Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kick Off Ride May 7th

At last riding season is here! We're planning the first Mad FORCs ride for Thursday, May 7th. We'll leave from Dawley Park on Seminole Highway at 6 p.m. Join us as we ride the new Seminole trails and Quarry Ridge.

This is a casual ride for anyone interested in learning more about the club. Spread the word, dust off your mountain bike, and join us for some fun.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

O Glory, Glory

It's been almost a year since I last rode my mountain bike. I was pregnant and then too huge after winter to go on any rides aside from my regular commute to work. I have been on three mountain bike rides in the past month and they have been guh-lorious. There's nothing like not riding to make you really appreciate hitting the trail.

So far I've only ridden at CamRock, but they've been good rides. I love returning to a trail and discovering new changes - reroutes and flourishes. It's nice to see the comforting old bits still there too, like that one rock that I always use to ride smoothly over a log. It's great to be back on the bike and feel like I'm only as badly off as my usual spring slump!

Sure, winter's approaching quickly but fall has always been one of my favorite times to ride. Happy trails and crunchy leaves, everyone.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Back to the Bike

Ah, remember those sunny, dry days of last autumn? For some of us, the end of last season was the last time our mountain bikes had any fun.

Kicking back at the LaGrange General Store after a great end-of-season ride (2012)

The bad news is that it's still soggy out. The good news is that our 2013 kickoff meeting is a little over a week away! Together let us meet and dream up an awesome season. And while we're at it, get a little social riding in.

Meeting details:

Thursday, May 2
Barriques, 961 S. Park St
Meet at 6 pm for a casual group ride
Meet at 7 pm for our official meeting

See you there!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I did on my fall vacation

This month my husband and I took a week to travel around southernish areas and do some mountain biking.

Inspired by a recent article in Dirt Rag Magazine on the trails in Brown County State Park, Indiana, we decided to head down to the southern Illinois / Indiana-ish area. Here's a quick summary of our trail adventures!

Ride 1: Kickapoo State Park, IL

I LOVE these trails. These are the trails where I first learned to mountain bike, but I love them beyond that. These are 12 miles of fun, fast, flowy, challenging, twisty, lovely woodsy fun. Ride them if you're passing through central Illinois or even if you're passing nearish. It's so worth it.

Ride 2: Brown County State Park, IN

We were enticed by 25 miles of singletrack, promised to be "not too hard, not too easy." With the exception of the quite technical Schooner Trace (double black diamond) trail, all these trails were just right! The fall colors were just beginning to turn when we were there and the views from the high points of the trail were spectacular. Our main tip: be sure to fill up on water before driving to the trailhead. The only water we found was a feebly dribbling water fountain near the closed, winterized pool! Fortunately since we were camping, we could stock up at the campground for our long ride.

Ride 3: Land Between the Lakes, TN

We drove down to the far southern tip of this skinny, water-surrounded park to stop in at the welcome station and find out more about the North-South trail. My husband wanted to ride the length of the park. When we found out that the biking portion of the trail started a full 20 miles north, we ended up riding at the Fort Henry trails instead, open temporarily to mountain bikers. These trails were described by my husband as "old school mountain bike trails." That is, designed for hikers and horses, maybe a little eroded. Despite the occasional rough section or stretches of doubletrack, this little trail system was pretty fun to ride. We settled in at the campground that night and asked if there were any tent sites left. Suffice it to say we were the only tent in our section of the campground! It made stargazing great. Two meteors! Two satellites!

Ride 4: Land Between the Lakes, KY

The next day we drove up north into the Kentucky portion of the recreation area. We got info at the welcome station in the middle of the park, then Frank started riding up the North-South trail (about 30 miles of singletrack) and I headed up to the north end of the park to do my own riding. This is after ogling bison and stopping to tour a few old family cemeteries. I rode the Canal Loop - a nice 10 mile loop - with nice water views.

Ride 5: Lake Glendale, Shawnee National Forest, IL

More "old school mountain bike trails," these got us a little lost. There's a simple lake loop, plus unknown lengths of trails looping around wildly amidst the woods and rocks. We chatted with a park caretaker who told us that most of the trails were built locally without much organization or official sanction. Luckily for us, we had GPS and basic topo maps on our phones so we were able to wander our way through a 10 mile ride down single and double track - mainly designed for horses and hikers. Poison ivy abounded, which kept me off a few of the trails. The big bonus of these trails? Surprise rock formations buried in the woods and little sections of slickrock-like trail that made me nostalgic for Arizona riding.

Ride 6: Cedar Lake, Shawnee National Forest, IL

I dragged us to Giant City State Park for a hike and a stay at the campground, then we drove to Cedar Lake for our last ride of the trip. More old school trails, these were fairly eroded and rather technical. There was a lot of poison ivy on this trail, so I pulled out arm and leg warmers to serve as a shield. The trail was rough and I was tired, so I didn't do the full trail. By turning around I avoided a copperhead (which my husband jumped with his bike, then shooed off the trail). I also avoided a nest of yellow jackets (allergic) and a 1.5 inch long European Hornet buzzing around the car.

Unfortunately, I did not avoid a spectacular end-over-end crash that left me with a purple chin, hand, shoulder, hip, and this great big bruise above my knee. It really puts those little bruises in perspective! Nothing broken or dislocated though, so I'm putting this in the WIN column :)

We were going to stop by Kickapoo again, or the trails around Peoria (to be reviewed later), or even Rock Cut, but were stopped by rain! A great vacation.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Little Night Race on the Prairie

A few weeks ago I did the Pitch Black Singletrack race at CamRock, part of the WEMS series. I had done the 12 hour race last year but since I've only done a few long rides this year (recovering from a running injury) I just did the 6 hour race.

The weather, at least for the six hour length, was pretty much perfect. Everyone started together at 8 pm with little light left in the sky, the temperature hovering in the low 80's. A band entertained the crowd at the bar which overhangs the start/finish. Everybody was in high spirits.

I'm always surprised at how much easier the trail looks in the dark. I have very poor depth perception, so I've found that the trail lit up by just headlights tends to flatten. Rocks, roots, and divots appear almost as 2D as a pen outline against the dirt. This can lead to bad surprises, for which I am grateful to ride a bike with front suspension. But I discovered that it can also lead to good surprises. At times I took the harder line without realizing it, and found it to be faster than my usual run. So...poor vision for the win!

I also love the prairie at night. The occasional super tall plant peeks up like a head over the densely packed vegetation and the white boneset flowers catch the moonlight and capture the eye. Riding the sweeping prairie trails opens up the sky too, so you can enjoy the stars or in the case of that weekend's race, a moon muddied orange by thin clouds.

One of my favorite things about this race is the party tent on the back edge of the loop. They always play great music and cheer wildly all night. Sometimes they don't have snacks a non-beer-drinker vegetarian might want...but I did have a guy desperately hand me a chocolate filled twinkie on my last lap. I say "desperately" because he jogged after me on the trail and handed it off like a pro support team! Now that's dedication :)

My race was molasses-slow. Pain meant that I took time in the open areas to do rolling stretches since I'm still kind of broken. But oh, it was fun!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mad FORCs at Stump Farm

Great Riding had by all the
 Mad FORCs at Stump Farm.

I rolled into Reforestation Camp, full of butterflies.  I was thinking what had I gotten myself into?  In years past I've raced with the Mad FORCs 12 hour women's team, and during that time, I always thought, what's the hurry for those 3 hour solo people - I've already been out riding for hours.  The Stump Farm race put the hurry to the test.  Shannon was looking for a training race and Stump Farm was available for both of us, so between being mom's, each with 2 kids, working full-time and having active significant others - the 30 mile event was the max miles in the min time (and the temperature was supposed to break).

Our first 3-4 miles of the 1st lap was a push to not be left in the dust, manage what was ahead and get some space.  We managed to move around one lady, but then as we passed another lady (on the left), she was strong and caught us (on our right, but wait- she passed on the left?) on the up-hill.  I thought it was a little strange, that she called out "on your right" and passed on the left, but it can happen.  They managed to get in every hill SF had to offer, some sandy, some short, and sweet, always a great reward was the awesome flowy fast single track, puts a smile on my face.  I knew Shannon would blast through the single track, but we got caught behind "on your right" and passed her again.  A while later, she caught us on the double tracks and passed again "on your right, but really it was on our left"  so we knew she was strong on the double, but slower in the single track and was confused about the passing.  On the 2nd lap Shannon - took her and eventually on the 2nd I also took "on your right"  and left some dust on her left - she was strong so I knew she would always be lurking behind me.  We kept pushing - I lost Shannon during the 2nd lap.  I thought wow, this lap is hard, and I realized my seat had snuck down several inches, a quick re-adjustment, I felt like I had all of a sudden gazelle legs and the third lap was a thrill to ride with my seat in the correct position.

30 plus miles went by really fast and I enjoyed the race and think it was very funny how nervous I was.  Overall, Shannon & I each got in 30+ miles, and the 12 hour relay team (Kathy, Barb & Berlie) got in a combined 80+ miles, so Mad FORCs were able to cover 140+ miles.  (This is not including Carol's joy ride - no telling how many miles she also added!)  Great job and great fun was had by all.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

WEMS Race Update: Northern Kettles

Mad FORCs' Team Tortoise ruled the 100 mile women's team category at the WEMS Northern Kettles race. Here's their report:

We arrived late Friday night around 11 pm, set up camp and slept at the parking lot in the car. Woke up the next morning to NO RAIN! Yea!! It was a very nice day with a nice breeze.

Kathy went first and had a good lap. I went second & was slower than her by only a few minutes! (We took our time in between laps but seemed to have very consistent times regardless of the talking, eating, etc.) On my second lap, while pulling over for the fast guys, I saw a man in the middle of the forest picking up stuff with a poker. I thought he was picking up trash so asked what he was doing....he was picking mushrooms during the race! He was oblivious to all the racers whizzing by! (Not oblivious to me, though...I'm not fast!) We chatted for a little while, since I've never seen anyone picking mushrooms!

Kathy heard owls & cranes during her laps. I heard feisty horses neighing while I was waiting for her in the parking lot....there was a group riding horses on the other side.

Kathy did her third lap. And after resting awhile, did a 4th. We won first place! (ha! ) And won prize money!

It was a perfect day for a race!