Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Riding mountain bikes when you're really, technically supposed to be doing something else is so much more fun. Yesterday Greg "The Leg" and I went up to check out Willowdale up in Topsfield/Ipswich. It was a beautiful day, which was baffling to me after Sunday's frozen hell-fest. The trails did not disappoint, they were every bit as swoopy, fun, and non-technical as I'd heard they were. Don't get me wrong, I love the technical, but sometimes you just need a break. These trails were like mountain bike therapy — by the ride's end I felt relaxed and recharged.

I grabbed a map off this site, and while I don't know how accurate it was regarding the labyrinth of trails in Willowdale, it was definitely helpful for getting us oriented when we ran into a road and had no idea which way to go. We followed the driving directions on that site, not realizing that they took us to the opposite side of Bradley-Palmer form Willowdale. This was quite alright though, we began traversing the park, and as we did we spied a rider fast-approaching from the west (I don't actually have any frickin' idea what direction he was coming from but "the west" just sounds like the coolest direction to be coming from). As he got closer I could tell he was on a 'cross bike, and he was cookin' on that thing. As he passed I realized it was Skip Johnson, A.K.A. "Skipollini!" He informed us that he was out on a quick rip before he had to get back to the airport. This place is pretty much in his backyard, the lucky bastard.

Here we saw, at the same time, two swans, a great blue heron, and a herd of ducks.
Yes, a herd of ducks...that's what they call it. Shut up.

Skip offered to show us the way over to Willowdale via some sweet singletrack, ripping it up in his skinny-tired bike as he went. For whatever reason I was huffing and puffing, having trouble warming up, might have had something to do with the hour and forty five minutes worth of anaerobic effort I put in Sunday, might have had something to do with the fact that Skip was flying. "Ya, I heard you breathing back there, I was like 'Parsons is feelin' it'" The Leg said later. Skipollini! got us situated at a trail-head, wished us a good ride, and hammered off into the distance.

At first we just sort of went with the flow, following the blue dots, we'd cross a fire road and continue along on the singletrack on the other side. After a while we were checking the map and trying to figure out which way to go. The stuff was GOOD. A real departure from what I generally ride with all the pointy rocks and the roots and the sketchiness, just flowing and fun. I would take my mom here, I thought (or maybe said aloud to Greg). Anyone could have fun in this place, even children...or roadies.

Dead End

Our riding window was small, like the Diamond in the back of a pimp's Cadillac, so we probably didn't get to hit half the stuff in there, but what we did hit was brilliant. Can't wait to get up there with some locals and get a proper tour, maybe even get shown the Matty O' time trial. Speaking of time trial, I have to get ready to go do mine, hopefully I won't get a stick caught in my chain like last week. Nothing more frustrating than having a mechanical during an amateur, unsanctioned, personal, nobody-but-you-knows-about-it-but-you (and your three blog readers), time trial, NOTHING! OK, maybe a couple things.


The fact that the next section of the bridge after this one was totally un-rideable probably saved me from taking a cold bath trying to ride this nearly un-rideable one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it's a flock! and no, i won't shut up.