Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

Worst snowstorm of winter around here happened in the spring.

It had been a great start to the biking season…until now. I was hoping for a Tuesday road ride tomorrow night but now I am resigned to a good spin class. I may want the exercise but I still refuse to snow-blow the driveway or shovel the walk.

I’ve neglected this blog for a while but it hasn’t been due to lack of biking. The winter barely stopped us. We did a lot of mountain biking.

Bear Hole

Usually our first spring forays are on our mountain bikes but even our road rides got off to an early start. Typically we prefer 50 degree weather for a road ride but have learned to enjoy the road at lower temperatures this spring.

That’s all over, at least for this week.

Robinsons-14

This is local turf for us. We like it, we loath it, we ride it.

Ron hates the twisty trails. I get bored with it, until I’ve done a lot of technical stuff elsewhere, then I look forward to it again.

There are a couple of truths here…

We are lucky to have the place.

Robinson has most of the locally made trails closer to Robinson Park School. Many times I stay here and never hit the park itself. I twist fast through the woods doing many miles close to the car. When it is time to leave, I am not terribly far from the car. And, I am not terribly far from home.

I can also bring the kids here hitting some of the same twisty trails, we just do it much slower.

It is more technical than you think.

While many trails are not very technical at a low speed, they are much different at a high speed. Trees and turns come on you fast in the twisty sections. We joke when we say “watch out for the rock.” Yes there is a rock to watch out for. It is in the center-left of the trail and you come upon it quickly. But, there are many more roots to avoid. There are bridges, there are “whoop-de-doos,” there are steep hills. There is a lot of single-track.

There is a lot of variety.

Yes, there are many twisty trails. But you can avoid much of that and hit the park early (from the school). You can twist less or not at all.

There is the black forest. Even with bright sun, it is very dark in there.

The bridges can hurt your pride, or your groin. One in particular is quite a challenge and I have seen people get hurt. Another bridge I avoid altogether now. It has gotten the best of me before.

I love the “whoop-de-doos.” Love them.

Because the trails tend to be smoother, I can go faster getting a sort of road ride in the woods. Well, that is until the fall leaves have just fallen. Then the trail is like ice and I am sliding through the turns. Or in the winter, then I am sliding on actual ice.

Then there is the hill challenges. Fitness is important but takes a back seat to technique. Its all about the right balance. Looking up from the base of many of these challenges, it seems impossible. But it is not. If you ever ride here, I suggest you try it, the only thing you have to lose is your wind.

There is the M&M Trail

The M&M trail cuts straight through part of the park. Best part is that it goes far into Connecticut. You can leave the Robinson trails heading south. Far south.

Then there is Provin Mountain.

Traversing the whole park from the school to the 911 gate, the trails lead to the Westfield line. Crossing the street, you are set to climb up Provin Mountain along the M&M trail, and if you want, far into Connecticut. The trails are very different across the street. They get more technical. There is a lot of hills, large rocks and hard climbs. It is the kind of ridge riding that we always enjoy with challenges around every corner.

 

See the January 3, 2015 ride.

Starting from 911 we recently did a one way ride up Provin Mountain and down the other side. We crossed route 57 and went to Rising Corner. Crossing the street we reentered the woods, climbed the long technical trail up another peak into Connecticut all the way to Phelps Road.

It was a 16+ mile epic ride.

See the January 18, 2015 Winter snow ride.

The snow just made it harder. Without studs on my tires I had to traverse the trail from left to right trying to avoid the ice in the middle. The snow slowed me down but gave us a good workout. Plus it was beautiful in there.

See one of my fast early Fall rides.

I was on my own a lot in September and October. I decided to keep my mountain bike riding to the smoother twisty trail in Robinson. I got real good at going fast. I barely slowed down much less stop. They were good rides. I would play my music off my iPhone without earbuds. Once in a while I would run into some friends who were laughing at me. The music kept me motivated…and kept away the scary creatures.

And, see my kids riding a small whoop-de-do…

 

Looking back, we seem to take Robinson for granted. It is our fall back place at times. Its better than that though. We are lucky to have the miles of trails in our back yard. And the miles of trails that it connects to.

 

Eleni's ready to hit the trail.

I had a surprise for my daughter and told her so a few week ago. She was excited wondering what it could be but not wanting me to tell her.

I spent a whole week joking with her about it.

Saturday, the fateful day I brought my son to his mom’s and Eleni went with me. The ride to the surprise was short though. It was only a few miles away to Crowley Stables in Agawam.

Remembering my last ride with my then girlfriend, now wife Toni, we were in California and found a nearby farm that offered horseback riding. The short weather-beaten man there formerly worked at Crowley Stables—it’s a small world.

This day, an different but older, weather-beaten man would be our guide today. We were taking a 50-minute trail ride.

Arriving there, Eleni was reluctant to look, letting the surprise last just a hair longer. When she finally saw what was up she was thrilled for the opportunity to really ride a horse.

We got mounted up and joined the rest of the riders who were called back to wait for us. Our ride leader gave us brief but helpful instructions. My horse was put behind my daughter’s and I thanked him for it. I was confident she would be fine but I didn’t want to let her out of my sight.

We were the last two riders. My daughter’s horse hesitated as the rest followed the ride leader. I gave Eleni the benefit of my limited knowledge telling er to use her heels and a little “chk-chk” sound I’ve heard many times on western movies.

The horse starting following the others and I followed her. We went straight for the woods, the loose sand kicking up quite a dusty mess that seemed quite reminiscent of those westerns I remember.

We entered the treeline and made our way along trails I would be happy to ride my mountain bike on. The horses knew the trails well and I pretended to steer him in the right direction. As I seemed to get the hang of it, our leader brought us into a brief trot. I used my legs to keep my steadied while I watched Eleni happily bounce up and down in the saddle.

I thought this riding seemed easy until then. Where the hell are the handlebars for this thing?

Our leader kept the trot brief. There was more than one child on this ride. He stopped and got off his horse to adjust Eleni’s stirrups giving her more control of her seating position.

We set off again taking some surprising tight singletrack at times. We eventually entered some areas that had branches overlapping the trail and our faces. Our guide was giving us quite an experience with a variety of trail types and speeds.

We took one more trot and even brought it briefly into a “cantor” before quickly slowing down. The child in front had lost their helmet and we would ride the rest of the way at a walk. My daughter loved the brief run laughing away. How I love her laugh.

Getting back, I knew I had given her a unique childhood experience, at least in our family’s experience. Hopefully we can do it again sometime, unless I can think up another unique surprise.