Today I biked at one of the coolest places: the Northeast Kingdom near Burke Mountain in Vermont. Kingdom developed because mountain bikers were cutting illegal trails on the farmland surrounding Burke for years, and the trails were rumored to be awesome. The landowners got together and decided that it would be beneficial to make biking at Kingdom a legit thing. With tons of trails, and maintenance, Kingdom has a bike following that goes from day-trips to weddings.
Rob and I with two of our Nordic skiing friends, Leif and Russ rode the trails. Trying to keep up with Rob and the Nordies, I was worked, full out sprinting to keep them within a sight line. After two hours, I bonked. With three energy bars, I pushed on. To be honest, the riding was too good to stop. By the fourth hour, my legs had enough lactic acid to make bonking look like a piece of cake. When we got back we were rewarded with the best banana splits ever. I would call that a win!
Today, we had our first full day women in the wilderness bike trip of the term. Since there were four of us going and a mountain bike club event going we decided to join forces. With four guys and four girls, it was definitely the most gender balanced mountain bike ride I had ever been on!
With such a large group and varying skills, there was a lot of potential for an extremely boring day for some and a hard day for others. Somehow, this didn’t even happen. Everyone was pretty stoked on the speed and the riding was just straight up fun! It looks like there might even be a contingent interested in a spring break bike trip next year!
East coast mountain biking is very different from cycling on the western slope of the Rockies. As you know, Im from Colorado. In the west, the trails are smooth, fast and sunny. The biggest challenge is holding your breakfast in on the way up and holding on for dear life on the way down. Not so for the east coast. Here, you need to make sure that pieces of the bike dont rattle loose as you bounce your way down the trail. And by trail, I mean a swath of roots and rocks that somehow a bunch of bikers all decided to ride down. How they came to that decision I dont know. When it is dry, it is a challenge just making out the terrain features as you fly in and out from shade to complete darkness. When it is wet, or gasp, humid, it is a whole other ballgame you have to fight the fog, roots, mud, leaves, and rocks for purchase. I can tell you how that fight usually goes.
But beyond all of the differences, there is something really incredible about nailing your first technical uphill and pinning your first tight, flat corner.
There is also nothing better than figuring out the quick rhythm of eastern biking, where you can either connect loop after loop for an all-day ride filled with rope swing stops, or catch one of those loops for an hour study break. Once I switched to a lighter pair of Ryder sunglass lenses and could differentiate between forest and trail, the world of east coast biking has been the best type of study break rush ever.