Friday, September 9, 2011

hello mister buffalo!

Ok the 3rd and final ride was also on the centennial trail. I started at the same place, Badger Clark Cabin Trail Head, and head down the 1/2mile connector trail however this time I headed right down The Iron Creek Trail instead of left and instantly started going down. I wasn't too sure if this was good or bad, will the return trip be longer now? But shortly after it leveled out and started going back up hill. This trail started as single track for the first part, just winding through the prairies. The occasional climb, all ridable and a lot more tame then the French Creek side. The scenery was absolutely beautiful! I couldn't believe how tranquil it was out there. I was the only one there.

There were thick patches of trees and then it would open up to large open prairies again
I'm guessing there were logging projects back in the day or something as the sign indicates a lot more trees at one point. The trail then began to look more like double track or some abandoned service road which was fine. It was very rutted out though.
Two hitches in ride today weren't the terrain but the buffalo! As I was riding I ran into two different buffalo, right there on the trail. This lead to some hike a bike as I wanted to keep a wide berth as not to upset one of them.

The trail then turned into more of a rough gravel service road for a while before turning back into single track. It was really fun to ride because on the way back I felt comfortable enough to really let it open up and fly down the gravel stuff which had these crazy whoops or rollers just randomly that you could catch some sweet air off of! I ended the out on the best DH run to that point it was fast and almost sunk in I guess would be the best way to explain it. It was rutted out so I was hoping from rut to rut and bunny hopping at high speed over big holes and using the sides as berms of sorts  to keep speed through the corners. The way back was the only real hike a bike I had to do on this part of the ride.
Just before I got back to the second buffalo I noticed a sign that said legion lake 1 mile left and badger clark 2.5miles straight ahead, not having a map I was like heck yeah new trail, no buff and its shorter lets do it. The trail was super over grown grass, that led into some trees and then quickly started going up and up and soon it was super loose looked just like French creek and I was pushing my bike again. When I got to the top it was on, it wasn't as rocky as the way up and looked twisty and fun as hell. I was flying, this was the best dh run of the week. I don't know how fast I was going but I was in the zone and then 3/4 down plunk! thump thump thump, pinch flat! no!!! well I had my tube and hand pump and fixed it but just couldnt' get enough air in the tire, when I got back and checked it it was at 28 and I normally ride 35-40. I guess it's just another reason to go with tubeless. I guess I'm just worried to burp a tire off a jump or drop probably over thinking it.

The next dilemma, because I didn't have a map, was a sign that said left legion lake loop, straight centennial trail. Had I had a map I would have probably just went strait as that led back to the camp ground just on the other side but I'm glad I didn't. I did have to do the most serious hike a bike ever and I'm not sure this section would even be ride able and if it was you probably would need a DH bike with a 64degree head tube angle. It was so steep and so rocky. I wish I had a pic or this but I was to worried about were the trail was going as it wasn't beat in or anything. It was just random blue blazes on trees, like connect the dots. When I got to the top I was exhausted as I had to carry my bike through parts of it.
The other side was much more ridable and a hell of a lot of fun I would love to do that side again but a little fresher this time. I made a few mistakes that I wouldn't have made if I was fresh with a clear mind and that ride could have been a lot smoother and faster but it was a great way to end a great ride and a great weekend in the black hills!
If you haven't been there to ride you need to get out there it's so much fun and definitely will bring your game to the next level!
Equipment recommendations:
Bike: 5-6inch trail bike but really any bike will work you just will be limited on what you can do.
Components: I would highly recommend a dropper post you don't want the ejector seat up when your going down, you can do what I did and just stop at the top and bottom and lower your seat with a quick release but why kill the momentum and tubeless tires, there are tons of rocks and roots and they aren't that sharp but pinch flats are very easy to get. Also wide bars and a short stem to make the cockpit feel secure and keep you in control because the roots, ruts and rocks really want to try and tell you where to go and don't forget your flats, easiest safest way to bail if you need to.
Equipment: Helmet for sure, knee pads probably wouldn't be a bad thing, gloves are optional- I don't typically ride with them because I loose them all the time but they will save your hands on the hard ground if you fall. You will also want a good multi tool, a tire repair kit and some sort of air source and finally a good hydration pack, need lots of water even in the fall. The elevation go to me and I drank a ton on 2-3hrs rides. You are working hard out there! but it's worth it. Nothing is more rewarding the earning your turns!
Keep it real!

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