Monday, December 31, 2012

What to expect on January 6th

It is looking like the weather is forecasted to be near perfect for the ride.  We might even get a little rain earlier in the week which will help firm up the trails. The gates to the preserve open at 7:30 AM. The parking lot has about 30 spots so when it gets full, you will have to park on the right side of the shell road. Please allow enough room for others to get by you. There could be some horse trailers using that road as well. The park will be open to the public, hikers and equestrians so please show them respect on and off the trail since you are ambassadors for the cycling community. I will collect your names and phone numbers before the start so I can keep track of who’s checked back in at the end of the ride. Depending on how fast all this goes we should have the start around 8:30 am and I will have a quick riders meeting at that time. Don’t get there 5 minutes before and expect everyone to wait for you.
I will lead out a neutralized mass start for the first mile (blue trail) then all bets are off when we hit the red trail. All three rides do the same route for the first 17 miles. I will have signs at the critical turns so make sure you look up and read the signs. The rest of the trails will be marked with spray paint before and after each turn but it’s real easy to get disoriented at the Carlton. A few common sense rules: if you get to an intersection without any paint , a wire fence, a locked gate, a river or a highway you made a wrong turn go back to the last known turn. You will cross through several gates and most have a bypass along the side of them or they will be held shut with a chain so please close the gates behind you. On the 60 mile loop, you might meet some cattle in a pasture so make sure all gates remain closed.
The idea of this ride is to challenge yourself and there will be difficult parts that will take you out of your comfort zone so press on regardless and enjoy the sights. You can’t let the pigs have their revenge. If you yell at the pigs they will run away (I like to bark at them). If you’re lucky enough to experience it, the deer like to run along with you. Look out for gators along the side of the trail especially along the power line sections. BIG Al, a very large gator, likes to hang out near the bridge you cross on the 60 loop.
At mile 29, you have to decide between doing the 40 or 60 mile loop so know your limitations. The hardest part of the ride will be behind you, the rest of the loop will be faster and smoother. Another bail out point will be at mile 44 where you can cut out 5 miles at that point if you find yourself moving really slowly and want to cut your ride short.
The park gates close at 6:00 pm and your car will be locked in. You should have a fully charged cell phone with you. Maybe turn it off for most of the ride. I will not go and look for you. You are on your own. But I might call you if I don’t have you checked off at the end of the day. I will give you my cell number the morning of the ride.
You must be self reliant. Look at the maps posted earlier and get familiar with them. Bring enough tools etc. to make it home. It could be a long walk.
We will provide some water around the 29 mile mark. Keep in mind its heavy and we will have to bike it in, so supplies will be limited. Bring enough water to ride 50 miles. Bring all necessary food with you. We made some homemade bratwurst (Pigs contribution to the fun) that I will be grilling at the finish. I should also have some foamy beverages on hand. If you have something you want to throw on the grill or have a special drink, please bring it.  No glass containers or pets are allowed in the park, sorry. I hope you can hang out a while after the ride, I want to hear all the tall tales from your experience.
Remember we put on this free event for the fun of it and constructive criticism might be accepted.
We hope you come back next year and bring a friend.
We’ll see you Sunday… have a great time.
Eric and The Crew