Posts Tagged ‘mountain biking’

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.


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.


10-12-145 Kingdom Trail

Looking at the snow outside, I realized I still had to share a special ride from the fall.

We were at Jay Peak for the Columbus Day weekend. My stepson Carl and I were taking most of Sunday to go riding at the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont.

We started the hour ride to there by first heading over the mountain into Montgomery to rent Carl a 29er mountain bike. I knew its bigger tires would give him the advantage he would need to ride the manicured trails. He’s gone mountain biking with me before but his ability is still limited. The larger tires let the bike roll easier over obstacles on the trail.

The ride to the trails was marvelous on its own. Traveling on route 58, this part of the route is closed in the winter but offers spectacular color right now, especially with the bright sun sparkling against the brilliant leaves.

Last time I brought Carl here, I made him ride up the steep road before we entered the trails. This time I promised I would pay the extra $5 to park at the top of Darling Hill.

We warmed up on the first series of twisting trails and I gave Carl a few pointers and reminders. “Let the bike roll” I said. “The bike will want to go where you look, so don’t look where you DON’T want it to go.”

He managed the berms on the turns well but probably held his breath doing so at first. I learned as we went that the only problems he was having were trails with many roots across them. I remembered how much trouble they had given me in the past so I tried to avoid them as we went on.

I kept him energized with gel blocks and kept reminding him to pop one in his mouth. That allowed him to last the full 3 hours of our ride. Last time he had run out of gas and could barely manage to roll along on a flat road.

He managed all the hills well. My advice was “just keep spinning.” “Don’t worry about speed. Its not a race.” And he did. In fact I think he was amazed at how well he did on the hills.

Two years earlier I brought my son Frankie and Carl here. We avoided the hardest trails. Not this time. I introduced Carl to his first real challenge on Tap & Die…a prelude to a similar but harder trail to come. With its wide berms twisting us down here and there towards the river, we’d then pop up over a short hill, twist again, twist back, then shoot through another fast section before ending at another trail at the bottom. All the while I’m yelling, “let it go!”

We did long bridges which I discovered last time, were scary for the kids. That’s because these bridges turn making them think the back wheel is going to veer off. We followed the bridge along the river, spied the place we swam 2 years earlier (too cold now of course), then kept rolling over more bridges.

Eventually we were halfway through and at our biggest challenge…Sidewinder. Sidewinder is a series of 9 huge “whoop-de-doos” heading down through the forest. The steep hills shoot you down, the up like a rocket, then turn and do it all over again. The beginning of the trail is easy enough but Carl knew what was coming. I shouted “let it go!!!” and repeated that mantra many times as he followed behind me.

After that he admitted he hated it while he was doing it but loved it after that fact. Knowing he had “survived” allowed him to enjoy the experience after the fact. I knew he could do it but he had to learn that for himself.

We then followed a series of switchbacks back up. It is one of the more fun trails that goes up. It crosses the steeper main trail crossing over it multiple times and is a preferable way back up.

We crossed the main road soon after and Carl got to attempt his next challenge. The trail Jaw has a series of bridges that start out wide then get thinner until getting almost impossibly thinner. I warned him about it and he handled it very well almost making it too the end. Some parts of the trail, the distance to the ground is a few feet and you don’t want to lose it there. He found an easier place to bounce off the bridge though and did a much better job of the bridge that other riders around us.

Later we found a large rock with a bridge going up it. I did it first seeing that there was no bridge on the other side, just the sloping rock. It was a bit intimidating for me even. Carl went next and thought twice before holding his breath and just doing it. I congratulated him on his success.

Throughout our ride I made sure Carl kept his energy up. We had a choice to end earlier or take another trail. He chose another trail. I had warned him that this one is hard as well but he chose it anyhow. This descends along a river on the other side of the trail system. At many points the trail rides on the middle of a sloped hill. On one side is the uphill, on the other is the downhill. There is only so far you can wander off the hill so you have to be careful. This is where my advice kicked in again. “Keep your eyes on the trail in front of you. Only look where you want to go.” If only he listened as well at home as he did here! We followed the trail down then over many twisting bridges before heading back up the hill to the other trails.

Then one more break before our final challenge.

I saved one of the best trails for last. Kitchel starts out easy enough before turning into a series of table tops that throw you into a series of wide (and I do mean WIDE) berms twisting you to the bottom of the trail. The bike goes almost horizontal with the ground facing you at your side, then on the other side.

Carl made it almost to the bottom before the back tire slid out from under him on the last berm. He got the most of it anyway. In fact, he did great! I told him so and thanked him for coming with me on this fine fall day.

I awarded him by not making him ride up Darling Hill to the car. That and treats from the store for the ride home.

See October 5, 2014 Hatchet Hill Ride

Cowles 10-5-14

Our new playground is an old playground of ours. Cowles Park is in East Granby, Connecticut off route 187. Cowles Park also borders Hatchet Hill Road and the M&M trail that crosses in the middle of Hatchet Hill. We always enjoyed it here and once brought Doug and the crew through it. They liked it okay. Now its a whole different story. Many new trails have been added lately by a few industrious individuals in the neighborhood behind Cowles Park and it is starting to catch fire with the biking community.

Whenever we bike here we seem to run into “Tom,” a neighbor to the guy making most of the trails. He told us he got the builder into mountain biking. He and his buddies have been very active making new trails like “Smaug’s Lair,” “Six Flags,” and many others. Tom told us that new trails would be opened after the first frost. They also maintain them and regularly blow the fall leaves off the trail.

See November 23, Hatchet Hill Ride

Cowles 11-23-14

Typically we have always parked at Newgate Road, crossed route 20, and rode the M&M trail to Hatchet Hill Road. That is 2 hard miles of trail. It has very steep hills, some that have to be walked, with very technical sections. I like it plenty and enjoy the challenge although I didn’t like falling down one of those steep hills around Thanksgiving!

Now, we are accessing the new trails via the Cowles Park lot on route 187. I was happy with the new start since my hand was still hurting weeks later from that November 23 ride.

Over the years we have ridden the ridge and the M&M trail that sits atop it. Usually we would ride the ridge and descend to the power lines and cross over to the Cowles Park trails. (Other times we would hit route 189 on the other side and ride the quarter mile over to the Penwood trails.) Cowles Park trails were more like walking trails. They were okay with the exception of the bridges which were very cool. Now there are 2 new trails that cut through its center leading us back over the power lines and to the ridge. They twist more than the others with short rises and falls until finally climbing to the power lines. From there we access all the trails, new and old, circling the ridge.

See December 14, Cowles Park Ride

Cowles 12-14-14

Click here to see the video of riding the rock with the hairpin turn.

They built these new trails well, utilizing the rocky terrain and the series of parallel ridge lines. Many trails roll back and forth among the ridges, rising and falling with tight turns, berms and rocky sections. We like to ride the roller coaster down to the bottom, follow it to the next trail and circle back around until climbing back up to the top of the ridge.

I expect to do much more riding through here, sometimes starting from Newgate Road, sometimes riding over to Penwood. Its starting to become one of our favorite rides.

Mike 11 shows Ron his new Surly fat bike.

Mike 11 shows Ron his new Surly fat bike.

Doug called me to arrange a ride with me and the guys. He wanted to show me some new trails at Case Mountain near Manchester Connecticut. With all the meandering, criss-crossing trails, having Doug guide us was very welcome. I think I have a good sense of direction but still get lost in here almost immediately.

Case Mountain is known for its technical riding. Unlike some places we go, its almost never too technical to ride. With effort and good technique, a rider can do pretty much any trail here. Still, the wandering trails with almost constant barrage of rocks, twists, short ups and downs can wear me down. At least this time I came prepared with gel blocks.

Case Mountain was a good call for this November day. I rode along with Ron and Mike 10 for the 45 minute ride there. Mike 11 followed us there. Pam, the girlfriend of a vendor/friend of mine joined us as well. I was telling her boyfriend Dave about it and since she knows Doug as well, she decided to come along.

See November 8, 2014 Ride

We love everything about this place aside from the long ride getting here. The trails are a blast to ride with challenges around every turn. Mostly we find ourselves here when there is snow on the ground at home. Usually there is none here for some reason.

Doug wanted to show us this well-endowed tree.

Doug wanted to show us this well-endowed tree.

Its a familiar start from the parking lot. We roll around a pond then head uphill towards the one lookout point. We avoided the view until the end but climbed most of the way there. Its a challenging start with a steady climb. Doug (my “biking mentor”) leads us out front. He’s technically a senior citizen but doesn’t ride like one. We ride up a series of rock “platforms” and “walkways.” I’m sticking with Pam at the moment but know that won’t last. She lives to ride and is ready for the long, steady effort. I have three children and 2 step-children holding me back!

We climb to an intersection and Doug gives us the lowdown on the route he plans to take. We avoid the view to take a new series of trails Doug had discovered. He is a great group leader with a strong knowledge of great bike routes for both road and mountain biking . I pale by comparison. Nobody’s perfect though and both of us have been known to lead people “down the wrong path.”

That happened early on. Pam suggested another way and maybe she knew best this time. We ended up doing a rare “hike a bike” through a small valley.

Soon enough we were back on track though. We rode a few great long trails before walking over a girder bridge (don’t slip), Doug told us we were now in for an uphill ride up a long slope.

Pam went up ahead. Doug led the rest of us up the long, twisting trail. I was amazed to see how well Mike 11 was doing on the fat bike. This was the first real test of his new bike. Its heavier but with great grip with those extra wide tires. I was learning something about weight vs. grip. Weight doesn’t seem so important when the bike can stick on the trail and just roll over everything.

It wasn’t a hard hill. There were even some spots that went downhill before climbing again. But it was a long hill. We twisted around this tree, jumped up onto that rock, cranked up this, sweated up that and before long I discovered I was running low on fuel. That’s how it works here. Its a constant effort with constant challenges sapping your strength. At least I was prepared this time. I was just too busy to stop and eat anything.

Up ahead I saw Doug and Pam waiting. Mike 10 was just getting there and I followed. Now that we finally stopped, I told Doug I needed a moment to refuel with some Clif Shot Blocks.

We were halfway done. While I ate, Mike 11 started talking to Doug about life insurance. Pam was itching to go and later told me “they were talking about life insurance!” She is in a different class than us. She went ahead on her own for a time

We were on the edge of the power lines that divide one part of the park from the other. Mike 11 needed to get back home and was given directions that led out to the road. We went the other way though the power lines to the other side. Here the terrain was very different. Logging takes place in here and new trails were cut through the landscape. It felt a lot like Robinson with many turns with berms and drop offs. It was very fast but leafy at the same time. Those leaves can slip up a bike tire and feels like riding on ice.

A few more trails like this followed until we came to the famous stream where Doug has fallen in twice during successive winter rides. Once falling backwards into the deep water when his bike slipped on a route, the other when he slipped going over the rickety bridge. No chance of that happening this day. The bridge was replaced and the stream was dry. No such luck I guess.

The view of Hartford from Case Mountain is close by the car but we waited until the end to check it out.

The view of Hartford from Case Mountain is close by the car but we waited until the end to check it out.

We had regrouped with Pam and rode around the pond. We were on the last third of the ride. There was still many obstacles and hills to climb before we got back.

Fast forwarding to the end, Pam had moved on to take a longer route. We climbed up to that lookout and were close to the cars. I was anxious to get back so I could get home at a close to reasonable time. The last leg home though is the best. Its all downhill but with more rock “walkways.” I feel like I’m doing bike tricks as I hop up onto one rock. Roll onto another. Pop off and jump onto the next. Then Doug takes us down an alternate, more challenging route with steeper declines. I felt like a kid as we finished the ride. Pam was already in the parking lot having gone farther than us but getting there sooner.

We thanked Doug for leading the ride. He told us how he does this ride with his guys, just faster. I’m not sure I want to be part of that.

Robinson Falls

Posted: December 28, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

12-28-14 Ride

We went to Robinson for a rare Sunday ride to the park. It was a rainy morning so Ron said “hell with that.” Dr. Dave, Carl, Mike 10, and Mike 11 chose to ride. Dr. Dave has been using his GoPro lately and had it on again. We had yet to see any footage from it though.

That would change today.

See Sunday, December 28 Ride (I used my phone and it didn’t record distance for some reason, but the course is there. We did over 13 miles.)

A few miles into the ride, we turned onto what we call the JC trail because we would yell “Jesus Christ” as we tried to navigate this most technical Robinson trail.

Mike 10 led us out and I was just behind him. He just got a fender from his brother for Christmas. It fits quickly under the bike seat keeping the mud off his back.

It was damp out and instead of kicking mud onto his back, Mike 10’s bike kicked up a chunk of mud into my left eye. Here I was going down a fast technical trail with one eye closed. I thought to myself, that won’t work so instead of stopping (and lose my momentum), I decided to open that eye and “squint” it out. I knew I needed 2 eyes on this trail for sure.

Well that didn’t work out long. I hit a root, my front tire twisted on me and I was airborne off the bike. I landed on my left side. Luckily knowing how to fall, I was falling forward and not straight down. My right hand is still hurting from a pre-Thanksgiving ride. Its getting better but I didn’t want to re-injure it.

Dr. Dave offered to help me up. I said “no, not yet,” and laid their for a moment. My left leg had a “wicked” charlie horse and I could feel my left side was scraped up. Eventually I asked Dave to help me up and I was off…err…on the bike again. I let the other guys pass me by so I could soft-pedal the rest of the trail. My left leg was sore and needed to slowly spin for a bit.

So, Dave posted his first video! He said “you inspired me.”

Watch the video…

I had my son Joe watch the video. He said it wasn’t very entertaining. I told him “my friends found it very entertaining!”

9-14-14 Ride

This is more of an epic ride. Many, many challenges including multiple steep climbs and rock gardens. A year before, Carl broke his neck on this ride. Since he’s still walking and riding, it must have been a lucky break.

See September 14, 2014 Ride

Carl had rode over and down a rock and locked up his front wheel throwing him right on his head. He had a possible concussion, seeing stars. His wrist and neck hurt as well. Despite all this, we rode the trails…difficult trails…all the way back to the cars.

A neighbor who happens to be a Physician Assistant convinced him to go to the ER.

So why not do it again…the ride, not the fall.

Dr. Dave, Ron and I joined Carl on the return trip. It was Dr. Dave’s first time on this particular ride. He is an avid mountain biker and we had missed him all summer since he won’t join us on a road ride.

The first leg of the ride is no more than 2 miles at most. The first hill is almost immediate and climbs up an almost impossible hill. We are hitting our maximum heart rate within 5 minutes.

The second leg is on the other side of Hatchet Hill Road. You descend down to the road knowing you will have to climb back up it later. After crossing the road, you climb again, skipping the marked trail for the next one to “Smaug’s Lair” trail. Its marked and labeled a black diamond. The trail follows ridgeline to ridgeline slowly snaking down to the river. On its way we are subjected to more rock gardens, tight turns enhanced by berms, long downhill runs, uphills…until it runs into the Keg Roller trail. This blue-marked trail is a bit smoother so it is faster as well. One last wide berm swings us near but away from the river.

We find one more blue-marked trail before hitting route 187 up the street to Tariffville, Connecticut. At the lights we go up Mountain Street where the trail continues. This travels towards Penwood forest. More hills, and difficult challenges awaited.

But not before another hard climb. Climbing up the road we turn right onto a gravel road. Going around a gate, we follow the gravel road up to the trail then up again on switchback. I was conserving energy. This strategy didn’t fail me as I made this climb for once. Usually leaves, roots a sheer fatigue get me off my bike. Not this time.

From there its a wild ride. I pop over rocks, around another, over that one, miss the tree, and descend around it hoping for the best. Finding my rhythm we are heading for the opening in the trees. Passing under the power lines, we climb once again. I think not of what is ahead, but what is behind. We have to go back the same way.

More climbing, we find the spot where Carl fell. Ron, Carl and I tell the story to Dave…Dr. Dave. Too bad he wasn’t there when it happened.

But then again, maybe he wouldn’t have let Carl bike back.



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.

It started raining on the way to the parking lot, but I would not be deterred.

It started raining on the way to the parking lot, but I would not be deterred.

During a few early Spring walks with the kids, it would start raining. Joe would almost panic saying “what if it rains?” My answer…”then we get wet.”

A bunch of Tuesdays in April ended up with rain. Usually not very much. April 22 was more of the same. I met Scott in the Robinson School parking lot. My plans had changed from the road ride I planned on.

Rain doesn’t have to cancel exercise plans. When it does, I run for the woods. The leaves act as a partial umbrella and with a slick coat, it is usually just fine. At least for an hour or two.

Robinson has a couple of strong points for a wet mountain bike ride. First, it has few rocks which when wet can be very slick. It does have roots which can also be a problem, but most trails there aren’t so bad. Second, the twisty trails curl up and snake along themselves allowing for a longer ride in a shorter space. I can keep the ride within a half mile of the car if necessary. So if the rain did pick up, we could make a quick exit.

No such worries. The short story is this ride turned out great. It was a great call and the rain mostly held off until the end anyhow.We pushed hard making the mountain bike ride almost like a road ride. I even took some time to give Scott a better understanding of how to navigate through the park.

Earlier it had started raining when we arrived at the parking lot. Little happened after that though until we almost got back. If I had ended up in the gym instead, I would not have been happy.

Good, Good Friday

My wife and I were home from work. Work being a Catholic institution, we had the day off. I decided to go for a early morning ride…actually I had that decided a few weeks earlier.

See Friday, April 18 Ride

Scott takes a moment to do a yoga stretch.

Scott takes a moment to do a yoga stretch.

I had sent out a text saying “I’m heading out.” I got no hits, but that just meant I would put the iPhone tunes on while I rode through the woods solo. I didn’t get very far at all when Scott texted back that he would join me in a half hour.

Starting at Morgan Road, I circled around Bear Hole on nearby trails waiting for Scott. Thirty minutes turned into 45 before he got there. My plans for a 1-1/2 hour ride was changing. Scott just got here and I was ready to get farther away from my car now.

First I showed Scott the lower trails away from the ridge. These have the short, steep hills with a lot of dirt. Really fun, a different kind of ride from the ridges. I show off a little on the hills I know so well. At first glance they don’t look so doable, but I show that they are.

We ride over to McLean Reservoir before heading up to the ridges. The trails are a little wet but that somehow makes the loose rocks hold firm under my tires. We climbed to the highest point before my phone went off. “Where the hell are you?” It was my wife, she though I was only going for a morning ride. I did too. It was after 11 a.m. already and I still had to turn around. I gave her a promise to get home by lunch and took the trail down to route 202 then turned around.

The next day my brother-in-law Todd was in town. I had just gotten home when my inlaws stopped by with their dog and his. He had taken off with his 29er and went riding with a friend. He planned on riding with me Sunday morning, Easter.

I just got a free pass for an Easter morning ride! I texted the group and got Ron and Scott to tag along.

See Sunday, April 20 Ride

I got up early and picked Todd up. I broke it to him at that moment that we would have a few friends riding along with us. I didn’t want to tell him too soon and scare him off. I was betting he was up late with hometown friends.

When we showed up at the parking lot Ron and Scott warned him that I was an “a-hole.” They said it with love though, warning him that I can choose rides that put a hurt on. Truth be told, I did think about riding at Robinson where the trails were smoother but twisty. “Nahhh.”

It reminded me of a story that I shared with the guys. Someone I worked with in the 90’s came back from vacation saying he and his wife went biking in the woods on nice gravel-covered trails (roads). “That’s not mountain biking,” I said.”Mountain biking has rocks and roots, and trees you ride over. That’s mountain biking.” And I took him here, just like I was doing with Todd. Somehow, that coworker loved it. Todd, I think so?

Todd, Scott and Ron take a break after taking in the view of Barnes Airport in Westfield.

Todd, Scott and Ron take a break after taking in the view of Barnes Airport in Westfield.

Riding into the woods, there are a lump of rocks we ride over before following the pine needle covered trail. On this side of the reservoir, the trails are mostly clean with a few roots thrown in. The tall pine trees were planted there as a wind break and reach tall to the sky. It’s a nice warmup.

Todd should have gone around the rocks and ended up “endo-ing” right away (flipping over the handle bars). He’s pretty tough though and got right back up.

We cut through the woods then on the gravel road (not for long!) crossing to the other side of the water. Back into the woods around more pine trees. These led to a stream. It was pretty high and we decided not to cross it but to ride alongside. I warned about sliding off the mud into the water. Todd didn’t take my warning seriously enough and did just that! Too bad it was a bit cold out.

That was the easy part. Back on the gravel road momentarily my right turn came up. Now the real fun began. Loose rocks…steep hill…let the hard ride commence.

We brought him up the hill, then it was up towards McLean Reservoir (again), then up the same rocky trail that leads to the ridge. I was a total showoff. We know these well and I was feeling good. It didn’t take much longer before Todd did call me an “a-hole.” He did admit though it was like being on the other side of the hurt. He’s an excellent skier and has beaten up many friends of his.

Unlike Friday, we travelled across the road, across Apremont Highway (not a highway) and up to the next ridges. It was a climb to the hill that I finally beat back at the first of the year. Then another ridge before stopping at a great view we always enjoy.

I had to turn us around by taking a more technical trail back towards the Pipeline trail. It’s a very rocky descent, crosses a stream, then goes down steep with a hairpin turn halfway down. Quite difficult. I guess I am an a-hole after all.

The Pipeline Trail takes us back towards the cars quick. When we got back, the guys said “we told you so” about me. It was smiles all around though. We got a great ride in and I could eat in peace at dinner knowing I worked hard for my food.

I hope Todd enjoyed himself, despite me.