Last night I hooked up with the Rhino Wed night ride because the NEMBA ride was going to be way down in Bow. That ended up getting changed but that is neither here nor there. Rhino's group was heading up to the Campton/Waterville Valley area to ride some trails in and around the Smart's Brook area. These were trails we used to frequent back in college when we were bumbling around trying to get the lay of the land in the area. Decent trails but not really 100% designed for biking but it worked for us at the time and you could always tell that there was probably more but that area borders some large wildernesses and 1-2 wrong choices could have you stranded and those were pre-GPS days.
Turns out there is indeed more stuff to ride in the area but you definitely need to have some local knowledge. Many of the trails we were on were super fun to ride but not immaculately maintained. Much of the singletrack was like riding shadows of once awesome trails almost like they've been sitting there since I was in college until now...Some of the riding reminded me of our time up at Mont St. Anne. A few spots of craggy, doubletrack drainages, big stream crossings, downed trees, etc. Every now and then we would turn off onto smaller singletrack trails that I often didn't see until we were on them. I was trying to stay plastered to Paul's wheel because lines were definitely not apparent and it was obvious Paul could ride most of this stuff with his eyes closed.
We did a decent amount of climbing and in turn got in a few really cool descents, all fairly techy. Pulled one of the biggest hail mary's I've had to pull in a long time on a pretty steep rooty section. Hit an off camber root just wrong and things were looking prime for a pretty horrible high speed crash but I got my foot out as I was going to lay the bike down and ended up doing a weird fastplant maneuver a la Tony Hawk planting my foot and pushing off just enough to allow my tires to hook back up and keep things upright. No idea how it all worked out, happened way too fast but the guy behind me was pretty impressed.
We ended up getting in a really decent 10mi or so ending on a trail built by a coworker of mine who lives in the area: Casale's Trail. Nice work Mark, really fun. I was really pleased with my climbing ability still geared with the 18. I think I should be able to push that full time from here on out, although I may dabble with gearing specifically for certain races (i.e. Pinnacle). Wrists are still always sore the day after a ride but I have at least gotten to the point that they don't really affect my riding. Hopefully one of these days I'll actually be able to let them heal...I think I finally have my Ergon grips dialed in to my preferred riding position and they feel really good. My saddle is starting to get a bit thrashed...I'm thinking about having Eric at Chainline reupholster it. He redid one of his saddles with some hilarious hot pink synthetic vinyl stuff they use for boats that you can shrink fit, etc. Came out pretty nice.
I'm thinking about taking a little break from bigger MTB group rides for a bit. Regroups with the bugs right now are some kind of fresh hell and I am so thoroughly covered in bites right now its ridiculous. I must have EEE and West Nile about 10 times over. Got some road tires on order from Kenda, hopefully I can get the roadie back on line by next week and maybe do a group road ride instead.