Sunday, September 9, 2012

Colonie Town Loops

Colonie Town Loops - a.k.a. The Shale Trail

September 9th, 2012

It was a toss up on Sunday. I really wanted to go back to Luther Forest – mainly to ride and photograph the half pipe north shore feature but I opted at the last minute for Colonie instead.

I always try to ride Colonie whenever I visit my parents. I love this spot and think it’s a little more challenging than Luther Forest. Lots of roots, unexpected twists and turns, short hill bursts and — most of all — GREAT TRAIL FLOW – keep Colonie a fun spot to ride.

The weather was fantastic! A powerful thunderstorm the night before had cleared away the humidity and temps were down 10 degrees or so. As a matter of fact, on the short rail trail ride, needed at the start to get to the mountain biking trails, I was cold! Of course after a few minutes of climbing in the warmer woods, I was warm and sweating.

I went in on the west side for a change (I usually ride to the far east entrance and follow the perimeter of the park, circling back to the western ridge for the finale).

After a short steep climb (of which a frustratingly had to hike 10 ft of), I hit the main shale trail on the ridge and was off and running.

This session, I decided to try as many offshoots as possible and looped all over the place. As the (incomplete) map indicates, even tho’ the park is small, there are lots of trail choices.

(1) A plethora of curves and switchbacks, (2) roots galore in spots, (3) unexpected bursts of short climbs, (4) occasional sections of loose shale on the tread and (5) the unexpected handlebar-width-only tree gaps to traverse; make Colonie a fun but challenging place to ride!

I rode the whole park, exploring the east side as well and finally made my way out back across the top ridge before a quick steep rocky descent out to the rail trail and parking lot.

Surprisingly considering how great he weather was; after close to two hours in the park, I never encountered another rider – just a group of older hikers examining a huge rotten tree stump.

Shale Sections

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Luther Forest - Hilly Loop Twice...

Luther Forest, Malta NY 

September 8th, 2012

This weekend I was hanging upstate with my Dad since Mom and Kittie were in Florida at Aunt Ro’s Funeral.

On Sat, the weather was a little cooler but still humid. I got up to Luther Forest after 10 AM and took the southeast entrance at the parking lot. I hadn’t explored the south side of the Park yet… There were moments of sunshine but most of the time, it was gray and cloudy. On the south side, the trail flow was a little different: long stretches of straight away thru woods with a denser understory. (See map at bottom of page)

Even with a map, I quickly lost my sense of direction and ended up doing a hilly loop twice. The side loop was a great bomb downhill but a tough slog back up – lots of roots on a steep incline so it was hike-a-bike for about 15 ft or so (As always, I need to pump a lot harder earlier and stand up sooner when I’m climbing...)

I finally got out of the hill loop and rode on the main trail further. I encountered a couple of bikers at a three-way intersection and showed them my map to ask directions. I wanted the recommended way to get across to the other side of the ravine.
After a short chat, I was on my way and soon found myself across the stream, winding along a trail at the bottom of the valley. It paralleled the stream for a bit and then curved way up the hill. There were quite a few trail choices here as well as another footbridge back across the stream but I just rode whatever trail I fancied at the moment!

I ended up riding up a nicely curved trail that followed the side contour of the hill. It’s curved, wide-switchback made the climb easier and soon I was skirting along the edge of another small ravine. Twisting and turning, this type of ledge-hugging trail was typical of most of the trails on the northwest side and – altho’ not that technical--its constantly changing, so you still have to stay alert as you ride…

One section I photographed demonstrates how the trail curves around a short “peninsular ridge.”

Ridge Peninsular Curve

 One section had a huge half pipe with a wooded north-shore-type ladder across the bottom and there was even a tall skinny made from 2x4s nearby (I didn’t attempt it).

Once again, I had no idea where I was but fortunately I ran into a couple who – once I showed them my map – told me were I “probably” was.

It was getting time to head home so I took my chances on a few more trails and found myself on an interesting ride around the circumference of a huge bowl-shaped field. This finally took me over to the other ridge area which I recognized from my ride back in April. I eventually found my way back to the parking lot…

It was a great ride. I can't wait to get back sometime to ride the rim trails again and try the half pipe – making sure to take a photo next time!

All in all – this park has great trail flow and kudos to the trail builders – it’s a fun place to ride!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Wilton Woods - Back Blue

Wilton Woods - Back Blue

September 2,  2012

A tough trail - not for the faint hearted (or me :-) )