Sunday, October 19, 2008


Approximately 27 riders descended upon Agawam, MA early Sunday morning for the annual Pioneer Valley NEMBA epic ride. Steve Rossi has been organizing this ride from his house for several years now, and this was the biggest group so far. The ride is shuttled, starting at Penwood State Park in Connecticut and finishing back in Agawam. It follows portions the Metacomet Trail in CT and the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail in MA. It is pristine ridgeline riding at its finest almost the whole way.

There was heavy frost on the ground shuttling to the starting area. It was the first really cold riding day. From the lot, we mashed right into a lengthy climb with no warmup on the Metacomet Trail. It is a rather brute force way to kill the shivers.

Once up on the ridge line, fantastic views frequently presented themselves. We were maybe only 500-800ft above the valley, but this was enough to take in bird's eye views of the fall foliage below. There were numerous "no-fall" zones along the ride. A couple of these would result in certain death going over the edge. You don't have to visit Moab to ride along cliff edges. We have some of that right here in New England.

Of course, ridgeline in New England is synonymous with slick rock, ledge, sharp pointy rocks and drops. There was no shortage of flat tires on this ride. In one section, we had four flats being fixed at once. I flatted too, but it appeared to be a puncture instead of the much more common pinch flat. Recurring flats really slowed the ride progress down for a while. There must have been 12-15 flats in a few hour window. It was a no-drop ride, so we all waited to regroup at each junction. But when we were moving, riding near the front meant you were really hauling-A. Just like in a race, a little bobble meant several riders would come by just like that. We also experienced broken chains and sheared off derailleurs. No serous injuries though. The dusty dry conditions helped in that department.

We had two guys on completely rigid bikes in the group, Dave Penney and pro rider Salem Mazzawy. At least they had gears. The ride was pretty much non-stop brutal rocky abuse. I can't fathom trying it with no suspension. I was on my Ellsworth dualie, as most other riders were on duailies. There were no singlespeeders. I was amazed by the talent present. Free riders dropping off insane material, another wheelying all the way down a hill with nary a pedal stroke, and Salem not being able to find anything he couldn't ride over.

After riding about 25 miles of M&M ridgeline, we popped into Robinson State Park to finish the ride on 11 miles of supremely buff singletrack. Steve Rossi's son joined us here. All I can say is the kid can rip. In a few more years, he'll be giving top riders a run for their money.

We finished with 35.7 miles on my odometer and over 4000ft of climbing per the Garmin. Saddle time was 4.8hrs. Total elapsed time was over 7.5hrs.

The post ride feast at the Rossi's was phenomenal: six party size pizza's, cakes, cookies, pies, chips and salsa, veggie burritos and variety of beverages. New England Bicycle sponsored the ride (actually a three-ride series) and had some swag to raffle off during the feeding frenzy. Many thanks to the Rossi family for hosting such a great day of riding.

Pre-ride instruction. How many times did Steve warn us about tire pressure? Not enough.

A no-fall.

Another don't look down here zone.

Lunch rocks looking north.

Lunch rocks looking south.

Cliff above the quarry. A few scary bits riding along the edge getting up to this point.

Dave descending roots with his rigid 9er.

Stream crossing in Robinson.

Post ride feast at the Rossi's.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is an absolutely beautiful ridge. I didn't know we had stuff like that in New England. At least not outside Franconia and Crawford Notches, but you can't ride those. :)