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riding slowly for a long time

Harvey and I continue to spend lots of time in the woods on our bikes (with Zion joining us occasionally and Lijah even more occasionally). We've done plenty of riding in the Burlington Landlocked Forest, and this past weekend we ventured a little bit further afield to visit Russell Mill Pond Town Forest in Chelmsford. Both of those places are full of trails laid down by members of NEMBA, the New England Mountain Bike Association, so it's not entirely crazy to want to ride there. But I confess there are moments when I wonder just why I thought bringing a bicycle into the woods would be a good idea. Like yesterday when we were passed by a jogger moving at a moderate pace. Sure, some of the downhill bits are quick and easy. But why are we struggling up these rocky, rooty inclines that, on foot, we could be trotting over twice as fast with a third of the effort? Because it's super fun of course!

The Landlocked Forest has tons of interconnecting trails and a great variety of different sorts of landscape in a fairly small space: meadow, swamp, white pine and deciduous forests. Plus lots of ups and downs on steep short hills and ridges. Every time we go we find a trail that somehow we haven't ridden yet (though I think that maybe now we've finally got them all... in one direction at least). The Sunday before last we rode from home on a loop that included a good two hours of riding there, and then we drove there for another hour and a half session mid-week.

This past weekend a search for variety and new horizons led us to the Russell Mill Pond Town Forest. Even more than Landlocked Forest it's something of a mountain-biking destination; whenever outdoorsy types heard that we were trying MTB they asked us if we'd been there yet. Now we have! Saturday morning we visited for the first time and enjoyed several miles of fun and challenging riding before I popped a tire. Then Harvey got to enjoy another mile or so while I walked. Since I felt unfulfilled, and wanted another shot at the trails that I missed, we went back again yesterday. We did some of the same trails and some different ones too, and talked about whether we were getting better at this riding over stones business. Also we got passed by a jogger, as I mentioned. We could have stayed ahead of her, probably, but only by rushing over the tricky parts—off the bikes more often than not. That wouldn't have been worth it at all: we weren't there to get anywhere!

There were suggestions that we go back again for a third straight day, but I thought maybe that wasn't the best idea. I was afraid of dying. Instead, all four of us boys took a ride from home along the gravel bike path to Fawn Lake for a picnic lunch. As it happened, though, it was impossible to hold back the enthusiasm for riding bikes in unsuitable places, and after we had lunch Zion and even Elijah, with his 16-inch wheels, single-speed transmission, and coaster brakes, got in on the off-road action. It's not too long before we're all four of us riding together in the woods, slowly, for a long time.

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