Nice Weekend in Starkville

Instead of running on Friday, I hit the Research Park bike trails after work. The trails are located in a relatively small patch of woods just north of the Research Park on Hwy 82 near the MSU campus.  I have been going out there on and off for about 30 years, although there were not bike trails there 30 years ago.  Over the years, various individuals have volunteered their time to make and maintain the trails, myself included. However, I have not worked on them in quite a few years for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I now have too many things going on and have no time. Its all I can do to keep my trail at my house going, and its only a mile long. The other reason it that the site is not designated as a permanent bike trail. It is privately owned. I have watched this beautiful wooded lot shrink in size over the years. Very frustrating! For me, it is not worth my time working on something that may not be there next year. But, I am so glad other people do! It is a fun place to ride, run, and walk. The only thing I don’t like about it is that every time I go out there, the trails have changed, some times for the worse. There are apparently different factions of “volunteers” who think only they should be in charge of making trails. At times, it has become a turf war. Only the most qualified can work on the trails. Some people even claim to have attended trail building classes!  Yeah, apparently they have these. Who knew. Its amazing that all these years trails were made by untrained people, and yet, they were very nice. I can honestly say, I see no improvement since the “pros” started working out there. Anyway, if you happen to be a biker who has worked on these trails for 20 years, but did not attend a “trail building” class, and a student new to the area who has learned to build trails the “right way” decides he or she should be in charge, everyone must bow to that trail building guru! Or, in some cases, there are groups of people who have been here for many years that can’t seem to get along.  One group even claims to have the expertise and insists that others should not build “rogue” trails because they don’t know how to do it right, even though they have done perfectly fine for years!  Lots of name calling, etc.  I find it all rather comical, since everybody is basically trespassing!  But, really, give me a break. If somebody wants to go out and work on trails, that has to be a good thing. So please people, get along! The funniest thing to me is that I thought the trails were much better 10 years ago, but since the professionals have gotten involved, they have become a sinuous, convoluted maze that is much slower and not as fun to ride. Oh well, and either way, they are still fun, and the only trails within  a 30 mile radius. Of course, if you want to drive 30 miles, you can ride the 25 mile +  trails at the Tombigbee National Forest. These trails are very nice for the most part, and I highly recommend them.

On my ride Friday, I spent about 45 to 50 minutes riding the trails, and I think I did basically every loop at least once, and some several times.  I tried to ride as hard as I could and got my legs pumped up really good. No wrecks today either, which was nice. My sore ankle was worse after the ride, all those uphills and the millions of switchbacks took their toll. While I was there, I saw one other biker on a super fancy bike (compared to mine). He was going really slow. I don’t know why, but when I see somebody on a $2000 bike, I always assume they should be much faster than me. On the other hand, he might have been going slow on purpose. Maybe he was bird watching. I also saw a guy raking the trail, a group of about 10 students or so doing something or another, a girl jogging, a young couple walking down the nearby train track, and two different groups of hammock people lounging in the trees. I sure hope this little oasis lasts a few more years. People are really using it.

I left the woods and went to get Joseph from SHS. He had just got done doing an easy run in the nearby neighborhood with Kamau.  I believe they went about 45-50 minutes. We hung around a while to attend a Track and Field booster club meeting. Trying to figure out ways to raise money for the team, as it is not a “priority” sport and does not get much money from the school system. Not much was accomplished, as is the way with meetings. But, we did schedule another meeting!

We did not run Saturday. Took the day off. I did lots of yard work though! Joseph and Julie went to the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge and picked up trash and other such things.

Sunday afternoon, we headed over to the south farm at 3 PM for our run. Steve Shaffer again ran with us on the 7 mile run. The was the first Sunday afternoon in a long time that none of the SHS runners joined us, which was a little disappointing, especially with the beautiful weather. It was almost 80° today! Very windy, with strong winds from the south.  Most of the first part of the run was against the wind, and it was difficult to run very fast. Good thing today was an easy day.  It only  took  a couple of minutes before Joseph quickly left us, and it was not long before we could not  see him any more.  Steve and I ran together for 4 miles, at which point we had just passed the ginormous hill and he needed a breather. So, I went ahead at that point and ran the last three miles at about 6:50 per mile. Steve was not far behind and said me being in front motivated him to keep going. He said he got a little dehydrated today with the combination of hills, heat, and wind.  With about a mile to go, I passed Anna Jackson, who is also on the SHS track team. She was running effortlessly! Anyway, after the run, we stretched and talked a while, before heading home.

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