Great Ride, Terrible Reporting.
The inaugural Axletree “Get Off The Road” Event, sponsored by North Central Cyclery, was held on Sunday, at the extensive mountain biking trails in Palos Forest Preserve, Willow Springs, Illinois. Weather was a balmy ~90 degrees, no wind, lots of sun. Fortunately, Palos has great tree coverage which kept exposure to a minimum.
Very early in the ride, I realized I had a choice between doing good bike photojournalism, and doing good bike riding. I elected to do the latter. Accordingly, my camera spent most of its time zipped up in my hydration bag.
The few pics that did make it?
Yes, I was mounted on the Rumblefish, Chad from NCC was riding a Spearfish 2, Ross from NCC was on a Trek Fuel EX 8, and a number of other riders were sporting mountain bikes of various shapes and sizes (predominantly 29er hard tails).
I can’t claim to remember all of the trails we hit…I know we did 3 Gorges (both ways), Cemetery Hill, Gravity Cavity, Dynamite Road, part of the Out and Back, part of the Canal, XX, and a few others. The group I was in was riding fast, and it was a blast pushing hard on the mountain bike to keep up. This may sound silly, but it takes mountain biking in groups to realize just how fast you can ride on some of the trails. When I ride by myself, I just don’t push nearly as hard as I do in a group. I need to work on that. I also need to work on more mountain biking, in groups, with greater speed and faster cornering.
The Ikons hooked up perfectly in the dry conditions, and proved to be the perfect tires for the day. I was running 22psi front, 25psi rear, and was very pleased with the handling. The trails had a wide variety of terrain, from rollers with flow, to the technical rock gardens on XX. The riders were fun, great to hang out with, and great to follow. I learn a ton about cornering, picking lines, shifting and braking when riding behind other riders…there’s so much more that I can learn.
The single biggest lesson of Mountain Biking: the less you brake, the faster you go. Yup…there. I said it. Brake less = go faster. Is that ridiculously obvious? Sure. But it’s the truth–and you have to get used to it in order to embrace it. Carrying more speed through corners and off obstacles is the best way to pick up your overall speed. Riding in Sedona made me such a more confident rider–I’m picking up my craft.
As an event, Axletree did a great job. Everyone was well prepared for the conditions, we had great ride leaders, we had great routes, great communication, and great fun was had by all. We can build on attendance and we learned a few lessons about group communication that we can implement in our next event, but overall, it was fun, fast, and challenging.
And the decision to ride, rather than to document, was right for the day. Sorry, blog-o-sphere.