Yesterday, I finally decided to take on the blue trail (Scrappy Mountain Loop) of the Syllamo system. Most of it, at least- I wanted to ride the Syllamo’s Revenge course route, so I started going counter-clockwise on the orange loop and turned off at the orange/blue trail intersection.
From there, the gnarliness began- the trail headed (mostly) down, and was generally a bed of rocks ranging in size from golfball to softball. Tough, but nothing the big wheels couldn’t handle. Eventually I came to the 1st of 3 Livingston Creek crossings and 1st of 2 highway 5 crossings.
From the Highway 5 trailhead on, the trail got technical. It started by climbing up a narrow gravel road- not bad until after a minute, when you see the trail sign telling you to turn left- I looked left and had one of the first “WTF” moments of the day when I couldn’t see a trail- just some rocks. As I would quickly learn, when you can’t tell where the trail is, it’s usually the pile of rocks. That part of the trail was pretty technical. The climbs weren’t too long, but there were a couple of spots that I didn’t even attempt to clear. Nearly two miles later, the trail dumped back out on Highway 5, then crossed Livingston Creek, was flat for a minute, then crossed the creek one last time (the 3rd crossing was the only one that was a bit hairy- the bank was kinda tall on both sides, so I ended up dropping in and taking a small detour through a shallower section).
From there, the trail went up. And up. It didn’t stop going up. For nearly 3 miles, not only did I encounter some of the steepest trail I’ve laid tires on, it was also incredibly rocky. Oh yeah- and did I mention that it just kept going up?Ã‚ It was nuts. It was the type of trail where you’d stall out, get off and walk through the steep rocks that just stalled you out, only to see more of the same just ahead. I’m happy to say that I cleaned some of it.
Yeah… good luck with that…
Eventually I reached the last of the climb- a logging road that pitched up steeply and led back to the trailhead at Green Mountain Road. After the singletrack I’d just been on, a “smooth” piece of “road” ascending at what was likely double digit grades was actually a welcome sight.
Once I was back at the car, I had a snack and headed back out on the yellow trail (Jack’s Branch). The “technical” sections of it were pedestrian compared to what I’d been through in the previous hour, so the main difficulty was the fact that I was in hour 4 of my day, and my legs were feeling it. I made it around, though, for a total of 28 miles- 4hours, 10 minutes of riding, and nearly 5000ft of climbing (according to the Garmin).
I have to say that even though I’ve only been out on the trails a handful of times now, Syllamo is quickly teaching me how to ride my bike. I’m looking forward to Syllamo’s Revenge in May…
Luckily for me, whatever type of flu bug I’d caught was short-lived. I was able to ride by Saturday and went out for a miserably cold & windy 4 hour ride with a few of the Marx & Bensdorf guys. Johnny Mac gets ride leader of the year props for putting together an outing that included scenes such as these:
Today, Ryan and I slept in a bit and went for a post-lunch MTB ride around Shelby Farms. The North trail is in phenomenal shape right now! Now it’s time to pack & get the bikes ready to head back to Mountain View in the morning so I can get a few more days of mountain riding in before I come back home for family stuff happening on December 25th. Gonna take a better camera this time- maybe I can get a few trail photos with something other than my camera phone…
I realized this morning that I never posted any photos of my latest project bike. I converted my BH Carbon Cross into a winter training bike to take with me over to Mountain View.
BH Carbon Cross Frame
SRAM Force right shifter/left brake (previous owner took the shift paddle off of the left side when he converted to single ring)
Dura-ace bar end shifter for FD
SRAM Red FD w/Speen Umlaker top-pull adaptor
Ridley Canti Brakes
SRAM SRM crank w/38t small ring
SRAM 1070 11-28 cassette (not in the pic, but it’ll be on there soon)
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 32c touring tires
Speedplay Zero (or Crank Bros Candy SL for CX) Pedals
Jagwire cable liner & gold cable housing
Deda Gold bartape
Literally- yesterday morning, I woke up feeling achy & crappy. This quickly progressed into chills/fever/upset stomach/full-body aches. I laid around the cabin all day in a fevered stupor. We decided to make the trip home… which is on my top 5 list of “worst 3 hour period” of my life ever. The muscle aches were horrible.
This morning, I’m feeling slightly better. The upset stomach seems to be gone, so I was able to eat a little bit and take some asprin, which knocked the fever and aches down a little. Now I’m just stuck in the house. The weather is supposed to be really nice today, which sucks, but I guess I should follow the advice I gave my students all semester to keep myself quarintined until I’ve been without a fever for 24 hours. Blah.
I’ll be spending a large portion of my Winter Break from work in Mountain View, AR for a solo “training camp” of sorts, and I have been debating what bikes I want to take with me for the adventure. Of course, I’ll bring the MTB along for some Epic-worthy Syllamo Trails rides, but some training on the road will be integral. Problem is, a lot of the non-highway roads in the Stone County area are gravel (I’d wager that MOST of the non-highway roads in the area are gravel!)
This sounds like a job for the cyclocross bike! (Yes, I have been known to take the road bike on occasional gravel road adventures, but I am thinking long distance comfort here).
The only problem is that I really like having my SRM computer. Also, the current gearing on the CX bike is a 40t single ring and 11-26 in the back. Not quite what I want for steep (gravel) mountain roads!
Move the SRM from my road bike to the cross bike
Install a bar-end shifter for the front derailleur (I’ve got an extra SRAM Red one that was supposed to go on the Air9, but that didn’t work out because of chainstay clearance issues)
Put a 38t small ring on the SRM (it’s the smallest available for the 130bcd). Yeah, I know it’s just 1 tooth smaller than what I’ve got now, but I figure that every bit helps.
Swap the 11-26 for an 11-28
Throw in some Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires (size 700×32) for comfort on both pavement and gravel
Tie it all together with sealed cable housing, and you’ve got a machine ready for just about anything the Ozark Roads bring to the ride.
So… if you’ve been reading a while, you may remember this post back in April where I’d broken a derailleur hanger and cage exactly 1 week after getting the Jet9.
Well, today I managed to snap another hanger. The rear plate of the DR cage is bent in one spot, but I’m pretty confident that I can fix it. Ryan and I were almost 2 miles into the Bald Scrappy loop when a stick popped up and momentarily lodged back there. I heard it and stopped pedaling immediately, but the damage was already done…
I had chain repair stuff with me, so I removed the DR and attempted to convert to single speed…
However, even trying a few different combinations of chain length/gearing, the chain was always really loose or waaaaay too tight, so I ended up removing it and doing the walk of (mechanical) shame back to the car… which is a lot like writing “I will always bring a spare hanger” 1000x on the chalkboard during detention.
Ryan decided to finish the remaining 5.5 miles of the loop. I got back to the car, loaded up my disabled bike, and hiked up the other end of the trail about a 1/4 of a mile until I found a good spot to stop and wait for a photo opportunity.
Afterward, we went back to the cabin, changed, and headed back over to the trailhead to hike the White River Bluff trail (shortest & most scenic of the trail system). While we were out, we did a nice bit of trail clearing. We moved several low-hanging widowmakers as well as some large fallen branches and countless “spoke killer” sticks from the track. The last part of the loop (or first, if you’re going clockwise) features a gorgeous view from the bluffs high above the White River (hence the name of the trail) Oh yeah… and see the speck of a house near the top of the mountain just under where that branch is pointing down at the top of the photo? That’s the cabin! It’s freakin’ sweet!
Tomorrow Ryan is going to ride some more, and I’m going to hike/clear the Bald Scrappy loop much like I did to the White River Bluff loop today. Afterward, we’re going to head back to Memphis and ride on the road Sunday morning before the rain moves in.
Ryan and I drive over to my parents’ new place in Mountain View, AR on Wednesday. Since a lot of my family was staying in the cabin, we checked in to a little cabin on Sylamore Creek just down the road from their place.
This morning, we slept in until almost 7:00, then had some breakfast and headed out for our first ride on the Syllamo MTB Trails. Other than being slightly chilly, it was a perfect day- we climbed up Green Mountain Road to the Bad Branch Trailhead. This loop is the “easy” one (as well as the best maintained) out of the 50+ miles of trails in the system, so we figured that it’d be a good for the first time out. It was a gorgeous ride, and we made it back in time to get the car packed and head up the hill to my parents’ place for the tail end of Thanksgiving lunch. After laying around for a while, we helped my dad move a rock.
Yes. A rock. It was his favorite rock on the property because it is “shaped like a bench.”
It was an exercise in simple machines. Between the use of an antiquated pulley (I think my dad bought the pulley then started looking for something to do with it), a lever, and a tractor with several lengths of chain and cable, we moved a giant rock about 70 feet up a hill and into a spot near a random tree in the front yard.
Tomorrow, we’re heading out for more riding. Since we don’t have a checkout/lunch deadline, we’re going to check out the more difficult loops over the next couple of days. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll get a few extra photos :)