We took Isaac mountain biking at Yudicky Farm. Friday evening, we invited Isaac’s older cousins to come with us. Sam and Eli compete in a mountain biking team. Jake and Ben ride with their family most weekends. Sam and Eli were free Saturday morning, but needed to be back in Jaffrey for haying in the afternoon. Their mom, Rachel, came along too since we would go at a slower pace. Jake and Ben for once didn’t have soccer practice. Their parents, Kent and Heather, know the trails at Yudicky.
Yudicky Farm park has many single track mountain biking trails. Kent steered us away from the very technical trails on the southern section. Instead, he pointed us to some newer trails. We started with Windigo — mostly level, but very twisty. Then we continued straight ahead on a newly built trail with no name. I’ll call it Windigo extension. We paused at some jumps near Swamp Loop. Then we took an easy section of Barbed Wire to Worm Hole. Kent said the rest of Barbed Wire is quite technical, and bumpy with roots.
Windigo was so winding that, even when the older kids bicycled far ahead, they looped back to within conversation distance.
“Those berms were fun!” at one turn.
“Isaac, if you keep going, there’s a bump ahead,” at another.
“Hey Mom, you gotta try …”
“We’ll wait and watch you run the dip right behind us.”
After Windigo extension, we regrouped at a series of split jumps. I think Eli or Ben said it was their first time going over the mid sized jump. None of them rode the biggest jump; Sam considered it. The cousins kept going round and round on the jumps. The adults videoed and Isaac watched fascinated.
Rachel is less into mountain biking than the other parents, so she came along for, as Ben put it, “Mom and Rachel social hour”. Kent had picked trails that were easy to ride if you went slowly — quite appropriate for us adults to socialize.
This was Tyson’s first time out on a purpose built mountain bike trail. He said he had fun. Most of the morning, he rode behind Isaac, coaching and encouraging.
Isaac initially objected to the prospect of bicycling up hills on dirt trails, but he agreed to come when he heard his cousins would be there. He couldn’t keep up with the older cousins, of course, but they waited often enough to put a smile on his face. They would greet Isaac every time Windigo extension looped back on itself.
After two uphills, Isaac discovered first gear is useful — sixth gear isn’t always best. We had to unbend his derailleur so he could shift into first. Then he surmounted twenty foot tall hills.
He wasn’t brave enough to try the wood ramps, but he said “whee!” every time he rode over a small bump. And he loved watching his cousins fly off the big jumps.
Kent hung back to talk with Tyson as brothers do. When the trail became more technical, I quizzed Kent on basic technique.
Heather borrowed one of the kid’s mountain bikes for Windigo. She was considering upgrading. With the better bicycle, and fresh legs, she said she ran many more obstacles than her last time on Windigo.
I had never been on any sort of mountain biking trails. My prior experience with mountain bikes was them flying downhill at me on hiking trails as a kid. That was back when there weren’t many dedicated bike trails.
At first, I was all wobbly. The little roots and rocks on level terrain knocked my handle bars about.
“How” I asked Kent behind me “do I get more control going over bumps?”
“Pick up the front wheel before going over the bump.” He explained, “you can either pull up on the handle bars or push on the pedals to lighten the front wheel.”
“Ah,” I said, “just like they teach for going over a bump on a motorcycle.”
“Really?” said Kent.
“They taught us to add a little throttle right before the bump to lighten the front wheel,” I described, “and then brake once the front wheel is over the bump to lighten the back wheel.”
I tried pulling on the handle bars and pedaling. For smaller roots and stones, simply shifting my weight back gave me more control. Combining both push and pull seemed to work best for larger step-ups. I was especially pleased when I climbed over an eight inch diameter log.
Near the end of Windigo extension, I saw the older kids approaching on some twisty downhill turns. I snapped a few shots then waited for Isaac and the adults. It took them five minutes to wind their way from the trail behind me to the trail in front of me. After photographing them too, I pedaled off to catch up. This was my one chance to go fast. On the bumps, I felt confident. On the level turns I felt wobbly and uncertain. On the side hill, I kept catching my pedal on the ground. I asked Kent later about these, but I didn’t have a chance to practice his suggestions.
I had more fun than I expected. Everyone else enjoyed the trip too. We ordered Isaac a new derailleur. Once we fix his bike, we will organize another ride.