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Beardcicle Chronicles: The Silence of Sunday Morning

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Photo by Anthony DeLorenzo, Creative Commons Licensing.
Photo by Anthony DeLorenzo, Creative Commons Licensing.

Everyone’s still asleep. The house is essentially mine. I’m and grading papers — the common refrain from here on out until the end of the semester, then a short break before starting again.

We are early in the semester, so the work isn’t too overwhelming yet. In fact, it’s so not overwhelming that I was able to take a two-plus hour bike ride yesterday afternoon. I finally completed the trifecta of connecting up all of the Moose, Fox, and Bear trails into a single ride. Granted I did approach the ride from the point of view of simply hitting all three sets of trails rather than completely maximizing the mileage.

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Regardless, the ride was awesome fun. Looking at the route, I can link up a lot of different trails to make the route even longer, if I want to in the future.

On Friday night I went up to Government Peak and rode the trails there for an hour and a half or so. Lots of climbing with some awesome descents. I was asked, before I left, why I have been going up there so often to ride lately rather than just heading over to the greenbelt.

As I was riding yesterday I thought about that a lot. My first thought was just that I’ve been getting bored with the greenbelt trails because I’ve spent so much time riding them. It gets to the point where I am riding in the greenbelt and am a bit on autopilot. I hit the same trails in the same direction and make the same loops and don’t really think about it.

But after thinking about it, I don’t think that is the real reason. No, there is, if not deeper, at least a different reason.

The trails in the greenbelt are one of three types: 1) rooty, twisty, technical-ish single track — often originating from social or animal trails; 2) wide, double-track ski trail with steep up-and-down-hill sections, some quite punchy, others sustained — intended to get the heart rate up for skiers, but not really designed for bikes; they are climbable, but some are killers; 3) newer, well-designed single track, buffed out and smooth with only minimal challenging features, good berms, easy jumps, and some good (if not exactly challenging) climbs.

GPRA, on the other hand, is all about building a bunch of potential energy through long climbs followed by a release of that energy with long descents on flowing trail that, with the new section of trail (Live Freer or Die), have an amazing mix of full on, let’er rip downhill with jumps and berms in series and challenging corner — features that push one to increase skills much more than our other trails here.

Each time around is a chance to push a little harder or try taking jumps in a different way. Honestly, the new section of trail makes the entire GPRA system much more appealing to ride. Before there were a few jump lines, fun, but not much payoff for the amount of climbing one has to do to get to them.

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Anyway, that said, the reason that I’ve been going to GPRA more often lately is simply that I’ve been, when in the mood to ride, craving faster rides with less getting beaten up by the terrain as happens when riding in the greenbelt.

I’m not a young guy anymore and riding full rigid on the greenbelt type-one trails takes its toll, even with fat tires. Roots, while fun to ride, beat the crap out of my back, particularly on the downhill sections where you try to blast through them out of the saddle, but still end up jack-hammering the whole way down.

I like and enjoy riding both sets of trails, but sometimes one just feels more appealing than the other.

That said, it’s awesome that we have the choices available to us out here in the Valley. The more trail we get, the better the riding will be.

Now I think it is time to start thinking about and pushing for the creation of an epic single track route along the lines of a Resurrection Pass type trail – something long and in the back country with plenty of climb and descent. Something that can be approached as a bike-packing route or an epic day ride. Something that crosses a range of terrain and something that is rideable year round. That’s a dream, huh?

Phil was born and raised in the Midwest. He moved to Alaska in 2010 and started his bike commuting life then and hasn’t looked back yet. He is primarily focused on how bikes can be used to supplant other forms of transportation, when it makes sense to do so, but he is also interested in how to combine different forms of alternative transportation to create a sustainable and enjoyable commute. Besides cycling, Phil works as a business analyst, is a recovering poet, teaches technical writing, and still harbors a dream to write a great novel some day.

What do you think?