Friday Group Ride #171

In my mind I am slugging away at the long climb west of Brattleboro on the way up to Marlboro and beyond to Hogback Mountain. The road is packed dirt, graded in spring, in mud season, and left to the elements for the rest of the year. It bisects thick pine forest flanked by pre-historic fern. Always wet, rain collects in the channels just off the shoulder, run off from the woods above trickling in rivulets constantly. The air is cool.

Forget fast. The angle of ascent and the inconsistency of the surface force you into a slow rhythm. The road ripples and ribbons, fords ad hoc streams, pitches up steeply and then meanders.

This is where I want to be.

8261641558_8ac248feae_cMostly I roll around under the basic premise that other locales, both foreign and domestic, serve up larger slices of idyllic beauty, of cyclo-specific wonder, than where I live, and yet year after year I find more and more to like about my native roads (and trails).

Padraig said of New England, “There’s a piece of my heart I was unable to pack and bring with me when I moved west.” We had been talking about the particular beauty of this place where I live, and though it was just one line in an email chain that stretches back deep into our friendship, it stuck with me, such a nice way to think about a place.

This week’s Group Ride is about where you ride. Is it great? Why? Give us your best prose. Show, don’t tell. And if it’s not great, tell us about a great place you HAVE ridden. We want details, not place names. We want description. We want to go there with you.

Images: Matt O’Keefe

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  1. Aaron Anderson

    You can take the boy out of New England, but you can’t take New England out of the boy. Having grown up in Connecticut, I have a special place in my heart for the winding road along the CT. River up from the mouth flanked by Old Lyme and Old Saybrook. Ride as far North as you can go before you have to turn one direction or another. As the season become autumn, the leaves turn with our ability to witness our breath in the dawn light, where we reluctantly slip on an extra layer hoping it warms enough to strip it two hours into the ride.

    I carry a piece of that ride on every ride I take out West. And the theme permeates my soul along my favorite rides out on the left coast.

    Early dawn lights
    Breath not hindered
    Autos infrequent
    wide open roads
    Mountains to the east
    Ocean to the west
    Rested night feeds
    Extra miles
    and a desire for more

  2. Mike the Bike PT

    The Ridge

    Two miles of flat
    but not quite flat
    Tar and chip

    Here we are, let’s start the rollers
    Past the cornfield right
    Past the alfalfa left


    Surprise the horse
    Stare each other down
    Wanna race?

    Bad idea

    There they are
    Apple trees
    Michigan apple trees
    Full blossom
    Signature smell


    I hardly notice them
    Have to change gears for the hill
    Then change gears again
    and again


    Rough road
    Hang on


    Left at the dilapadated, red barn
    Ride by Dunnebacks
    Past Rasch Farms


    How come I always end up out here?
    Who wouldn’t want to

  3. Jan

    The smell of lilacs as I ride along a country road, and just breath in as deeply as I can. Later in the season, that same road (in a slightly different part) smells wonderfully of pine as I ride along. They smell of perfection.

  4. Peter lin

    Mohawk Trail descent

    No lights, no stop signs
    sound of the chain spinning at 120 rpms
    Mountains on my right
    River on my left
    Trees wave to me,
    the smell of fresh tarmac
    whispers “you can go a little faster”

    I forget, how many miles to go?
    Can I tuck lower?
    Will this end?
    Why can’t I ride this year round?

    By far, one of my favorite roads in MA.

  5. Scott

    Bucket List Ride — North Rim Grand Canyon:
    Spinning through giant meadows ringed with ancient aspens, I’m beyond excited. It’s summer below, but this island in the sky is an oasis uplifted to 8,000 feet. The road leans, perfectly banked in the corners. Then you see it, a glimpse at first, then a vista dropping 50 million years into the abyss. I walk the narrow trail to the overlook. Other tourists look quizzically at my jersey, shorts and bike shoes. I grasp the cold steel rail with white knuckles. I clip in and balance for the money shot; the one I keep to say, “I rode the north rim. It should be on your bucket list too.”

  6. Ransom

    The scale of this place is impossible. The air is dry, the sun warm but the air has the cool of elevation. The clouds don’t seem that far away, and the shadows they cast on the opposite mountains seem to confirm how close together are the ground and sky here.

    The trails are like discovering single and doubletrack on the moon. We wind around, up and down, find that there are trees up here after all, evergreens, and then back into the vastness of the open mountainscape. Dry grass on the moon? Where am I?

    Better known for skiing and snowboarding, I’m certain it must be better now, in summer. Except perhaps for the mosquitos creating mogul fields on my forehead overnight.

    I’m not sure how accurate the vivid memories of my long-ago trip to Purgatory and Durango are, but I’d love to go back and compare them to reality.

  7. Eto

    Mid west.

    Early spring, fields plowed
    Aroma in the air, natural
    Shadows long, light still short
    Vistas flat, colors soft
    Miles and miles, earnest work

  8. local yokel

    I don’t have the words to make this what it should be but I can’t keep still.
    Lassen National Park
    It’s about an hour drive. We unload in cool morning air. Different from the hot valley we left behind.
    We dress and pump tires, then roll out a short flat to a fast cold drop through pines and Aspens.
    WE cross a meadow and stream that some years is dammed by beavers. The climbing starts. Past more streams and meadows covered with snow . This early in the year the meadows are flooded with snow and snow melt. We ride on perfect pavement with few cars. We climb past granite and views that go on for ever to lakes covered with snow and water so blue. We climb to a volcano. Then a fast decent on the other side past sulfur pots and boiling mud pots.
    At the south lodge we have sandwiches and cokes. And return. The fast cold decent is now a hot tough climb but at the end is soft serve ice cream.

  9. Patrick O'Brien

    Open your mind and your senses. Realize that every thing changes every day. Then each ride is new and great. Here we go to the ranch. Five and a half miles of steady, gentle climbing gets you there. Rest under the big cottonwood by the ranch house, watch the birds, feel the power of the earth and mountains flow through you. The ranch belongs to us, we the people. Then 6 miles of flowing single track back to the neighborhood. Brown canyon magic. Come make it your own.

  10. Alan

    Buckhorn Canyon, Colorado

    Red canyon walls, first hard climb
    then the very hard high climbs

    I cannot yet do it.

    But I will.

  11. jimc

    I’ve ridden lots of New England roads in the last 40 years, but I’ve just been introduced to a gem, and at one of the best times of the year. Thirty-five miles of back road, smooth and well-maintained by Maine standards, make up the middle leg of a 75-mile journey to the western mountains. Roadside lupines send purple spires toward skies finally cleared after days of drizzle. As Matt and I cross the Androscoggin River, farmland gives way to sandy soil favoring big white pines. This being June, clouds of yellow pine pollen drift across fields and stain flat water. We chase our shadows as the climb from Bear Pond burns our thighs, but reward follows. Sacrifice again yields return several times over.

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