|From north to south, today I followed the route shown in red.|
Today’s ride was just 40 miles, but they were challenging miles. First I took the Eisenbahn State Trail to Campbellsport, fighting a steady wind and working pretty hard just to average 14 mph. The return trip was almost effortless: 18-23 mph the whole way thanks to the tailwind. Feeling good, I crossed US Highway 45 and took Friendly Drive down to Glacial Blue Hills Recreation Area. Usually I take the flat doubletrack trail through Glacial Blue Hills to Beaver Dam Road, but today I decided to challenge myself on the technical singletrack that the local mountain bikers love so well.
My Giant FCR3 is not a mountain bike; it’s a flatbar road bike intended for “fitness” riders. But it has a good aluminum frame, a sturdy CrMo fork and cyclocross tires. It’s more than adequate for my rail trail adventures, but unfit for technical singletrack. I didn’t expect to get far.
But I surprised myself. I used a series of switchbacks to reach the top of the ridge to the west of the Ice Age Trail, overcoming rocks, exposed roots and fallen branches. In one or two spots I could feel the front tire lift off the ground and during a brief moment out of the saddle I almost spun in place as the unweighted rear tire lost its grip. I made it … not with the panache of a real mountain biker, certainly, but I made it. Getting back down from the top of the ridge was a different story, one that involved a little walking! With no suspension, 700x35 tires at 75 psi, brakes that didn’t feel strong enough and a lack of experience, I wasn’t going to risk a crash.
Those few minutes in Glacial Blue Hills made me wonder what I could do with a proper mountain bike. Despite a couple of holes in my technique, I showed a little talent negotiating the climb. Next year, with the right equipment … who knows? Even if used only for a change of pace, a little mountain biking would be great for my overall fitness and my bike handling skills.