Riding with a bunch of slow-twitch freaks is a sure way to get my hurt on. It didn't help matters that I did a fairly strenuous hike with my son the day before. Oh well, I needed to get my fill now, as after Tuesday, I won't be doing much of anything for a while.
The pace was lively around Massabesic. In no time, we were in FOMBA land. We opted to hit just Woodpecker and Hemlock, then check out a nearby clandestine trail. Turns out FOMBA & NEMBA have put the kibosh on illegal trails in the greater watershed area. Probably for the better good, lest we lose what we legitimately have.
We headed north along Trail 15 towards Bear Brook. Rich had a plane to catch that evening and split off. Dave, Isaac and I motored on. With the recent improvements in Trail 15, most of the easily inundated spots were high and dry. This was great after much recent rain.
Dave wanted to keep the ride under five hours, so once in Bear Brook, we had 1-1.5hrs to kill. Only the best of the best would do. Up and over Hall Mountain, then what was formerly known as the I-trail, Hedgehog Ledge (I even rode the steps this time, first time in years!), then over Bear Hill. Almost all superb singletrack.
Hill Junkie, Isaac and Dave on I-trail
Bombing down Hall Mountain at break-neck speed, my front wheel flipped up a grapefruit sized sharp rock. It nailed me square in the shin bone, "pinch-flatting" my skin. Instead of white Stan's oozing all over, red blood oozed out. F-bombs! It hurt so badly I could have hurled. Little did I know, another lone rider was sitting on a ledge overlooking Hall Mountain. He couldn't see us, but he could hear everything, including my tirade down the mountain. Moments later we came up by him. He said somebody must be having a bad day with a chuckle.
Pinch-flat in shin skin
I couldn't afford to get hurt and delay my surgery on Tuesday. I was taking more risks than usual and hoped this was all I would escape with on this ride. On the rock outcropping overlooking Hall Mtn, I sucked down a Clif gel with caffeine. About 25 minutes later climbing on Hedgehog, both inner thighs locked up on me. No warning. We weren't going race pace, but there was very little down time in this ride. This made me think back to Bob's comments on cramping and caffeine. This sucked, as we had another couple climbs to go and 20 miles of trail back to the car. And I didn't want to bog Dave and Isaac down. I bought a carton of these gels and they are almost gone. I will strictly stick with uncaffinated carbs in the future.
We backed down just a tad. I made it to the summit of Bear Hill without totally seizing up somehow. It would be downhill for a while from there. On Ferret, Dave nearly met with disaster. Putting bike sideways at 25mph in a rocky ATV trail will give you pause. Somebody was watching out for him. Not long after that, I got caught in a rut and nearly ate it too, going almost as fast. There was always somebody up front towing the line on this ride, and the other two were hanging on. Pace-lining on choppy, rutted ATV trails is a scary thing.
My cramping incident appeared to have been isolated. Maybe because I consumed no more caffeine, it subsided. I have significantly curtailed my coffee intake the last couple weeks, perhaps 30-50% reduction. I drink only two cups per day now, and at reduced strength (but still strong to most people). I was able to start towing the line more as we neared FOMBA land. The descent to Tower Hill Pond was a blast. I had about 45mi on the odometer at this point and felt like I could have ridden another 45. It was funny how we finessed around muddy bits heading out to Bear Brook, but on the way back, it was full-on speed fest, slowing down for nothing. We all had near biffs.
After a couple more miles of sweet singletrack by Rt 101, the ride was about over. We got back to the cars with 49mi on the wired computer. Not acceptable. I coerced the other two to spin a half mile up the rail trail and back to make it an even 50 miles. Finished with 50.2mi, about 3900ft of climbing, in 4.7hrs. One of my finest FOMBA/Bear Brook days.