I was itching to do a little trail riding Sunday. I'm still leery of hitting anything technical. That rules out about 99% of riding terrain in New England. I read that NEMBA continues to build trails at Franklin Falls Dam. It has been a couple years since I last swung by there. I recall buff beginner singletrack, which would suit me just fine right now.
Franklin Falls is a small area though. To seek ride expansion options, I went to the keeper of all knowledge, Google. It appeared there was some kind of a road or old rail grade on the other side of the Pemigawasset River from the Franklin Falls riding area. There was bound to be ATV trails or jeep road spurs off from it. It was well worth exploring.
It had rained heavily overnight at Franklin Falls. Flood plain soil is a gravelly mix, so it drains extremely well. The dew point was high, however, so the roots and occasional rocks remained greasy. This gave me the willies. I have this extreme phobia of having to put a foot down. A controlled planned stop, no problem. Rear wheel slide out on root, major problem. There are two issues here. One is psychological, in that I don't want to get hurt again, and something as harmless as dabbing really messed me up. The other is my left ankle is still far from fully healed, and I don't want to risk re-injury. Needless to say, I hesitated many times when normally I wouldn't flinch in the slightest.
Two new trails I had to hit since I was last there were Mighty Chicken and Salmon Brook. I had no idea what Mighty Chicken was about. It essentially was a reduced scale model of Sidewinder at Kingdom Trails. Yeah, it was that good, and it weirded me out. If it weren't for the "chicken" path down the middle of the ravine, I probably wouldn't have committed to riding it. I did bail on a couple of the banks, more vertical than horizontal, with moist roots exposed. Many of you have no idea what I'm talking about here. Sidewinder at Kingdom Trails switch-backs across a very deep ravine, starting from the high end and exiting out the bottom. You totally G-out crossing the bottom each time you fly up the other side. Think of it as nature's half pipe.
The Salmon Brook trail was cut this year. It has signs warning of its technical nature. Yeah, I thought, technical at Franklin Falls is probably easy at most other places. Well, it was pretty technical. On a dry day pre-injury, I would not have hesitated on it. Today, I just couldn't make myself give all of it a go. I dismounted several times. I now have much greater appreciation for people who retain fears after an injury or bad crash. The trail is a superb piece of work though. It is a nice complement to the easier terrain. There is probably 12 miles of singletrack here now without repeating anything. If you ride the double tracks and hit all of the singletrack with a little repeating, you could probably get in a 20 mile ride now at Franklin Falls. This makes it a suitable "destination" riding area for many people.
Bench cut Salmon Brook Trail
What I cherished most from this ride was not in Franklin Falls park. It was on the other side of the Pemi. I first had to figure out how to cross the dam. I assumed from riding here last time that you could just ride across and connect with Rt 3a on the other side. Nope. A giant spillway existed between the paved part of the dam structure and the road on the other side. There was a marked snowmobile trail below on the backstop side though. That got me across.
Weedy singletrack on west side of the Pemi.
Turns out there is an abandoned gravel road between Rt 3a and the Pemi. Looks like there were farms on it before the Army Corps of Engineers built the flood control dam. This left the homesteads in the floodplain and were probably relocated. 6.1 miles of this road is gated but still maintained, probably for winter snow machine use. This was perfect to get my aerobic fix in without worrying about silly things like ankles. The road passes through many habitats, from wetlands to meadows to forest. I thought to myself, some sweet singletrack could be built on either side of this road. Well, I found some at the Profile Falls end. I suspect the trails are used mostly by horses, being a bit choppy in a few spots. For a while, I thought I was teleported to Kingdom Trails. Lot of the same vibe here.
Contour singletrack along the Pemi.
Working my way back, I got nipped by a passing shower and decided not to explore any more of the spur trails. I'm sure there are some more nuggets in that area. Many off road riders would be bored to death by riding a double track, but gated, no cars or people, beats the heck out of riding the road any day.
Profile Falls. Kids jump 20+ feet of the rock on left into sliver
of water between rock outcroppings.
I finished with 31 miles in 2:50hrs riding time. Nothing very strenuous, but some nice blocks of tempo effort in there. 8.5hrs riding for the weekend has me considering expanded options for Colorado at the end of August. I'm flying out to do the inaugural Pikes Peak hillclimb on August 29. I cancelled a planned early August trip for the Leadville 100 race. There's no way I'd be ready for something like that. But a few weeks later, maybe staying a few extra days for riding stuff around Salida is possible.