That hermit that lives in the woods has got the right idea.
I lost any jealousy I had for other mountain bikers a long time ago.
I had this story in my head that I think a lot of people have; the best mountain biking is in the PNW, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, etc. It’s the ‘grass is greener’ effect. It dies when you approach your local system like an untapped canvas; I’m trying to hit a different area every time I go out, and I’m covering dozens of trails a week.
Today’s ride took me past Earl’s Trails to another section I’d later find out is Bachelor Street. I went back to the quarry that Ryan and I stumbled on a couple of weeks ago, and kept stumbling down the raunchy doubletrack over there as far as I could. I couldn’t distinguish between stream-bed and trail, and neither could the watershed. There were a lot of washed-up sections and exposed roots and rocks. I followed blue blazes north as far as I could, until a trail marker told me I was on the Metacomet. And just like that, it appeared I had fallen into the bosom of the Seven Sisters.
Here’s a map, courtesy of the DCR. You can see the summit of Mt. Holyoke herself. I can’t actually remember if I’ve peaked Mt. Holyoke, but I think I have.
The forest was dynamic. Some sections of steep, technical climbing assaulted my self-confidence. I walked at least a mile over these sections. Rocks the size of grapefruit scattered the trail, and everything was too close together for a quick bunny-hop (something I’m still mastering, anyways). When I could ride, it was more of a controlled forward lurch, as my 32/18 drivetrain wondered just what I was thinking, climbing on a gear like that!
Pretty soon, I broke onto the ridge. This is where the riding got spectacular. I would shift abruptly between mixed deciduous, pine forest, hemlock groves, yellow birch stands, and every other biome I’d ever seen up in Massachusetts’ highlands. It was a feast for my senses. I had to keep going.
I bumped into the AT a couple of times, white blazes looking more like brick walls. I don’t bike on the AT, out of respect for the trail and the people who dedicate so much time to hiking and maintaining it. These markers delineate sacred ground. Looks like this wasn’t the AT after all. White blazes around these parts indicate the M-M Trail. Thanks Bruce for the correction!
So, after a few U-turns, I finally found myself on the windy singletrack Bachelor Street is famous for.
I ripped through berms, hopped and occasionally walked my way over huge exposed boulders, and slammed my knuckles on saplings. It had to be the toughest riding I’d encountered yet. Sometimes I yearned for a lower gear to crawl in, but I’m trying to silence that complaint and just enjoy singlespeeding for its more positive traits. Run what you brung.
Eventually I made it back to the trailhead, which connected back to 116, which turned a good 3 hours of exploring into a navigable loop that joins up perfectly with my Earl’s Trails loops. Looks like I have a 4+ hour MTB session worked out!
Keep Riding, this weather won’t last forever!