Labor Day: Mountain Biking at Chicopee Woods

morganwithbike
Me and my bike. Those orange splotches are in fact not mud; my bike is blue with a few random orange patches.

Return of the morgan-drawings! This rare art form has only been featured once before on the blog.

A little over a month ago, my dad and I went mountain biking at Chicopee Woods on Labor Day. Chicopee is a fun place to ride, though we don’t tend to ride there very often. I suppose that’s because it is just a little longer of a drive, and since there are three other trails that are closer, we often choose those instead.

In any case, I was happy to be mountain biking. I go through phases where I ride a whole bunch followed my months of not riding hardly at all. I don’t think that it is a function of my enthusiasm or desire to ride, but more of a schedule and weather problem. It feels like since last spring, I haven’t been riding as much as I’d like. I’m excited for the fall weather. It is much nicer to ride in cooler temperatures than in the sticky heat of summer.

Dad and I pulled into the mountain bike parking lot mid-morning. I was surprised that there weren’t more cars. Every other time I’ve been to Chicopee in the past few years, the parking lot has been packed. We chose a spot in the shaded bottom lot.

chicopeemap
Chicopee Woods trail map according to Morgan. Map not to scale. Also, I forgot where Champaine Hill is.

We took off riding on the Tortoise trail. Soon we came to the first gravel trail crossing. Normally, we would continue to follow Tortoise, but wait, there was a new trail! Dad and I like to go exploring, so naturally we chose to ride the new section: Village Trail. As we rode, we pondered where it would spit us out. We didn’t know if it would connect with the other trails, or if it was an access trail into town(ish).  We went downhill for a long time. I was certainly hoping it would intersect some of the other trails. I was not looking forward to all that climbing if we had to turn around!

villagetrail
New (to me) Village Trail. It has a nice sign and everything.

As we rode, we passed a few people going the other way. We asked them where the trail ended. One nice man with her son explained that it drops you out right at the end of Tortoise, near Red Tail. Hooray! I did not have to climb back up which I had so joyfully descended.

Next, Dad and I rode Red Tail. This trail always seems to kick my butt. It’s not long, yet it seems so hard. I think it’s because there is a bit of an awkward entrance and the trail only goes up from there for quite a while. The later half of the trail is easy-peasy because it is mostly downhill.

Then, we carried on with our usual route. We rode White Tail to Confusion Corner, skipping Copperhead. I’ve actually never ridden Copperhead. Generally, I’m in a state of “I haven’t been riding a whole lot,” so I’m not usually up to riding an exceptionally long day. Copperhead is the hardest and most technical of the trails at Chicopee (or so I’ve heard). Given the choice of riding Copperhead or the flowy Flying Squirrel, I choose Flying Squirrel every time.

confusioncorner
Signs at Confusion Corner. I think it was more aptly named back when there were no signs.

At Confusion Corner, we hung a left to continue on White Tail. The back section of White Tail is rough! Lots of roots, drops, and washouts. Honestly, I’m usually happy when this section is over because my wrists and arms take a beating from all the jolting.

We didn’t finish out White Tail yet. Instead there is a point where White Tail and Flying Squirrel nearly intersect. There we hopped over onto Flying Squirrel, which is lots of fun. Its faster and more flowy. There are some good downhill sections, but there are also some sustained gradual climbs: my kind of climbs.

turtle

We were cruising along until, suddenly, I spotted a turtle smack in the middle of the trail. I stopped and went to move him off the trail so he wouldn’t get squished. When you are riding fast it can be hard to tell the difference between a turtle and a rock, or a snake and a tree root. At first, the turtle seemed like he had no intention of going anywhere. As soon as I went to pick him up, he decided to scoot off. I jumped in surprise. Then he stopped; I tried to pick him up and he moved off, again making me jump. Dad made fun of me saying “He’s a box turtle. He’s not going to bite you.” I knew that, and I wasn’t afraid of the turtle. I just startle easily! Kind of like those fainting goats… Anyway, the turtle was moving pretty slowly because, well, he’s a turtle. So I finally picked him up and finished moving him off the trail.

Dad and I made it back to Confusion Corner. This time we continued on Flying Squirrel. When we reached the almost intersection, we got back on White Tail, heading towards the parking lot.

superhardclimb
Creek crossing with lots of rocks and a difficult climb from the creek bed to the gravel road: the foot of the Granny Climb.

White Tail ended in a short boardwalk and two bridges before depositing us at a creek crossing. Why there are two bridges beforehand, but not a bridge at this creek crossing, I’m not sure. The creek crossing is rather wide and technical compared to creek crossings at other trails I’ve ridden. To top it off, on the other side of the creek is a steep hill with large rocks. I’ve never actually seen anyone make it across the creek and up that climb without walking. Needless to say, I walked it.

At the top of the “super hard climb” is the bottom of the gravel road. To get back to parking lot, we had to ride up the infamous Granny Climb. It is a long, gradual hill back up to the Tortoise Trail. The Granny Climb always feels difficult. It comes at the end of the ride, and sometimes the gravel will pile up in certain spots, making my back tire spin out. This time though, I made it without dropping down to the granny gear! In fact, I didn’t switch to my baby ring up front during the whole ride.

Dad took off and rode ahead of me. Since he is on a single speed, it is hard for him to go at my snail’s pace uphill. However, he didn’t have to wait long at the top; I wasn’t too far behind. To finish off our ride, Dad and I rode Tortoise back to the parking lot.

We had a great time mountain biking at Chicopee. Dad and I agree that it was a wonderful way to spend Labor Day. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to ride since then due to scheduling issues and uncooperative weather. Hopefully, I’ll go on another biking adventure soon!

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5 thoughts on “Labor Day: Mountain Biking at Chicopee Woods

  1. Pingback: Recently, Outdoor Adventures or more aptly named “Biking with Dad” – Simple Adventures Open Eyes

  2. Pingback: Zombie Camels ride at Chicopee – Simple Adventures Open Eyes

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