Not many words today.
Its been years since I rode at Kelso and was itching to get back into the gnarly rocks of "X-Tream Trail" and "Rough Trade". Having not been in a long time, there were some re-routes that I was unfamiliar with but everything flowed together nicely. The fall colours were in full swing and there were lots of hikers on the trails. The view from the top of the escarpment was beautiful.
Kyle and I put our technical riding skills to the test battling the rocks and roots. A couple of small wipeouts and a shoe malfunction were the only unplanned accidents of the day.
It was one of those perfect fall days. The ones where the temperature is spot on 20 degrees, its sunny, there is a gentle breeze, and there is a mountain bike under you. Just perfect.
Kyle and I set out at Turkey Point from Mole Road into the sandy singletrack with a big ride in the sights of our wide eyes. Our plan was to ride everything in the Provincial Park, then trek along the ridge trails to the West side and ride everything over there, eventually making our way through the ATV trails of the St. Williams Reserve and out to Commando / Luke Lake / Big Easy / Motorhead to finish off. It was going to be an epic ride and each epic ride needs a name. Our epic from earlier in the year is now referred to us by the name "Northern Tier Ride" and is a fond memory. We decided that this would be the "East Westerly Ride".
With our epic ride finally named and us well under way, we started stacking up the miles as we rode sandy trail after sandy trail. We took a few stops to take in the fall scenery and chat about how great the ride was going. While riding Big Mike on our way into the Ryerson Camp we stopped to take a panoramic view of the forest, it was stunning in the morning sun.
We carried on and ever stopped to do a bit of trail maintenance in some problem sections as we rode through. It wasn't long before we had made our way to the end of East Ridge / beginning of West Ridge, the pinnacle of the "East Westerly". The West Side was surprisingly dry with only a couple usual sticky spots, couldn't be any more perfect.
We finished off the West Side and traveled Gibson Rd to the ATV trails which took us to the South end of Commando. These new trails are working in nicely and are packed quite well, they should be fantastic after having a winter on them. While scooting along on Commando we came across a baby Eastern Hognose snake. This area is littered with snakes but seeing a Hognose is rare. This was just a little guy, I've seen grow adults up to 3' in length.
We finished off our ride with a maniac run through Motorhead then back to Charlotteville Rd 1 via Big Easy and the ATV trail. A few hundred meters down Charlotteville 1 and we were back at the parking area on Mole Road. A few high fives and some tired legs back at the trucks, the "East Westerly" was great. We are hoping we get in another epic ride before the end of 2016 and a few ideas have been bounced around having to do with trails in Brantford along the Grand River....... we'll see what comes of it.
"Wow, its getting dark" I laughed as Kyle and I rolled up to Red Hat Junction. We had been riding for an hour and a half and the light was fading quickly deep out in the Anderson Tract. We stopped for a water break as the darkness overtook the woods. This was our Friday night out, alone in the woods while other people would do bars or movies. I'd much rather be out here. We hooked up our high powered helmet lights as we prepared to roll out into the trails again. The evening cold was creeping in and the lights illuminated our foggy breath. I gripped my damp handlebars and pushed off into the singletrack.
Our lights danced through the woods, catching a glimpse every so often of oddly shaped trees and branches that played tricks on our minds and made boogeyman creatures come to life. The wind in the tall pine trees made the soothing sound of waves crashing on a shoreline and the odd scurry or squeak of nocturnal animals made the hair on our necks stand up. I had to think logically and remind myself that there was no sasquatch waiting around the next corner. These night rides are an odd mixture of involuntary fear and a singletrack-induced adrenaline rush.
Riding at this time of year means that you either have a short ride before dark or come prepared and ride the spooky night. Night riding adds a new layer to the same old trails too, making things interesting and new again. I've been night riding for a number of years now and love how it can make everything fresh and I have the trails all to myself. It is rare to come across another night rider making the sense of isolation even greater.
I love my night rides, and now that October is here and the days are shorter, it means there is more of it to come. So don't pack your ride in when darkness falls, brings some lights and ride into the beautiful night. Its worth it.
Ride on! (In the dark)
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.