I have been at this mountain bike thing now about 27 years. In the beginning I had no clue. There were few people riding them in our area back in 1985/86. I rode alone staying mostly on old tote roads, ATV trails and snowmoblie trails scattered around my home on Sam Page Road.. In the first couple of years I built some fitness, but my skill set was still crude. I learned every technique the hard way. Scars, scrapes. bruised bones, and 5 helmets later some notion of how to ride in the woods began to settle in.
It was probably a good thing I was 27 years younger when I started. Had I had to endure the rude awakening off road riding supplied at my current age of 60, I would never go back into the woods again. But there is that 27 years of experience so now I ride within my skill set, my mind set and base every ride on the notion of finishing in one piece.
The one thing I don't have as much of as I did when 33 years old is as much piss and vinegar as I had then. Fitness is something you kinda have naturally while young, but have to work hard to keep as you age. I have not worked hard at it, so my bag of piss and vinegar is always on the low side.
No ride pounded that home more dramatically than yesterday's ride. A group of us drove up to Conway, New Hampshire to ride an area in the White Mountain National Forest known as Moat Mountain/ Mineral Trail Area. As I had almost a full summer of riding under my belt, I was sure I could handle the planned route I had thought about all week. Hmm............................... Seems I was wrong.
We embarked on our day's ride around 8:30 AM. A couple of miscues and finally we settled in on the "Boulder Tent Trail" that heads out to "White Horse Ledge". The "Boulder Tent Trail" has not one inch of level ground. It is either goping up or going down. Matter of fact if you ponder that graph for a moment it would appear that in the whole ride, the only part that approached being level was the 2 plus miles we did on the "Electric Loop". And by the time we got there I was spent and could only be grateful I was not climbing .
According to Dave's GPS unit we climbed for 1400 plus feet in 12 plus miles. That translates to 6 miles of climbing. Hmm............ When we finally got back to the cars 4 hours later, it felt more like 5003 feet of climbing in 25 miles.
What a brutal way to know you are alive. I can't wait to tackle that area again.
At precisely 6:28 AM a two car caravan left Sam Page Rd in Acton,
ME. The lead car contained the Cool Dudes. On the roof, perched large
and in charge, sat the sweetest pair of Niner twin bangers anyone has
had under their butt. The Soccer Mom vehicle behind - well- let's just
say with that bike roped off on the roof, no one had to guess where
those three low lifes hailed from. Sanford of course.
One minute shy of 10 O Clock AM this motley crew landed in E. Burke,
VT. Bought ride tickets, changed into their finest kits, and drove up
to park on top of Darling Hill. Offloaded bikes and gear. Tthen one
car went back down to the main parking lot so there would be a car at
each end. Hey, made sense at the time. As it turned out, no matter
what, someone ends up being punished on the pavement somewhere.
Sometime close to 10:30 AM the group lifted off. Headed up to the
upper trails, "Fenceline", "Coronary", etc. They finally located "Tap n Die".
Grins were had by all. Still fresh and full of piss n' vinegar, the
five followed their noses to "Sidewinder". More grins and now it was time
to head over to the other side..................The other side, oh yeah, that's right -
the other side -- The Coolest Dude gulped hard.
The Cool Dudes who led the drive up, now were sucking up the rear.
The Coolest Dude on the the red Rip 9 was tapped and he knew it.
Though he still looked cool with his coordinated hydration pack and
bike, inside he was a sufferin bastard. With quips like "Don't matter
how fast you are, it's how you look that matters" floating through his
mind, he fell into slow-slow mode and pushed on. They had been out
there 3 hours already. The Coolest Dude knew it was going to be a
painful ride back to town.
"Kitchel" was closed. The group broke up. The lowlifes from Sanford
headed back into the jungle and the Cool Dudes found Darling Hill
ASAP. 1/2 mile of pavement up and they could collapse next the the
car. And they did.
4 plus hour slog that I would gladly do again. What a great day in the woods of Vermont.