Adirondack Trail Ride

Though it’s quite rare for family guys like me and Rolandisimo, it just so happened that we both had the better part of Saturday for a muni ride. We took advantage of this circumstance by driving an hour and a half up to the Lake George region of the Adirondack Mtns, in upstate NY, USA. He just bought a book called Mountain Biking the Adirondacks and we picked out a ride on Shelving Rock Mtn, rated in the book as an “expert” ride. I’ll say it was.

After several miles driving down the unpaved Shelving Rock Road, we parked at the trailhead and got out to suit up for the ride. We were both immediately reminded that we’d forgotten bug spray by the approximately six-crillion mosquitoes that began to seek out every piece of skin not covered by clothes or already-feeding mosquitoes. It’s amazing how quickly you can get your riding gear on when so motivated.

We mounted our KH24s and charged out of the bug cloud and onto the trail, which was an old logging road at this point. With no foreplay whatsoever, this road started climbing. And climbing. And climbing. The surface varied from soft, decayed leaf matter laced with water courses, to jumbled piles of pointy rocks. We were fresh at first, and relieved to stop donating plasma to probing insects, so we rode hard. I consider myself and Roland fairly strong hill-climbers, but after 10 or 15 minutes of climbing the tricky surfaces of this trail, our breath was coming in ragged gasps and we’d decisively crossed the line from aerobic into anaerobic metabolism.

We hung our heads in shame, but I’m sorry to say we pushed our unis up some of the steeper ascents of this double-track. Roland, practically a robot of muscles and lungs, summed it up with “You know you’re tired if you’re looking forward to a steeper section so you can get off and walk”. We didn’t stop to rest, because when we tried, the bugs would line up like old men taking numbers at the deli.

Then came the hard part. We got to a sign pointing to “Shelving Rock Vista” and we hung a left onto was can only be described as a trail because of periodic trail markers nailed to trees. The foliage reaches in from both sides so you can’t see your feet, and the single-track path here, though occasionally smooth, was mostly roots and rock gardens, punctuated by fallen trees. The trail was also still climbing, sometimes steadily, sometimes steeply. We rode what we could and pushed where we had to, but we often had to carry the unis over one shoulder and climb and thrash through the blowdown. Some trails in the Adirondack region are maintained and cleared every spring, but this ain’t one of them. No matter how good you are nor what you’re riding, this trail has many unrideable sections.

Riding, pushing and carrying through this section left us quite scratched up, but we eventually got to a lofty, clear perch up on the rocks with a gorgeous view of Lake George and nearby Buck Mountain, which we’d snowshoed up last winter. We had also reached our high point and looked forward to reclaiming some of the gravity we’d been fighting for so long.

The downhills were moderate to steep and were again interrupted often by downed timber and rock gardens beyond our abilities to negotiate. But we were finally able to bump and roll over those smaller obstacles which had stymied our efforts on the torturous ascent. We each had a couple somersaulting UPDs on the way down, but fortunately suffered nothing more than some more scratches and bruises. We were even treated to a few one and two foot dropoffs which had us whooping and hollering for joy.

We reached a split in the trail which offered us a 2 mile long out-and-back to the summit proper of Shelving Rock Mountain. I told Roland “Even if we were at the car right now, I’d still feel like we had a hard ride", and we elected to opt out of the extra 4 miles. Instead we cranked down some fun, slightly less technical single-track and reached the logging road we’d left a couple hours before.

Climbing that road was quite a chore, but flying down it, pedals spinning, getting air off all the little roots and rocks, was the juicy gravy we’d earned with all our toil earlier in the day. It seemed like we reached the truck in the blink of an eye compared to struggle we’d had riding up, and we had huge grins pasted across our faces when got there. We drank water and snacked a bit and opted to do an easy ride down to the lake for a swim. Boy was that the right decision. Lake George is a beautiful, clear lake with a sandy bottom. The water was cold enough to refresh us, but not quite painfully cold, in other words, it was perfect.

We finished the day with ice-cold brews at Roland’s house, and we decided maybe we’ll try one of the intermediate rides next.

sounds like a lot of fun, good old agonizing fun. Nothing like pushing yourself to make yourself feel more alive. :smiley: