Summer is back!
With temperatures well over 70º this Columbus Day Weekend, getting out for a ride was just as much of an inevitability as this “winter” everyone keeps talking about. Kelley and I hit up the legendary Earl’s Trails complex near Hampshire College, a network of flowy singletrack that could not have been in better shape for shreddin’.
We had cold, torrential rain last week, which drowned out any dust on the trails. With a good few days of sun, everything dried up to a perfect, soft-carpet texture with no mud and no sandpits. It was beautiful riding, with plenty of grip. This was Kelley’s first serious mountain biking excursion, since the trails here are a little more serious than some of the local shortcuts.
With doubletrack, singletrack, intense climbing and more intense downhill, Earl’s has something for everyone. We cruised around for a couple of hours, picking up trails and practicing our skills. Kelley’s tires were slicker than grease, so she slid off of some of the roots, but a new bike is coming so they’re not worth replacing.
The forest was gorgeous… There’s something about the way sun filters through trees that leaves me with a warm feeling in my stomach and 30 blurry photos on my camera. Since we were out late in the season, we had the full kaleidoscope of fall foliage, with plenty of green still poking through. This late in the season, we also didn’t have to worry about bugs chasing us as we broke a sweat, which Kelley especially appreciated.
We did manage to take a few nice pictures, especially around Hadley Reservoir.
I was out on the Karate Monkey again, still loving the 2×1 drivetrain. Even after a few miles of climbing, it still feels like the right choice for loaded backpacking. I swapped my 17T rear cog for a 19T rear cog to make the bigger ring in the front a bit more useful off-road, since I’m just under a 2:1 ratio now. Kelley had the full range of her triple, and she used almost all of it on the brief road-ride over to the trailhead, and the steep off-road climbing once we got there.
A little tree climbing broke the afternoon up, and gave our tired legs a chance to catch up.
Kelley had a blast. After one long descent, she commented how she couldn’t stop smiling, and it certainly looked that way every time I glanced over my shoulder. Mountain biking does that; it’s hard not to grin when you’re in such a beautiful place, massaging a little adrenaline into your brain with the ebbs and flows of the trail.
And who could ask for better weather?