Thursday, August 5, 2010

Parkway Blast Saturday - Honey Run Trail Story

I know this blog is for MTB, but for those willing to get out and sweat a little this Saturday, 8/7 you could have some fun. It's the Parkway Blast, starting at Krug Park at 8AM. Three distances involved ranging from 22, 35 or 60 miles.

Here's a website to check out more about it, along with two of the routes available:

Now I know JDoug won't want to be caught out there on a skinny tired bike, but it's not all that bad and promises to be a nice and sweaty day at 96 degrees for a high. Good chance to see some other bikers you don't see a lot. What I have been seeing is more roadies doing the MTB thing here and there too so maybe some good recruits to help with trail maintenance. I know I should be putting my chainsaw where my mouth is myself.

On another note, I was down at Lake of the Ozarks about two weeks ago and had the chance to checkout the Honey Run Trail that I saw in a brochure at OZ Bikes down at Lake Ozark. Stopped by to talk to the owner there and he told me about building those trails with the help of the IMBA folks. So I checked it out.

Now for my disclaimer. I'm far from a respectable MTB rider, but I do enjoy it. The PR on the trail was that it seemed all downhill from the start so the gurus didn't like it much. I don't remember the specifics on distance, but it's comprised of something like a 3 mile connector trail and then a basic route of another 3 miles off the connector. You can take both of those and then take the second route off the end of the connector for something like 7 miles. More hills and whatnot on the second route. To get back where you started you have to ride the trail backward as each ends on a county road in the middle of nowhere.

So I jumped on the trail from a small trailhead where you can park about 5 cars. First impression was that it was pretty grown up with weeds so the trail might be a little rough. When I started though what I liked was the mature forest and a pretty tight track. Not having biked outside SJ, I haven't experienced much in the way of rocks before and there were a few here and there on top of the ridge.

About a 1/2 mile in I was charging down a little hill and just about plowed into a massive tree down. Didn't think much about it so went around the tree. Little further along and another - and another - and another - and another. So either a big windstorm had hit or something.

Then I started to cross some creeks on some steep little downhills, very loose rock, with turns on the uphill (don't like those!). A lot of these crossings were pretty washed out and my confidence, that was already low, ebbed a bit more.

Then a big black cloud came in and it started to rain. So I decided not to re-ride the connector trail back to the start. Instead, I tried to remember the site map and turned to the right on the county road to get back to the car. It seemed that I was mostly veering toward the road so that should be the way back - good reasoning? No.

So as I'm going along looking for the car (my wife and youngest daughter were there walking the trail), I'm starting to think that things aren't looking so good. Brain surgeon that I am, I check the odometer and I've gone 5 miles so far with no sign of happy life. Unhappy life, in the form of biting and snapping dogs, are keeping me moving. All the while the skies are dumping major water down.

So as this county road turns from rock into mud, I'm starting to think that either I'll run into U.S. 54 or will hit the Lake soon. Then I start thinking about just looking for a cross street and that I'll call my wife on the cell phone to save me. We've got OnStar so my fevered mind figures that she could relay that to them and she could find me. Never see another street intersect though. Just trees, hills, mud, and dogs.

I'm 8 miles from the end of the trail and still am not seeing anything encouraging and then spy pavement on the horizon. So I pedal on and hope this is a good sign. 12 miles from the trail I start to hear trucks and round the bend to see the waterpark on U.S. 54. At that point I realize I'm 24 miles from the trail head and my car (as traveled on paved roads). But at least I have a landmark and can call the wife to pick me up.

I call her and she says she was starting to get worried as I had been gone longer than I said I would. Then I tell her I'm 24 miles away and could she pick me up. "No problem", she says, but then says "how did you end up there?" I tell her the story and then she says, "I was looking at the state park map and if you'd turned left at the county road, it would have been about 1 1/2 miles back to the trailhead. Didn't you know that?"

She picks me up and I go back to OZ Bikes that afternoon for a spare tube. The guy there asks me about the ride and I told him that the trail was pretty much trashed. I asked about whether there'd been a storm in the last week or so.

He answered that he hadn't had time to do any maintenance and that his volunteer group vaporized so it was him or nobody. As to recent storms, he said nothing bad. He said that it only gets maintenance about once a year and that trees do tend to fall in the forrest. They do indeed.

So four lessons learned:
1. Honey Run Trail is nice but needs lots of maintenance so I wouldn't recommend lugging your bike down there as it's probably not ridable. Hope they get some volunteers as that poor guy at the bike shop can only do so much.
2. Ask about the condition of a trail before you head out - not after.
3. I have no sense of direction.
4. If I'm not a moron I'm not far from it.


choppe said...

If you have'nt been through a similar situation you have'nt been riding enough... Nice post!

JDOUG said...

They obviously don't have a trail hippy down n them parts...

AC said...

That's exactly right. And we don't know how good we have it in St. Joe with the maintenance we enjoy here!