Monday, April 20, 2009

De-Trained for Dirt

How I survived Battenkill with my pathetic dirt handling skills is beyond me. Sounds like there were serious crashes resulting in multiple air-liftings. Nearly added to the casualty list myself. I don't personally know Doug O'neil, as many do, but I'm sure I've raced with him. He reportedly suffered multiple fractures and a punctured lung. It's a risk we all take but try not to dwell on. Race long enough, sooner or later your number comes up. I wish Doug a speedy recovery.

On Sunday, I continued to prove I cannot handle dirt. I went out to Great Brook Farm State Park in search of new singletrack. That's right, NEMBA recently added several miles of new trail on the Russell Mill conservation property adjacent to Great Brook. I just learned of this and had to go check it out. I prep'd the Titus Racer-X but grabbed my singlespeed instead. Battenkill just didn't seem to punish me enough.

Russell Mill in upper right

I started out on my normal full sweep loop. From the northern most point of the loop, I took a bit of pavement to connect Russell Mill into the ride. Not having a map, it was pure exploration time. I tend to ride the perimeter of new areas first, then work my way inside. The new trails there were quite tasty. Some of it was so new it might have been cut just this spring. It was still soft and loamy. There were some surprisingly technical bits. I dabbed a couple times.

One segment had several big rocks or rocky outcroppings to hop over. I got a little careless on one of these. It was nothing much, but when my front wheel came down the other side, there was a strategically placed wedge rock. My front wheel stopped dead and I didn't. Not until I hit the ground anyway. It was a solid cheek and shoulder slam to packed earth. For some reason or another, the ground has gotten a lot harder in the last 10 years. It has had a billion years to settle, so how is that? Something sure has changed. I was moving around like a 100 year old man later that evening.

So now I felt totally incompetent as an off-roadie. Earlier last week I dabbed four times over a rock I normally clean. I gave up trying in frustration. Now I face planted over another bump in the trail. Had I not at least pulled off a decent result at Battenkill, I would be deep into inferiority complex by now.

Later in my ride I hit a trail called Stone Rowe. This is the only trail that sparks moderate fear in me with that little gem of a grannite chute in the middle. It is the most technical trail there, several dab opportunities. I rarely clean the whole trail with my singlespeed. Yet I cleaned it. Was starting to feel better about myself after that. I continued with the Acorn Hill loop across the street (partially under water because of pesky beavers), and then some high cadence spinning around the cranberry bogs. The ride came out nicely to 30 miles in 3 hours. It was a sweet day weather-wise to be in the woods. Very little mud was to be found.


Luke S said...

I didn't realize there was any good riding at Great Brook. I figured it was mostly just along the same trails that you ski on, which would be boring to the extreme.

Hill Junkie said...

Very little of what I ride at GB is on the groomed XC ski trails. A few trails are designated snowshoe trails. The rest are summer hike/bike trails. Most of the GB singletrack is beginner to intermediate stuff. There is one trail I have never cleaned south of Curve St. Much of the riding is pretty choppy, lots of roots. I like it mostly because it is 30 minutes from my house and there is just enough trail there to squeeze out 3hrs of riding. My GPS track hits almost all of the singletrack in and around GB. Give it a whirl sometime. If you send me your email (via link on, I can ping you next time I head there.

Luke S said...

Won't be home for another month or so, but I'll make sure to check it out when I get home.