I thought I might run a loop or two at the Mt Aggie Fat Ass this past weekend, but Kevin and I decided to help out with trail work at Bear Brook State Park instead. It was a nice opportunity to see Kevin's mountain biking friends and a good chance to spend time on some really beautiful single track trail. Our goal was to clean up trails that had been logged during the winter. A lot of mountain bikers showed up to help. Kathy, Bear Brook Trail Ambassador and good friend of Kevin's, was a great leader. She sent everyone off with specific instructions. The work went fast and the trails came out great.
After lunch in the parking lot, we all changed clothes and gathered for a group ride. Kathy gave a little speech that pretty much said "we've got two different levels of riders here, fast racers and slow folks, so we'll split into two groups." The "racers" in attendance weren't your average middle of the pack riders. They were the fast ones, the ones who ride super expensive bikes that they don't have to pay for. Unlike me, they don't fall off their bikes when they hit a stump. They don't slow to a complete stop when they run out of power on a steep uphill. They don't hit trees beside the trail with their handlebars. "Slow folks group"? Sign me up!
By the top of the first cruel climb the groups had sorted themselves out. Kathy squeezed by me on the steepest, rockiest and narrowest section of that hill. As she went by she calmly asked, "how's that bike working for you?" I mumbled something incoherent between gasps for air while Kathy motored up the hill. Kevin's friend, Peter led our slower group on a very nice two hour ride. We had a wide range of ability in our group, but we waited to regroup at all the intersections and it went very smoothly. These trails are so much fun to ride. I love them. Kathy and John (and what remained of their group, a few must have fallen off the back during their ride) returned to the parking lot shortly after Kevin and I got back. We enjoyed a beer and some good conversation with them before heading home.
I got out for my run early Sunday morning and then drove over to Pudding Pond with Kevin for some challenging biking in the Green Hills Preserve. The lower trails were a little wet, but really not bad. After doing what we call the "Pudding Pond Single track" we crossed the power lines to the more challenging trails. We rode the Side hill Trail from the Quarry end. I have never ridden it in that direction. The first part has some steep difficult climbing. Kevin pedalled past two hikers and they commented on how fit he was. I had just been getting ready to dismount and walk the bike up the rest of that section. The gravel was very loose and rocky and my tires were starting to spin. But I couldn't whimp out in front of the hikers when they had just commented on how well Kevin was doing. When I was exactly beside the hikers it became so steep and I had I lost so much speed that my front tire came up into the air and I had to step off the back of the bike. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything solid to step onto so I went down with the bike on top of me and we both slid back down the hill a short distance. Of course the hikers were concerned and alarmed. My first fall of the year, and it had to be at the feet of the only hikers we saw all day.
We really had a lot of fun both days. My running is going great and I think it is contributing to my mountain biking fitness. Also my skills are getting better. This all makes for more fun on the trails!
Next weekend is Bear Mountain. I have been told it will be a difficult, strenuous, technical 50K and I shouldn't expect to be much faster than 7 hours. Sounds perfect for me!