On Saturday of last weekend Cathy and decided to make another day trip up to the Kingdom Trails in East Burke VT for some low key MTB fun. The weather was slated to be on the warm side but dry and sunny. The rain this past week coupled with the previous weekend having been the bike festival which would have undoubtedly taken a toll on the trails, primarily due to the increased rider visits, but we had a free day and decided to take it.
Another part of our motivation was that we had decided to take Cathy's old race bike, her beloved pink Yeti full suspension AS-R and rather than sell it for a fraction of it's actual value, give it to our nephew Tyler who is getting into the sport of cycling. You may recall, both of you who read this that is, that Tyler came out to KT with Cathy and I the month before. We had a great time and he did really well on my buddy Rich's old purple GT Zaskar. I recognized however that the GT was dated and although a fine bike, was not as nice as the Yeti. This should be a big upgrade what with the modern, full suspension XC specific design, high end Mavic Crossmax SSL-SC wheels and disc brakes.
We packed the bikes up and at 6AM Saturday we were on the road, making the long trip to East Burke. I'd pre-arranged to pick Tyler up on the way and he could ride with us as long as he could handle. In addition to the bike I threw together some cycling clothing that we had as spares as well as one of my old helmets which would fit him better, a Camelback and Cathy's old GPS unit. This should have him much better equipped than the last time out when he had a helmet that was a little too big and a only a water bottle.
We arrived at my brother's barber shop in Lyndonville at about 8:45AM to Tyler anxiously awaiting. A quick check of the bike fit showed that it was a near perfect match for him. With that we loaded back up and were off to East Burke, an easy 5 miles away. In East Burke we noted that the Pub Outback has finally gotten sick of all of those worthless and cheap MTBers parking in their parking lot, clogging up their porto and getting all naked to change, so closed the lot off. Fortunately the town had a new lot designated which was right next to the spiffy pay-per-use showers. Cathy and I suited up and then she snagged our trail passes while I got Tyler squared away. Soon we were off.
The plan was to do a short mountainside loop and then hit the east side of Darling Hill followed by the West side from South to North and then back South again on different trails, something we almost never do. Our start took us up the Burke Mountain road and then off onto the Burnham Down trail. Everything went smooth at first and Ty quickly got used to the bike and was riding well, save an incident or two with the many many narrow and twisty boardwalks on the trail. Cathy was also riding well and we had a good time taking advantage of the day.
We crossed over RT114 and ducked back onto the trails, coming out behind the bike shop. From there we climbed up the East Darling Hill Rd and ducked back onto the VAST trail at the bottom of Kitchell. The last time we were at KT we discovered what a great XC trail East Branch was. As such we hit Beat Bog, Leatherwood, Riverwood and then went onto East Branch for it's extent. A couple of connectors with some good punchy climbs and ultra skinny bridges and we were at the Southern end of the trail system. Over Darling Hill Rd. and we were back into the trail system on the South end. A quick run down Webs and then off to Sidewinder. Cathy and I had a great time with it, as always, but Ty found it a little too spicy for his taste.
I'm sure that after some more time on the bike he will be able to handle that level of Kung-Fu. We climbed back out and headed North on the high side of the Western slope of Darling Hill via the trails that run cross slope. These trails also climb quite a bit and that was where we began to see the wheels start to come off the bus. Ty was fighting hard but probably wouldn't have much fight left. We made our way all the way North and hit Harp, a moderately sloped downhill trail that twists and turns. Typically it is pretty fun but they had some logging going on in the start of the trail which disrupted the flow some. From there we did the normal Fenceline down and I could tell we were near the end. Tyler confirmed he was all done. We climbed out Coronary and at the top of Darling Hill he called my brother to come and get his sorry arse. We booked it back down the road to Baileys and snagged some lunch while awaiting the sag wagon.
And then there were two. Cathy and I had the unsavory chore of riding back up Darling Hill in the baking sun, after lunch, to get up to where we left off. Of course I opted for the shaded route in the woods, which Cathy didn't notice,, and she kept on going. After some waiting for her, and then backtracking, and then giving up, there was one. A stormed around and popped back onto the paved climb slightly higher up the trail and then spotted her waiting at the top. As I passed her not slowing at all I told here I'd meet her at the car in 3 hours. That wouldn't make for a very good trip home of course. Luckily she followed me and further on down the trail I softened and waited, and then there were two again.
Much to my surprise, later on, at the bottom of Troll Stroll we bumped into a group of old ride buddies from way back in the day. These were guys that I started riding shortly after I got into MTBing back in the early 90's, Chris, Wick, Bob and Bob as well as a bunch of their newer friends. They have ridden as group since before I met them and still continue today. It was great to meet up with them and they allowed Cathy and I to tag along for the rest of their ride. We had a great time and extended the ride when most of them peeled off to head back with another pass at East Branch.
From there we parted with Cathy too having enough. I had a target of 51 miles in mind so need another block to finish that out, which I got with a quick run out White School and the various Pond loops, then straight back on RT114. Cathy was showered and changed when I got back and chatting with Chris. We sat and yacked for a while and then they headed off to camp. I showered and changed and the day was finished off with a burger and beer at the Pub Outback. We finally got home just before 10PM. A long day for sure but and excellent day, without question.