Scorching the Dog Pen

Standard Pre ride pose

Standard Pre ride pose

After a July that could only be described as incredibly nice late August has reminded us that it’s summer in Southern Illinois.  The last few weeks have been defined by high humidity and high temperatures.  I’ve been working alot and haven’t had much time or motivation to ride, but yesterday when I got the day off I knew that I had to spend it in the woods.  Joe, Drew and Amanda were going to a trail head called the Dog Pen and I was in.

Typically while mountain biking in the heat and humidity I have some problems.  Often times with my stomach.  I was careful not to eat too much before the ride and our pace was just a bit relaxed.  I surprised myself by feeling good and riding well even as I became completely saturated in sweat.  Mountain biking in high heat and humidity puts a big strain on a person’s cooling systems.  Airflow is restricted in the woods and when averaging 6 miles per hour you’re not generating enough airflow to evaporate the sweat.  At the end of the ride I couldn’t have been any wetter if I’d jumped in a creek, which I did. 

Creek crossing.

Creek crossing.

I’ve been riding my Bandersnatch which has been surprisingly riding well, though  5 minutes into the ride I broke a front spoke, luckily it had no effect on the wheel.  Shifting became increasingly crappy throughout the ride and by the end it was almost impossible.  The only major problem occurred with my shoes.  A bolt holding my cleat in fell out which caused an embarrassing fall when I couldn’t clip out.  Luckily Drew carries an extra set of emergency flat peddles in his bag.  That bag is amazing.  

As the ride continued we kept choosing the longer options, I was expecting a 2 hour ride and we were out there for 4.  I didn’t bring nearly enough food and the huge gulps of water I was taking in weren’t cutting it.  Hunger was eventually replaced with a hypoglycemic stupor.  The final couple of miles are a very gentle climb back to the Dog Pen on good benchcut.  The kind of trail you could just rip up.  I had been riding in the front the whole day but I found myself in the back about halfway up the climb.  At one point I looked down for a moment and then looked back up and everyone was stopped in front of me.  There was a a brief moment where I couldn’t seem to get my fingers to find the brake levers and I nearly rolled into everyone.  

Resting at Jackson Hole

Resting at Jackson Hole

My hands pruned up from completely saturated gloves

My hands pruned up from completely saturated gloves

After that I was extra careful to stay focused on the trail.  As my body continued to weaken my bike began to degrade, several of the cogs on the rear refused to pull, and noises that reminded me of a rusty farm implements were  sounding from somewhere.  I think it needs an overhaul.  

It was an excellent ride, and I was so glad that it was over.  Can’t wait for the next.  

Post ride pose, just about to pass out.

Post ride pose, just about to pass out.

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About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
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