Thursday, August 30, 2012

Middlesex Fells Reservation

Since all of the summer humidity is finally gone but the warmth is still there it would be a sin not to ride a bike. On my way back from work, I decided to take a long route home and visit the Middlesex Fells Reservation. I have been there before on a jog with Elka, but never on a bike. I left my office in Burlington and rode towards the Horn Pond in Woburn. I wondered why I never visited that part of the Horn Pond park before - it is beautiful here! Just take a look:
Too bad I didn't have my DSLR with me - I couldn't zoom in on those funky heather bushes growing in water.

I rode around the northern side of the pond and then eventually, I reached the reservation. I entered the forest from North Border Rd where a narrow path led me to this trial:
Not your friendliest bike path ever.

Seeing this trial recalled old memories of riding a mountain bike in high mountains with my brother. That time I would be excited seeing these rocks, boulders, roots and difficult terrain. This time however, since I was riding my Lemond Poprad, this path was a bit too much. Unless I was going to carry the bike for most of the time. When I got the intersection of different trials I saw this:
Aha, now I know why that trial was not that bike-friendly. It wasn't meant for biking! Too bad they didn't have these signs at the entrance to the reservation form N Border Rd.

I continued along one of the easier-looking paths. But then it turned into the rocky, MTB-only trial again. I crossed a bridge and... I took some damage.
Right after that bridge the path turns into something much more appropriate for the Curiosity Mars Rover than my bike. I stopped to dismount and walk my bike through that rocky rumble but before I managed to get off my bike the front wheel got trapped between rocks and I fell down hitting my knee. Ouch! My damage was minor but then I noticed that the right brake/shifter on my handlebars is bent. Fortunately, it turned out that it wasn't, but it just rotated on the handlebars. It still works fine. This reminded me an old rule of mountain biking - it is not a good idea to tighten some components on your bike too much. If you fall you can break that brake lever instead of just moving it out of position.

I continued south. The path changed from something appropriate for true cyclocross...
 ...into a mountain bike only trial... finally become a highway (Well, considering the previous road conditions - this IS a highway!).
Sun was setting slowly. Another sign that the long summers days are over. The forest in the late afternoon looked beautiful.
Eventually, I left the reservation at the South Border Rd and got to the Upper Mystic Lake at the Arlington border.
I have to admit that is was lots of fun to ride in the Middlesex Fells Reservation. The trials can be challenging and in general, if you don't have a decent mountain bike, don't try riding there. I was passed multiple times walking my bike by riders on mountain bikes asking if I was all right. My answer was always - yes, just the trial is too much for my bike. Well, it was. A few times I ran out of gears trying to ride uphill. I fell on the bike once - something that hasn't happened to me in over 10 years - essentially, since I stopped mountain biking. But I am still happy that there is such a place close to my house.
Anyway, the entire route was fairly short - about 30km (18 mi) but because of the low speed and multiple stops in the reservation, it took me 2 hours to finish it. If you look a the elevation profile above, the high plateau in the middle is the Fells Reservation. Oh, and as you can tell from the end of the profile, I live on the top of a steep hill (which is a bit frustrating to be honest). When I got home, I opened a bottle of Weihenstephaner. I think I deserved it.

1 comment:

  1. I've read about Middlesex Fells MTB trails . When I was really into mountain biking It was one of those places I thought about visiting, but have not had the chance. Great pictures of the trails.