Monday, June 23

Riding the Hulk

So, The Pie and I went to the beach... or more precisely, a place near the beach.  A coastal place where things are quiet.  People play golf.  Dogs are allowed.  Nice.

As always, I brought a bike.  I was encouraged when I found out that some local mountain bikers had built a "trail" in the area.
More near Myrtle Beach than where we were staying, anything beats riding a road bike along the coast of the Atlantic.  With its zero elevation gain, non-twisting roads, and headwinds in all directions, you'd have to love your road bike to ride it here.  I do not.

I was encouraged on the drive out when I passed Mount Gravel along Highway 31.

Now we're talking.  The possibility of being seventy five or more feet above sea level?  Excite.

When I got to the trail, I received mixed signals of welcome/nonwelcomeness.

I parked outside the gate, slightly reluctantly, but upon seeing a mother/daughter combo preparing to leave their car, my tensions eased.  I busted out the newly Pike'd Dickstickel Meatplow V.6., assembled it from its torn-down-for-the-trunk state, and headed over to the kiosk to plan my morning.  In the parking lot, more evidence of a trunk traveler.

I am not the first.  I won't be the last nor the least.

I looked at the map... briefly.  It looked as if most of the trail would be well marked, so I went off in search of respite from respite... in the 90°+ heat.

It wasn't long before I came upon the first "steep" section.  I know this because I was told so.
Steep is a relative term and relative to the rest of the trail I had seen so far, it was in fact steeper than that.  Speeds previously unknown earlier in the day were obtained quite easily.

And then there was more.

Even more relatively steep'esque.

Perhaps my non-decision to leave my gloves at home (I forgot to pack them) would be unwise as the terrain became more demanding.

I soldiered on, fearless and unstoppable.  Thinking of (the slightly) more discomfort and risk being assumed by the Tour Divide riders who were out conquering their own Hulks on this very same day, I knew I was not alone in my struggles.

I rode under a wooden structure that was at least ten feet in height.  I couldn't believe I had found the bike park element right here on the Carolina coastline.  I turned back to inspect what I would no doubt be riding in the very near future...

Damn.  An old abandoned something or other that went nowhere.  Sigh.

I rode on and found that this was more the type of elevated structure that I should be expecting.

There was more steep...

And more structures... like the Hulk section.

I'll stop right there with what some might say is a somewhat negative review of a trail system. 

I was impressed.  The amount of work that went into making this place?  Unreal.  The vegetation they had to fight through, how well they worked with the terrain at hand, the creativity used to fight the monotony of what is essentially riding in a South Carlina swampland?   Genius.

Only six miles and change long, but two laps around it was better than any road ride I'd ever had at the beach (save for possibly the 50 mile out and back from Amelia Island through what was mostly a preserve with very little traffic).  I tip my hat to the Waccamaw Trail Blazers for their efforts that will certainly save many a beached mountain biker, if but only for a few hours, from a serious case of knobby withdrawal.  I might have mocked the "STEEP" signs, but when you keep in mind that some tourist types are going to look online and say, "Hey, look... mountain bike trails.  I have a mountain bike!"

And then kill themselves riding down a relatively steep pitch.  It makes sense.

Much kudos all around for thinking of everyone and everybody.  If and when I return to the area, I'll be hitting it again, albeit much earlier in the day before it gets Africa hot.

Mandatory Pie shot with ill-behaved, two-headed Cerberus.


Andre Pope said...

Welcome to Myrtle Beach - we are a little over cautious are we not? Glad you got to ride. MTB over the road any day in Myrtle Beach.

Anonymous said...

I'm in North Myrtle right now. Because of the Hulk I brought my MTB instead of road bike this year. It was an excellent decision.

AdamB said...

A Pike without a drooper is like a blueberry without a PopTart...

Enoel Hidalgo said...
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Enoel Hidalgo said...
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