January 15, 2016
A funny thing happened on a recent trip to Swope. Though it wasn't THAT funny at all really. Just seemed weird that it all happened at once.
On the trail I met a rescue party carrying a guy out who had crashed and injured his leg. Then I get to the trailhead and find a runner who had fallen and sliced her hand open. And shortly thereafter a woman I know came back down to the trailhead with a broken finger from a crash.
I guess you could say Swope is a challenge. And it'll sucker punch you a good one if you're not careful. The reason 8 Pin is called 8 Pin is because one of the designer/builders of the trail -- who is an expert rider -- augered on the trail and the resulting break in his hand required 8 pins. Another funny story ... though not that funny ... I broke my hand on 8 pin. Damn rocks.
Here's the thing. If your technical skills and form is up to snuff, the rocks, roots and chatter (or what seems like constant up and down) will flow pretty well for you. If you or your bike aren't ready, it feels like it doesn't flow in quite a few places because you'll be working so hard. But, trust me, it does flow. And it'll make you a much better rider.
Thing is, slow down and focus and you can ride most of this. There are some long stretches of non-technical, beautifully flowy trail here. But there are enough step ups and chunky rock sections waiting to send you over the bars and into the limestone. Some of it very sharp.
Swope will work for the less experienced. But it's absolute bliss for intermediate and more advanced riders wanting a good (hard) technical run.