2008-06-23 / 20:36 /

Check! And it really wasn’t bad. I got a sore “outer right knee” tendon and Iris (hiking buddy) got sore “behind the knee” muscles and a bout of indigestion (too much power-food, probably). My fancy new trekking poles did their job: easier up-hills, stable downhills and light enough to carry during the paved sections.

Oh yeah, the paved sections. The hike had a bunch of them. Combined with the power-line runs–think baking in the sun while going straight up and down–the hike was not what I would call “fun”. Iris and I both agreed it’s probably not worth doing again unless we’re out to prove something.

We never did the full calculation, but our total clock time was around 13 hours and hiking time around 12 hours. That’s a little slower than I thought, but not bad.

The next morning

Getting out of bed the day after was rough, but advil & stretching helped enough that I went mountain biking at Moraine State Park with Jack, Jess and Casey. On paper this was just about the worst trip ever. Before we even got on the trail Jack fell over doing a wheely–clipless pedals played a role, just as they did when I did the same thing at Boyce a month ago–and Casey stepped in a giant puddle after peeing in the woods.

Once we hit the trail, we found it was a mass of rocks. That wasn’t too bad on the power-line run (argh, more power line runs!), but as soon as the trail dipped into the woods it was a mass of slippy rocks. And 30″ log piles. All in all a little above our skill level.

I wiped out once trying a log pile. Actually, it was before the pile: I waited for Casey then tried to crank up some speed. And then I was laying down. Apparently my wheel slid sideways on a stick or something. The fall hurt my right knee (the same one that was already sore) luckily I had time to rest it while we fixed Casey’s chain, which broke about 30 seconds later.

We decided pretty soon to head back. I got a good rhythm on the back section and bombed over a bunch of rocks, including the wet ones hidden beneath undergrowth. The latter was good traning for quickly unclipping one foot and push biking without losing speed. Finally, I took the final rutted downhill plenty fast, thanks mostly to the confidence from wearing a helmet. Wearing a helmet off-road is probably a good idea but it gives me unfounded confidence: it might save my life but probably at the cost of a broken bone. Then again, I’ve never broken a bone so maybe I’m due. (I’ve also never ridden my bike so hard I threw up, which sounds like a worthy goal. So if anyone is looking to do some hard riding look me up)

After the ride we toweled down and found a picnic table. Jess & Jack always come correct with food: thai chicken wraps, mint tea and blueberry pie pockets. I brought chips and fresh salsa and Casey made fruit salad and brought some Dozen cinnamon buns courtesy of our friend Rachel.

Things were looking up until we got back in the car and Jack realized he didn’t have his hydro-pack. Unfortunately it contained his phone and, more importantly, an awesome Topeak multi-tool. We retraced our steps and eventually ended up in the parking lot of the biking office. We waited in the cab anxiously until Jack emerged triumphant, hydro-pack hoisted over head like some sort of conquered nylon & rubber hose beast.

What a happy ending

All in all I think we only rode for something like 40 minutes and covered about 2 1/4 miles. A pretty crappy ride, but something I’d do again. Or at least it’s better thank hiking 35 miles in one day… riding over wet rocks is a new skill, walking a lot is just masochism.

I know it might sound like I’m hating on the Rachel Carson Challenge, but I’ll probably end up doing it next year but with the express goal of hiking it in 9 and a half hours or something. Plus Iris and I had a conversation about the appropriateness of spandex and it’s correlation with sexy-ness. So we agreed next year we’re going all spandex, a worthy goal by itself.