Berryman Trail Times Two: A Double Epic

The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) designates what they call “epic rides”. The criterion to qualify is based on distance (at least 20 miles, 80% of which is singletrack), difficulty, technicality and remoteness. There also maintain a Hall of Fame, for trails that used to be designated as epics, but for one reason or another, no longer qualify.

The Berryman Trail, in Potosi, MO falls into this category. It is easy to see how it was once designated as epic, but no longer makes the cut. The trail is part of the larger Ozark Trail, and is about a 26 mile loop, entirely singletrack. There is some climbing, nothing huge, and it is mostly fairly non technical. There are a few rocky areas, and much of the trail is on loose gravel, but everything is very rideable. The trail is a great loop, featuring pretty remote riding, and the trail is well marked.

I had done the Berryman Trail once before, but wanted to go back on my full suspension and get in a long, hard effort. I didn’t remember exactly how long it was, but figured it would be around three hours for a loop. My plan was to do it once to get fully warmed up and figure out how long one loop takes. Then I wanted to do it again, at a faster pace. I don’t really know why I wanted to do this, but I did. It made sense when I came up with the plan. Shut up.

Lap 1: 25 Miles, 2:50, 8.8 MPH

Total distance: 25.04 mi

Those elevation numbers are way off, not sure where they are coming from. It is closer to 1,500′ elevation gain for the entire Berryman Trail. I took it relatively easy on this loop. I didn’t stop and take any breaks, and was feeling a little tired when I got back to my car. Had some food, refilled water, and set back out for lap dos after a short, ten minute break. This was going to be interesting.

Lap 2: 25 Miles, 2:39, 9.3 MPH

Total distance: 24.92 mi

This ended up being much, much harder than I had initially anticipated. My legs were definitely fatigued, but I was able to push a solid pace for the first hour and a half of the loop, then the wheels started coming off. There are lots of flat and downhill sections that really let you fly, and I took full advantage of those. Eventually, the climbs, lack of calories, and the previous 4.5 hours of riding started catching up to me. I was running out of steam, quickly. My stomach couldn’t handle more gels, but I desperately needed calories. I was getting dehydrated, but couldn’t force more water into my bloated belly. I tried to take a Gu while riding, and fell. I took the opportunity to regroup, and pushed as hard as I could to the finish. My initial “wishful thinking” goal of 2.5 hours didn’t happen, but I think it would be doable if I was fresh.

The Berryman Trail is a fantastic ride, highly recommend if you are in the area. I’m not sure I would recommend trying to do it twice, but hey, you live and learn. Thanks for reading.


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