There was heavy overcast. The temp was quite mild, not quite short sleeves mild, but mild enough for shorts. Judging by the dustiness of the parking lot, it hadn't rained in weeks here. The clay trails were hard as concrete.
I hadn't researched Landahl, but I did print out a trail map and pulled a promising GPX track off Strava to get me started. I figured maybe there was 90 minutes of riding. Being smack dab in the middle of the country, there couldn't be any technical features, right?
Not even two minutes into my ride, I hesitated over a big rock drop and had to dismount. Hmm, maybe I won't be flying through here so quickly. I methodically began hitting everything the Strava track hit, which was pretty much everything there. With trail names like Rim Job, Tasty, Gunbarrel, Long Tech, I should have known I'd be in for a little work.
The trails are rated just like alpine ski trails, green circle = easy, blue square = intermediate, and black diamond = expert. I'd say less than 10% of the trails were green. More than a third were black. There was even a double black downhill run, with numerous big launches, berms, doubles, table tops, etc. The black trails generally followed the rocky rim outcroppings that are everywhere out here. Screwing up in many sections would come with severe consequences. The section called 10&11 was wicked gnarly, even by east coast standards. Repeated steep ups and downs on nothing but jagged rocks. I could ride it a hundred times and still not clean it. Not exactly what I was expecting on my first day out here riding solo. But it was wicked fun.
The ride went past three hours elapsed time and I started to worry about daylight. Then I realized this is on the western side of the central time zone, so it gets dark about an hour later here than back east. There were a few cars in the parking lot when I started. When I finished, there were numerous cars.
I met a young guy on the trail who rides there almost every day when he's back home from school in Georgia. He dreams of visiting Highland Mountain Park in New Hampshire and couldn't believe I hadn't been there yet. I like to keep my tires on the gound. Anyway, my 90 minute planned ride turned into 2:40hrs and covered 21.6mi with a couple thousand feet of climbing. Some mighty fine purpose built singletrack. I'll leave you with photos from the ride.
Top of ISH, the downhill run. I avoided the big jumps and
maybe acheived a tiny crack of light under my tires in a couple places
Lots of craggy stuff to hop up or drop off.
Point on Long Tech trail. Almost a view of horizon here.
Lot's of 26" wide gaps between slabs to stuff my little wheels into.
An Osage orange. Inedible except for seeds. Had these
in Michigan too. Seen an osage orange tree only once in the NE.
Filled with sticky latex.
There's a limitless supply of rocky features to incorporate into
trails here. The designers made good use of it.