Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lake Perry (demands your respect)

Yesterday the stress of my move and recent car trouble ($$$) caught up to me and I needed an outlet. I dug through my things and gathered my mountain bike gear. I loaded up the VW with it's bent rear/right suspension arm and drove the white beast with it's rubbing tire on a trip out to the Lake Perry mountain bike trails. What a day! The weather was perfect for a ride and there was hardly a hint of wind, which is strange for Kansas.

I have a long history with Perry Lake. I think I've probably ridden out there for 9 years or so in total. It started on a Klein Attitude, super stiff aluminum hardtail. I had my hair long in a pony tail and was racing a lot for East Carolina University.

A couple years later I sold the jarring aluminum of the Klein in favor of a  sweet Reynolds 853 steel Gunnar Rockhound. I had that bike for several years and eventually converted it to singlespeed using a White Industries ENO rear wheel. After that I briefly rode a Cannondale hard tail that was too big for me and reminded me that I love steel framed bikes, but also introduced me to the Lefty suspension fork which I enjoyed. Next I picked up one of the original Surly Karate Monkey frame and forks after being intrigued by one at Bonktoberfest. The KM introduced me (and countless others) to 29 inch wheels. s

I soon grew tired of the fork end drop outs and wanted something a bit lighter and livelier. I had Eric Baar of Ground Up Cycles weld me up a custom frame built on the dimensions of the Karate Monkey with a few changes. Eric was welding for Wily Cycles at the time. It was a beautiful bike that I still regret selling to this day. Filet brazed wonderfulness with a Phil Wood eccentric bottom bracket and all the good parts. It had some super nice Jeff Jones titanium "H bars" which he had just introduced to the world. Brooks Swift seat, Moots post, King hubs and headset etc. 

Fast forward many moons. So many things have changed in my life. I came full circle from selling off everything cycling related in my life to owning enough tools to run my own bike shop. Having zero bikes to owning the two titanium bikes of my dreams. Living at the beach in South Carolina working on a parasail boat with my lifelong friends to living back in Kansas with only my family and a few close friends that I met along the way. It only seemed right to revisit Perry Lake and give it another go. 

Perry is (to me) the ultimate test. It tests your patience and your fitness. It tests your bike. The fit. The pressure in your tires. The settings on your suspension (if you have it). Your technique on climbs and your technique on descents. It's fast in parts and extremely rocky and slow in others. It's completely beginner in certain aspects and unbelievably chunky and sometimes scary in others. If you ever slack off and stop respecting the trail, it'll bounce you off your path and you'll be wishing you didn't second guess it. If you're not in the right mental state to deal with it, it can be very frustrating. Some of the switchbacks are so steep and rocky you just have to laugh. I walked a few sections. I dabbed. I racked myself on the top tube. I crashed. I hit my knee on the stem so hard I let out an extremely loud F*CK! I rode past all the spots on the trail that I remembered and also rode through some new sections that weren't there the last time I rode. I smiled and laughed a lot. Then I finished and had a sense of complete calm and accomplishment.

Overall it was a perfect day weather-wise and a perfect ride. My hats off to Lyle for the excellent work on the trail. If you get the chance, take the trip out to the Perry Lake mountain bike trails and test yourself



  2. It was a blast! This was a few days prior, rode about 25 miles the day I texted you. Ended up riding with Lyle and a buddy of his. Those dudes are 50+ years old and fast as hell! I was wooped after that ride for sure.