Riding Vermont’s Kindgom Trails

I’m waiting tonight outside the shower at the campground, a phalanx of Boy Scouts jamming up the flush and flow in and out of the two men’s toilets, and single shower stall .

I had a great ride earlier this afternoon, and am very pleased to notch 15 miles of sustained pushing on my Santa Cruz Tallboy, whether it was straining to move upward on the steeps, or trying to keep the bike upright as gravity pulled me down these verdant hills.
Heading Out
What’s going on at the Kingdom Trails is barely controlled survival when I careen downward, at times skidding across lateral roots, the ends of the handlebars grazing past tree trunks.  

From their website, “Kingdom Trails in Northeast Vermont, a multiple-use trail system unlike any other and voted as the BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL NETWORK in North America by Bike Magazine in their annual Reader’s Poll. We were the Editors’ Choice in the Yankee Magazine Travel Guide to New England and were also named BEST OF NEW ENGLAND by Boston Magazine Travel & Life. ”

I am really pleased that I kept the bike upright all afternoon.  A lot of the success was due to the engineering of the Santa Cruz Tallboy.  To me, the machine is not so much a bike but rather a descending apparatus.  The suspension sucks up big hits on rocks and drops off ledges with a unique mechanical squishing sound.  It’s totally baffling how the bike sustains it’s integrity, ride after ride, week after week, for years. These guys I ride with are not stick boys, or at least most of them aren’t.  They are The Bubbas, who stick it to the trails with authority and confidence.  We don’t break these newer bikes (so much), but we’ve demolished earlier frames and components before bicycles became stronger, and correspondingly much more expensive.

Big life, big bike- Bubba style

I joke about attending the Church of Two Wheels on Sunday mornings.  But it’s no joke.
Riding with my long-time friends from the Midcoast Maine never ceases to amaze me.  Week after week, the bikes don’t break, we don’t crash (much), and we experience the pure joy of playing around in the woods, challenging ourselves on repeated sections of terrain.  This has been going on close to 20 years, all year round!  This past winter was a great one for riding these same trails when they are covered with packed snow and ice.  Today, my fat-tire Pugsley stayed home and my full suspension Santa Cruz Tallboy was resurrected  back into action.  The bumpy ledges and long  downhill from the top was kinder to my deteriorating shoulders than the rigid framed Pugs.
A bunch of The Bubbas have downloaded the Strava app on our phones or via our GPS  devices.  We encourage each other and share rides that we’ve completed with the rest of the the guys (and gals now) !  We now have maps!
 Pleasant map
Pleasant map

We get elevation profiles, like this one from Sunday’s ride on Mt. Pleasant !


Here’s me jumping on the Tallboy, and following Rigger’s line for the ride down from ” the Blueberry field” to the ” Three way”.

photo by John Anders
photo by John Anders
3 minute video of me descending Mt. Pleasant <<– Click to view three minutes of pure joy, complete with me chuckling as The Hawk and I jockey for the right side into the singletrack.  Thanks to The Hawk for sending me his clip, and The Bubbas for being there for me, week after week.

Fat tire bike hits the Bog

Way to go 2012 !
Woke up this morning to a snow-free landscape where the outdoor temperature come up to 50 degrees. I headed over to join the ever-ready-for-outdoor-action Bubbas in Rockland for a three hour fun-festival featuring the newest member of the group- my brand new Pugsley snow bike.

The Pug
I’m immensely pleased with the bike’s initial performance.
This bike is a heavy one, weighing in at some 35 pounds, primarily due to the huge footprint of the highly aggressive Nate knobbie tires that are mounted to 4″ wide rims. I learned how much air these tires need from Ian, who has a Salsa Mukluk. It’s not necessary to obsess with tire gauge. Ian told me to just squeeze the thing- should be sort of squishy. That was it.
The first test of the day was the road climb up to the trail head, which was no problem at all. As soon as I entered the mostly frozen, rutted trail, the rigid-framed bike settled into a comfortable pattern- churning ahead, sliding into the low spots, and sticking to the sloped sideways and the up and down ledges that we encounter here in coastal Maine.
Andre, Ian and the ice
Once this thing is rolling, it seems to keep rolling, and there wasn’t much out there today to stop it. Back in the parking lot some of the other Bubbas remarked that I appeared to be faster today. I cleared sections of this ride that I have been struggling with for what, fifteen years? I’m no fitter so far in 2012, so could it be the fat heavy bike that came to the front today, in conditions that had nothing to do with snow?
Check out a map of this ride, with statistics:
Rockland Bog 1/1/12 on Strava.com. It turned out to be a 7.4 mi ride that I did today, January 1, 2012.