Saturday, December 5, 2015

Chicopee Woods

Last Sunday I got on the bike again. What had it been? Two weeks? One of those weeks we spent in Louisiana eating and eating and eating. I also spent part of that week, and the one before it, lying on the couch coughing up both lungs. I swear, I've been sick every other week since I broke all of those ribs.


But I wasn't terribly ill last Sunday, so I got in a bit of a ride at Chicopee. I can't even remember the last time I was there. I'd probably have to look back through this journal to figure that out.

Chicopee is Singletrack. They ought to just rename the place "Singletrack Woods".


Glorious, flowing, unending singletrack. There must be 20 miles of it out there.

Sadly, I was in poor shape to enjoy it. Every hill felt three times as steep as it was, and I really struggled most of the day.

Still, I got to see some interesting sights. There's a new-to-me trail out there now, the Village Trail, which winds around off the back of Tortoise. And me without my GPS... I guess I'll have to get back out there and ride it again. Oh, darn.

Near the end of it, there was a pile of ruins off to the left.


I'd seen it from the other side a dozen times, but not from the back. From the front it just looks like an old slab. It would seem that there's more to it than that though.

Some guy drove up right as I rode by, and started messing with an erosion barrier to one side of the slab. I waved at him, and he waved back, but it wasn't at all clear what he was up to. It was odd to see someone driving around back there. There are roads, but I've never seen anyone on them.

Chicopee Roads

The Red Trail wasn't as difficult as I remember, though that may have had a lot to do with my choice of gears than fitness.

There was a bit of a maze of new-to-me trails on White Tail too.

White Tail Trail

I double-checked when I got home too. I didn't have them on any of my maps. They looked like reroutes though, as opposed to just additional trail... One more thing to explore some day.

Somewhere toward the end of Copperhead Gap I ran into this buck with one antler.

Buck With One Antler

It was standing in the trail at first, then lazily walked uphill as I approached. After about 20 feet it stopped and started gnawing on it's butt. This was funny, so I stopped and watched it for a while. I'd hoped to get a photo of this weirdness, but it looked up right as I tried.

There was a balloon too, as usual.

Balloon in the Woods

A lot of the trails at Chicopee are modern reroutes of older trails but the layout is not as modern. It's more of a maze than stacked loops.

There is, for example, a location called Confusion Corner.

Confusion Corner


Fortunately I had a map, but as I reached into my pocket to consult the map, I realized that I did not, in fact, have a map. It had apparently escaped, and no doubt now decorates some part of the trail. Dangit. Sorry Chicopee. Hopefully someone will be kind enough to pick it up and pack it out.

I did figure out which way to go though. My fuzzy memories proved adequate.

I managed to dunk both feet trying to cross the creek at the end of the Outer Loop.

Creek Crossing

Seems like it used to be easier, and shallower.

The dam was right there, I couldn't remember if I'd ever taken a photo of it, so I walked over and got one.

Chicopee Dam

Seems like water doesn't usually rush so hard over it. That could explain the creek being higher than I remember too. The rocks near the dam were surprisingly sketchy to walk on in bike shoes, and I slipped a few times. I thought it would be funny if I survived riding the trail only to eat it walking, so I exercised extra caution, you know, to avoid embarrassment.

The little climb up off the creek has always been sketchy, but it was armored a few years back and by rights ought to be rideable.

Harder Than it Looks

It was not. Or at least, I sketched trying.

By the time I got to the top of the Granny Climb I'd had enough and just rode out. I didn't even bother with Coyote.


I don't mean that the trails were awful, just that I was. It was one of my worst days in a long time. I blame illness, injury, atrophy, late nights, sugar, and pizza. Or, more precisely, not avoiding those things. So maybe it would be more appropriate to say that I blame complacence. Yeah, that rings a little more true.

Can I even come back from this though? There was a time, not that long ago, that I could do things, fairly easily, that now seem absurdly difficult. What will it take to get there again? Can it even be done? Man, I hope so. I want to enjoy the woods, not just endure it.

In the past, the solution has been climbing, in the mountains. Lots and lots of climbing. I'll have to give that a try. It seems like a good idea, at least. We'll see.

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