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Barton County Lake Trail
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Chambers and Chambers in the clear

Barton County Lake, aka Lake Barton,

 

Barton County Lake is located approx. 4 miles north of Golden Belt's Shop on Hwy 281.  It appears to me that it has been awhile since Lake Barton was actually a lake.  I think one of the locals said there was water there but I ain't seen it.  Chambers and company have developed a sweet little 2-mile loop that will give you a nice workout, and entertain you as it does. The basic loop circles the lake, and does some interesting thigh burning stuff as you cross the damn dam.  Off shoot trails curve off the beaten path to more technical sections, or up a short, surprisingly steep, surprisingly sudden, 3 or 4-foot dirt wall embankment, only to return you to the beaten path on an equally steep, usually exhilarating drop. 

The loop is basically flat but does have several of those short, steep power climbs.  The real thigh burner comes when you get to the damn dam.  Years of non-daming have reduced the concrete barrier to a cracked, but formidable terrain feature.  Numerous small trees and bushes have taken hold in the cracked slab and given the whole thing sort of a slick rock, Moab on a slant appearence.  For the full effect watch the painted lines on the ground or follow a local rider.  The first time I came out of the trees to face this white on ramp to the dyke, (dike?), I went straight up the face to the top.  Tough climb, I thought, on the way I noticed some markings on the thing but didn't give them much thought.  Next lap around I'm riding with one of the builders (Herb Phillips), when we hit this thing again.  As I prepare myself for the grind to the top, I look ahead and about 3/4ths of the way up Herb hooks around this bush and starts angling down the opposite way.  About the time I get to the spot where he turned, I see the paint marks pointing down.  As I make the same turn, Herb is just reaching the bottom, scouching around another little shrub and heading back up.  This goes on for several more repetitions. Across rough concrete, over patches of slippery footing the damn dam finally tops out for a few yards before it plunges back down into the trees at break neck speeds. This little section feels like it adds a mile to the length of the trail.  Especially, after you just banged the crap out of your knee on that last technical.  If you're not into that level of torment, you can climb it straight to the top like I did on my first lap.  That ain't no waltzin' Matilda either though, low gear, and a big breath. 

The trail loops through woods for almost the entire route, passing some old time abandon playground equipment it gives the place kind of a John Boy Walton feel.  The "Crater of the Moons" which is immediately after "the blindest of the turns!", and a few log obstacles will keep you on your toes for the entire trip.  Sound like fun?  I certainly thought so!  The loop can be ridden either direction, and has equally challenging, and fun surprises going either way.  Do 'em both twice so you don't miss anything.

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Sara Through the trees

Skill Level Rating: 4/6 (1-10 scale) A 4 because anybody off trailing wheels can about ride the basic loop.  6 because the damn dam climb is tough, and some of the offshoots will test the skill, conditioning, and luck of most riders.  Also 6 because as you get better, you go faster.  As you go faster, things start coming at you a whole lot quicker, thus increasing your chances for counter-productive incidents.  In other the words, the better you are, the quicker you go, the tougher it gets, 6!  I rode three laps today behind Doug, my knee is swollen, I got blood on my leg, a blood blister on my thumb, and every time I get up I make that old person sound.

Additional Info, talk to the guys at the shop if you need better directions, more info, or a guide.  Just remember these Guides go really fast so be prepared.  There is ample parking in a nice grass, semi-shaded lot.  There is no water one site, and the bathrooms look a lot like evergreen trees.  Town is a quick three miles south for refreshments and amenities.

If you haven't ridden it, ride it.  If you don't ride it don't whine, "there ain't no place fun to ride my bike", cause there is.  Ask the boys at Golden Belt, 1-800-561-2453.

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