I hopped on the mountain bike last night and did a leisurely 8 miles in Winnekenni Park around Kenoza Lake. It was the first time I’d actually ridden up to the castle and, instead of just bombing back down the access road, I took Castle Trail back down to Dudley Porter Trail. There was quite a bit of washout and a few fallen logs on Castle Trail which turned it into a mildly technical run.
Instead of tackling the hill on Shore Trail, I dropped down to Plug Pond Trail which has quite a few rocks and exposed roots. I was caught out a few times because my tire pressures were too high, I lost traction on the larger uphill obstacles, and dropped my chain due to a poorly-adjusted front derailleur. Other than the few times my feet were forced to touch the ground, the trail was in great condition. Even the mudpit where the trail meets the lake was almost dry and easily navigable.
Merrill Trail, however, was much different than I remember from last year. Extremely tight and twisty, the trail had become an extremely overgrown singletrack with lots of blind corners. Bushes and branches hung into the trail from all sides giving a tunnelvision effect. It was also extremely dry hardpack, which led to some very high speeds weaving between trees and bushes. I came up on the bridge so fast I didn’t even have time to hop onto it; I just dove into the (luckily) dry stream bed and popped out the other side. A few fallen trees right at helmet level made the last 1/4 mile quite interesting.
Now that I know the conditions are dry, I’ll definitely load my pack up with my Digital Rebel and document the trail.