Back in early March we had a warm spell that triggered my spring fever. I got a 60 mile ride and a 30 mile in the same week before the snow and cold returned. I wasn't going to have anymore snotty cold so I called my buddy Blake and pitched Kansas like a vacuum cleaner salesman. It was an easy sale and a week later we jumped in Ocho and went to Kansas to ride until our legs fell off. We literally had no plans. North east Kansas has a lot of trails and gravel so we couldn't fail and with a house on wheels we only needed a place to park.
The trail is a little wet but we ride it and if any 'dirt boss' asked about why we are riding a damp trail I have a cash donation apology plan because lets be honest. I drove 500 miles to ride a bike and if it helps local trails I'll gladly buy the case of beer it takes to rake dirt to cover the handful of ruts I make. This is probably a good time to say I don't ever ride wet local trails and I didn't know they were going to be marginal wet but if you spend 10 hours driving, you ride and are sorry but you still ride.
Grinding miles, hills and technical features start to hammer us. Fun but we are getting beat up. It's hard to say you love getting killed but it's like any hard workout. You get your mind right and the pain is what makes it great. If it's easy, everyone would be here and, well, we are all alone, all day, and didn't see one person and it was that much better.
Dead ass tired and nearing the end I stop and take my finishing photo. All along the trail are markers, most are all rocks from the few I saw. This is the last one so I wanted to capture my first "IMBA EPIC" finish. What a great trail. I expect they are all worth the travel expense and Blake and I are already talking about getting a crew and making a run at more Epics next spring.
We finish Switchgrass and fall off our bikes back at camp. Drink, literally, a gallon of water and a tray of ice and lay in the sun for a few hours. We can't get lazy, we have an hour or 2 drive to Perry Lake to get the next camp and trail staged for the next day. Early the next morning....
We grab some trail but it's not to be. It's average trail and following an Epic, it's lousy. We are ham from 3 days of riding and it's rocky hell so we grim up and grind 8 or 10 miles before we say it's not fun and bail.
The exit plan is mapped and we are going to return to Ocho, move the coach 10 miles and get killer Kansas gravel. Minnesota may have started the gravel grinder but North East Kansas owns it with the best rolling hills and wide open limestone anyone would want. Dorothy and Toto spoke the truth. There is no place like this. Without planning we happen on 3 days of great trails. How can that be luck.
Below, That is an A+ gravel hill climb. It made my day. How I can be happy about riding a skinny tire bike up a dirt hill in the middle of no place? Easy, because at that moment, its the only thing in the world. It's short and savage and it's all mine.
Happen stance. The grave below is only of interest because I drove 500 miles to Kansas, got on a bike and randomly road 30 miles, I passed an old cemetery (I think mostly 1933 flu pandemic because it's a lot of children) so I ride in and look at the people and stop in front of this very stone. why? Sure, it's happen stance but is it really random chance with so many people convinced of an after life why would anything be pure happen stance.
Nearing the end and Blake is cooked. I'm feeling good but we need to get a plan together for our last night out so I don't get the 50 miles of gravel I was looking for but we narrowly avoid setting up camp at night. That's worth a few missed miles.
These are old slag (mining) piles or sometimes called Tailings. They make a nice trail. Narrow winding trails that flow allowing for a lot of speed and we rip down then for an hour before we both run out of gas. We make a few extra laps in the last hours we have but we are sore and our legs are ham from 4 days of riding and a hard day at SwitchGrass. We are cooked and spring fever is gone.
Below, A proper finish to this post is to give the final photo to the best trail and the man who found it for us. If it wasn't for my good buddy Blake and Kansas SwitchGrass this trip would have been dull and on that bright note, good bye.