Today (Oct 31) was the last day of the “summer” season for Kingdom Trails, and the trails are now closed to bikes until next spring. I had planned to get out for one last ride in the afternoon since it would be my last opportunity this year to get out on the trails. It turned out to be one of those days that nothing turns out the way you expect, and I ended up working later than I had planned. I barely had time to squeeze a ride in before the sun went down, but I squeezed it in anyway.
I changed into my bike clothes, which required a bit of thought to make sure I would be warm but not too warm in the 38 degree temps. I had hoped to get in a few of my favorite trails as a last hurrah for the year. When I got out, the trail crews had already started putting up barriers and closed signs. Not wanting to “jump the rope,” I found a trail entrance on the west side of Darling Hill that had not yet been closed off. I like the trails on the west side better, so no hardship there. I took one last trip down Troll Stroll, which has become one of my favorites, connected with the new Eager Beaver and then rode down to the base of the West Branch climb out. I love that climb; it is just the perfect pitch to really blast up it on a single-speed bike.
From there, I rode up the dirt road on Darling Hill passing a group of Burke Mtn. Academy students on some kind of group ride. I went back into the woods to take one last stab at Pines. I loved riding that trail long before there even was a Kingdom Trails organization. I followed the VAST trail out to the road and called it quits from there. A short ride.
While it is a bit depressing to see the season officially end, it is time. The weather is cold enough that it’s not much fun anymore. The last several rides I’ve ended up wet and my feet were freezing. There is so much mud and ice that it is difficult to ride fast now. The wet leaves and super greasy mud make staying upright a challenge. One of the worst falls I ever experienced was this time of year on some semi-frozen mud. One moment I was riding along upright and the next I was plowing the brush on the side of the trail with my helmet. Not fun. Now that the many little bridges are getting glazed with mud and ice they’re even more dangerous.
I really can’t complain too much. Everything has to come to an end, and it has been a very good summer. I got out to ride a lot more than previous years. I’m very fortunate to live so close to a great trail system, and I’ve been able to get out at least a couple of times a week all summer. This summer I’ve cleaned numerous climbs on my single-speed that I hadn’t even been able to do on my old geared bike (Cat Box Hill, Rim, Bench, etc). I’ll be riding the class 4 roads and 4-wheeler trails closer to home until deer season starts. Once deer season starts, I stay out of the woods for my own safety. Beyond that, there will be just too much snow to ride. The hard part will be how to keep myself from becoming a total couch potato until the snow melts next April. It looks like next year I’ll be buying the family season pass now that Emma has taken an interest in riding more.