Over the last 24 years of mountain biking here in New England, I have more than likely ridden thousands of times in the woods around my area. Any day riding is a good day. Even those days when I came home wet, cold, beat beyond belief, or bleeding from being caught being stupid. Then there are days like today's ride at Blue Job State Park. Timing, location, weather, my mindset, and the group who decided to go all combine to make some rides stand out as rides to remember. Funny how many of my most memorable rides seem to center around this small state park tucked away near Rochester, New Hampshire.
All of us locals know Winter is just around the corner. Live here long enough and you get a feel for when those last nice days of Fall are happening. I guess I should not have been surprised to see so many riders hanging in the shop parking lot this morning. They all knew the days of wearing shorts and light weight gloves were numbered. With less than 24 hours notice, 10 riders had decided to head over to catch one of the best views in southern New Hampshire and Maine combined. The 1300 foot plus Blue Job towered over anything nearby, offering any who climbed her almost a 360 degree view of everything within a 50 mile radius. On a clear day, the Atlantic 30 some miles away is visible. Today was a clear day. A beautiful day.
Here in the East we do not have the panoramic vistas found out West. Views such as can be had atop Blue Job are not rare, but generally not common. Our landscape does not jump out at you. It sneaks up on you. Most of our riding is done under the cover of trees or inside walls of pucker. Being out in the open is usually a brief experience. Blue Job changes that. The top of the lower peak is the closest thing we have to slick rock. Granite slabbed with deep cracks make riding it always a challenge. And the climbing will test the baddest goat in any bunch of riders.
Our group was made up of fast young guys on single speeds, one stupidly fast older guy, and then the rest of us. I brought up the rear. As the bow hunter we passed on the way up responded to my comment that I was the last of the group, "Someone has to be last. Might as well be you." Yeah, might as well be me.
The ride is a short one in mileage, but not short on climbing. Starting at the Rochester reservoir, we climb steadily for 3 1/2 miles. Fool around on top for awhile and then 3 1/2 miles back down to the cars. Everything from recently graded dirt roads at the beginning to steep ledges no one cleaned. This ride will beat you up.
I started the ride not feeling good nor did I feel bad. I was riding my new 29er VooDoo hardtail with rigid fork. I had no expectations other than to see what "Lil Princess" would let me get away with. Once again I came away more impressed than ever with the 29 inch experience. I cleaned sections that have always given me trouble and her climbing abilities were way beyond my skillset and fitness level. The downhill back was long and brutal in sections. I had concerns about how I would handle it with no suspension up front. The Lil Princess laughed at most of it and when I choked on some sections and slowed down, I could almost hear her teasing me with words like "Wimp, loser, lets go you flounder, let off the brakes".
What a great bike. What a great day. What a great bunch of folks to ride with. Days like today are what I live for. _______________________________________________ Credits - Dash Jim provided the GPS map and the group picture - Jim provided the picture of yours truly - I took the picture of one of the young punks.