Rockhouse Cherry

NEMBA put in a new trail system not far from me. With a big, potentially season-ending snow storm forecast, a ride was in order. I thought there were about 5 miles of flowey, mellow trails there, and that the pack would be me and three other B-groupers. And that was true. It also turned out that there was another 5 miles of pretty technical trail I didn’t know about, and three A-groupers I wasn’t expecting. But, mtbers all, these A-groupers are great guys who definitely enhanced the ride.

The trails were mostly perfect, freshly built and frozen hard except for one section of about 50 yards along an old wood road that was frozen wet ground, rutty and hoar-frosty and a little bit muddy. All work and no play. “Jesus Christ!,” I said, about halfway through. “Who the hell thought this trail was a good idea?” And then I looked up to see two hikers laughing at me as I pedaled through the shit.

Chris had to abandon early on, which sucked. We hadn’t ridden together much this year and I missed that. But, a stripped freehub is of no use in the woods, and he had to hike his bike out. Fortunately, he was only a mile or so in.

I rode the technical side a lot better than I would have a year ago, getting up some things I didn’t think I would, realizing how I should have gotten up some other bits, and nailing the rocky descents, with fun outweighing fear.

Toward the end, I was feeling cooked. Expecting only an hour’s ride, I had no trail food. Mark was hurting worse though, bringing up the rear. Jeff, ever the mentor, hung back to encourage him. I heard them climbing behind me, Jeff chattering away, and Mark providing one syllable answers. I’ve been in exactly that situation myself many times.

The last half mile was pretty mellow, and we strung out according to our ability or energy level. My quads were burning just a bit as I pushed up the last little grade to the parking area, an example of absolutely perfect timing.


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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