Posts Tagged ‘Agawam Massachusetts’

2-15-15 Snowshoeing

My wife bought me snowshoes maybe five years ago. The first few years, I didn’t try them once. The snow just wasn’t that thick. The next few years, I’d try them but couldn’t keep them on my feet and was thinking maybe this was a bad idea. After all, snowshoeing is just walking in the woods. I’d rather be cross country skiing anyhow. Then last year it all changed with our hikes up Mt. Tom.

It was Sunday, February 15. The snow was too thick for cross country skiing. Not unless you already had tracks to ski on. I instead decided to join Carl for some snowshoeing in his backyard…well out his backyard into the woods. We brought our dogs with us Tucker and Scout. They were more cooperative today being more or less stuck walking in our tracks.

Carl’s house is located near Rising Corner in Agawam near the Southwick and Connecticut borders. We accessed the woods and the M&M trail that cuts behind his house. Getting there meant crossing a farmer’s field first. With the strong wind, that was a pretty brave fete.

We traversed along the edge of the field then plunged headlong into the center towards a lone tree. As we approached the tree I saw the wind kicking up and warned Carl, “A snow devil!” Instead of a “dust” devil, a frigid version had kicked up in front of us. It swirled right towards us and I stopped and put my head down into it closing my eyes.

I was prepared for the cold wearing multiple layers and my ski gear. Carl thought I could overheat but I knew unzipping for five minutes would take care of that today.

Entering the woods, the wind chill was gone and I was very comfortable. We did a few loops around the hills with the dogs. I was enjoying them sticking by us. I only wished that Scout would try to not step on the back of our snowshoes. We worked up a good effort before doubling back to where we entered the woods. Ryan was joining us on his second ever snowshoe endeavor.

The three of us plowed up the hill to meet up with the M&M trail. Carl led the effort through the thick snow leaving Ryan and I in the “dust.” Ryan was impressed with the area for both biking and snowshoeing. Carl was pointing out the rolling terrain around us and talking of the potential of some manmade trails. Tucker was trying to chase the scent of a deer again. We interrupted our planned route to veer off course and drag him back.

Eventually we followed the M&M trail down to the bog bridge that crosses the beaver pond. The bog bridge is a series of planks and pallets that form a rudimentary bridge across the swampy pond. It had fallen into disrepair until recently.

At the moment though that was all irrelevant. The pond was all ice with the only indication of what was there being the beaver home standing boldly on the winter landscape.

We soon decided to fall back into the protection of the trees.

Carl turned along the pond following an old trail I used to take. Then he turned uphill.

I didn’t think any hill around here could compete with the climb up Mt. Tom. Boy was I wrong. We started trudging up through the hip deep snow. The muscles around my hips felt like they wanted to give away under the strain. It was wonderful! Carl told me “those are the same muscles you use to climb hills on your bike.”

I planted my poles and pulled myself up with both arms. Rotating each arm wouldn’t be enough. Each step was a test to see if the shoes would hold and not slip backwards. My breath increased quickly and I thought “this is the kind of snowshoeing I have been hoping for all along.” What a great workout.

While we are doing this, Tucker is taking another run at that deer. He stayed down and ran into another farmer’s field crossing it hot on its scent. I thought he would be long gone, before he turned back as abruptly as he’d left.

I had to make a beeline towards getting back. We had started our Sunday workout much later than I usually would. It was too cold to make it an early start. I knew though that I would want a return trip here. It was the best snowshoe workout I had gotten yet. I was finally seeing what the fuss was all about with these darn shoes.

Scouts ride

Back in August I was trying to get out on a Tuesday after work. Problem was that my dog Scout needed to get out for a walk. My wife was working out, nobody was home and he hadn’t gotten out all day. (Usually I come home during lunch to walk him.)

Scout is our beagle puppy. He came home to us a week before Christmas last year. While he is the family dog, he is really mostly my responsibility. One that I willingly accept.

Usually I will grab my bike in the garage, not go in the house, and run off to meet my friends. This time I was in the house trying to make a decision. Should I walk him and then ride? Should I skip the ride on a beautiful, sunny day? Usually August is road season for me. That wouldn’t work tonight.

I formulated a plan. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea though. Back in winter I had brought Scout on snowshoe walks up Mt. Tom with my friends. Eventually I was convinced to let him run off the leash. That time though there were other dogs around that were older. I knew he would follow them and stay close to us. It worked out very well.

I decided to bring Scout mountain biking. Robinson was my best bet because I could go out and keep him close. I know the terrain well and can pick and choose the trails better. This time I was on my own. Although Carl was willing to join me but he wasn’t bringing his dog along to help with Scout.

Meeting Carl at the parking lot I warned him that this was an experiment. I was hoping for the best. I know Scout liked to chase my kids sledding down the hill last winter. When the kids bike on one of his walks, Scout pulls hard wanting to chase them.

While getting ready to leave the parking lot, I unclipped Scout holding him by the collar while I tucked his leash in my back, shirt pocket. Carl clipped into his pedals ready to go. I let go, clipped in and saw there would be no warmup tonight. Scout let off like a shot, running full blast onto the trail.

It was full speed ahead. I yelled to him “come on, let’s go,” luring him in the right direction. He followed than shot ahead leading the way.

See August 12, 2014 Ride.

As I have written many times about Robinson’s trails…they are made for mountain biking…twisting this way and that through the woods with no particular direction in mind. Scout is short, even for a beagle, and runs low to the ground. He is not as fast as many dogs, but is very well suited for tight turns and he took every turn FULL OUT! I yelled to Carl that we couldn’t “dilly dally.” I’ve gotten very good on these trails lately and this is probably the only place I can keep up with or beat Carl. I asked him to let me get in front so I could follow our ride leader. He obliged.

That dog knew to stay on the trail and even crossed over the intersection as I intended. We left that first set of trails and I shouted for him to follow us over to the next. Popping out into the open near the powerlines we were doing a u-turn onto the next set of trails. Scout looked at me as I called to him but quickly followed behind as I took off again. (I wasn’t sure that would work.)

He finally settled in between me and Carl. In fact it was working real well. There were a few stalls in here as Scout need to stop to poop, then stop again for another round (or 2 or 3).

It was hot out but we were under the shade of the forest. My plan was to head down towards the river and let him drink out of the stream at the bottom of the hill. When we got there though it was dry. The river it was then. Getting near the dam, I wanted to avoid that section and urged him to follow us upriver. We got to a clearing just up ahead where some teens were jumping off a dirt hill into the river. Scout lines up at the top of the hill and JUMPS! I heard one of the guys yell saying “he jumped 20 feet!” It wasn’t quite that high but it was very funny. I asked one of the three to grab him for me. Since Scout was swimming toward them to say “hi” it wasn’t too much of a problem fishing him out. He carried him up the hill and placed him gently on the dirt.

The best thing about beagles is their short hair. He’s like an otter and I knew he would be dry by the time we got back to the car.

We took off again following the river, crossing the stream (another drink) then twisting up the hill. Scout stayed close, mostly in-between us.

He was huffing and puffing but showed no desire to slow down. We hit the next series of twisty trails, crossing over a main trail, then another. The whole time he stayed with us. I was feeling real good about this.

Finally hitting a great stride, Carl and I were enjoying this ride. I saw some riders coming towards us and I stopped to let them go by. When I thought they got far enough away, I let Scout go and off he went…TOWARDS THEM! I tried to call him back but there was no way that was happening. Luckily they stopped and held him for me. They were very friendly and were happy to have to stop and pet him. I wanted to kick myself thinking “next time bring treats dummy!”

We were putting some good miles in but Carl warned that we probably should head back. This dog didn’t want to stop but we were afraid he would blow his heart out. We turned around and headed the quickest was back. In the end we had done over 4-1/2 miles. He got another drink at the car where I thought he would settle down want a good evening nap.

No go…I wish I had his kind of energy.

Now that it is mountain biking season, I want to bring him again when the circumstances allow. Next time though I bring treats…lots of them.

7-29-14 farm road

July riding never got too oppressive in Western Massachusetts this year. I feel for those in more southern climates where the humidity must have been overwhelming. I wouldn’t know!

July 29, 2014 Ride

It was a pleasant evening weather wise…not bad for late July. Mike 10 met up with me at Family Bike. Turning at the lights, we headed up North Street towards Feeding Hills. Going past the Robinson State Park entrance we shoot down the familiar hill getting low and spinning fast so as to propel us back up the opposing hill. Not long after the top Carl meets up with us. Riding from home, it was a more convenient way to hook up with us.

We crossed over route 187 and for the moment I was more intent on keeping the pace moving than they were. Provin Mountain was in front of us (a popular mountain biking destination) and we were riding around it (the only road truly up it ends at the top).

Getting back on route 187, Mike and Carl were getting more serious. Now in Westfield, we took a left at the little bridge with a relatively short but relatively steep hill in our face. Some riders I know avoid this hill like the plague. We had to stop at the bridge and wait for the traffic to go before we could take the turn. With no momentum, that makes it that much more difficult.

Catching my breath, we followed Pontoosic Road a short ways before taking a series of side roads down over to Shaker Road. Passing the country club and the bike path, we were now in Westfield. Mike always says how much he hates it here but these are good roads, that lead to even better ones.

The pace is steady for now and we take turns at the front. Its a beautiful evening with clear skies and little humidity. My pedals are moving easily as I draft both riders. Carl keeps talking away, distracting us from our efforts, and I am feeling pretty good.

Turning right and eventually right again, we are on route 10/202. Turning left off that, we stayed away from the mountains but well enough above sea level as we skirted along the slope of those mountains. I intended on taking the guys on a new road I had recently taken but we turned too early and ended up climbing a different road.

Plans for the route quickly changed and the ride seemed to take control of itself. It was taking us where it wanted us to go. Going up that hill I was behind the other guys (they are better built for climbing), but feeling good nonetheless. We crossed route 57 keeping the mountain to our right.

Fred Jackson Road let to Klaus Anderson Road which led to Ed Holcomb Road before finally turning on Mort Vining Road…I guess they like to name these roads after each other around here. Both Carl and Mike were very pleased with the route. We hadn’t hit these roads in a long time and we were all enjoying where the road was taking us.

I knew where we had to go from here. Heading straight across the road to Wells Road we were winding past horse farms, ponds and somewhat rural neighborhoods before popping back out on route 202. Carl had only recently been on the road and had never ridden it before that.

Against my better judgement we followed route 202 towards East Granby center. We were fighting the daylight but too hell with all that. We were moving faster now and Carl was leading us at a fast pace down the road to the center. Looking back over his shoulder, I assured him we were good and he kept the pace moving.

At the center we crossed left at the lights taking Hungry Road back towards Southwick and very familiar roads eventually leading to Rising Corner and Carl’s house. He offered us a ride back to the bike shop but we kept going as we fought off the creeping dusk. Sprinting down Springfield Street, we were feeling the fatigue finally but it was a short few miles back.

After sitting around all day at work, it was nice to get a good, solid 37+ miles in before supper. This is what summer nights are good for.

July 30, 2014 Ride

7-30-14 deerThe next night I had the opportunity to get out again on my own. I used to get out Tuesday and Wednesday nights consistently but this year has been different.

My daughter had soccer practice next to Robinson. I dropped her off, got on my bike and started riding for the hour and a half her practice would last. Twisting through the woods down a hill I spotted a deer in front of me. As I got closer, I noticed that it didn’t bother running away. I stopped, took out my phone to snap a photo thinking I wouldn’t have time to get one. Instead, it just meandered around. I would have stayed longer, but I had a time limit.

Tuesday night wind resistance.

Tuesday night wind resistance.

Our first Tuesday road ride was our last for a while. Future Tuesdays were wetter.

See April 8, 2014 Ride

This was an important ride. I needed to spin. This past winter has opened my eyes to my training. I did plenty of cross training including hiking up Mt. Tom as well as running, swimming and lifting in the gym. I even included some biking. This all left me feeling fit, but with very tight legs (need to stretch more). Not nearly enough “spinning” though.

The previous Sunday showed that I should have included some spinning classes into my routine. I feel that what I did do will show itself when I get enough spinning miles in but I still need to get those in. This ride helped. Well, it’s a start at least.

It was a 5:45 start and in typical “Frank” fashion, I kept us out just short of total darkness. It was Carl, Ron and myself. Carl took it easy on us during the ride. He’s gotten the winter miles in. His mouth, not so much. He likes to talk…a lot. You may think I’m going negative here, but I’m not. He keeps me distracted from the effort. Aside from Strava talk (not that interested), I do like bike talk.

Ron was warning me that it was getting late, but I would have none of it. I was sucking every last bit of daylight out of the ride. We found a good hill on 159 before turning against the wind towards Suffield center.

The wind was the talk of this ride. It seemed to be in our face much more that not. April turned out to be more like March. Killer winds didn’t help my legs or my attitude. Ron’s advice became my mantra…don’t fight it, just spin. Don’t burn yourself out to go a few tenths of a mile faster.

We climbed up Hill Street as we headed back. I could see the sun going down to my left and knew we would be cutting it close. Despite that I stopped to take a photo to illustrate that fact. We turned at the top going past somebody’s private covered bridge.

When we hit the other end of River Road, it was pretty dark. The moon was rising but I couldn’t stop for another photo now. It was the ride I was looking for. All except the wind.

The starkness of early spring along with the barn reminded me of an Andrew Wyeth painting.

The starkness of early spring along with the barn reminded me of an Andrew Wyeth painting.

No fool was I. Riding on my own tonight I had a plan. Go out as long as possible before darkness settles.

See April 1 Ride

Six miles in or so a flat nixed that goal. Stopping by the roadside in Southwick to change it I saw an old man outside listening to talk radio. Before long he spotted me and offered me the use of his compressor. Picking it up I noticed it didn’t have the right kind of connection for my tire. We connected though in another way. “I like your radio station,” I told him. He’s in his late 80’s and listens to talk radio all day (sounds familiar). He almost never watches TV (that’s where the differences begin). He’s Italian (a paisan) and has been married for many years to the same woman…met her down the street (well, not exactly the same). He joked that she doesn’t look as good as she once did. I said “what about you?” “I look great,” he said. He had a great sense of humor.

We parted as friends. It was a fortunate flat. I met someone pretty cool. I liked the guy.

Moving down the road again I was enjoying the warm day. (It wouldn’t last.) Darkness was already moving in. Heading to Rising Corner towards Agawam I was hoping for 25 miles but would have to settle for less. I knew that now.

Back on 187 I stopped to take a photo of a barn. The yellow light of the setting sun was starting to make its magic. I wanted to have a good average speed but knew that wasn’t going to happen right away. I just need to spin. Keep spinning.

Then two riders passed by as I got on my bike. Catching up I saw it was two Jamaican guys. Introducing myself I had noticed the accent on the rear rider. He said they were heading back to Windsor, Connecticut although they had yet to turn around. It was getting dark.

Here comes the sun-set.

Here comes the sun-set.

I couldn’t join them on that journey and pulled off heading back towards Springfield Street. The sunset was becoming spectacular and I had to stop once more despite the rushing darkness, to snap another photo. I know my daughter loves sunsets and planned to send it to her.

I have a habit of pushing the time limit and was starting off the biking season right. Getting back, I was looking forward to longer days ahead. And no flat tires…although this one seemed to be worth it.

Feb 2 2014 Ride

Looking back on my last winter ride, I wonder if Ron and Dave would have stuck around longer. They rode with me from the 911 gate at Robinson, up to the top of Provin Mountain. When we arrived at the quarry at the other end of that ridge, they turned around for other commitments. I felt like I was just getting started.

I followed the trail across the busy turn on route 57 just inside the Southwick line. Near the archery range, these trails get rather boring quick for a bit. As I crossed the stream though I discovered a trail bike trail worn into the forest. Seemed to me like someone made their own loop wandering through the forest.

So I followed it and found it to be a lot of fun. Up and around one hill, tight turn there, around this tree, over this, through that…I felt like I discovered something special. It certainly made this stretch of woods much more fun.

Finding my original trail, I had to walk up a steep hill before I was able to cross over the power line barrier to where my original Monadnock-Metacomet trail (M&M) gets very interesting again. I ride up a series of short abrupt climbs before descending and twisting through the woods that eventually lead to a trail across a beaver pond.

This is where it usually gets interesting.

Typically we end up turning around here or finding another way through the woods. The trail usually is impassable since the pond has creeped onto the wooden planks that were built over the pond. One, the planks have seen some recent repair. Two, the ice has halted the creeping water for now. So, I am able to cross where I hadn’t in a few years. I then go up the hill and turn onto the private land where access is allowed to Rising Corner.

This is where the trail usually halted. You would then ride on the road a few miles before turning back in. Recently someone allowed rights to rebuild the trail going across the street. Happily, I followed this part of the trail for the second time ever (Ron was on it with me in the fall). I followed it along knowing the climbing that was to come. Soon I was in Connecticut and the trail markers turned blue. The trail goes through a coniferous (pine) forest before changing over to deciduous (leaf) one. The trail at first is laden with pine needles and follows along the middle of a hill, cutting it in half, before leading up as it changed over to the deciduous trees.

Climbing around and over rocks now, I was really enjoying this part. Steep climbs tried to wear me down but I had paid attention to the weather forecast and knew my biking may be out for a while.

I pushed on knowing that the guys should have stuck with me. I had the best part of the ride to myself. Before turning around it was one last climb before the trail started down again. I decided I didn’t want to have to climb back out and turned around for the long run down to Rising Corner.

Unfortunately snow was right around the corner.

Cross country skiing during a snow storm with no lights but still able to see everything in the woods.

Cross country skiing during a snow storm with no lights but still able to see everything in the woods.

Sooner or later, many nights are spent in front of my computer usually doing freelance graphics work. I am almost never on the couch. Tuesday nights are always spent working out. Lately it’s been in the gym due to the weather. Usually though it’s on my mountain bike. Lighting up the night with my head lamp, I am off ridding my mind of the winter’s cabin fever.

Some nights it’s a run. With the weather as it is right now, cold or snow, it can be difficult to get motivated. Sometimes though I will come home, have dinner then let it digest a little before heading out for just over 3 miles.

One Tuesday night in December, it was spent cross country skiing. It was snowing hard and there was a good coating on the ground. Pulling my skis out of the garage, I decided to NOT don my headlight. With the full moon pushing light through the clouds and snow, the night was an everlasting twilight. I could see every detail I needed to, even on the trails behind my house.

Last night I was in the gym again, but this time I had my almost 16-year-old son Frankie with me. Just finished with his second (successful) swim team season, he was itching for a workout and a chance to start jogging again. We both jogged next to each other on treadmills then joined in doing some pull-ups together. From there we went to the machines and lifted each on our own. Swimming ended the workout with Frankie having a distinct advantage there.

I can’t say enough how cool it is to lift with one’s almost grown son. For me, it’s a treat.

See Tuesday, December 3, 2013 Ride

Overlooking Southwick from the top of Provin Mountain.

Overlooking Southwick from the top of Provin Mountain.

Dave has been here before, but not like this.

Dave has been here before, but not like this.

We were climbing Provin Mountain this night. From the 911 gate, we took our favorite route over Provin, past the quarry, turned around and coming back. Before returning though, Mike, Ron and I showed Dave the fun “playground” of mounds and ramps leading down the hill. This place is for downhill bikes only. When on the proper bike, the fork is extended outward making the rider feel like he’s sitting on a lounge chair. We our cross country bikes, we would end up landing on our heads.

See Tuesday, December 10, 2013 Ride

A classic twist ride on the trails near Robinson Park School heading towards Robinson Park. While we enjoy it here, we favor the ridge trails which these aren’t. Many things can bring us back here…wet rocks, or just a need for a change of pace. That pace being faster here with less hills and almost no rocks. Well, there is one rock. Every time we come close to swerve up to it, we yell “watch out for the rock”…I guess you have to be there.

My route through the twisty trails reveals a familiar shape.

My route through the twisty trails reveals a familiar shape.

Christmas Eve Ride See Tuesday, December 24, 2013 Ride and day after Christmas Ride. See Thursday, December 26, 2013 Ride

The magic of Christmas started mid afternoon on Christmas Eve day. Getting out of work early, I got home and hopped on my bike. All the gifts were already wrapped for once! Our evening plans were still hours away. I hopped on my bike and braved the open cold of the street riding the few miles or so to the trail head on Morgan Road. Being on my own, my ride turns into an exploration. I stayed around the true Bear Hole area this time learning more about the trails near West Springfield’s water works.

Crossing the trail over Bear Hole Road, I discovered that the water “roadblock” formed by the beaver dam was now gone. I was able to continue through and start climbing up a steep trail that looks over a quarry. On my way up I found a marked trail leading through the woods eventually bringing me past the quarry to the West Springfield Gun Club. I found the trail to be worthy of my time although it did need some tree removal.

Downed trees weren’t an issue today since nobody was complaining—one benefit of riding alone. When I explore, it can suck all it wants. I want a good ride but someone has to explore these trails. I always find this time to be a good investment for future rides.

The day after Christmas, I made good use of an early start. Most of the family was still in bed when I went out. This time I traveled back down Morgan Road, circled the beaver dam and headed under the Mass Pike taking many of the dirt trails leading to the reservoir. With plenty of “steepies” to challenge me, I was taking a familiar and fun route. We never seem to come this way when starting at the Elks. Being on my own, I wanted this ride to be something different from the norm and stayed away from the ridges. Out just short of 2 hours, I was back in plenty of time to see my step daughter get up and ask to borrow my car. I may consider my self adventurous, but I refuse to go shopping the day after Christmas.

Climbing up through the long field, I turned around to take in the view into Westfield.

Climbing up through the long field, I turned around to take in the view into Westfield.

Rising Corner has been the break between the Massachusetts and Connecticut M&M trail. Rising Corner to me is also the gateway to great road riding. The road rises to the top of a small, rather steep hill. Exiting out of Agawam, right brings you back into Massachusetts into Southwick, left into Suffield, Connecticut. The roads get more rural and lead toward the mountains.

The trail had been closed off for a half dozen years or so since a newer landowner didn’t want the trail running through their property. The workaround was for the trail to follow the road into Suffield along Warnertown Road for a mile or 2. Not much of a solution. Carl had recently told me that the M&M trail was reopened there. 

I knew a ride would be necessary.

See Sunday, October 20, 2013 Ride

Mike 10, Ron and I met up at the 911 Gate at Robinson. Our ride started off going up rout 187 and taking a left up Provin Mountain. We were following the ridge south across route 57. We soon climbed up one of our favorite local trails to the top of Provin Mountain. Until this point, it was a rather regular ride. Mike 10 loves this ridge.

For Mike though, the top of Provin was the end of the ride for him. This is the former home of TV22 and we had climbed onto the access road and into the old parking lot. As Mike dropped off the old pavement, his bike picked up a stick and twisted his derailleur into his spokes. His day was done.

It's quite the view at the top of Provin. Especially on such a great fall day.

It’s quite the view at the top of Provin. Especially on such a great fall day.

At the top of Provin Mountain, we always admire that house with the small pond. I always wish I owned it.

At the top of Provin Mountain, we always admire that house with the small pond. I always wish I owned it.

Mike didn't get to enjoy the field much since his bike was now out of commission.

Mike didn’t get to enjoy the field much since his bike was now out of commission.

Ron helped Mike repair the bike enough for Mike to coast down the steep access road hill and back to the cars. Although the bike seat was set a little too high, Mike was able to “paddle” his bike back to the Robinson gate.

After Mike left, Ron and I then descended down the other side of Provin, happy at least to ride down the familiar but tricky trail. Near its end, we circled around the quarry then dropped to route 57.

After crossing, we followed the old part of the trail that brings you up an outcrop of rocks then down through the archery club grounds. Never saw any archers in all my days riding through there.

The trail is an easy double track for a bit until we crossed the power lines. Here the trail is built well with little “steepies” creating a series of small but tiring challenges. On the second one we came face to face with Carl walking his dog. I had told Carl we were coming his way as he lives just short of Rising Corner. With his protective collar defending his broken neck (see previous blog posting), he was still stuck at home recovering, but was starting to feel like his old self again. He  wasn’t nearly ready for riding yet, much less mountain biking. He was ready for talking though…obviously feeling much better.

After a long conversation, we departed up the trail. Carl followed along for a short bit surprisingly. We intended to cross the walkway down by the beaver dam despite Carl’s warning of flooding. It was a nice drop down to the pond but we discovered that Carl was correct…we just had to see it for ourselves though. In the past, the pond would sit just at the walkway level but not above it. Now it was over it. For some reason, all beaver dams are sacred. Maybe that will get repaired next.

Carl's neck brace was much sturdier than I thought it would be. Could have been much worse though.

Carl’s neck brace was much sturdier than I thought it would be. Could have been much worse though.

THe beaver dam had done a number on the trail down here. An alternate route was a must.

THe beaver dam had done a number on the trail down here. An alternate route was a must.

We climbed back up and back to Carl who was taking an alternate path back towards a farmer’s field and home. I’d done it once before with him but parts of the trail are sketchy at best. Carl took the time to scratch into the surface leading us back through the woods to him. Catching up again with him, he was able to point us through the field leading behind his house.

Saying goodbye for good this time we headed for the new part of the M&M trail at Rising Corner. Just after a guardrail, you turn left along the edge of a generous landowner’s yard. A tire swing sits just to the right of us. Following the edge of the yard we saw the trail just in front of us cutting through the tall grass. Taking it, we were back in the woods enjoying the fact that the trail was newly opened. We started climbing again back up the ridge and soon found our way to familiar territory and the former end of the trail in the middle of the woods.

Back when the trail ended in the woods, it was the weirdest thing. A tree had 2 horizontal lines on it indicating that the trail stopped there. We had always gone past it since we are such rebels, but always turned around eventually refusing to cross through a person’s open property—our rebellious nature going only so far.

The former end of the trail through the woods.

The former end of the trail through the woods.

As stated, the trail rises towards the ridge and we were still climbing. Despite the long break while talking to Carl, the ride was getting long and time was getting short. We kept on though but avoided a very sketchy non-M&M trail out to the right. It brings you down to the main road and was our way off the trail before they reconnected it.

We kept climbing up the trail. As we went it started to change from pine trees and a needle laden trail to more leaves. Passing though an opening in an old rock wall, we went a little farther before turning around.

Going back to Rising Corner, we took the road back. The fall sky was a deep blue and it had warmed up nicely. Time was now short though. Mike’s “sort of” repair and our talk with Carl gave us little time to get back. Still, the experience was a good one. The opened trail now opened our future options for other rides. Perhaps next time we’ll keep going. Or maybe we’ll start in Granby and do the whole ridge to Rising Corner then to Carl’s. I can’t wait.

Just before turning around, we took in one more view along the ridge we so love.

Just before turning around, we took in one more view along the ridge we so love.

Needing a road ride, I instead settled for Robinson. With its fast, hard-packed trails, I can keep my speed up consistently—more like a road ride.

See Tuesday, September 24 Ride (Note: left the Garmin on again after the ride!)

Problem is…I can’t remember a DAMN thing about this ride! Boy I have to keep up with this blog more! A little help here…anyone?

I do know this, while the ride I did (by looking at the Garmin), was fairly typical, that’s what I love about the place. Usually I stay away from the park itself instead choosing the mostly manmade trails. I have favorite “runs” through the tight twisty trails where I let off the brakes and let the bike practically steer itself. The familiarity is comforting as I know the wheels will hold against the trail. I know the turns, I know the bumps. Every root is anticipated. Every hill is expected. Sometimes it’s how you arrange the ride, choosing a trail out of order from usual. Sometimes it’s just arranging the ride to maximize the fun “whoop-de-doos.” There are ones I usually do close to the parking lot, there are ones I hit in the middle. In between I am riding as fast as I can, just short of my back wheel sliding out from under me.

We ride a lot in Bear Hole favoring the rocky ridges. We also enjoy other ridge lines north and south along the M&M trail. Eventually I am sick of what I call the “bouncy-bouncy.” I need a break from the slower, technically difficult trails. Like Elvis, I am all shook up!

And then I am back in Robinson.

With the days getting shorter faster, we were quickly running out of sunlight. This seemed to be our last weekday road ride…unless we get out of work early or take a day off. I guess I would need to get my lights charged soon.

See Tuesday, September 3 Ride

Ron and Mike 10 joined me back at the South End Bridge rotary. We were going to be short on time and needed to get moving quickly. We already knew next week would be mountain biking. I was hoping to get as many miles in as possible.

We started out down River Road turning off fairly quickly. Our pace was steady but not too fast. Ron has this stubborn streak in him and goes with his own flow when the feeling hits him. I ride out in front trying to lure the pace a bit faster. Crisscrossing our favorite streets in Connecticut, we travel along Halladay and take turns until we get to Hill Street. This is one that Mike and I had made part of our quick loop when we lived in Agawam. We know every part of this road.

Taking Hill Street to its end, we usually keep going out away from the cars. Not so tonight. With darkness coming sooner, we turned right onto Mountain Road just short of its big hill. From there we took a series of turns crossing back and forth until we hit Hill Street once again. Just short of overlapping our route, we took it in the opposite direction.

Our ride brought us back onto Halladay then onto route 75 going towards Agawam. I had the idea to take the street leading past Phil’s house (we missed it at first). An “A” rider, Phil and another rider crashed together last year. Phil didn’t know he had bleeding in his head and suffered some complications. He’s been off the bike ever since.

We ran into him and his wife (bad choice of words?) near their house. I wasn’t looking to lure him back onto the bike and stayed away from asking that. He was probably wincing inside thinking that would come up. His wife was very nice but was probably ready to answer that question. It was getting dark and Phil said we probably should get going. He was right but we weren’t sure he had another point or not. I miss riding with him the few times we did. He is so fast but patient with us, and, a great draft. He always helped push our pace while making us better riders. It was good to see him.

I hope he felt the same.

Getting back onto River Road, it was getting awfully dark. Mike and Ron both thought it would be good to ride the bike path along the river instead of the road. Good idea. Getting back it was almost totally dark. That was our clue…road season (for weekday rides) was definitely over.