After a little rest at the cabin, I was ready to make my way to Nebo. They handed out HNF passes as you left the cabin stop. We had to roll a little down the road to make our way over to the Nebo trail head. Nebo started out wet, but after most of the way up the hill it started to dry out some and was more like what I expected the trails to be. It had been a while since I been up there and was not sure what to expect. The trail was not a let down. It was not as fun or fast as BCSP, but fun no less. While I was riding this section, I kept running different thoughts threw my head on what the plan was going to be. I figured I should stay out of Hickory all together since I was starting to feel rough and loosing power. The back at this point was hurting real bad. At the Maumee stop I grabbed 2 more Hammer gels and sat down for a minute to try and stretch my back. The gel must have done something or I was just really getting dazed at that point. I knew I was supposed to check in, but I was waiting til I figured out what I was going to do. Well all of a sudden, I hoped up and went over to the stand. I told him who I was and that I was heading out on the 10 mile loop in Hickory. I hopped back on the bike and down the road I went. I am not sure what happened, but I was in Hickory. It must have been some of the thoughts about the fact that I had never been in Hickory and should not pass the opportunity to check it out.
So, I am heading in to Hickory with just looking at the map for a split second. I was following the markers and started to think I missed the turn that I needed to do. I didn’t feel like stopping to check the map. I thought even if I did miss the turn I would just find a new way to the loop and head back my own way. Well sure enough, I rolled up to a sign that said 14. I didn’t think 14 was on the 10 mile loop, so I took a minute to check out the map. Low and behold I was right in thinking that I missed a turn. 14 was the entrance to the woods for the 30 mile route. Looking at the map I contemplated for a little bit if I should just go for the 30. But, after hearing someone else took 5 hours to do that loop last weekend, I figured I didn’t have that in me. The map didn’t seem to have any good ways back to the 10 mile loop from where I was sitting, so I decided to just head back on the road and to the rest stop. Since I have been home, I looked at this map again and can’t figure out why I didn’t decide to just do part of the 30 mile loop and then head back to the stop. There were a few different ways that I could have gone and not been too crazy.
On the way back to the rest stop, I ran in to 3 other riders that were looking for the 10 mile loop. I let them look at my map and while they were trying to figure out what they were doing, Ron and Alex H. came rolling up on their way out to do the 30 mile loop. It was good to see them out there and I wished that I could follow them, but knew better. So, I think the other 3 decided to just head back like I did and on the way we ran in to two more riders that missed the loop. It was said that we could hop on 20 there and work our way to the loop we were supposed to be on. That was an easy decision and I can’t help but think that if I would have stopped to look at the map sooner, I would have done that already. 20 was not too bad of a section of trail, but it was not very long. Soon we were back on the section that was the end of the 10 mile loop. For some reason I was no longer with the 5 other riders that I was with when we dropped in to that section. This turned in to some gravel road stuff. I kept following the paint marks on the road and soon things started to look familiar. Well what do you know, I came to the exact same intersection that we jumped on to the 20 at. How did I make it back here again with out finding the sag stop? Hard telling at this point. My brain was not working correctly and I just turned around and headed back. Sure enough the same road that I missed when I wanted to do the 10 mile loop was the same road that I came out on and went the wrong way again. To make matters worse, it seems like the sag stop is only 100 yards from this intersection. I have no idea how I missed it the second time. Oh well, I did what I wanted to do and that was ride some of Hickory and I put in 10 miles. I just didn’t want those miles to be made up mostly of gravel roads. After I checked back in with the sag, I headed on down to Combs road.
Now I have not been on too many of these sections too often. The first and only other time I was on Combs road was for last years Breakdown. But, I saw some other riders along the way and figured I was still on track. I was starting to second guess myself after what happened in Hickory. A few more riders showed up right when I was not sure if I was in the right place or not and next thing I knew we were on the right path. Combs road had some very tough sections because of the rain. I had to push a few sections at this point. Some sections I thought I should have been able to make it if I was not so tired. There were also some hills that I could not believe that I climbed. I was even passing some other geared riders that were spinning out on the steep, slick hills. At this point in the ride everything started to blur together. I was just riding and ready to get back to the car. Most of the details are not clear as to where they happened. One thing that happened somewhere in this section that I thought was funny, so I kind of remembered it. I was riding along and came up on a few other riders. I have no idea who they were or what they looked like, but the one guy looked over and noticed I was on a rigid bike. He asked how that rigid was treating right now. I thought for a minute and just said that it was fine and I was enjoying the ride. He made some comment about it beating me up by now or something. I agreed that I was beat up, but still having fun. Not too much down the trail from this point, we came around a corner and there was a big log down. The first rider was already off of his bike and on the other side of the hill. Two more riders rolled up to the log and stopped to get off. I asked for some room and the one guy told his friend “This is how you do it” and I hopped over the log and disappeared. Not sure if I saw them again or not.
After I finally rolled back in to the cabin stop, I was looking for some goodies to fuel me up. It seems that the stop was mostly empty for supplies other then liquid. I remembered I still had one more gel in my pocket and ate it. I made a quick trip to the port-0-let and was just about ready to move on. I stretched the back some and loaded up on the bike. I don’t think I stayed at this stop very long, but I really had no need to do so. I was drained at this point and needed to keep moving or it might get harder to start again. The section after the cabin stop was one of the worst sections of the day for me. The path was so soft it really sucked in the tires and it felt like I was riding on two flat tires. It was so bad that on the down hills I had to keep pedaling or I would roll t a stop. This section could not end soon enough for me, but some how I ended up rolling in to the camp ground. That was such a welcomed feeling to know that I was back on the state park trails and almost home.
I had a little spark in me for this next section. I was rolling along quite well making some time and feeling good. However, I was not feeling good enough to take any of the rock bridges or have any thought about hitting Schooner Trace. When I rolled up to HP parking lot there was no one around. I was starting to think that there were not too many more riders around me. I didn’t stop to take in the good view so I was headed back down the trail again. This next section was still rolling fairly well, but any extended climbing sections were not near as good as they should have been. I even had a few moments that I thought I missed a turn and was not sure if I was on a loop or the HP connector yet. I did manage to make the turns for both short sections on the loop. I thought about taking a long way on the last loop, but looking at my computer I figured I would be close to the mileage that I was looking for and it was time to get off of the bike.
When I made it to the North Shelter I knew it was down hill from there. I let go of the brakes and let her ride me all the way home. I went straight to the check in table to collect my shirt and pint glass. I then worked my way over to the car to see if anyone was there or not. They were there and waiting for me, so I hurried up and started changing and cleaning up, but not before I could find a beer in my cooler. That first beer tasted so good! I changed quickly and loaded everything up. We then drove over from the parking lot we were in and to the starting area. I grabbed a big plate of food and started my recovery. The food really hit the spot! Fried chicken and pulled pork BBQ with some sides and I was ready for a nap. I didn’t manage to sleep on the way back to my car, but I did squeeze in another beer. When we made it back to my car I really did not want to drive the hour home yet, but I knew if I stayed, it would be hard to make it to work the next morning. Some how I managed to stay away and made it home safely.
For the day I ended up with a total of 70 miles and 6,200 feet of elevation gain. I also showed 7 hours and 45 min. of actual ride time. I am not sure just how long I was on the trails because I forgot to look at the clock when I was done or I actually did look at it and forgot what it said. Either way it was a long day. I figure 9-9 1/2 hours in the woods.
I would like to send a big thank you to all of the people who made this ride possible. If you have not done this ride yet, I can’t express just how much fun this ride can be. This is the must do event of the year. I have heard that the cost is too much, but $50 for a shirt, food and 100 miles of trail that you just can’t link together at any other time, how can you go wrong? This event is also the biggest fund raiser for the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association and what better cause can you find for bikes? If it was not for HMBA, we would not have near the good quality trails in Indiana that we do have. If you are not currently a member, please take a moment to stop by and check them out and maybe even sign up. If you like riding your bike off road, they are the reason you have as big of smile on your face as you do.