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Rode Soldiers Creek yesterday, trails are in bad shape.

Monday, October 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

Bike on a Trail for October 16, 2011: one of the partially washed out bridges at Soldier's Creek.

Bike on a Trail for October 16, 2011: one of the partially washed out bridges at Soldier's Creek.

About three weeks ago I rode what was once one of the best local trails around, Soldiers Creek. The trail was not in very good shape, but I still had fun. Over the past three weeks we’ve experienced some extremely heavy rains, and I was worried that all that rain would further deteriorate the trails at Soldiers. Still, yesterday morning I was in the mood to ride there, so I thought I’d go check things out.

It was a beautiful day, and when I arrived at the trailhead I was surprised to find that no one was riding the trails. Normally on a nice weekend day I’d expect to see at least a dozen riders at Soldiers. As I rode up to the start of the trail there was a hand-written note on the bulletin board that said, “Caution: bridges washed out!” Uh-oh…

Sure enough, many of the bridges were partially washed out, and a couple were completely washed out (as in no longer there). A few makeshift “fixes” had been thrown in to place, but these were kludges at best, and some were flat-out dangerous. There were several sections of trail with thick, black mud and standing water, and even more areas with deep sugar sand. Some of the wooden features are still in decent shape, but several of them are rotting and falling apart. There’s a kicker with a rotting ramp that looks as if it’s about to break in half; when it does break, the unlucky rider on the ramp is going to hit the support log full-on and go for a flight. I used to love jumping that ramp, but yesterday I avoided it.

As I was completing my first lap I was greeted by the overwhelming odor of decomposing flesh. Considering the shape the trail is in, I found the smell apropos.

In fact, after two laps I realized that I simply was not having any fun. I felt more like I was trying to avoid becoming injured than actually mountain biking. I decided I’d had enough, and left.

Unfortunately the trails at Soldiers Creek are not officially maintained by any organized group. I don’t know the first thing about trail construction or maintenance, so I am not in a position to work on the trail by myself. I have volunteered on various mtb message boards to help out, and I know others have as well. Hopefully someone with a decent amount of trail maintenance experience will step up and get us organized. I’d hate to see the trails at Soldiers waste away, as they are a blast to ride when they are running well.

As I was driving home I still had the strong urge to ride (I’d only done around 3 miles at that point). I decided to go to Wekiwa where I did an additional 17 miles. Most of the ride was a lot of fun, but when I went way back into some of the most remote trails I was shocked to discover that they were completely flooded. I though about turning back, but I decided to keep going. As I went further into the forest the water on the trails became deeper and deeper. Eventually I had to dismount and walk my bike through about 1/2 mile of water that reached almost to my knees. My biggest concern was running into a cottonmouth, and I definitely had my eyes peeled!

I’m going to go get my leg workout done early. It’s going to be a busy work day, and I have a feeling if I wait until this afternoon to train I may not have time.

I’ve opened the November “100 Challenge” for entry; you can check out the details and get registered here.

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