Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Secret Gems

On Sunday, seeing conditions were still more conducive to off-road riding than road riding, I took the singlespeed over to Andover, MA. Many people are familiar with the trails in Harold Parker State Forest, but there are many other great riding areas in Andover. I used to work in Tewksbury when I first moved here in 1997. Venturing out on lunch breaks, I soon discovered lots of trails nearby. These are located in an area roughly north of Rt 133, west of I-93, and along the southern bank of the Merrimack River. The various reservations (I'll explain why I won't name them shortly) are all close to each other and can be linked together with virtually no road riding.

There is a small parking area at Haggett's Pond. Bits of singletrack hug the large pond shoreline. Don't get caught dipping in the pond in summer months though. It is Andover drinking water supply. Crossing over 495 on High Plain Rd, the hill section of the ride begins at the Andover composting facility. A loop of a few miles climbs several hills, including a few hundred footer that is barely doable for most folks with gears. Today, with deep oak leaf cover, trashed legs from riding hard over three hours the day before, and having only one biggish gear to push, I capitulated a third of the way up. I cleaned the rocky stream crossing and the next climb right after it though.

The hill section at the compost piles

Crossing High Plain Rd, the route enters another reservation. A new school built here a few years ago destroyed some of the trails, but there are still many miles to ride. Plenty of rock gardens to test your mettle on, but mostly high-speed open stuff.

Eventually the route pops out on Chandler Rd near 93. A bit of pavement takes you down to a linear park along the Merrimack River. I first do an out and back heading east, then out the other way all the way to Trull Brook golf course. Doubling back part way, alternate trails are taken back to the start with little repeat.

The steep banks high above the Merrimack

Some of these trails are technically closed to cycling, but I know guys that have been riding them for 20 years and never had a confrontation. I have ridden variants of the route over 100 times and never had an issue either. Referring to the reservations by name could attrack undesireable search engine attention, so I leave it to the reader to do their own research if they'd like to explore this area. Great riding, especially when the ground is frozen solid like it was Sunday. I covered 22 miles in just over 2hrs. There were a surprisingly large number of hikers out, especially along the river. I saw one other mountain biker, hauling-A over the big communication tower hill.

I finally completed a Colorado trip report. Pretty much all of the commentary was lifted from blog postings during the trip or from posts shortly after I got back. Dozens of additional photos with captions have been added however. I'm already scheming about my next Colorado trip. Whether you ride road or off-road, everybody must make at least one pilgrimage to the high peaks state.

Buff river shore cruising

The hillier section, even scary to look down

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an x-ray of a broken toe: http://www.collegehumor.com/picture:1891678