Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dirty Little Secret

Stop on Way to the Launch to Meet Mark
Mark and I have been doing weekday morning rides all summer. That's a 6:00am departure from the boat launch.  Home before 7:30, showered, and at work by 8:30. A full day of action before most people finish their first cup of coffee.  My dirty little secret.

But it's late August and the summer solstice is a distant memory, the sun is heading south, and the days are getting shorter.  It is pretty dark at 6:00am.  So we were considering pushing start time back to 6:15am. The extra 15 minutes of sleep wouldn't hurt either.

Then somehow I got turned around in my thinking.  I got silly.  Don't avoid the dark. Embrace it by nudging the start time in the other direction. To something like 5:30am. Then I could start riding in the pitch dark and finish in daylight.  Never done that before.  I pitched it and there was some head shaking and head scratching, but I knew.  It had to be done.

So I did it.
Still Dark on The Bonus Loop

Alarm went off at 5:00am.  Breakfast, coffee, and morning constitutional.  I rolled at 5:35am under a starlight sky. Very peaceful.  Saw some critters in the woods, pairs of eyes staring at me from the woods. Brilliant stars overhead.  Rode to the boat launch around 6:00am to pickup Mark, and we rolled the Double Bonus Loop (still with lights), then on the way back home we burst out into full daylight at the top of The Sole Trail.  After 90 minutes in the relative dark, it was like an explosion of light and warmth to cap off our ride.

Night to light.  Never did it that way before, but I'm know I'll do it again.  Maybe even earlier.


"If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong."
     - unknown

Thursday, August 2, 2012


View of the valley from above North Conway.
We are a couple hundred yards from
the most amazing switchback I have ever seen.
Thank you Erica!

I was vacationing in Maine this week.  Turns out my neighbor Mike was too. We both had our bikes and were both staying within an hour of North Conway New we made a date this morning with the renowned Red Tail Trail in North Conway NH.

First we stopped by Joe Jones Sporting Goods for some parts, advice, and a map, and it was there that Erica gently prodded us to ignore our XC sensibilities and shuttle The Red Tail Trail instead of riding up it. Good call. Red Tail is do-able uphill, but it was unbelievably awesome as a down-hill and I would want all my marbles in order to fully enjoy the ride down.

Note the striking similarity between
my knee after the ride and
the chili dog I ate after the ride .
This trail is a NEMBA masterpiece. The many switch backs are tight and nicely bermed. One was crafted entirely from about a dozen pieces of granite the size of a washing machine. They were precisely arranged like a giant jigsaw puzzle into a massive bermed turn (impossible to slow down for a picture). I have no idea how they did all this work in such a remote spot.

The 1,500' descent was over too quickly, probably no more than 45 minutes had elapsed when we rounded the water tower at the bottom. This is where I got my memento of the ride, when my front wheel washed out in some loose gravel.


"Ride it, don't slide it"
     -- anonymous downhiller