Friday, June 29, 2012

Riding Laconia

**UPDATE** and a clarification for my friends at DRED:
It has come to my attention that this post is being used to draw a direct connection between NEMBA and the creation of trails on state land at Salt Marsh pond.  In my opinion that connection is being made in error.  This ride report is describing a tour I was given by locals of trails in and around Laconia, NH.  This was not a NEMBA led ride. If you look closely at the GPS data at no point was I riding on state land around Salt Marsh Pond.  I reference the pond as the closest most prominent landmark to where I was at the time.  I was not aware of the extent of the trails in that area.  The small loop we rode was very close to an office park and it was my impression that permission had been granted by the owner of those buildings for that trail to exist.  To imply that my riding of one trail in the vicinity (but not on) state owned land makes NEMBA complicit in the building of trails on that land is somewhat of a leap in my opinion.  I am saddened that this post has created a rift between two organizations that I believe are very important and I hope that this clarification can help in bringing them back together and on common ground so we can continue to move in a positive direction.

Most two wheeled traffic in and around Laconia have fairly large engines and are really loud but I have a feeling in the next 3-5 years that might be changing.  Since moving to Sanbornton and hooking up with CNH NEMBA and riding more in Central NH as opposed to the Plymouth area I have learned about all kinds of new ride spots.

I was particularly impressed by the stuff in and around Laconia that small bands of locals have been building and maintaining.  Very challenging technical stuff usually with a lean towards free-ridey fun (probably influenced a bit by the proximity of Highland and lots of local riders preferring that style of riding, no complaint here).  They have a knack for finding all the interesting stuff in the woods and incorporating them into their trails.  Its like they've read the NEMBA/IMBA manual on control points or something...

Unfortunately I was still just sort of getting into MTB during the mid 90's 'heyday' but these trails feel like they hark back to a 'shreddin what we can with what we got' mentality.  I feel like folks would ride anything and everything back then.  Many of the trails squeezed into small parcels of land here and there linked together with locals only connectors that can be hard to find.  The stuff in and around Laconia is a bit like that but things are getting more cohesive and some key players are doing great advocacy work and have exciting visions of 'what could be'.

Last night our CNH group hooked up with the Chainline Cycles ride and got a tour of some of the work they've been doing in the area of Saltmarsh Pond (AKA The Degoba System) and Ramblin' Vewe (not a typo) Farm. We rode a small fun loop at Saltmarsh before crossing the road to get up and over the 'Hill of Doom' (which I almost cleaned, and then almost threw up) to check out some of the new stuff at Ramblin' Vewe Farm.  There was already a great network of existing multi-use doubletrack through the area and tons of great vert/terrain just screaming for some singletrack to fill in the gaps.  Luckily there are folks who know how to go about these things the right way and after building relationships with the board at RVF they've been able to get some areas approved for work with chances for more if we're lucky.

The newest trail is already riding awesome and has some great rock features.  Top it off with a descent back into town on Trail X and you've got one hell of a ride.  15 miles and we didn't even do everything on that side of town.  Add Ahern into the mix and you can easily ride 20-30 miles of singletrack in and around Laconia with possibly much more in the works.  So put yourself about 5-10 years into the future...Local advocates have been working hard with local landowners building relationships (hopefully those landowners are receptive and realize some of the benefits of increased recreation in the area).  There are plenty of hotels and amenities in the area.  Lakes and recreation abound, Ski hill (Gunstock) just down the road with adventure courses / longest zipline in North America or the US or something (its long) and more of their own singletrack in the works (according to some rumors and their 5 year plan).  Is this starting to sound like something?  Yeah it is.


  1. If that keeps up, I'll be driving down there and you'll be giving me a tour of the trails. Sounds really cool!

  2. Bad ass! Looks like your hood just got even cooler!