Yesterday I had the itch to get out on the trails on my 'cross bike, just to make sure I can still handle skinny tires on the single-track. I headed up to Big Springs Park in the South Fork shoot off of Provo Canyon. There is a nice, but short, trail near the park that my family uses all the time. We spend a lot of time in Provo Canyon and at least half of that is spent at Big Springs. It's become the go-to area for us. Jen takes the kids up there hiking all the time, the trail is relatively mellow and follows and crosses various streams. It keeps the kids interested and makes it a nice area to go. It's also a great place to go snowshoeing in the winter.
I opted to start off my ride by heading up the dirt road that goes along the East side of the wilderness area. I was quickly made aware that my legs hadn't recovered from the weight
training I did two days before; but I managed to make it up the hill anyway. The trail/road is only 1.5 miles up, so a up and back nets 3 miles. Not a whole lot, so I ended up doing 3 laps going up the road and down the trail. I think the old couple hiking down the road and the family hiking up the trail were starting to wonder what I was doing after I passed them a couple of times.
After riding up the road for about a mile the trees open up into a meadow, this is where I cut back on to the trail to finish the last 1/2 mile up (you can see the trail just to the right of the road, heading off into the meadow). The trail is pretty mellow as it winds up, especially through
meadow. It's basically gravely, narrow double-track. Then the trail gets steeper and starts to get fairly rocky. I was a bit worried about pinch flatting on the rocks, especially on the way back down when I had some speed. I had my tires down around 40 psi to maximize traction. I was happily surprised to find that I can still finesse my way up and down through the rocks without much trouble, or pinch flats.
The single-track back down winds through aspens and pines, over rivers and streams and is really a lot of fun. Not the most technical or taxing as far as mountain biking goes, but plenty
fast for getting the cornering and breaking skills on a cyclocross bike. At one point I was
carrying quite a bit of speed and feeling pretty confident. I rounded a corner and saw a tree and a stream right in front of me, I was sure I was going in after I dodged the tree. I managed to get the bike slowed down just in time and made it onto the bridge. My second time down I noticed a lot of other tire tracks where the trail runs wide; I guess others had come into that corner a little hot too. While I was stopped taking this picture a mountain biker came by and did a double take as he passed by my cyclocross bike; obviously not a part of the cult of 'cross yet.
The fast ride down managed to give my legs, and lungs, enough of a break that I was able to be recovered for the ride back up. I managed to get my legs a bit muddy from cruising through a couple of the springs that spout up along the trail and almost ran over a snake. All in all it was a great way to spend a few hours on a Saturday.