Saturday, August 16, 2008

Daniel Boone Attitude Applied to Mountain Biking

Daniel Boone was tough, in part, because he wore a dead raccoon for a hat. I mean really - to hunt, kill, clean and eat the varmint is pretty rugged all by itself, but wearing the carcass as a hat?! Well, that's just a message to all comers - don't mess with me. I'm crazy.

Seven Oaks Ski Resort, near Boone, is tough too - just in a different way. This Boone doesn't need a fuzzy, gruesome cap. It gets its toughness from luring area mountain bikers into a continuous 6+ mile loop of killer hills that has no reasonable route for bailing out midway.

If you would've asked me in February how many times I would have ridden Boone by now I would've said at least 4-5 times. Unfortunately, the flooding made that plan impossible, so this was my first Boone ride of '08. The loop starts out climbing and climbing to the top of the hill seen in the background, then winds its way down via tight downhill, hairpin switchbacks. When it nears the bottom it turns and heads back up the hill via tight, uphill switchbacks. Do you see a pattern developing here?

There are a few areas of sketchiness along the way. It wouldn't take much to fall into the creek along here. They've added several mini northshore style bridges and fortifications in areas the 08 floods washed out. This section was always sketchy, but there were more trees blocking the view of your potential demise. I did a rather tense trackstand (balancing on a stationary bike) to maintain my balance right where Corey is in the first picture. There was a rut that wanted to direct you off into creekland. I didn't capture the creek in the picture, but there's about a 5-6 foot drop into the creek. Along those bridges there's at least a little bank before the drop, but where Corey is the drop is pretty straight off.

I think it scales and descends the backside of the ski hill at least 3 or 4 times before getting to the top corner seen in the first picture. Its hard to tell how far you've come because of how much the trail bends back on itself. There are several spots where you could see riders above or below you riding parrell because of the hairpin switchbacks. From the top of the ski hill the trail mellows out a little, but it keeps throwing in enough long slogging climbs and hairpin uphills with roots and ruts to keep things interesting. They have a gravity cavity too. Its not nearly as big as Sugar Bottom's Cyclocross Hill, but it is pretty tough in its own right. The sticks/logs that are at the bottom rob you of momentum that is sorely needed on the ascent up the other side.

The last section of trail isn't too technical or hilly, but it winds around all kinds of trees and roots while snaking in and out of the campground. It is some of the most entertaining trail here. On the second loop I hooked a tree with my handlebars and went down, but it was only a minor hiccup. It had been several years since I had hooked a handlebar and, I have to say, I would be okay if it was several years before I did it again.

The trail used to pop out at the top of a smaller skill hill which made for a pretty exciting bomb down. Now there's this:

So we headed down the gravel road next to the resort. Serious speed is available here. I registered 39.6 mph the second time through, just a little better than the 39.1 the first time around. That was without really pushing it much. 45 mph is very doable if you have the coon hat (or nerve) for such a ripping descent.

My Garmin didn't accurately track the first time around, but our second loop totalled 6.66 miles. Creepy eh? Yeah, I thought so too, so I tooled around the parking lot until it clicked 6.67. The Garmin said just over 900 ft of climbing in one loop. I had actually heard it was more than that, so I'm not sold on my accuracy. We did 2 loops, which was just under 14 miles and 2000 ft climbing. I've heard it is almost tiwce that in elevation change, which would jive better with Garmin readings from Hillside and other places. So, I don't know. The bottom line: it is a lot of climbing.

I'm sure some bikers have no love for Boone because its too hard. I love Boone because its too hard. Maybe I should buy a furry but disturbing hat too.

1 comment:

Squirrel said...

New trails at Gnome know you secretly want some:) Let me know when you want to go too Nebraska, although my Sept. weekends are purdy much booked up.