AM with empty stomach pain and dry mouth. I think I went into the ride dehydrated and quickly exhausted my bodies fluid reserve in the first few miles struggling through the mud. On Monday I was so stiff and sore that I could barely bend over.
Removed 3 ticks that had latched on, and found several crawling around on me too, looks like I lucked out and cleaned off the poison ivy.