The Year In Review

2007 was a busy year for GORC. I had to go back and look at the calendar to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Some of the workdays from last spring seem so long ago now. In case you weren't able to keep track of things, here's a review of what's happened in the past year:

- Trail 4 at SIUE completed
- The Rollercoaster at Castlewood completed
- Work begins on extension of DeClue Trail at Greensfelder
- Connector trail between Chubb Trailhead and Flint Quarry Trailhead completed
- Broemmelsiek and Indian Camp Creek Parks open in St. Charles County, each with several miles of trails
- Midwest Mountain Bike Festival in Peoria
- GORC trip to Winter Park, Colorado
- 24 Hours of Landahl
- Burning at the Bluff 12 hour race
- Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day
- Klondike skill structures are installed
- More work on DeClue
- More work at Broemmelsiek
- More work at Indian Camp Creek
- 10th Anniversary Party at Klondike

All of this, in addition to the regular weekly and monthly rides at Lost Valley, SIUE, and Greensfelder, not to mention work on the Ozark Trail, and a few maintenance days here and there, keeping what's already been built ready to ride. I probably left something out, but hopefully it's obvious that it was another successful year for GORC, and with YOUR help, we can do even more in 2008. Happy New Year!

Mariachi twins

Yea, I know the title is dorky. But don't worry, Bryan and I won't start wearing matching sweaters or anything.
Christmas came early for this young man and what better day to try out the new ride then at SIUE in the snow.
Kirby, Mike D. Randy, Bryan and I went out for a nooner. Well, ride that is. Riding in the snow is kind of difficult. It combines the two of the things that drive me batty. 1. Inability to clip in, and 2. Riding in mud.
Of course it was just snow, but you still snail it around like you are in mud or sand. The great thing was the slow motion falls into the stuff. That was fun.
Anywhoo, great time out there!
Oh, and here is the newest member of our family.

Here is some sexy side action.


Klondike workday-appreciation party!
10 years of GORC

Ah! I remember it so clearly. It was a dreary Saturday morning. Bryan and I found ourselves traveling off to Klondike. We chattered about how much fun it was going to be. Start the day off with trail work, follow that up with a ride and then it is PARTYTIME!!!! I was worrying about having enough food, beer, cake, etc. There were so many people signed up that I wanted to make sure everyone had enough. Then THOR took his hammer in hand and placed his magic belt around his waist.

For those of you who have not heard, my husband Bryan has an alter ego (or two). His alias is Thor. You know who Thor is, the Germanic god of thunder. He had red hair and a beard and rode upon a chariot drawn by goats. Goats? Well that's good because horses don't seem to want to do anything for Bryan anyway, let alone draw a chariot, but that is another story. I assume Ron chose the name Thor because the name has power! According to the Romans Jupiter Pluvius is the rain god, of course so is Zeus. Zeus is too powerful and Jupiter, well, it's Jupiter!
As we get closer to Klondike the god of thunder becomes larger than life. Oh yea, the rain just keeps coming and coming. Our hopes of a large turn out were slowly dwindling away. The gallons of chili, 4 kegs of beer, and a whole sheet cake started to seem a bit like overkill.
We arrive at the park and get directed to the maintenance shed. Woohoo! Shelter and heat, great combo. This is where the downed teeter is brought back to life. Thor brought along an E-Z up because he knows all to well about his secret powers. So the rock drops were able to be dropped in.
We gathered at the conference center for BBQ provided by St. Charles county. Mike and Craig & Co. headed out afterward to do some finishing teeter touches. The rest of us stayed inside for plan B.
What was plan B? Well it isn't the emergency birth control. Plan B is code for the keg of stout must die. Oh yea, it fought bravely, but we persevered. Of course the movie Beerfest helped keep our spirits high.
At some point there was a Donjo sighting.

Sorry St. Charles county, we have renamed this billy goat Donjo! Apparently he is a free wheeling guy & an opportunistic whore just like his namesake. He has been at the park for a couple of years just grazing along.
After the movies it was chow time! The elk chili that the Knopps brought was demolished There wasn't much left of it. There was also mild chili, hot chili and lil smokies. Tons of food left, but everyone stuffed to the gills.
Then more BEER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And of course CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After we killed the cake, we headed up to the cabins. All of the cabins were donated to GORC by St. Charles. How awesome! We each had our own cabins practically. Cameron and Co. had their own. He, his wife, and two daughters nestled down in Cabin F.
Then there was fire! Two blazing fires kept our toes and buns warm as we sipped on some fine Schlafly beer. Then it was time to retire for the night.
Of course in the wee hours of the morning Thor had to shake his hammer again. It started to thunder and lightening outside. But we were all nestled in our beds so he couldn't cause to much havoc.
You all missed a great party! We'll have to celebrate again when the weather is nicer and more hospitable!

The Thaw

You're riding along on your favorite trail on a nice winter morning. It's frozen solid and you're having a great ride. After awhile, the sun comes out and a few minutes later the beautiful hardpacked trail has turned to mush, and you and your bike are coated with mud. In this article, originally intended for the GORC newsletter, Sam Mitchell explains how this happens.

Every winter, the dirt we love to ride on freezes when the local atmosphere goes below 32 degrees F. The water in the dirt freezes and acts as a cement, making the dirt more solid than at other times of the year. The amount of water in the dirt varies from none (dusty) to saturated (muddy), that percentage mostly depending on the fineness of the material making up the surface. Very fine materials like clay can hold lots of water before they become plastic, when their shape can be changed easily. Water can act as cement or lubricant, making dirt solid or liquid.

While there is some warming of the surface of the earth by the hot core of the planet, it is tiny and constant, and does not enter this process. The temperature of the air controls the process. As cold weather continues, the thickness of the frozen dirt increases. We do not notice this because the dirt was solid to begin with, and remains solid as the ice thickens, and we have a good ride. In the central Midwest, frost depth can reach a foot or more, and 18 inches is considered safe for burying water pipes, to see they do not freeze. In the late 70s here, the winters were very cold, and the frost occasionally was more than 18 inches. In Minnesota, the frost can be several feet deep, and in Alaska the frost line is very deep and can be permanent, “permafrost”.

The trouble for our trails begins on warm, especially sunny days, in late winter or spring. The surface reaches 32 and the ice begins to melt, at first just making the trail slick. Much more worrisome is when the thaw continues, melting the water to a depth that does not yet reach the bottom of the frozen dirt. The remaining frozen layer is an impervious blockage to the melted water above, which in warm, unfrozen dirt would percolate down from the surface, as it would in a summer rain, keeping the dirt from becoming plastic and too soft. When the last of the frozen dirt does thaw, percolation can take place, the water descends from the surface, and the trail dries and becomes ridable. There can be several freeze/thaws over a winter, making a rider very frustrated.

Full thawing of the frozen layer can take days, maybe weeks in 35 degree weather, and use of the trails during the thaw can be destructive to them. After deep ruts dry and harden, they are slow to wear away, difficult to repair, and can cause a crash. Different parts of the trail thaw at different rates depending on the material at the surface, and whether the trail faces the sun or not. There is not much science for predicting the thaw in a particular place, but work is being done, see here .

A rider can start a ride on a stable trail, then come to an incompletely thawed part. TURN AROUND, DO NOT RIDE ON THAWED TRAILS. That can be very frustrating, but is for the best, for all trail users.

Monthly Meeting Wednesday, Dec. 5th 7 p.m.

Here's a picture of Kirby modeling his latest idea (shot with a wide-angle lens) for a GORC promotional item. He said something about his next idea involving a thong, so if you don't want to see stuff like this, you had better show up at the meeting and stop him.