Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hudson Powerlines

When I first moved to New England nearly 12 years ago, one of the discriminators in buying the property we did in Pelham was proximity to trails. I used to ride the "Hudson Powerlines" 2-3 times per week around 1999. There were at least 40 miles of ATV trails and several 250-400ft climbs. The trail network has become somewhat fragmented now due to development. Several years ago police started cracking down on illegal ATV use too. The ATV guys created and maintained most of the trails, so even though much of their riding was illegal, folks on bikes benefited from it. NH state law differentiates between motorized and passive use of unposted private property. The first requires written permission, the second does not. Much of the Hudson Powerline trail network lies on private land in the towns of Hudson and Pelham. A few bits follow Class 6 town roads, other bits are now on conservation land after the towns sought to preserve the last undeveloped parcels.

Hudson Powerlines along left pass into Pelham in distance.

I ride these trails only a few times per year now. When I rode them regularly, I did not own a road bike. A local snowmobile club has permission to maintain winter use of a few corridors through this area. I drive under the Hudson Powerlines to and from work each day, so I can gauge snow machine traffic and prospects for rideability. There was limited traffic Saturday, but it got cold Saturday night, so I figured I'd give the trails a try. Many of the back roads still have ice on them anyway, so either I was riding studs on roads or studs on trails. Studs on road is no fun.

The trails were barely rideable. The surface was frozen, but not well compacted. It had a deep crunch factor. This made riding on the flats steady, hard work and climbing impossible on all but the easiest grades. I went from skiing 3mph at times yesterday to riding 3-5mph much of the time today. I went out nearly 2hrs, rode 13 miles, and I was cooked. Some day when I actually get to ride a road bike again, it will be so fast I'll get scared.

Merrill Hill, Bush Hill and Seavey Hill. X-axis is time. A lot of sub-5mph.

The snowmobile club now has most of the ice damage cleared up on their right of ways. There are many other trails not part of the snowmobile club's network and thus not maintained. I depended on one of those trails coming back down Seavey Hill to my house. Fallen trees blocked the way and the snowmobile tracks turned around. I wasn't going back up and over and way around, so I figured I'd just hike the last 0.3 miles to my neighborhood. Big mistake. I haven't post holed in a long time, and this post hole hike sucked. There was about an inch of crusty icy stuff on top that could not support body weight, but it certainly was tough enough to scrape shins and knee caps up. Not the nicest ride finale.

This comming week will be a taper week. There's a chance I may hit Weston Tuesday night if weather doesn't misbehave like some speculate it will. I have my first major endurance event of 2009 at Lake Placid on Saturday. The 50km skate race largely follows the 1980 Olympic course. I'm a little bit scared. This race punished my badly a few years ago. Bike hours will start going up after Lake Placid. Have to train for my up coming Hawaiian vacation, you know.


Ryan Amirault said...

Did you sign up for Mt. Washington? Looks like interest is down this year as the race has not filled quite yet. I have decided against traveling from Colorado to NH this summer. I am hoping my Leadville 100 application gets accepted...will know in the next few days.

Hill Junkie said...

I figured once the number of registered participants hit 550, those sitting on the fence would jump in. That is not happening. It has been sitting at 579 for a while now.

I'll probably say more about this in a post tonight or later this week. A lot of people were undecided about doing Mt W this year. Economy, increased cost, loss of jobs are all reasons. After seeing a few friends take the plunge and sign up, I capitulated and signed up today. I've been doing this race since 2000, and there are a number of other interesting things to do that weekend. Maybe next year...

I was eyeing the Leadville 100 this year. Instead, I'm targeting the Tahoe-Sierra 100. It is lower altitude. Plus there are some other very interesting things to do there. I have wanted to bike to summit of White Mountain Peak from Bishop for a couple years now. It is 10,000ft net gain to 14,000ft on rugged 4WD road. There are also epics along the Tahoe Rim Trail I'd like to do. The race is just one piece of whole trip I'd like to wrap around it.