Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday at the Lake

Got out to Nocamixon again this afternoon. I had to do lawn work this morning. I wanted to ride today, though, so after I finished up I figured - what the hell -- I get back to Nocamixon, only this time I'd remember my Garmin, and maybe take a few pics along the way.

I took the camera along for the first lap, so I enjoyed a pretty leisurely pace with multiple stops. But on my second lap, I left the camera behind and pushed a little more. I mention this because I discovered something about this trail -- it's actually a pretty tough place to go fast. The trail is super narrow in a lot of places with lots of twists and turns, and it turns back on itself again and again. It's a classic speed-up/slow-down/speed-up/slow-down trail. There is some climbing, but nothing of note, and most of the recorded elevation comes from the rollers. What slows you down is the constant change of direction in tight singletrack. I was surprised -- it feels like you're flying along, but unless my Garmin is off (very possible) my average speed is being pulled way down by the constant slowing into turns around and between trees.

Yeah, that's it ...

Or maybe I'm just slow ...

Anyway, here's a "photo essay" of a day at Nocamixon:

Tower Road off 611 leads right to the parking area. Here I am turning left off of 611 North.

The start of the trail lets you know what you're in for - tight and twisty narrow singletrack

A lot of the drop in sections are fortified with large, well-placed rocks. These trails are very well built

This is a rock bridge that passes over the creek. It doesn't interrupt the flow of the water - the rocks just lay on top and the water flows underneath.

The singletrack never gets much wider than this.

A few years ago, I drove out to Wisconsin to do the 24 Hours of Nine Mile as my first solo 24. Much of the 15 mile loop there looks a lot like this -- narrow singletrack winding through Pine trees. Nine Mile is the best time I ever had on a bike, so the fact that Nocamixon recalls that course for me makes it that much more enjoyable.

In this photo, I am standing on top of a roller that berms to the right. This is a very typical feature in the section that winds through the trees. I didn't include any specific pictures of that section because I don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone. It's one of the most fun parts of the trail.

Back in March, I rode a portion of this trail before it was "officially" open. I wasn't poaching -- the builders had requested riders come up and help settle the built sections. This section is just beyond where the trail ended back in March. It's about the halfway point now!

This just shows the thought the VMB guys put into this trail. This isn't a water crossing or anything like that. It's just a section of trail they felt they needed to fortify against erosion. Like I said, these trails are really well built.

I just love this picture ... the way the trail kinks and bends. Just a ribbon of dirt cutting through the woods. This is mountainbiking to me.

Since this is the east, no trail can be completely devoid of rocks and roots. This is actually a fairly extended rock garden climb. Probably the most technical section of the whole park.

This is one of the fastest sections of the trail. It's hard-packed and pretty dusty right now, but it flows pretty fast with gentle bends - one of the only areas where the turns aren't abrupt.

This is the start of the pump track rollers. You can roll through most of this section back and forth without ever pedaling.

This photo and ...

... this one show how tightly packed the pump track section is. It just turns back in on itself again and again and ...

... bermed turns like this one link each set of rollers.

Near the end of the singletrack section, this is the last, super-fast descent section. It's smooth but for each drop. You can really pick up speed, but you have to be careful because the trail hangs a hard left at the bottom.

That's pretty much the trail. I figured it was somewhere around 8 miles, but I read just under 7 on my Garmin. I think it's probably closer to seven even, though, since my Garmin got a little confused in a few sections when the signal weakened. Still, it's a great trail for a two lap day. And it's very different than what I usually ride in Wissahickon, and having that kind of new option is just really cool!

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