Monday, April 9, 2012

Here and There, but definitely not Everywhere

It was another slow week at work, but Friday eventually found it's way around again.  During the wet and muddy winter I'd heard that the trails at Quail Hollow State Park had been damaged pretty badly by irresponsible riders.  Apparently it got so bad that the park actually closed them for a while, something that they usually don't do.  But towards the end of the week I saw on the CAMBA board that the trails were not only re-opened, but in good condition.  I hadn't been out there for quite a long time, probably not even last summer, but I always enjoyed a spin around the loop there.

Quail Hollow State Park, Ohio

The trail there is a 3.15 mile loop, with one way travel.  The elevation change in the park is a whopping 50 feet, so there aren't the hills like at West Branch or Moraine.  And there are so few rocks that you could probably give each one a name.  There are maybe three stretches where you can see rocks and only one rock feature - and it looks like it was imported.  In short it's a beginners trail.  But it's still possible to have a LOT of fun there - if you just try to pick up the speed a bit.  The beginning is especially fast, as there are a couple of small descents that help keep up your momentum.  During the first year I rode Quail Hollow my record for  lap was 29 minutes.  A couple of years later I dropped it to 24 minutes.  On Friday I managed to tie that on my first lap, then I took a slower paced lap where I stopped and took some photos.

The boardwalk at the meadow at Quail Hollow.
I would have made another slow lap, maybe two, but I don't like to leave Dave waiting forever, so we headed home.  Still was a great afternoon and I was glad to get out and visit Quail Hollow again and see that it hasn't been destroyed.

Saturday I did some things that had to be done, but I did take an hour or so and get in a ride on the rail trail.  Time was at a premium, so I went to the closest trailhead and cranked out some miles.  It's nice to be able to head out for an hour and a half ride and still know you could easily ride for another hour and a half.  But sometimes you have to fit a ride in the available slot, so I was content with what I got.

Wildlife observation platform on the Western Reserve Greenway Trail.
Saturday afternoon Kenny and I headed down to Beaver Creek to camp overnight.  My brother Matt and his two kids also headed down, but since his boy has been feeling a bit under the weather they decided not to spend the night.  The kids had fun running around and playing on the playground while I set up the tent and Matt got a nice fire going.  Then he cooked an excellent steak dinner, with potatoes, beans, cider and pie - so good it was hard to believe I was out camping.

Trumbull County Courthouse on the banks of the Mahoning River.
Sunday afternoon when we got up Kenny and I had a fire to get warmed up, then packed up camp and headed down to the picnic area for trail work.  Even though it was Easter there was one other brave volunteer, Eric, who showed up.  He and I worked for over three hours to bench the top part of the new trail.

The new trail at Beaver Creek State Park (picture by Kenny)
The soil on the hillside varies from 80% rock/20% dirt to loam to clay.  Some of it is relatively easy to bench cut - and some not so easy.  But the two of us got quite a bit of work done in an afternoon, so that I'm fairly confident that we'll be finishing this thing off before the end of summer.  It's going to be a nice addition to the mountain bike trail system, but I think it'll be even better for hikers since it's a short scenic loop that's right by the parking areas.

Another pic of the new trail (by Kenny).
So there wasn't a great, grand ride this weekend like the one last week at Moraine.  But I did get to visit two places that I enjoy seeing.  There was a nice ride involved, plus another grinder on the rail trail.  And getting more done on the Beaver Creek trail was really great, as this is a project that I've been working towards for over two years. 

Nonetheless, I can't help but hope that next weekend I can get in both some rewarding trail building time AND a fantastic ride on some singletrack.  And maybe even a bit of a ride during the week, if I'm lucky and the weather cooperates.  Hey, a man can dream, can't he?


  1. I really respect the combination of trail-building and trail-riding. Very John Muir/WPA. If you name any of those rocks will you name one after me?

    Meanwhile, I can't put my finger on it, but your writing seems to have changed. Pacing, word choice, I really don't know but keep it up.

    You're a good guy, Swamp Boy. Thanks for your work in your own neighborhood and I really appreciate your support over at the Park. tj

  2. I'd agree about that - there's something very rewarding about riding the trails that the last bunch of people made while making the trails that the next generation of riders will enjoy. And for me that time in the woods, riding or working, is like recharging my batteries to deal with the rest of the world. Oh yeah, for this trail we have to make some rock stepping-stone type crossings of the brook - you might end up with a TJ Memorial Bridge waaay up in eastern Ohio!!

    Thanks for the compliment on the writing. I've tried to actually sit and concentrate on getting things to sound natural, but it seems like I have a natural inclination to try to use one sentence instead of three, so things sound clipped, as if I'm trying to get it done with as quickly as possible. Some time I'm going to actually sit down and outline, then write, then edit a post and see if I can actually still do stuff like that.

    And thanks again. In my younger days I wasn't alway such a great guy, so I may have some sins to atone for. I don't know what changed my attitude - it was either getting married or the birth of my son - but I'd like to think that I could be an asset to more than just my employer and my family. Hey, put that along with the zen of trail building and I'm starting to sound like a north woods Buddhist!

    Hope you get some time in the breeze and sunshine. Better days ahead, my friend.

    Steve Z

  3. Glad to hear you got to build and ride over the weekend. I've not been out as much as I would want/like by any stretch of the imagination.

    The good news is the days are getting longer and its staying light later.

    Ride on.

  4. Dan,

    Yeah, I sure like having some daylight after work during the week. I'm actually slowly getting some yard work done, though I'm still far behind (maybe if I did yard work instead of trail work on the weekends? Nah...)

    I've been a little less active myself lately, which makes no sense as it's so nice out. I guess it's just that much harder to do stationary bike rides in the evening when you know it was nice all day. Going to try to get in a short ride around town this evening.

    Steve Z