Another supported epic on was on the agenda for today. After a solid Saturday cutting trails in Merrimack it was time for some riding.
I’ve been on the NDO www.NashobaDirtOrganization.com mountain bike Email list for a couple of years now. Their communications consist of rides in and around the Groton MA area. So I figured it was time to pay them a visit. With trails and parcels named for example The Promised Land, Boom-box, Anaconda, Sledgehammer, The Stack, and Hells Gate. I knew we were in for a good ride.
How do does one define “epic”? Distance, difficulty, or time? Today Epic would be described using difficulty. I knew this going into the ride today. Rumor had it that there was a lot of tech and stunt style riding we would encounter. Harold Parker? Lowell? Russell Mill? Not quite? I also figured I’d turn up the technical dial a bit by riding my rigid Salsa single-speed. I’m writing this so at least you know I made it out. At times it wasn’t pretty.
TPL (The Promised Land) Has lots of big hit feel along with much of the Stack “Haystack Observatory”. Trails like Hells Gate and the legendary Sledgehammer would not disappoint. In fact, I think that the designer of the trails purposely plays connect the dots with rock outcroppings. One after another, lots of launching points, skinny’s, bridges, and rollers. All rideable if you have the skill and mindset. Perhaps the right bike may help as well.
Norm Collard would be our guide and take care of the mid ride support today. Not too bad since we all just met him for the first time in the parking lot. Thanks Norm! The NDO boys also had all the blow downs from the hurricane cut and most trails were leaf blown. To top it off we had temperatures in the low 60′s and an all-star cast. Steve Crossley, Andy Gould, and Billy Malone all made the drive for the epic.
At times it felt like the trail just went on forever, and with no end in sight. We hit Norm’s house at around mile 15. It honestly felt like 25 miles at that point. We hit him up for some Gatorade and Cliff Bars. After that we were back at it. Still to come was a bit more at the Stack, The Ridge and Sledgehammer.
Legs at this point were getting a bit rubbery, voices were muttered with “I’m feeling it” “how much more do we have” “I’m pretty happy with the miles” Sledgehammer isn’t a trail you want to hit when you’re fatigued. You can mess yourself up pretty good if you make a lazy mistake or lose your focus. It’s like riding through a boulder field at time. I don’t think the US military would drive an Abrams tank in here. Exposed slabs of pointy tire eating granite and wheel eaters contained in unfriendly terrain. Bottom line a 5″ travel bike would have been a great choice.
Unfortunately we missed Boom Box due to time constraints and everyone having all they could handle for the day. We had about an hour of down time on the day. Pictures, pit stop, chain suck, broken chain, flat front tire. Multiple riders down on the ground. I fortunately would escape with no crashes, and no flats on the day. It was a hard day riding mostly in the rear of the pack.
If you like riding tech, these guys build it. So drop em a line and get your tour. Of course you’ll need to bring your commit button with you.
And for you STRAVA guys out there.