New England Trail Exploration

Yesterday, Debbie and I explored a section of the New England Trail (NET) that we had never been on before. Her idea of a great Mother’s Day Weekend is one in which she spends a lot of time in the woods.

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Her parents were kind enough to take our kids for part of the weekend, so we drove to Massachusetts late in the morning. We headed for Lake Wyola in Shutesbury. This brought up great memories. In the early 2000’s, we ran the Lake Wyola Road Race several times. This event was an annual Shenipsit Striders tradition. This year’s race will be on 9 June and it will be the 39th edition. I recall that the Striders had a big rivalry with the Shutesbury Athletic Club. After arriving, we locked our bicycles to the rack at the state park beach and then stashed some gear bags. From there, we drove southeast to Meads Corner in Belchertown.

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We parked our car at the Scarborough Brook Conservation Area where the NET cuts through. We ran the trail north/northwest from there. We covered about 21 miles in four hours. It was a quiet section of trail. We only saw one person (a backpacker with his dog) all afternoon. The trail parallels various roads, and there are several crossings, but it still felt like we were in the woods.

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The terrain was a mix of single-track, double track, dirt roads, and road. It was a good mix and this section had an elevation gain of about 2,800 feet, so it wasn’t too hilly. We followed the NET white blazes and it was a bit challenging at times. We made three wrong turns, two of which were minor. The third one caused us to miss a short section of the actual trail as we ended up on the wrong dirt road and it cut a corner. We decided not to go back and retrace our steps as we discovered this after a long descent and were very close to the end of our run.

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There were some really pretty spots with bubbling brooks, beaver dams, and moose prints to explore. There were some lovely pine forests and the smells were awesome. Weather wise, this was the best day of the year. We had bright sunshine and the temperature was perfect. Today, we woke up again to the sound of steady rain, so we chose the right day for the adventure.

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After we arrived at Lake Wyola, we fetched our bags, unlocked our bikes, and swapped our shoes. We took a slightly more direct route back to our car. It was mostly road, but there was one section of dirt. This was Debbie’s first real ride on her Seven Cycles Evergreen XX and she loved it. She just got the bike this week. The Evergreen handles so much better than her 15+ year old Seven Cycles Tsunami. The difference in technology is amazing. Her Tsunami is straight gauge steel with a steel Vicious fork. The wheels are heavy aluminum 700C Neuvation clinchers. She runs V-brakes on that bike and the handling, especially while braking on rough roads is a real challenge.

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The Evergreen is a stellar bike. It is double-butted titanium with a carbon fiber Whisky fork. The wheels are lightweight 650B ENVE G27 clinchers. She has fresh Donnelly Strada USH tubeless 42c oversized tires which were so much better to ride on these rough roads.  Her SRAM Force groupset has disc brakes, a huge improvement over the old bike. Needless to say, she was much happier with the new bike and is looking forward to more two-wheeled adventures.

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The ride was a little more than 12 miles and we were back to the car in about an hour. We changed up, loaded up, and headed for Northampton where we dined at Bela Restaurant. We picked up some vegan cookies at Hungry Ghost Bread, and our day was complete.

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