Yesterday I decided, sort of spur of the moment, to get my MTB bike and head over to Wilson Lake to ride the trails there. I was looking for a little mental relief of thinking about Bromont and there is a MTB race there tomorrow. I’d never been to Wilson Lake, but had heard a ton of good things about it.
The race tomorrow has been going on the last few years, but I have never been around to race it. I’m sort of on the fence still now. Doug Chambers, Cameron Chambers‘ father, promotes the race and is the trail guru of Wilson Lake. I ran into a man, up in Cable Wisconsin last fall that had quit his job and was traveling the country riding MTB trails. He said that Wilson Lake was the best trails he had ridden in the whole country. That is saying something.
And he was right, it didn’t disappoint. Ultimately, it did disappoint, but that was all human fault.
I picked Bill up and went over to North Topeka to meet up with a couple other friends, Roger Haubold and Eric Wenrich. Eric owns a couple Dickies BBQ restaurants and we picked him up at his Topeka location, thus great turkey sandwiches for the road.
It is a 175 mile drive to Wilson Lake from Topeka. That is about 1/3 the way to Boulder. But, it went pretty quickly and we got there is just a little over 2 hours. The terrain is very un-Kansas like. It is almost like riding in Utah or Arizona.
The trail is really technical. Lots of stair steps of rock, up and down. It was a shock to the system getting out of the car, directly on the bike, and then being exposed to really technical trail riding.
We picked the wrong trail to ride first. It was the most technical part of the 25 mile trail and we were all floundering. Eventually, we started getting into the flow of things. But that was short lived.
Early on, we were riding a pretty technical descent and Eric’s front tire went low and he got thrown over the bars. He landed a good ways below where he was, dropping maybe 6-8 feet onto solid rock. He got up, but was sort of tweaked. He hurt a wrist that he was already having trouble with. Plus, he completely pretzelled his front wheel.
Bill and I got on his wheel and got it sort of straight. That is the best thing about disc brakes, your rim can be toast and you can still ride your bike. I trued it up and it was usable. We rode a few more miles and Roger hit a rock and cut a hole through the top of his front tire. He tried to plug it, but it would seal, so he ended up putting a tube it.
The trail winds along the lake and there are lots of places if you miss a corner, you fall, really fall, a ways down. But, it is beautiful.
Right about then, I started having trouble with my rear derailleur. It seemed like it was seizing up somehow, but I couldn’t figure out what was the the problem. Soon after, I was just riding and snap, my rear derailleur hanger is gone. I really couldn’t see a problem. I was going to make it into a single speed, but remembered I had a spare hanger in my jar.
I changed the hanger and it wasn’t working right. Turns out the lower pulley bearing was loose of the plastic and was allowing the chain to get jammed between the pulley and cage. I took the bottom pulley out and jammed the bearing back into the center of the pulley. We were about 5 miles from the car and I didn’t want to walk back.
So, it seemed like everything was good, but we’d done less than 20 miles in 2 + hours. But, it didn’t last. Next thing I know, my rear derailleur is hanging again, hanger gone.
I told the other guys to leave and proceeded to make my bike into a single speed. That never works too well, and it really didn’t. I did a little hike-a-bike and got to the road, which was just a couple miles from the car. Pretty soon Bill and Roger were there.
We limped back to the car and Eric was already there, with a front flat and hurt wrist. And it was nearly dark.
That is one of the things I hate about riding MTB bikes. Sometimes, there is a lot of stopping, for lots of different reasons, and the day seems like kind of a bust. I think we all felt that way. Three of us had a bunch of bike work to do and Bill was feeling mediocre physically.
We got back to Topeka around 10:30. I had to drop everyone off, so it was still later.
Trudi got to spend the day with Bromont. She was supposed to head to California yesterday, for the Tour of California, but now she is going on Monday morning early.
I’m going to try to fix my bike today, and maybe ride it some. Bromont is not so great, so I guess it depends on how he is before I decide if I’m going to head back to Wilson Lake and race tomorrow.
Either way, if you’re ever driving through Kansas on I-70, and have a mountain bike, it would be a huge missed opportunity if you didn’t stop and ride the Wilson Lake trails. It is amazing there.