A late November, mid-afternoon sunlight shines softly through the leaf-less trees as I am finishing up on the new Green Valley trail. I think of honey, and of the idea that God exists. Forest grasses convert the sun’s rays and beam water-fed green colors back into the woods. My legs are tired, three hours of rolling up and down the hills of Brown County and across that gnarly path called Schooner Trace.
When I started out from the north side of the newly bestowed IMBA Epic trail system, I had the thought of ”ride ‘em all.” The day’s forecast called for blue skies and 60s degree temperatures, pretty much perfect for an end-of-season ride. I had on shorts, but layered the torso.
Taking the “lefts” out to the climb up Hesitation Point, I rode that roller coaster ride with a big smile on my face. The warming air, but with cool breezes, the smell of the woods in late fall, the forest light, my breathing, pedaling fast, all reminded me of being a kid again. Remember those afternoons of youth spent riding around town and through woodlots without a care of proper hydration and nutrition?
Up HP went well, save a back tire spin-out on that tight right turn that requires a scoot over the tree root. It had been a while since I hadn’t made it through, but it didn’t matter. I crested out and crossed over the hard road, making my way down to Schooner.
I rolled through, or maybe I should say “bounced” over, the initial rocks at the entry way, but the quick switchback to the right got me again. ”Gotta work on ‘trials-like riding’ for 2012,” passed through my mind. I clipped back in and muscled down the trail, feeling good and happy to be off the main trails. Approaching the next “crux,” I cleared the entry into the tight left downhill switchback, but didn’t quite have the line, and wasn’t able to pedal cleanly through it.
Continuing on, Schooner offered some humble-pie jabs, and a few of the off-camber downed logs had me jumping off my bike. ”Maybe some day I’ll clean all of Schooner,” was a laughable thought, but still a goal. The first section finished up and I crossed the hard road to part two.
I was home. The backcountry riding feeling, the ravines, the rocks, the “cliffy-ness,” the rolling down in the hollers, seeing riders flying by on the trail above, Brown County’s Epic-ness was alive. From burly to freaky fast trails, from riding with the community to a solo ride where a limited rescue factor requires that your technical skills be honed and polished, Brown County really does have it all.
Back up on the thoroughfare, I turned right and pumped my way to the campground where I grubbed a little and stretched a bit. Not wanting to chill down, I clipped back in and again enjoyed the “pump track” for a while. It seemed that HP was coming along at a decent clip, keeping to the “bee” line and not dropping back in on Schooner. Let it be said: that little stretch of trail between the Schooner trailheads may well be my favorite piece of BCSP. It rolls, but it also punches you and could knock you down. Some finesse and muscle are in order.
Out on HP again, I stopped to get a photo of my own of the “iconic” Brown County view:
On the way down HP, I stood off trail as two riders made their way up through one of the rocky sections. The first guy took a fall, tumbling off to the side. He said he was fine, though ego-bruised maybe. I stood again as a group of four huffed-and-puffed their way up a little further down. And then I was able to hammer to the bottom.
I turned the cranks to Green Valley, more rolling along. My legs started to tire, but the scenery around me fueled me back in the direction of my car. Keeping left after Green Valley, I ended the day by sitting back and beach-cruising on Pine. Never will I not take the opportunity to roll rubber tires through pine trees. Quiet. Soft.
Nearing the end of my dirt ride for the day, I offered a prayer of thank you and gratitude to HMBA and the people who built the trails, for coming back out without injury, and to the engineers that build bikes that allow me and others to spend long days riding trails over and through the hills of southern Indiana.