Friday, December 10, 2010

Blue Clay Mountain Bike Park, Ramones, French Roast.

it's a chilly week in wilmington which may explain the emptiness of the blue clay mountain bike park the past two days. i encountered one lady with her two dogs, and that was the whole of my human contact over two consecutive days while running the 6m loop. the coolness and the solitude suits me, makes for a perfect run. smooth, fast sections of packed earth twist through the wooded land, building into brief-but-ferocious intervals of sharp inclines/declines, then break down into bulging roots and partially-exposed stones. wooden planks form bouncy boardwalks and five-or-six bridges are engineered across creek cuts. x-slope works the strength of ankles on the hilly sections, and the many bike jumps and switchbacks keep the quads burning. the trails earn their "advanced" labels, especially for a runner, but this is still the coast so terrain determines the difficulty as opposed to the roughly 65' of elevation gains.

this trail is broken intervals of technical or speed, a sortof speed chess of legturn & mind, otherwise you’ll find yourself ground down face-first.  a moderate speed with frequent shifts of leg-gears, an involuntary fartlek run, suits my trail experience & aptitude.  (speed is not my talent.)  the scenery dissolves into a rapid foot-dance, with certain passages keeping your eyes glued to the next 10' of trail. sun-dappling and shade, pine needles and leaves, all serve to distort the perception of approaching terrain, the effect intensified by increased mileage/pace. nascent growth encloses the trail, a mixture of hardwood and evergreen- which includes young long-leaf pines.  squirrels scurrying across leaves in the quiet of the woods assume gigantic proportion-- robin birds sound like they might be thirty pounds when flittering out of a creek bank.  several of the seven dwarfs hang out on trees (trust me, this isn't another "creative visualization."). the loops range in distance from 1.6 m to 3m to 6m to any combination thereof, and are easily interchanged.

my first introduction was three years ago when i scouted the trails after registering for the first run for ray 10k. a week before the race, i followed my scribbled map to the blue clay trails, and immediately fell into the spirit of running in the woods.  blue clay was born of the efforts of a local mountain biking organization, Sir-Bikes-A-Lot and SORBA, who started (and still maintain) the trail while pushing for its endorsement as an official county park. the park is well-marked and well-groomed, with a map at the trail head.

while i enjoyed having the trail to myself, i imagine its an unusual luxury. if you head out to blue clay trails, be mindful of the space and others around. a runner can stop and step aside ten times easier than a biker, so remain alert and respectful. there is no water, but there is a chemical toilet and parking is plentiful (and free).