Rockland. I’d been there once before, last August. Its 25 miles of well-built, well-maintained, and fun trails are a 45 minute drive with no traffic, so it’s not a regular ride. We rode 11 miles there yesterday.
I had stayed out uncharacteristically late Friday night, getting to bed a little after 2 and getting up a little after 6. Ben and I met at 8 to drive over. The weather was standard New England July – Humid with the promise of heat. The singletrack climb out of the parking lot switchbacks up a slight grade. It isn’t hard, unless you’re hungover and dehydrated and have to pee (How does that even happen?). Even feeling like yesterday’s trash, the climb was easier than a year ago.
Vaguely lightheaded at the top, I sucked down a slug of lukewarm water from my Camelback then followed Ben onto a moderately techie loop. I remembered walking a good bit of this section last time. It registered as easy and fun today. My hangover receded, setting the pattern for the entire day. Section after section of trail flashed into my memory with footnotes such as “this seemed a lot harder last time”, and occasionally, “that seemed terrifying last time”. Two hours later, when we were speeding down the red trail to the parking lot, I was hot, sweaty, dusty, mosquito-bitten, bloodied from sticker bushes, and fully engaged in the “Wheeee!”
Yesterday’s ride measured a year’s progress in my mtb skills. Struggling with the hard trails near home can be discouraging because progress is incremental. Riding at Rockland proved the value of those struggles.