I cheated on my wife today. No, not like that. I took the day off from work to catch up on a multitude of indoor and outdoor projects that needed attention around the house. She was home too, but left for a couple hours in the middle of the day to run some errands. While she was gone, unknown to her, I put down my paint brush, parked the mower and hopped on my mountain bike for a quick spin through the several hundred acres of county forest that starts at the end of our block.
I've been exploring the Kalabus-Perry parcel on my mountain bike all summer, squeezing in roughly a ride a week. I've never been an avid biker, and my bike is a fifteen year old suspension-less model, but I've really had fun riding this summer. A big part of mountain biking's appeal to me is the sensation of weaving through the trees, up and down hills, balancing and using your feet - it's the closest thing to skiing that I've found in the off-season. The icing on the cake is the convenience - I can access the K-P right from the end of our block, so it couldn't be easier to get in a quick ride.
If you're not already familiar with the K-P parcel, it may not be easy to decipher for mountain biking. The marked figure-eight hiking trail is not necessarily the best riding. Instead, the best trails are various loops and spurs off the marked trail, but their locations are not always obvious. Perhaps this aspect of exploration is part of the K-P's appeal to me, much like the kind of skiing I like best. For anyone interested in riding the K-P, the best option may be to shoot me an email so I can give you some pointers.
The trails themselves are a mixture of ATV trails (even though ATVs are prohibited), woods roads and single-track. Because this is the Saratoga Sandplains, the hills are short, rolling ups and downs, just like the sand dunes these once were. Rocks and roots are few, making for relatively smooth, easy riding. By contrast, I had logged most of my mountain biking miles 10-15 years ago on trails around Lake Desolation – the K-P trails are nowhere near as technical and difficult (and muddy) as those up at Lake D.
Besides being a fun workout, my rides in the K-P give me a quick fix of nature. I’m a sucker for colorful wildflowers, so I was thrilled to find bright orange butterfly milkweed blooming this afternoon in a meadow. Even more beautiful were the stunning Canada Lillies that I came across a short while later in a wooded clearing, pictured below. I had seen pictures of Canada Lillies not long ago on the Saratoga Woods and Waterways blog, but had never seen them in bloom in the wild.
Today’s ride was about 70 minutes and covered 6 or 7 miles, typical for me. By the time Beth got home from her errands, the painting and lawn mowing were done and I was engaged in other projects. I ‘fessed up later, but she was on to me anyway – she had noticed my sneakers at the back door. Plus I’m usually not grinning like that from mowing the lawn.