Monday, March 23, 2009

Exploration Date

There was a time when I didn't even have a road bike. The only bike I owned was my mountain bike. I rode the thing everywhere. And by everywhere I mean everywhere and anywhere. 80 mile ride to the Cape on knobbies? Sure. Hour long commute to the trailhead? Why the frick not? Dinner at the parent's in the burbs? I'd be rumbling to and from without a second thought. All day on/offroad epics linking together several unconnected (by dirt) trail systems? That was my bread and butter man! Hell, I even did the God Damn AIDS ride from Boston to New York on the thing.

I don't really know what the crap happened but at some point over the past couple years, in the interest of being a "serious" bike racer I have spent way too much time on the road bike. Commuting to and from work in gnarly weather on the Fix-Ed gear is excusable, but the amount of my so called training I have opted to do on a machine that looks like it was created in the image of Kate Moss is just plain unacceptable. Over the past couple weeks I have begun a journey back to my roots. My roots happen to lie in a place where there are (oh god) a whole lot of roots. The woods. That was horrible.

A couple guys from the first shop I worked at used to drag my (then quite doughy) ass all over creation, connecting every wooded area in The Metrowest region and beyond. It was great, Half the time I had no idea where I was. We'd be popping out here and there, I was constantly surprised.

Hell, I could go on and on about those days, I'll have to save that for a later date. I just wanted to give you the idea of where it all started for me. Exploration. Going places. I didn't have a car to put my bicycle on to drive to some trailhead. Suiting up in body armor and doing rock drop repeats didn't appeal to me. I gave up Skateboarding because bikes go places. The ones I like do anyway. I was tired of hanging out behind some shopping mall sessioning a curb, I wanted my sessions to last all day and cover fifty miles.

So today I went Epic. Left from my house, crossed the street, hopped the curb and was on dirt within thirty seconds, heading up along The Mystic Lakes to Horn Pond in Woburn. The climb up that thing still hurts. Of course I used to be happy to be able to do it in my middle ring and not use the granny. Now I'm doing it in a 34 X 17 but that schoolyard Bully from my past still packs a wallop. Seems like the kids have been hard at work over there, I'm finding all kinds of new bermed trails and lines taking you over rock drops.

From there I shot down the ATV highway along the powerlines. I had a lot of time to kill so I spent a while looking for a passage through to Burlington or Lexington. Eventually the powerline trails dead-ended into tangles of impassable brambles. I did find some sweet high school party spots. Gotta remember those for Saturday night.

While looking for another inroad to the Powerlines I happened upon Cummins Park. At first I thought it was entirely new to me but under closer investigation , realized that I had been there a thousand years ago. Probably on a yellow Fat Chance. After a few swipes through which dead-ended into housing developments or ATV-shredded bogs, I chose to ride across someone's lawn (Scofflaw Cyclist!) into a kind of geriatric condo compound. I got the hairy eyeball from a couple walking their Shih-Tzu but escaped unscathed.

From there I was in my old hood of Lexington. I zipped down through the old swimming hole and over to Willard Woods. These are not destination riding spots so the folks you encounter in these areas regard you with a combination of bewildered fascination and contempt. I do my best not to startle them and then dash away like a White-Tailed Deer as fast as I possibly can.

Willard takes you almost out to the area I have always simply referred to as "Bedford". Apparently it is called " Burlington Land Locked Forest". Much fancier. The only reason I now know this is because, unfortunately, there are signs up warning of imminent development of this under- utilized gem of a riding spot. This place has always been a bit of no-man's land. Paint-Baller's stealing construction supplies from nearby work sites and dragging them into the woods to make bunkers. Cuz god knows there aren't enough rocks or trees to hide behind. Junked cars and appliances riddled with bullet holes. And on a more positive note, tons of man made obstacles and actual biker sculpted trails with super-fun technical features.

Time was running short but I kept taking turns down awesome trails I hadn't ridden in years. "Oh, I gotta do that one...aaand that one. OK, just one more". This relegated me to a blender blade speed spin back down the bike path for home. I couldn't help but take a couple off-shoots into Arlington' Great Meadows for a another dose of singletrack.

In the end a map of my ride would have looked like one of those Family Circus cartoons where Billy is running all over the neighborhood, leaving a convoluted, dotted line trail behind him. Those were the only days Family Circus didn't make me want to regurgitate my Cap'n Crunch. The comic does have a huge following amongst people who sustained massive brain trauma, fell off a boat, then washed ashore on a desert isle where they were raised by a contingent of rejects from The Care Bears who were deemed to soft too handle mainstream Care Bear society.

That's what I call a good day.

Too tired to write another lick, the story of my horribly failed experiment of a recovery shake and the video from today's ride'll have to wait for later in the week.


I'm taking it back to the old school
'Cause I'm an old fool who's so cool

-Tag Team


Bullitt said...

I have to make a decision, keep up with ThomP’s Big Bike Blawg or finish “War and Peace” AND “Sexus,” “Plexus” & “Nexus.”


Laps said...

Great post. Exactly why I hang up my road bike once school ends. Too many things to see and the road bike doesn't get you near very many of them.

rick is! said...

almost all of my mountain bike rides sound like that. start with some pretty decent atv trails and try to connect them to tasty bits here and there.

Rachel said...

Sometime I want to learn these connections: I have occasionally ridden multiple figures of eight round a Trum field in Somerville cuz I didn’t feel like a road ride – this sounds much better!

Anonymous said...

wait up i'm not ready yet, hold on your going to fast, or my favorite is "when is this ride gonna end"

mkr said...

Nice video of the ride. Let me know if you make it out this way again (Bedford) and we can hook up for a ride. We know those trails (aka the PR) very well :)