Tuesday, 11 August 2009

getting lost on a new trail system

On Sunday I headed to a forest sort-of-near to where we live, Pitmedden forest park. I had found vague descriptions on the internet of good riding there, but no maps. I got lost on the way there and forgot my biking shirt at home, but I remained upbeat. Living at sea level means I don't have to worry quite so much about Alpine Death Fabric and its dangers, so while I may have looked a bit odd in my ragged cotton v-neck (from the Gap, no less) I wasn't too worried about hypothermia.

I started riding up an uninspiring fire road* which continued for half a mile or so. Then I started noticing little trails shooting off the side. Eventually I just picked one and went for it, and what followed was some of the most enjoyable singletrack I've ever ridden. Really twisty sections led to smooth flowy sections, all of it narrow (like 6 inches or so), there were roots and rocks and even some ledges I didn't feel comfortable going down with my current mindset**. At one point there were some Pacific Northwest-style manmade features (they think of them as North Coast features here I think), bermed corners and at one point a huge drop that I walked down and then the trail ended. Apparently not a popular feature***.

This was really high quality trail, and the woods was just crisscrossed with offshoots. I have no idea where I went, how much of the system I covered, or what. When I came to an intersection I just picked the direction that looked best. I only ended up in a scary Blair-Witch woods once and got worried about finding my way back twice, so all in all this was a pretty awesome excursion.

I need to remember to bring my camelback with me when we return from our visit to the US in September. While I was thinking about that I came upon this, describing new Osprey hydration packs for biking. I love backpacks****. Researching them, buying them, using them... Osprey makes great stuff, and if I could rationalize buying something that I already have a functional version of I would snap one of these up.

* too many mountain bike rides start off with ascents up uninspiring fire roads. No warm up, just start climbing up ugliness. When I rule the world...
** my current mindset is probably best summarized by 'don't break your neck and saddle your wife with a newborn and a paraplegic husband'. I'm thinking about getting a road ID or something similar. Things I would have sailed over a year ago give me much greater pause now, and I think the expanded family has something to do with it.
*** every time I try a new trail in Scotland I end up thrashing through heather/woods/thorns and swearing.
**** my love of buying backpacks is matched only by jackets. The more technical the better.

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