Monday, December 26, 2011

Robinettes Orchard & Luton Park

Had myself a fabulous double-header on singletrack Monday. The temp reached 50F, the sun was out, and a nice breeze dried things up nicely. I first hit Robinette's Orchard. Robinette's has opened their land to mountain bikers for at least 15 years now, probably much longer. Races were held here back in the heyday of mountain biking.  I last rode Robinette's 14 years ago.

The orchard sits up on a hill with a large gully that wraps around the back portion of the property. What the Midwest lacks lacks in sheer vertical is made up in steep, punchy climbs dropping in and out of river bottoms. There is very little conservation land in southwest Michigan. I suspect this is because most of the land is "productive," meaning you can farm it or build on it. New England has much more wetlands or ledgy outcroppings that are extremely expensive to develop. It is easier to relegate this "unproductive" land to conservation.  This probably explains why the northeast has so many more places to ride despite much higher population density.

Course at Robinette's Orchard

Riders pay and must sign a waiver to ride Robinette's. Some say the 4.5mi loop isn't worth it. But if you ride it two or more times, the challenging terrain is easily worth the $3. Dropping into the gully is a test of wits in staying off the brakes. The grade climbing back out often exceeded 15% or even 20% in a few places. I had a serious burn going in my legs by the end of the second lap. It was nice having the whole place to myself.

Terrain at Robinette's

About five miles up the road is Luton Park. I first rode Luton this summer when I came home for a funeral. Trails were only recently constructed there for mountain biking. Hitting all the loops tallies up about 9-10 miles.  The trails are signed for one-way travel, making encounters with other riders much less frequent.  The flow is superb, with barely a rock or root to be seen.  The parking lot was full when I got there before noon. I had planned to ride only one loop of Luton, but it was just too much fun and the weather too nice to not go around a second time.

Nearly 30 miles of singletrack riding in 3hrs had me properly anesthetized for family activities the rest of the day. Weather looks like a crappy mix on Tuesday. Probably a good day for a run.