Tuesday, July 13, 2021


Last week, when I was still in Texas, my Dad and I hit Boulder Park. I'm not sure if Boulder is technically outside of the band of black clay, but it definitely has a lot of that Dallas white rock everywhere, and, like Chisenhall, dries out quickly and even when it's a tacky, the soil doesn't cake up on your tires. Boulder is a bit more technical than Chisenhall, but there are blue and red loops, and the blue loops are less technical. Unlike many other Dallas-area trails though, they're not dead flat and smooth, punctuated with eroded drops through ravines. There are smooth sections, and of course, there are ravines, but there are also chunky little stair steps everywhere, as that white rock tends to wear like that. As with the last place, my Dad was eager to get out and ride some stuff he hadn't ridden before, but felt better about doing it with someone else tagging along, or leading, as it were.

When we got to the trailhead, the lot was almost completely full, and there were cars just parked out in the street up and down the road. Popular place! We ended up parking next to the port-a-potty, in a spot that I guess people figured they couldn't readily fit into, but it turned out we could, with plenty of space to open the doors. Maybe someone had been there and had just left. IDK.

I didn't remember exactly how the trail went. I knew it was stacked loops, and I'd looked at a map of it before we left, but I figured I'd refresh myself at the kiosk at the beginning of the trail. Sadly, the kiosk was there, but the map was long gone. Riding out, it didn't look exactly like I'd remembered, so we spun back and asked some guys hanging out at a picnic table near the lot, that looked like they'd just been out on the trail. The one guy had about as much trouble with English as I have with Portuguese, but was able to give me all the info I needed. His buddy was giving him extra info to relate to us, in Spanish, and I was happily surprised that I could understand just about everything he was saying too! I even accidentally commented on what he was saying in spanish. Ha ha, yo puedo sobrevivir en espanol, estou coloquial português (mais ou menos), et je peut parler un peu de francais aussi. Watch, now that I'm bragging, some part of that last sentence will be wrong.

Anyway, we just had to stay left, hit loops A, B, and E, and avoid the red side loops until we wanted to check them out on the second lap.

We did this, and it was great fun. The trail conditions were ideal.

Boulder Trail

It even rained on us, lightly, for about half of the final lap, but you couldn't tell looking at the trail.

For a while, we rode along, and later crossed the South Prong.

South Prong

You can see the limestone that the whole area is composed of pretty well by looking down into that creek, and into Boulder Creek which we also rode along later, but which I failed to get a photo of.

Turns out my Dad had no trouble with anything on any of those loops, though we did discuss his strategy for descending chunky descents. He tends to rely on carrying speed more than I do. He felt nervous just bumping down one of the descents, like a rock or a hole might stop one of his wheels.


I always try to descend under "deliberate control." The first time I encounter some long, chunky descent, I usually bump down it at a speed that would allow me to stop immediately, should I choose, using balance and pedal kicks to negotiate whatever's in my way. Then, I'll commit to riding it faster and faster as I get to know the trail, but I'm specifically choosing how fast, confident that I know what will happen as I scan ahead, and confident that I can descend the whole thing at a chosen speed, not just however fast I end up going. I guess, if I can see the WHOLE techy section, and I'm certain that I can ride it fast the first time, then I just will. But, for stuff that bends around a corner, or is obscured in any way, I won't just carry speed into it, assuming that I've got the skills to negoatiate whatever might come up. I know it's both slower, and takes more energy to do it like I do, but I've got that 100% rule, it's what I do to comply with that, and it builds tech skills, which I'll need if something unexpected does happen. For me, it's analogous to technical climbing. It's very helpful to carry speed into a technical climb, but I don't rely on being able to. I develop the skills to crawl it, and if I happen to need to, my crawl skills are well developed. I'd say the same rules apply to technical descents, at least within reason. I mean there are things that you just have to send, but I'll walk those until I'm comfortable with what I'm sending it into, then only send it when I ride up on it, and I'm like: "Oh, yeah, I'm certain I can send this, AND ride out of it." But not before.

Lame and overcautious? Perhaps. It definitely takes longer on the front end to just generally be able to ride stuff, but I think it builds really solid skills, which make it easier to learn to confidently negotiate novel features, and deal with anything that doesn't go as planned. Also, I'm sick of breaking ribs, and my Dad is sick of breaking anything.

At any rate, we discussed all of this as we rode, and on subsequent laps, he tried descending the same chunky hill with that aforementioned "deliberate control", found he was totally able to do it, and was like: "Ahh, I see what you mean." etc. IDK if he'll generally adopt the strategy as broadly as I have, but it was interesting to identify. It had not occurred to either of us what the other had been doing.

On the final lap, we hit the first two of the little red side trails. I didn't rememeber much about them, except that they're "more technical" which probably meant chunkier descents and/or climbs. Turns out the first two were climbs! Heh. Much tougher than the blue trails!

It was another great ride though. Boulder is really fun, even the blue trails, and it's especially great if it's been raining and everything else is closed.

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