On Wednesday, November 25th, Bob Jenkins and I headed out to Castlewood State Park to pre-ride the trails before we destroy all in our path at the Castlewood 8 hour Adventure Race on Dec 5th. We printed off a trail map from Gateway Off Road Cyclist’s site here, and we were ready to roll.
We did not want to kill ourselves by riding as hard as we possibly could, so we came up with our new motto – “Fun is better than Fast.” Our goals were to get a feel for the trails and, more importantly, to have a blast. Mission accomplished.
It was around 40 degrees, but the wind made it feel a lot colder. Once I got my bike shoes on, I turned around to see Bob bundled up from head to toe. I had a couple of thoughts: A) I was clearly under-dressed and was going to freeze my bean bag off, or 2) Bob was way over-dressed and would be shedding layers soon enough.
We left the parking lot and immediately climbed an old jeep road that sucked balls. It was really steep with lots of loose rock, but the view from the top made it all worthwhile. As we took in the view and recovered, Bob decided to shed several layers.
The maps were pretty good, although there were a couple of places where one could get a little turned around. The Roller Coaster Trail is marked on the map, but it is not marked on any of the trail signs at the park. There are also a couple of side trails that are not on the map, and they are unmarked at the park as well.
The trails were a lot of fun with only a couple of rough climbs. The Roller Coaster trail was so fun, we rode it twice. The River Scene Trail was also a lot of fun. It’s flat and fast, and we rode this twice as well. We took our time and goofed around a lot. We (and by “We” I mean Bob) practiced some bike handling skillz, and then Bob worked on some of his trail blazing technique down the side of a mountain. This will surely help us dominate the upcoming adventure race.
We headed over to ride the Stinging Nettle Trail. The connecting trail along the river from River Scene Trail was also flat, fast, and fun with several slalom-like sections where you could take alternate routes. At one point, I took an outside line and blew by Bob as if he was standing still – total annihilation. Later, however, Bob decided to take an inside line right through a swampy section to fly by me. As Bob blasted past me in a furious blur, a tidal wave of nasty, smelly mud-water douched my entire body. Thank God it wasn’t cold and windy or else getting completely wet might have… Oh wait, it was cold and windy (Thanks, Jerk).
As we got closer to the Stinging Nettle Trail, we encountered just a little bit of mud. Then the mud got worse… and worse… and worse… Within about 100 yards it got so bad that we had to abandon the notion of riding Stining Nettle and Cedar Bluff Trails.
We didn’t want to destroy the trails, so we turned around and headed back. It was a lot of fun, and now we know the trails at Castlewood State Park like the back of our hands… Sort of. Team Virtus is now ready to destroy anyone that stands in their way a the Castlewood Adventure Race on Saturday – or at the very least we’ll have more fun than everyone else, and that is a guarantee.