The trails around here have been wet recently, so last week I
decided to do a day- hike at Caesar Creek State Park. An epic
hike is great for clearing the mind sometimes. Cycling is my first
love, but hiking breaks up the routine of cycling and allows you to
see the things that you might miss while blasting down the
During my hike I decided to take a detour and walk the old "50
Springs" XC mtb course that connects to the big south loop. In the
90's the 50 Springs course was home to many XC and CX races. The
Kenda Ohio Off-Road Series ("KOORS") was a staple there, and it was
there that many a tri-state area XC rider tried their hand at
racing for the first time.
It was your typical 90's XC race-course; fast, flowy, and
big-ring all the way. This was during a time when XTR only came in
46 and 48-tooth big ring configurations and 80mm of shock travel
was the norm. I spent many countless hours out there practicing and
racing. 50 Springs also was well known for its group night rides.
The last time I rode there was probably over a decade ago on a
chilly fall night ride with a good friend of mine.
Why haven't I been back there since then? Probably for the
same reasons that no one else rides there anymore. A series
of events conspired to turn a once great race venue into a barely
passable hiking trail:
First: The KOORS mtb series ceased to exist
because the promoter decided the money was in organizing Triathlons
and not mtb races. The Ohio CX scene also found more favorable
venues to race at. This meant all of the experienced riders and
racers went elsewhere.
Second: The park became over-run with men of
questionable motives that parked and hung out there looking for a
"good time". This is always a small problem and public parks
but it became a huge problem there.
Third: A more beginner friendly mtb trail
network began to grow in a nearby town, causing people to migrate
there to ride instead.
So it was on this day that I experienced quite a bit of sadness
as I walked the trail. Even though it had been a decade or so since
I last was on it, I still knew every corner and tree like it was
just yesterday. There's the spot where I lost several race
positions because I forgot to check for thorns in the tire before
pumping up the new tube. There's the picnic shelter where we would
hang out during night rides and swap stories.
The trail had deteriorated to the point where it would require a
monumental effort to bring it back. As usual, my weakness of trying
to "fix things" came out and I began to think "If I could just get
some volunteers out here with some tools and a chainsaw we could
have this back in great shape………".
Luckily for me I had a moment of clarity near the end of the
hike. I realized it was time to let it go. No amount of work to
bring it back would be worth it: the problems would still
exist. I wouldn't ride it. Nor would anyone else for the
reasons mentioned above.
So farewell old friend. We had some great times together that I
will never forget.