Winter Trails

We’re in that great patch of early-winter weather when the temperatures are cold but not frigid. The trees are bare, and the trails have either been blown clear or the leaves are packed down. (I’m an agnostic regarding the controversy regarding the leaf-blowing of trails – In some cases I think it’s fine, and in others not so much. It depends on the trail design and the underlying soils. I do appreciate the safety boost of being able to see the trail on rocky descents.) It hasn’t snowed much, and what we’ve gotten has been short lived. Most years at this time, the trails are dry and hard. But this year has given us something like an inch of rain a week, so we’ve had to pick our days and our rides carefully. There’s more mud on my bike than I like to see.

Yesterday was dry enough for a good ride at Waldo despite a bit of dumbness on my part. It felt like my front tire pressure was too low. I’d pumped it up before leaving the house, so that was puzzling. The tire compressed too much on rocks, and a boulder on the first climb bounced me to the side of the trail. The first two log-overs felt harsh.

And then I realized that once again, I’d left my fork locked out from the last ride when Ben and I got rained out and returned to the parking lot via pavement. I unlocked the fork. The bike was much more compliant after that.

After avoiding it since June, I tried the new log-over on the yellow trail. Like so much in mtbing, it turned out to be not a big deal. Must keep that in mind.

Mark suggested a couple of improvements to some of the storm re-routes, just little things to improve the flow. He was right, and each would take about two minutes with a decent handsaw. But I found myself thinking of Jeff’s saying, “Improve your skills, not the trail,” and each of those two spots have forced me to work on my low-speed skills.


About swampyankeecyclist

I'm Andy Engel, just a middle-aged, middle-class guy from Roxbury, Connecticut. I've been married to my best friend since 1988, and we have two grown sons. I like riding bikes, and my biggest accomplishment is the 180K D2R2. I own 5 bikes but my go-to rides are a 2016 GT Grade gravel and commuter bike and a 2016 Specialized 650b hardtail mountain bike. Additionally, I have a 2000-something carbon-fiber Orbea road bike, a 1990-something Specialized Sirrus that's my old dirt and commuter bike and which now serves as a spare and a trainer bike, and a 1985 Ross Mount Hood MTB. All but the 650b have Brooks saddles. I work from home now, but used to commute 32 miles round trip to work by bike year round. I was a carpenter and still love building things, but regular paychecks, insurance, and vacation time lured me into journalism. I've written a couple of books on carpentry, and I've been an editor at Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Professional Deck Builder magazines. Currently, I manage construction events at the JLC Live and Remodeling Show trade shows. Additionally, my wife and I run Transylvania Guest House, an Airbnb. Find us on Instagram. Come stay with us and I'll show you some great cycling.
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