Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Have a Secret

Not that kind of secret
Actually, I have lots of secrets.  Do you have any secrets?  Anything that you hide from those people who surround you every day?  Most everybody's hiding something.  I bet you are too.  A secret is based in fear.  If the secret gets out, it might hurt you professionally, personally, or socially.

I trust you.  So, here's my secret: 

I am a runner.

Running (slowly)
"Well, that's not so bad," you might say.  "Yes, it's true you wear shorty-shorts and pay money to run on city streets with other 'athletes.'  I mean, embarrassing, yes.  But not a secret."

Well, the whole truth is that I'm not just a runner, I'm a trail runner. 

Don't judge me
"Well, that's not so bad either," you might say.  "Just because you buy fancy shoes, wear shorty-shorts and drive longer than you run, just so you can do a sub-optimal run in the woods."

Yes, but you don't understand.  A lot of my friends are mad at trail runners.

Let me explain.  See, there's this trail in central Ohio called Alum Creek Phase One (or "P1").  It's a six-mile or so loop located in Alum Creek State Park.  It's rooty and doesn't have much elevation change, but we love it anyway.

Everybody learned to ride at P1.  In a lot of ways, it's like a family member.  Many of us can tell you each bend and tree on the trail.  We earned our scars and scabs there.  it has been a part of the central Ohio mountain bike scene for over 20 years.  In fact, P1 sees a lot of bicycle traffic.

Stats from COMBO

In 2013, there were over 9,600 laps of P1 ridden, for over 53,000 miles. 

And, you may not know it, but this trail is maintained by volunteers.  That's right.  Although the trail is on state land, the state does not maintain the trail  But it needs constant attention. 

Who doesn't love COMBO
In fact, last year, COMBO volunteers spent 541 hours working on P1.  It's a big investment for a trail that doesn't even see the most use.  But hey, it's a part of our family history. 

So that's why my trail running is a secret. 

This fall, there was a trail race out at P1.  It was a running race, not a mountain bike race.  But the trail was wet and the race really should have been cancelled.  the results were predictable, but lamentable.

The trail is like five feet wide here.  It should be 18 inches.
Like the surface of the moon.
This damage caused quite a stir.  It even made the paper.  P1 is still all beat up.  The runners are trying to make things right.  They have donated money and work.  But, still, it's no wonder that the mountain bikers are pissed.  It's like you beat up their little brother at the playground and they are coming to find you.  

But it's getting better.  And mountain bikers know that trail runners are our friends and can be our best allies.  We just need all trail users to be smart and aware. 

I think runners and mountain bikers need to join forces and fight the real enemy, horses. 

The enemy.  Photo by bato93
I mean, seriously.  Have you ever ridden through a fresh field apple?  Also, what kind of luxury pet is a horse?  I can barely afford to feed my cat.

Just kidding!  Seriously, I don't want to get on the bad side of the horse lobby.  They are no joke! 

But also, no horses on P1, please. 

There has even been talk about closing P1.  It's debatable (to some) whether it's worth the continued effort to keep this battered trail running.  It's kind of like Rocky IV - it's pretty damned beat up, but it keeps punching. 

I will fight to keep P1 alive and kicking.  You want to help fix P1 too?  Next trail work day is Saturday, May 3.  Or come Sunday, May 18th.  Just show up at the trail at 8:30-ish.  No experience?  Can you operate a shovel?  Then you're qualified.  Just show up. 

Anyway, that's my secret.  Please keep it to yourself.

I may not post this weekend, because I'm on vacation.  Look for more post next week.

Your beer pairing:
Spaten Munchen

(1) The name means "shovel" in German.
(2) the slogan is "Taste the Flavor of Munich" (ew).
(3) Germans!
(4) Horses!

Be brave

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