Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Green Mountain Trails at Pittsfield

Last year, JB raced on a trail network in Pittsfield, VT. Jonny spoke highly of the trails, which are on private land and open to the public. I made a note to get over there soon to sample this marvel. Trail opportunities in Vermont are expanding, however most of the Green Mountain National Forest is still off limits to mountain biking. Singletrack that crests an open mountain summit? I was all over that!

Then along came Huricane Irene. It pretty much shut much of Vermont down, including routes 107 and 100 I would take to reach Pittsfield. I never made it there last year, but hadn't forgetten about this destination. Learn more about the Green Mountain Trails here.

After a solid day in the White Mountains on Saturday, I sought a little off-road solitude would be nice on Sunday. I keep mental (and even written) lists of places I need to hit sometime. Pittsfield percolated to the top of the list Sunday morning while weighing opportunities.

En route, I was astounded by the level of destruction to area roads. Reconstruction still continues. Farm fields are being reclaimed, roads and bridges being rebuilt. Not as apparent, I'm sure, are the personal losses people living along these rivers must have experienced. Signs along Rt 107 warned of bicycle race on Monday. This would have to be the Killington Stage Race. They were racing on THAT? Rt 107 was total crap patchwork of asphalt.

The trail head was easy enough to find. I quickly finished kitting up and spun off towards the mountain. The bridge over the Tweed River was not what I expected. Had the water been deep, it would have totally weirded me out walking across it. Video from last summer's race showed a nice bridge existed here before Irene.

Bridge over the Tweed

I was impressed with the workmanship of the trail network. Construction was world class, machine benchcut. Soil there is a shaly clay mix, which packs up superbly for berms. And berms there were. Probably over 100 in the network. I lack the cojones to rail berms several feet high, but fun nonetheless. I passed a group of eight riders on my way up to the summit.

Typical benching

The summit view did not disappoint. There was a nice shack up there where it looks like people occasionally spend the night. I had the summit to myself. Perfect solitude. It took nearly an hour to get up there in the round about way I went. There were three primary ways down, and I new I would just have to sample each one.

View from Summit

First time down I hit Luvin' It. I gathered it is the way most people go up, as it has the most switchbacks, easiest grade, and few berms. I climbed back up on the Warman trail. It is noted on the map as recommended downhill route. I could see why. Many giant berms, most 3-5ft tall, with several kickers along the way. I would definitely have to come down that before I left for the day. I had the summit to myself when I got up there again.

Second time down I took Fusters. It too was recommended for downhill travel. The upper portion was uber steep, near fall-line stuff. Then the wide-open trees going by in a blur section followed. This went for 3-4 miles. Couldn't help but grin the whole time. It doesn't go all the way back down to the Tweed River, but most of the way. I climbed back up on Luvin It. This time a couple other guys were hanging out at the summit on this fine day.

A stream crossing on Fusters. Photo from last year before
Irene showed this to be much less treacherous.

Last time down I took the Warman trail. Or so I thought. There was a trail from the top not on map I had with me. Sign at top said experts only. Yeah, whatever, all the trails here were buff. I later learned what I took was a trail called Labyrinth. It bore some resemblance to Sidewinder at NEK, but with nasty attitude. I failed to carry enough momentum around one of the switchbacks and tumbled a good ways into briars. How I missed all the pointy, jagged rocks is beyond me. Mrs Hill Junkie never likes hearing about these mishaps. I'm still picking thorns out of my hands and arms. Labyrinth pops out on Warman. Then I was good to go. What a blast bombing all the way back down to the river. I read that one of the routes down has 51 switchbacks in it. Crazy, eh?

Berms on Warman

Already feeling pretty beat up from the ride the day before, I called it good when I got to the river. That was a hard earned 21 miles with a ton of climbing. I had planned to do a little additional riding in the Green Mountains while there (legal stuff), but thought maybe a run up Mt Kearsarge on my way back would be better with my Mt Washington race coming up in just three weeks. I left very satisfied, well worth the long drive there.


Colin R said...

Thanks for the tips! I had forgotten about that place, been meaning to check it out!

Brian B said...

If/when you're in the area again, you'll want to check out Pine Hill Park www.pinehillpark.org in Rutland. NO ONE rides there without a big smile on their face. I'll leave it at that.

Jonny Bold said...

Glad you made it up Dougie. I never had a doubt that you would. I went to Killington as a spectator, well not really. While Kevin raced I rode all day on the road bike. I was in complete astonishment over the 100s of sections of road that had been completely rebuilt after Irene, not to mention all the homes swept away. I rode about 250 miles in 3 days, but didn't realize it was gonna be an up close & personal tour of all the destruction, Just mind boggling. I had heard it was like a war zone up there, now I believe it....those poor people!!!