Life is different during Covid-19.
Travel is restricted. The Appalachian Trail is still off-limits, especially group camping at shelter sites and use of outhouses. Travel bans, quarantine regulations, and the establishment of social distancing procedures have forced many of us who enjoy the freedom of the woods and waters to shift to local sites for our reprieve from the stress of doing things in a highly restricted manner.
I’ve leaned heavily on my copy of Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes as I’ve been alternating walking and biking my mini-escapes around town.
For, example, I’m very close to finishing up my “Ride Every Road in Town” challenge, where I’ve paired up with my neighbor Andy Hazen to ride every one of the 76 miles of Lincolnville, Maine’s town roads. We’ve done seven rides so far, with two more to go. When I get home, I really enjoy coloring in our tracks on a custom topographic map that I ordered that has our town front and center on the page.
This past weekend I joined a small pack of my Bubbas in the Woods riding pals to bypass a long drive to Vermont’s Kingdom Trails in favor of a stick-to-Maine 36 hour off-road mountain biking extravaganza that included two riding locations that I never visited before on Saturday: Farmington’s Titcomb Mountain and Kingfield’s Freeman Ridge Bike Park.
Titcomb is roughly a six-mile loop that has been created by Farmington locals and Central Maine New England Mountain Biking Associaton.
The system was well-laid out with above-average consideration to setting up wide turns linked to long, gradual stretches of uphill switchback climbing to “summit and then plummet”. Riding is free during the summer.
Freeman Ridge is a “.. private, professionally built, and family-run mountain bike trail network, located 1 mile outside of downtown Kingfield, ME. We offer machine and hand-built flow trails for riders of all abilities. We are just 15 miles south of Maine’s premier MTB destination, Carrabassett Valley Trails.” An adult day pass is $7, money well spent in supporting this very satisfying private venture.
Saturday night was spent with me back in a tiny tent along the South Branch of the Dead River in Eustis at a true Maine camp where we had no electricity, cell coverage, or running water.
One of the Bubs, Shawn, bought the gem of an antique camp in 2015 and has been using it as a base for winter fat biking, snowmobiling, and now mountain biking. Shawn invited us for the weekend and it was a welcome respite from the blackflies and mosquitoes that are in force this time of year.
Sunday was a big riding day riding morning and afternoon sessions out of the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center. In the morning we rode the south side of Route 27 on a long climb up to a high point that afforded us long stretches of exciting but reasonable downhill acceleration.
The afternoon put us across Route 27 where we headed east for about 5 miles on the Narrow Gauge Trail.
Then we switched back to a long gradual climb of five miles up the Narrow Gauge Bypass to Crommett’s Connector. One the way up, Ian demonstrated his technical expertise in getting over a massive obstacle and crafting an approach to a nasty stream crossing.
Then a whooperbasket of high-speed, flowing descent on Newton’s Revenge.
Our local weekend was a success. I experienced fresh riding terrain, enjoyed the company of my riding pals, and had a grand stay at Shawn’s camp.
Bubbas are talking about finding fresh terrain to explore in Maine on an upcoming weekend. Soon!