Spoiled with many consecutive dry weekends, the weather has finally turned more fall-like. After my sorry saga on Friday where I attempted to ride half the Rapha course in Vermont snow squalls, I didn't need another disaster of a ride in the same weekend. Some forecasts called for 50% chance of precip on Sunday, and radar was showing patches all around. That wasn't enough to deter 11 riders from making a go at Shawn's loop.
Pre-ride photo. From left in back, HJ, Andy, Curt, Dana, Pete, Dave, Luke
Matt, John, Carl, and Steve in front. All photos by Shawn Smith unless stated otherwise.
Unfortunately for Shawn, he suffered a hamstring injury playing football and was unable to ride. That had to just kill him, putting so much planning into the route and leaf blowing trails in preparation. He at least participated by shadowing us along the route, providing food, clothing drop support and photography.
We rode the loop mostly in reverse from last year. I had ridden portions of the loop only that one time before, so it was going to be pretty much new to me all over again. The network in Grater Rd Parcel continues to grow. We hit a freshly minted new trail to start, before hitting Salamander and Millipede. The new trail has not been named yet. Millipede is a fabulous trail, and devoid of leaves made it all the more fun.
We looped by Wildcat Falls, connected with the power lines, then headed towards Pipeline Trail. We suffered our only mechanical of the ride, a flat. Shawn's route had us looping around on roads to the top of Pipeline. The group consensus was f' that, let's just ride Pipeline as an out-and-back and cut out 4 miles of pavement to ride a 1 mile downhill. Nearly brought a tear to my eye, as riding up Pipeline is a worthy climb. Halfway into the ride, my legs were pretty toasted already, so no PR on the climb. But chasing wicked fast guys down, I did PR, my only PR for the ride.
Shawn had the truck with food and water waiting for us on Greens Pond Rd. After topping off, we headed to the Fidelity trails. Keep in mind that if you want to follow this loop, the Fidelity trails are posted no trespassing. We were guests of employees in our group.
About 30 miles in, some cracks in the physical integrity of the group began forming. Two peeled off on Continental Blvd. I was leading for a while. Guess I didn't follow Shawn's original script, as we were to take more road to head into the Greens Pond Trails. Instead, I cut across Continental and went into the parcel the back way. That would take a bit more out of the planned 50 miles.
After riding the Greens Pond trails, three more riders split off as we headed into Horse Hill. Now I wasn't feeling too chipper anymore either, and only the fastest guys were left and showing no signs of slowing down. Of course, smaller, faster group also meant less regrouping time and faster average pace. I ride Horse Hill on my lunch breaks. At speed, many trails demand high cardio output. Whether it be climbing or frequent acceleration, you will get worked over in Horse Hill. Trying not to totally lose contact with Steve leading had me seeing cross-eyed.
With heavy overcast and getting late in the day, there wasn't going to be much light left. We didn't quite hit everything in Horse Hill, but at least most of the good stuff. I was glad to be heading out. We finished by riding the Dahl Green Area ridge with a leaf blown descent back to the house. Rain never materialized, except for a couple sprinkles. My wheel sensor managed to stay intact this time. My Garmin 705 logged 43.4mi, 4000ft climbing, in 4.2hrs. Many thanks to Shawn for organizing the ride, providing support, and vittles at his house post-ride. Here's a random photo dump from the ride.
Initial off-road plummet on the power-lines. At speed, struck fear in me.
"Steeper than it looks..."
Not sure what parcel this was, don't think I was in there before.
Matt on the Grater Rd trails.
Carl in Grater Rd
Steve on Salamander(?) in Grater Rd.
HJ on Salamander(?)
Curt on Millipede in Grater Rd.
HJ trying to keep it together on Millipede, with Andy putting
pressure on. Hamburger bell on bar. Always food on my mind.
Isaac St Martin found the bell for me.
Dave on Millipede
Flat fix-it time
Bottom of Pipeline, just after doing out and back
Food stop on Greens Pond Rd.