NEMBAfest was this weekend. On top of all the really cool stuff going on, I managed to get the chance to lead a ride with the members of the NEMBA racing team on Saturday afternoon. This is a great group of riders – even when we’re not out to beat each other on the race course.
I had planned the ride out a week or two in advance with several test loops being made in the late afternoons after work. The hardest part was having to decide what would be left out. Several trails I would have loved to include just didn’t fit in the flow: Tap & Die, Pines, Old Webs, J-Bar, Rim, East Branch and Burnham Down. It’s a great problem to have. I’ve been riding these trails since 1991; and they are so good, I haven’t gotten bored with them. Having put this much thought into the ride really makes me appreciate how nice this trail system is and the work that so many people put into it.
Ultimately, I decided to run a big loop that would include all the major areas of Kingdom Trails. The Grand Tour of KT. I wanted to avoid running into other groups, if possible, so that factored in a little. The other consideration was trying to avoid going up any trails where most people will be going down – we didn’t need any collisions. This all seemed to work out well since we really saw very few people out on the trails and never had to wait for any other groups of riders. That’s really remarkable considering the number of people here for the event.
We met at the NEMBA tent in the expo. area. There were eight of us in all – five on single-speeds. After a couple of group photos, we headed out. The big climbing would come first, so we could get the work out of the way. I had the Ride Bully silently taunting me along to go faster for most of the climb. I was still feeling the effects of my ride from Thursday in my thighs so it was hard to respond as I would have liked. Once at the top of Camptown, we regrouped and crossed the toll road to descend Dead Moose Alley. We then traversed Parrs Yard, burned a mile or so on Pinkham Rd. and rode Magill Fields. That lead us to the never ending descent of Moose Alley. I love the flow of Moose Alley although it can be a bit hard on the forearms after a while. From Moose Alley we crossed over Rt. 114 and rode along White School toward the Darling Hill area.
As we got close to the Darling Hill area, Shawn noticed that something was wrong with his bike. It didn’t take much investigation to discover that his downtube was cracked completely through. Definitely not the kind of thing you want to have happen at any time, but especially when you’re a long way from home in a group ride. Since we were so close to the village, Shawn, Karina, and Matt decided to return together. I really hated to see the group break up. Those of us who remained continued on by riding down the west side of Darling Hill and back up the east side. With the group down to just five, we picked up the pace a bit and just wound our way around the single-track. Troll Stroll seemed to be the favorite of the day. Ultimately, we ended up skipping a few trails that I had originally planned on hitting purely because we were running out of water, food and time. It’s hard to estimate the pace that a group will ride.
Thankfully, the only other mechanical we had to deal with was when I pulled the cleat out of my shoe. This would be really cool if I could say it was just brute force from my legs that yanked the threads out of my shoe. The reality is that the screws must have worked their way loose over many miles. That was quickly resolved with a few minutes and an allen wrench.
Everyone seemed to have a really good time. I know I would have loved to get in some more riding together, if that were possible. We really just ran out of day.
Kevin has posted data on Strava for the ride. We rode just over 24 miles and climbed over 3000 ft. All in a day’s fun.
The trails: Lodge Trail, Camptown (up), Dead Moose Alley, Blacksmith, Parrs Yard, (road), Macgill Fields, Moose Alley, White School, Upper Pond Loop, Lower Pond Loop, Pete’s Pond, White School, (road), Harp, Fence Line, Cor0nary, Bemis, Troll Stroll, River Run, Webs, River Run, Dry Feet, West Branch, Border, (road), Bill Macgill, Pines, Vast and you have to end with Herbs.