This year the semi-annual Mandate trip stuck a little close to home. In 2016 we went to Whistler. In 2018 we were in Sedona. And 2020, being what it is, we headed to Hayward. I'll be honest, I'd heard the riding was good but after Whistler and Sedona I wasn't expecting much. I was wrong.
Having grown up riding in the PNW I have to say that I'm a bit jaded about mid-west mountain biking. It's fun and all, but most of what I'd ridden so far (outside of Blue Mounds) was more of what I'd call "bike park" riding, so I was delighted to ride some mountain bike trails that had some nature born technical features to them.
We rode a bunch of trails and were a bit worked by the Hatchery trail. My buddy mentioned that he couldn't have ridden 20 miles of that type of trail. He lied.
Because that is exactly what we did the following day. We'd planned to do the Rock Lake loop and knew that once we got on the loop we'd be pretty committed. Then we got some local beta and were told that we should make sure to ride Treasure's Trace, and Danky Dank. We looked at the map, figured that be a pretty long loop but we were up for it. It became apparent very early in the ride that the day's ride was going to be pretty technical. Lots of roots, rocks, step-ups, drops, and sharp corners. Adding to the challenge was the fact that the trail was completely covered in leaves, so there were a few surprises along the way. It was perfect. In the end we didn't do the whole loop. Once we got to the end of Danky Dank and ate some lunch we realized that we were going to be pretty beat up just riding the 10 miles back to the car.
It was so worth it. It was hard and challenging in all the best ways. Great trails, great weather, great friends. That's what Mandate is all about.