Some of the Haystack terrain is sick. I'm hear body armor is the norm here. So what are a couple of spandex clad cross-country weenies doing here? Haystack can be worked into an all-day ride that includes Groton Town forest.
Most places I ride off-road, I can figure about 10 miles per hour, so a 40 mile ride will take 4hrs, plus or minus. Not here. At least not if I want to drive home in my car after the ride. Dave cleaned some pretty impressive shit, stuff I didn't dare commit to. Too early in the season. And I know what its like to be in a cast most of the summer.
Dave sizing up a 5ft drop...
...and executing it.
What did suck is the logging operation in GTF. Wherever loggers go, they leave the trails decimated. Can't forest rangers, land managers and responsible conservation groups make access to the timber contingent on restoring user trails to at least a usable condition? I don't think that is too much to ask for. Part of the loop through GTF was not only unrideable, but completely gone and unrecognizable. Fortunately, about 80% of the GTF loop was still in good shape.
After GTF, we worked our way down the powerlines to the hill called The Grim. I used to ride this frequently 12 years ago. Last fall when I revisited The Grim, I couldn't find the trail up and over. On Saturday, Dave and I tried a promising spur. It went up. I can't say I really recognized it. And no, I didn't clean it like I used to. Seems a fire cleared much of the summit area some time ago, opening it up. Just like 12 years ago, the descent still gave me the willies, supposedly how the hill got its name.
Limited view from the high point of the ride, The Grim
As we approached the Haystack area, more bony singletrack had to be traversed. Four hours into the ride, tolerance of dabs, near crashes, hike-a-bikes, etc becomes pretty low. We still had about 8 miles to go, but our time allotment was already used up. Dave had to get back. The car was just two miles up Cow Pond Brook Rd, so he cut it short.
The last time I rode this loop solo, I cut the ride short at the same spot. We could've walked twice as fast through the last couple miles of trail than the pathetic pace we rode. That wears on your nerves a little bit. I at least wanted to sample the stuff around the Haystack Observatory, as I hadn't ever ridden it.
What I found didn't inspire me enough to keep going. After pulling a deer tick off my arm, I figured I should call it a day. Of what I rode on that side, it seemed more like ATV than MTB material. Still more to explore in there someday.
I finished with 43.3 miles and 4:53 on the wired computer and a little less on the Garmin. For such a slow ride, we sure did get beat up. Lots of punchy, deeply anaerobic climbs embedded throughout the loop. The loop will need some revisions before I attempt it again. A little less boneyard picking and a little more flow would be nice. Not a nit on the techy trails, it's just not my riding style.