Mountain biking is always better than working and Monday was Corey's birthday, so this was all the excuse we needed to head out on a mini bike trip.
Corey is a crusty old 40.
Man, I glad I'm nowhere near that old.
Luckily, I won't be turning 39 until January. Our adventures took us to Lake Manawa, which is right along the Missouri River, just south of Council Bluffs.
We had a little trouble finding the trailhead because, for some reason, I thought the trail circled the lake, but it doesn't. From the THOR website I knew you needed to park at the Missouri River boat ramp, so before long we got er figgered out.
We met a couple of very nice fellow bikers in the parking lot, including Tom who gave us a lot of information and some nice company at various points along the way, which was good because neither Corey or I had been to Manawa before. Squirrel's scouting report said to expect it to be a lot like Denmans at the Center. He was right.
Manawa was really hit hard by floods and then straight line winds this year. Many big old trees met their end due to this caustic combination. The THOR gang has put a TON of volunteer hours into rehabilitating these trails and it is much appreciated.
There's normally 7 miles of interconnecting loops but one of the "black" loops was closed, shortening the total distance to 6 miles. The path is made up of several open areas of singletrack with a wide corridor which would make great passing lanes for an XC race.
There's also several sections of very tight and twisty trail that snakes through all manner of trees and brush. Its pretty fun, especially at speed. There was, of course, a lot of leaf cover on the trail so concentrating on the correct path to properly zoosh around led to some significant eye strain after many miles.
There are a couple of black loops open. They are not super technical but there are some features that can trip you up if you're not careful. The most notable is this section that starts with a tallish logover...
...followed by the rocky climb...
...then you descend a rocky staircase of sorts which leads into a gully crossing and up to the "camelback" which is a hill with camel humps at the top and a surprising little rocky descent down the other side.
This section was my favorite at Manawa. It would be cool if they would cut in some trail that would loop you right back to the start of the techy stuff so you could ride it multiple times in a circuit. They do this, quite successfully, with a rocky section at Ignwanis.
There's an area known as Tony's Playground that is replete with two teeter totters. Here's Corey taking the plunge off the big one. Tom has promised to email some swell action photos of Corey and yours truly on the totters. I'll post them up when I git 'em. I did both of 'em after some significant debate on the first bigun. I never been good on stunts and after taking a beat down at Boone I was a little gun (or totter) shy, but I overcame my babyness and rode 'em. They're really not hard, its all mental (which is usually my problem - what-with all the thinkun and stuff)
Tom railing a turn. He's fast for 61 years young.
Corey grabbing some air off a little rise.
We did four 6 mile loops plus a couple more of a warm up loop that is almost 2 miles. All in all about 28 miles. We kept a fast pace through almost all of it, only stopping briefly to rest. By the end we were pretty spent...and happy.