Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lost Boys

My love of riding new mountain bike trails with a good friend as a guide is unparalleled. It really is one of the joys of mountain biking. Reminds me so much of going to a new surf spot for the first time with a local. Our little band of misfits takes great pride in showing off their secret stash. Luckily mtn biking isn't as territorial surfing. Surfers would just assume kill you than show a new surf spot to the world at large. I get it. Surf spots get overcrowded in the blink of an eye. Even with the uptick in mountain biking popularity it is rare to see another rider in the woods. Especially on a week day. My good friend Agent Utah got a hall pass and asked if I wanted to go on a sick ride. I of course jumped at the chance. Chris happened to have a window to ride as well so the three of us jumped in the van and headed over to Sharon. Matt was really excited to show off Borderland. Or Boulderland as he likes to call it.

The plan was to do a soul ride on our fat bikes. No suspension. No rules. Just a fun park to park ride through some of the nicest trails I have ridden in a long time. Chris was on his 29er FS. We parked at Moosehill in Sharon. Ok things may be a bit nicer in Sharon than my side of 128....The visitor center was gorgeous. One of the cleanest and nicest spots I have been to. The plan was to check out the Bay Circuit Trail and ride it over to Borderland. Borderland is another park in Easton, MA. The mileage between the two was only about 12 miles. Twelve miles on rocky technical terrain is of course worth about 3 road miles but still, no biggie. Looked like it would be about a four hour ride out and back.

For some reason the idea of the Lost Boys popped into my head the second we rolled out of the parking lot. We really are a lot like the Lost Boys. No not the Keifer Sutherland Lost Boys but from J.M. Barrie's play Peter Pan. It is shocking when you type in Lost Boys into Google and it isn't even on the first page of listings. People do realize where the term originated from right? Probably not. Its shocking how much we have lost culturally in the last decade. It popped into my head for obvious reasons. Here we have three grown adult men. All responsible, contributing members of society. But being drawn into the primordial woods to play. Not too many grown men play these days. Maybe we do suffer from a Peter Pan complex. Who knows. I for one never question this lifestyle. I feel beyond lucky to have friends like I do. Fifty year old men do not make new friends in the general population. In or Wolf Pack it is the norm. So we chase Utah through this magical loamy paradise. Just shredding. And laughing. It is a perfect day. About 60 degrees. Zero bugs. Amazing.

Moosehill is a cool mix of loamy singletrack and some swampy wetlands. Chris is laughing so much. I love riding with these two dudes. The fat bikes are probably a really stupid choice. But it was part of the whole idea for the ride. Just a chill ride on the chillest of bikes. We come upon some really sketchy wood bridges and walk all of them. This is a chill ride and the idea is to go the long haul. When you are trying to do a long day getting hurt 3 miles in is not a great life choice. Then we come upon Neverland. You think I am kidding. In the middle of nowhere we find this crazy tree fort. The actual tree house is probably 30 feet up in a tree. All the wood is from the Sharon DPW. We just start cracking up. There is a really sketchy rope ladder. We of course climb and swing around on it. We do not climb all the way up to the tree fort and to our certain deaths.

Who ever built this definitely new what they were doing. We laugh and think who possibly had the motivation to do this. Do kids even build tree forts anymore? Clearly some kids spend time in the woods when they aren't playing Call of Duty. Who ever built this gives me hope for this next generation. Thankfully and by some miracle the rope ladder doesn't snap and kill one of us. We roll out and I now think in my head this truly is a Lost Boys ride.

We pop out of the woods and ride through a gorgeous neighborhood. How is this 30 minutes from Boston? It looked like we were down the Cape. We were riding by a beautiful pond with docks and beaches. It was a crime no one was out enjoying this day on the water. Two fat bikes rolling on the pavement was pretty funny. We stopped to ask some nice person doing yard work for directions to Borderland. Lost Boys do not rely on Garmins to find their way. It wouldn't be in the spirit of the ride. Pixie dust maybe. Gamins? No. We find Borderland and I see why Matt calls it Boulderland. I am used to rocks. But the rocks near me are angry, hate-filled rocks that want to kill you. These rocks were smooth boulder type of rocks. Very little sharp edges. Smoothed from eons of glacial work to make a playground for mountain bikes.

So for full disclosure I am ok on rocks but not great. I get a bit nervous. It is 90% mental. And realistically being a good mountain biker is mostly from the neck up. You have to be confident and pretty zen. Riding with fear will make your worst fears come true. You have to be loose and think about where you want to go not where you don't. I am not that great at that part. Fat bikes are weird. They will roll over everything. But have their own ideas about where they want to go. And they rebound like nothing I have ever ridden before. This is all fine and good during the Winter and on snow. But when you are riding boulders and are up high and need to pick a line its a bit like being the captain of a large boat. Straight ahead is fine but adjusting your trajectory takes some time. Sometimes in mountain biking you have to be able to flick your bike and change your line in a second. Good luck with that on a fat bike.  I learn this lesson in spades. I am leading though a fairly tricky section. But we have ridden some way sketchier stuff. I must have not seen a squared off rock or something. I hit it at full speed and the bike rebounds up and dick punches me. Literally. I let go of the bars instinctively. And the bike throws me like a Bull. I luckily land in some bushes and miss both trees and rocks. I lie in the fetal position for a minute and do a body check.

I have to sit down for a while and take a time out. Matt and Chris are both laughing there asses off. I need a bit more time so lie on a rock while they session these boulders. After about fifteen minutes I pull it together and we go and session a ton of really cool stuff. We find a section of the NEMBA trail that Matt called his "Nemesis" It is basically a rock wall along a boulder. You ride the rockwall that is about 4 feet off the ground. I took a pass as I was still not right after my trashing a mile or two back the trail. Matt and Chris give it a go. On Chris's second run he gets hooked up and pitches over the side. Luckily he lands on his feet and runs it out. More laughter ensues. We finish the NEMBA trail and are really close to the Borderland visitor center and the turn around spot. Matt sees a trail called French Trail and says let's go check it out. It is rocky but way easier than anything we have ridden. I am third wheel. I see Utah just go flying over his bars and land really bad down a rock garden. The problem was he caught his wheel at the top and body slammed about 6 feet down the trail. No one was laughing. You can always tell when a crash is bad. This one looked bad. And Matt was in obvious pain.

Chris and I got to him and did a quick check. His hand was bleeding through his glove. We didn't want to take the glove off. He said he felt a pop in his leg. I was hoping for the best and that it was just a bone bruise. But when I pulled his sock down to look at it and he winced at my barely touching his leg I got pretty worried. We got him up and started to walk him out. He really was having a hard time. There were a ton of roots and rocks and Chris held him as he hobbled along. I grabbed his bike and ran ahead of them looking for the visitor center. We got to a fire road and Matt got back on his bike and we rode out. We sent Chris on his 29er back to get the car. On the road the van was only 6 miles away. Chris deserves a medal for TT'ng back to the van. I get Aumiller comfortable at the visitor center and grab a first aid kit. Man we were lucky. We could have been so far out from the trail head. The hand is nasty. We bandage it up and wait for Chris. Chris arrives and we roll out and drop Matt off at the ER. I get home unload the van and then head back to see how he is doing. Just as I get into the ER and see Matt the Dr shows up and hands him his X-Ray. Broken leg. Poor bastard. He has such a great attitude about it. He is already taking about wanting to go back and ride Borderland. It was such a great day. So amazing to be able to have that time. Matt will be back strong as ever in no time. It is part of this crazy life we all live. Be safe, take care of each other and carpe diem.

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