Sunday, November 25, 2012

MTB -- Alum Creek S.P. (Phase II)

I don't like plans and schedules. I like going into long weekends with the itinerary wide open.  Thanksgiving was nice and the following days were kind of cloudy, dreary and cold so we stayed around the house.  Last night we took our son and his friend out to see the new Red Dawn movie which I highly recommend by the way.
Sunday morning I peeked out the window to find sunny skies although it was a chilly 34 degrees F.  A little too cold for motorcycles but just right for mountain bikes so I hung the Yeti on the bike rack and took off to central Ohio specifically the Alum Creek State Park located in Delaware County just north of Columbus the State Capital.  The distance from my driveway to the trail head is 38 miles.  It took almost nine songs of a favorite CD to get there and wasn't a bad trip at all.  I actually kind of like a little car time before a ride to listen to some tunes and get into the groove.
This ride is special for me because it is the first time I've ridden Phase II of the park's trails.   Phase I is the original network that I have rode a few times but for some reason I never made it down to check out this new loop.
Right off the bat my knobbies met a smooth leaf-free ribbon of single track heaven.  I love that special bit of magic when riding a new trail.  It's a very cool experience flowing with the trail and tackling the obstacles that come up on the fly. A sense of adventure is always present as I try to look past the next bend.
With the leaves all down off the trees the vistas are sweet.  In the summer this trail would look completely different; shooting down leafy green tunnels with the occasional glimpse of water or sky.

Phase II is a six mile one-way loop that follows the topography of a small branch of Alum Creek Lake.  Ravines and natural drainage cuts make the shape of the lake look much like an Oak leaf.  The bike trail hugs the edge of  the leaf shape traveling up each small gorge to a switchback at the drainage's head. 

Numerous bridges constructed to make the many stream crossings manageable without causing erosion add variety to the route. The bridges are typical plank on beam and even narrow split logs for testing that sense of balance. Each tricky section always had an easy out as shown in this picture.  I took the fat one.   

Well constructed log bridges are numerous throughout the route to climb up and over bigger blow downs.  Years ago these big wooden humps would always make me nervous but I've been over so many of them I hardly bat an eye these days.

I stopped to take a picture of this expansive little bridge just when a rider caught up to me.  I waited until she looped around and was out on the span to take the shot.  It's quite exciting to be pedaling on these narrow structures with a big drop on each side.  At eight or ten feet above the stream bed this crossing is actually a small one compared to some in more rugged parts of the country.
There is a few drops but nothing over a couple feet and there is always a bailout around the edges for a guy like me who has an aversion to broken bones and bike parts.
Here the trail wound through a small stand of young pines. Some welcome greenery in an otherwise brown and dead looking landscape.
I took my time on the first lap enjoying the scenery, getting to know the trail and stopping often for photography.  In about an hour and fifteen minutes I made it back to the starting point.  For the second lap I put the camera away and hammered it completing the circuit in 45 minutes.  Phase II is allot like a giant pump track.  There are no long lung busting climbs but if one puts the pedal to the metal it can work up a sweat.  Some of the trail is sweet, smooth and flowing while other sections are choppy and rooty ready to yank the bars from an unwary rider's hands.
Single speed paradise.


  1. Hey thanks guys. I get a load of motivation from reading bike blogs. I like to post up my rides as a way to give back. You bikers already know how cool it is but I hope that my little piece of the web can influence potential new riders to give the sport a try or even old riders to blow off the dust and get back out there.

  2. Excellent. Looks like a place I ride around these parts. I can't wait to see the new Red Dawn myself!

    1. Usually movie remakes get the big eye-roll from me but this one was great I thought. Really captured the spirit of the original nicely. I think you will like it.