Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cabin Fever? Ride the Trail

The day after I flew over and photographed the John Wayne Iron Horse trail I did the only sensible thing I could think of - ride the trail.  Sunday was clear and cloudless and almost warm so I called my buddy Brent (who hasn't learned not to answer the phone when he sees it is me) and told him I was driving down to Rosalia to ride the trail through town and east toward that cool trestle I flew over the day before.

Ok, just kidding, he knows not to answer the phone when I call but sometimes chooses to do so anyway.  Brent is a great guy, cyclist and neighbor so he asked for a hall pass from the wife and said "let's go."  He smartly chose his Gary Fisher Mt. Tam and I sort-of chose the Moots CX with studded tires because I am too lazy to swap them out.
The Clampetts go cycling - yes, that is a sack of grass seed separating/securing bikes.

We loaded the bikes in the back of the truck and blasted down to Rosalia.  Once there we only saw two people and they were riding horses through town.  We turned west on 1st and were at a trailhead in about 3 blocks.

We met two other residents wearing hunter orange and driving a jeep on the trail so the no hunting and no motorized vehicle postings at each access point appear to be more of a guideline in this case.

Despite reading several reports and blogs to the contrary, I still expected the rock to be more compact like the trail of the Hiawatha and not loose and deep in spots on this trail.  We went about 2 miles and I thought if I just let a "little air" out of the tires the ride would improve a bit.  It did until the rear went flat about 25 feet later - guess it was not little enough.

I love these rock cuts and just think about how loud it must have been with a train rolling through

The Moots rolled easily and did not require much in the way of inputs even in the deeper rocks.  The geometry is relaxed enough to be stable and confidence inspiring while still fun and lively on the road.

I thought the light hitting the trees with a shadow in the background looked sort of Ansel Adamsy...

We averaged just under 11 miles per hour without really pushing the pace and ended up riding about 21 miles total.  The goal was to get outside and just enjoy riding something different with a little adventure and spice in it.  We did not make it to the trestle from the day before so that may be a goal for next time.

Next time we will probably head west toward Malden and Pine City on the way to Rock Lake.  The Mt. Tam worked well and the lager volume tires allowed for more float in the deeper rock.

Riding up to and on the trestles outside of Rosalia has a surreal feel to it. 


 We learned that a better place to start riding is out on Malden Road toward the trestles.  It is a short distance out of town and lets you ride longer without the trail being interrupted several times from where we started.

If I were planning to ride the whole trail, I would probably opt for a 29er with a wide tire and tubeless setup so the tires roll and float well on the varying rock and dirt.  The rocks are mostly round so they do not compact well (think marbles) and tend to displace under the tire. For shorter rides, the Moots works well, but I would add a larger tire up front like a 38 and a 34 also in a tubeless setup.  Lower pressures would help smooth the ride just a bit.

The above tire setup will most likely be the setup for all gravel grinding I do this year since the rocks tend to get pushed together in deeper sections and on the outside of turns - it will be nice to have some flotation up front for those situations.

 After the ride we were both glad to be done and promised to come back later this year.  I can see this and other sections being particularly vivid when the fall colors start to so that is on the agenda for sure.  It will be important to be aware of hunters when the bird season opens since there is plenty of dense cover for birds and the elevated rail bed make an ideal walking and shooting platform.

Until then.

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