EPIC Ride Report, December 27, 2012
With the approach of the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest in February, local riders (our ride leaders at the Fest) have been out scouting some of the routes. Here is the latest report from Reilly and Alex’s last loop, words by Reilly:
Big Bend Ranch State Park – IMBA Epic Ride Report 12/27/2012
My friend and I were able to ride the IMBA Epic the other day. We wanted to get in there and see what kind of trail damage there might be from the rain storms this past summer before the Bike Fest gets here in February. As always the ride did not disappoint. If trails were rated like whitewater I would definitely call this ride a Class V.
We started off from the Barton Warnock Center around 10 in the morning. Overall the ride took us around 7 hours to complete. We took very few rest breaks with a 30 minute lunch stop at Sauceda Ranger Station. I would break this ride up into 4 sections. First one being from East Contrabando Trailhead to where the Rincon loop splits left and the Epic trail goes right. Everything seemed the norm on this section. Lots of sandy/micro rock wash stretches that require the rider to keep a high cadence and speed to maintain momentum. As with the entire ride we encountered many newly formed ruts in several small drainages crossing the trail or 4×4 roads that require you to be on your toes and ready to negotiate over them. They were all easy to foresee and judge whether we could ride them or need to dismount our bikes.
Section 2 I would call from Rincon turn off to Sauceda Ranger Station. We encountered two drainages here that were completely washed out. You approach them fairly fast so be sure to keep an eye out and be prepared to dismount and a quick hop over. Word is the State Park employees are planning on repairing them before the Bike Fest in February. The Pila Montoya climb is still a hike a bike at the beginning. Extremely steep and loose rock makes it impossible to maintain traction at least for me and everyone I have ever seen. A quick hike up the steep section and you will be back on your bike to finish the climb. There is a spring fed water tank at the Pila Montoya TH that has plenty of water in it to dip your head or get some water. Be sure to have a filter if you are planning a drinking this water. Smooth riding from there to Sauceda RS. At Sauceda RS we took a lunch break, utilized the rest rooms and refilled or water. No one was around which has been the case a few times when I rolled through so I would not depend on the store being open to get any supplies or food.
Section 3 I would call from Sauceda RS to where the Epic Trail meets back with the Rincon loop. This is the “meat and potatoes” of the Epic. Lots of loose sandy/micro rock wash sections (aka succubus) that like to suck the life out of your steed and or legs along with big climbs and sketchy downhill sections. From the Ranger Station you begin to encounter a handful of succubus sections on your way across Javelin Road and Madrid Falls Road. A good cadence and momentum will ease the pain here. You will encounter a few small downhill sections here as well that have many smaller ruts with lots of baby head rocks so be careful. A devastating crash in this area would mean a long wait for any help to reach you and even longer to finally reach a hospital. “Remember where you are.” Keep an eye out ahead and you will see a road climbing a mountain in the horizon. That is where you are headed!
Once you fight your way through that fairly rolling section it is time for the Mexicano climb. This is a great two part climb. The first section is extremely steep and loose which most have to walk. I have never seen or heard of anyone cleaning this baby. Just after a little walk step two of the climb begins.
This section requires good breathing control to keep your heart from exploding and legs from giving out. If you’re feeling tired here I would recommend conserving you energy because there is plenty more heart pounding sections to follow. After you top out you will continue to traverse over to Pila de los Muchachos. A few downhill sections here with lots of baby heads that love to cut sidewalls or pinch flat your tires so think light thoughts.
Now it is time for the super steep descent into the Arroyo Primero drainage. Just past the top of Pila de los Muchachos you duck underneath a chain on the 4×4 road and get ready for an extremely loose baby head downhill. Once again crashing here could be fatal. A rider has been flown out of here before. From here to the Rincon junction be on your game. Steep downhill sections, climbs, succubus and ruts will be encountered. When you drop into the Arroyo drainage keep a sharp eye here. The State Park studs built a new single track section that will keep you from battling the worst succubus you have ever seen. It is directly across from where you drop into the drainage and marked with some rock cairns. Your eyes are looking down here for it is a bit steep and there are tracks leading left into the drainage so it is easy to miss. Once you pass the Madrid House get ready for your last extreme downhill to where the trail meets back up with the Rincon loop. This downhill is probably the worst one of the ride and it is very loose chalky powder dirt with large volcanic baby head rocks. Towards the bottom of the downhill when you can finally let off your brakes some very large ruts have been formed from the rains. They are easy to get around just be prepared.
Ah…the Rincon loop junction. This is the beginning of what I would consider section 4. Everything you encounter from here might seem easy now that you have been through the worst. Keep your head up and enjoy the mostly downhill ride back to the trailhead. All the same terrain exists like a few succubus sections, rocky baby head sections and a few climbs but the worst is over.
Well I hope this helps give an understanding of what the Big Bend Ranch State Park IMBA Epic is currently like. Be sure to carry plenty of water, food, sealant tubes, patch kit, tire boots, first aid kit, pliers, derailleur hanger, chain master link and a map and compass is always a good idea.
Good luck!Social tagging: Big Bend Info > Cycling > Festival > Mountain Bike > Tours