Monday, July 14, 2014

Linking Franklin Falls, Highland XC & Spaulding Woods

I've had this idea in my head for a bit now, maybe a year or so?  Highland and Spaulding have come a long way in a short time with their XC trails.  They don't have a ton of mileage per se but the quality of what is there now is really good and definitely worth checking out.

I was fairly certain that linking them all up via bike would certainly be possible but I wasn't sure if it would be more of a slog where you could say 'OK I did that but never again'.  I'm happy to report that not only is it not a slog at all but it is down right reasonable if not fully enjoyable.  That is if you like riding your bike for 4-6hrs.

I pitched the idea to Doug P. who certainly likes riding his bike for as long as possible and he signed right up. We started the day at FFD riding everything on offer there.  Its nice to be able to ride the first 10 or so miles there as a warm up without really needing to haul much gear because you can always stop at the car to grab extra gear before hitting the road.  Grabbed a few bottles and my camelbak and we set off down the road.

We took Babbitt Rd. off Rt.127 to Sanborn St.  Eventually Sanborn turns into dirt (at Calef Hill) road name might technically change as well but who knows really. After a short distance that dirt road veers right and probably turns into someones driveway but if you stay straight it turns into a logging / jeep road that Google calls Pest House Rd.

Pest House was actually a pleasant surprise.  It was interesting riding terrain, a bit like some of the stuff in NH100.  Rutted out double track with some boulders here and there  There was a small logging operation going and there was a sign that said 'Motion Cameras in Use' but I think that is probably more to deter the jeeps tearing everything up.  It was a nice little climb heading out and a really fun/fast descent coming back.

The rest of the way was pavement over to Highland.  A nice cruise into Tilton and then a bit of a climb up to Highland.  Highlands XC network was interesting.  Really well built trails but geared a bit more towards the dualie crowd if you ask me.  Don't get me wrong they are some sweet trails but if you are on a hardtail you had better stay attentive.  Lots of up and down (ski hill go figure).  Up the fireroad climb and pick a trail down...repeat.

Getting over to Spaulding Woods is incredibly easy.  Basically a straight shot on Keasor Rd. which turns into Reservoir and then you cross Bay Hill and get onto Spaulding Rd.  The School cut a nice access trail called Pat's Outback so that you can get to the trail system without cutting across the school trails/property.  After getting everything  at Spaulding its a nice easy cruise down into Tilton and a stop at a gas station for a refuel.

After that its a gentle climb back up to Pest House a fun rip down and back to FFD.  Around 40 miles with half of that being single track.  Not too shabby.  AND its some of the best flowy / fast single track in NH along with some great technical / enduro-ish stuff at Highland and a bit of a mix of everything at Spaulding.  Something for everyone.  Dare a say a perfect little endurance ride?  Good ratio of trail to connector. Places to stop for calories at good intervals not sure what else you would really need?

I'm looking forward to doing this one again as well as linking FFD and Page Hill and maybe one day linking them all.  I'm also trying to figure out linking Ahern to Ramblin Vewe on the other side of the lakes.  That should be another easy one and if I new Laconia a bit better that would be mostly singletrack but I don't know the sandpits well enough yet.  Maybe I can talk Eric into that one soon....BIKES!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Spot Rocker Wuss Mode Complete

As most of you know I've been slowly working my way to a modified ride that my new frail body can handle and actually ride consistently without crumbling under the stress.  And even though #kevinsfakingit I'm convinced now that I have made the right call and that I'll actually be able to ride this thing consistently in a way that will make me happy and allow me to keep riding it even on consecutive days.

Will I ever really be able to race it again? Maybe yes maybe no.  Thats where things get a bit weird and my answer to that changes constantly.  In the days leading up to today it would have been a certain yes but this morning I had a somewhat random bad day where riding (at least this morning) would have been totally out of the question.  If today had been lets say July 19th there is no way I could have started Carrabassett.  Never knowing when those days are going to happen makes it hard to drop $115 on race reg.

So in the mean time I'll just try to ride my bike a bunch.  #wussmode Engage!


This transformation happened somewhat piecemeal but here is the full change log:

Wuss cockpit: 10mm shorter stem to bring the bars back and shift more weight off my hands as well as some riser bars to bring my stance up.  Finished it off by going back to the GX-1 Ergon grips.  I think they do a great job of relieving pressure on the ulna side of the wrist which is my biggest trouble spot.  The pair I had before had stripped clamps but it feels like they've made some design tweaks since then and I don't think spinning or stripping will be an issue with these. I went with PRO white, which is always a mistake because they get gross looking eventually but for now they look SWEET.

Wuss drivetrain: 1 x 10! Its the new single speed! Literally everyone is doing it.  If I was healthy I would still be SS without a doubt but I actually really like this setup.  I actually surprisingly took right back to riding gears at NEMBAfest.  I really like the ability they give me to ride lots of miles and not get tired.  This setup makes the riding I like to do that much easier for me to pull off reasonably AND allows me to do those rides much more frequently without being utterly exhausted.  True, I'm not getting as strong as I would be doing that all single speed but I've become ok with that.  Like Jake said I've put in enough pain, its time to cash in.

Plus gears work so much better now than they did the last time I used them 8 years ago! Who would have thought that was even possible??? These new fangled wide-narrow rings are pretty simple and amazing.  Completely changes the game with these '1 by' setups.  And these clutch derailleurs are spot on, quiet, they come with a lockout for easier wheel changes and maintenance.  Just about everything I hated about gears has been addressed.  Nice work bike industry!

My Strava feed is going to be polluted with all kinds of rides like this one.  Look for me to be linking everything, all the time, worldwide.