I broke a long streak of not being able to ride trails today. I won’t go on about how bad the weather has been, and what our clay soil is like when it’s been wet, or worse, when it freezes and thaws. No, instead, I’m going to tell you it was about 40 F when I started riding, and about 55 F when I finished. I rode a trail that is arguably one of MidTN’s most popular, Lock 4. There’s a reason it’s popular. It’s sweet trail, largely free of roots and small traction compromising rocks unless the section is specifically supposed to feel that way, for instance the Jeep trail climb. I took a picture looking back down that.
The jeep trail is a little bit of double track rock section up what passes for a hill at Lock 4, which is largely flat, relatively speaking. Don’t let me turn you off on the trail, it’s not flat. It’s just that 700 feet of climbing and descending in 7 miles isn’t hilly by my standards. What this trail does is flow. Again, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t one of those new trails that builders are taking so much flack for, with people calling them characterless, etc. No, this trail flows because it’s just the way the land lays here. The best way to demonstrate this might be to go ahead and post a picture of a feature called Rolling Table.
The reality is, this is plush single track, it’s fast, it rolls, there are lots of little rollers in the trail to hop over, lots of lips and berms on the edges of turns to catch and catapult yourself through, and even a few technical rocky places to negotiate. Unlike last time I was out here, I didn’t see a lot of wildlife on the trails, but it’s not unusual to see white tail deer, turkeys, and ducks and geese gallor here. Yes, Lock 4 is right next to a lake, and a significant amount of trail borders the lake.
To say I had a blast for an hour or so today riding (and re-riding some) loops out here would qualify as understatement. When I got on the first loop, and opened up, and started whipping around turns and hopping over the rolling features in the trail it was almost like I’d been holding my breath since the last time I was on a trail, and finally, I was breathing again. It didn’t matter that I was alone. It made no difference that the woods were still and quiet, like the trees and the animals were hold their breath too. It was therapy. It was needed, it was deserved, it was necessary, and it was the ultimate luxury.
As a bonus, although I rode alone, I got to the trail relatively early. There was only one other person there when I arrived, and somehow, rounding through the loops, I never encountered them, and they weren’t back yet when I arrived back at the parking lot. There I did find a few other riders unloading, eager to know what conditions were like. Aside from a few soft spots (when you encounter some mud on a loop named “the sink hole…”) it was perfect. It was a one time shot, because it’s raining tonight, but the trail was perfect today. One gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He was quite happy the trail was open, as he was trying to ride enough to improve his result in the six hour race that’s held here in the fall. He told me this past fall, he got 5 laps in with a time of just over 5 hours. His goal this year is to get 6 laps inside the 6 hour limit. Now, I can lap straight through in 53 minutes, my first lap out. I’ve never bothered to time my second one. But I can tell you I think 5 laps is pretty good. I figured this fellow to be in his 50s when we started talking, but the longer we talked, the more I began to suspect I had undershot his age a bit. I finally asked him how old he was – would you believe 70? Seriously. And he was every bit as giddy as a school boy…or me….to get to ride today. Think about that for a second. I find it inspiring. I’m more than half way there, and I hope I can do as well as he is at his age. I’d say that I’ve hoped that he had a good ride today, but the fact is, I know he did.