After reading Putney race reports, I feel I made the right call by getting some quality training hours in the rest of the weekend. It was pretty greasy in my neck of the woods too. Probability of killing myself at non-race pace would be lower I figured.
Legs didn't feel half bad from Saturday's uber intense 32 minute race with another 2.5hrs of moderate to hard riding before and after the race. I didn't feel like trashing an expensive XTR drivetrain, so I tossed the singlespeed in the car and headed to Great Brook Farm State Park on Sunday.
On arrival, I freaked when I saw the parking lot. It was completely filled with horse trailers, I bet over 30 of them. Many were the extra big ones that maybe carry four horses. Now I like horses. My wife and her dad owned a Belgian draft team in Michigan for many years. But a whole calvery on soft singletrack trails?
Russell Mill upper right, Canberry Bogs upper left, Towne Forest lower left.
I started my usual way into GB but worked towards the north end to hit the new stuff in Russell Mill first. NEMBA has been very active in both GB and the Russell Mill parsel. I found more segments I missed the first and only other time I was in there. All purpose built stuff. There are several log stunts, many with no transitions at the end. You have to wheelie drop off 'em. Glad I inspected them before committing. There are some Vietnam sized rock stunts in there too, stuff way over my ability. All told, I bet there is 6 miles of new singletrack in there, chocked full of goodies.
I actually ran into Norm Blanchett and crew from Merrimack Valley NEMBA doing trail work in Russell Mill. Got to personally let the crew know how great their work rides in Great Brook, Russell Mill, and Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest closer to my house.
Russell Mill log stunt.
After I hit pretty much all there was to ride in Russell Mill, it was back to Great Brook. I was dismayed by the conditions of trails. Anything that wasn't solid rock was churned into soft compost ready for planting. It looked as though somebody took a garden rototiller right down the singletrack. What a pain to ride on. 1000 bikes could ride through there in pouring rain and not do the damage of 50 horses on marginally firm trails. I struggle with that one. They gotta have places to ride too. But on loamy singletrack after a week of rain? What really irks me is when mountain bikes are banned from trails under the premise they cause damage, yet horses are allowed to continue riding the trails.
That wasn't the only downside of riding after horses. It's one thing if they leave an intermittent "care package" here and there. Easily avoidable. In fact, growing up in Michigan I had the pleasure of stepping into steaming cow pies with bare feet. Do you have any idea what that feels like oozing up between your toes? No? You had a deprived childhood! Back to horses. When a bunch of them pass through a soft singletrack, the later horses mince up the care packages left by earlier horses. The trail became a well fertilized juicy solution. Later I spent an hour flossing spent equine fuel out of my teeth. Yeah, that is a lot more gross than stepping in a cow pie when you were a kid.
The hop up was just as abrupt as the drop shown here in Russell Mill.
Some GB trails were posted no horses. Those rode fine. Mostly just tacky, but a few muddy spots were encountered. When I encountered equestrians, I tried my best to be polite and do the right thing to minimize spooking a horse. I did encounter one horse that refused to go past my bike. Horses can be like that. A bike is not a natural thing, so they can't process its information.
I rode pretty much all there was to ride in GB. I next hit the cranberry bogs where I parked. This is all flat doubletrack stuff. Very fast, high cadence on singlespeed. My goal was to ride a minimum of three hours. I was riding so fast that I ran out of trails to ride before three hours was up. I remembered a little place off Rt 225 in Carlisle I found a while back. Think it was called Towne Forest. It's a couple miles by road, then a 2-3 mile loop in the woods with a little bit of climbing. Mostly just fast stuff. So I hit that, long out of water, and legs just about cooked when I finished.
Ride came out to be 35.3 miles in 3.3 hours. That's one of my longer singlespeed rides. Not too much climbing though, just over 2000ft per the Garmin. Despite the greasy conditions, I managed to stay on my bike the whole time while maintaining a good pace. Felt like I got superb training value out of the ride. Lots of very low cadence, high force stuff punching over the short hills combined with wide-open double track spinning. Normal geared riding keeps you in the comfort zone. The end points need to be worked once in a while to develop/maintain neuro-muscular strength (by mashing) and to keep the pedaling cycle efficient through smooth, high cadence spinning.
Next up is a White Mountains East loop on July 3. At least three, maybe five will be riding. This loop is not a deathmarch ride. I'm looking to get some solid threshold training value out of it, starting with 15% grade Hurricane Mtn Rd in Conway. Evans Notch in Maine is next. The high point of the ride, both in elevation and enjoyment, is Jefferson Notch road. Dirt all the way up and most of the way down. We finish with the 1200ft, 6% grade Bear Notch climb. Caravan leaves Nashua, NH around 7:15am for a 9:30am start in Conway. Drop me a note if you'd like to join.