My eyes opened just after 6am. You can take the girl out of the workweek, but you can't take the workweek out of the girl, I guess. As my eyes focused on our bedroom window, I could see the light of early morning: more grey than sunshine, more serene than loudly yellow. And as I laid there thinking for a moment, I realized that I had been listening to the most beautiful bird song. This bird had just been singing and singing all along. My days of ornithology are long over, so I have no idea what was singing this song, but it was beautiful: elaborate, trilling, heart-felt. The bird and I both knew it: This was going to be a good day. The sun was preparing to come out, and we were alive and well, ready for anything. I was happily awaiting a hot, strong coffee, a little breakfast, and a rare, wonderful thing: a weekend day off with Tristan, with nothing to do but go ride our bikes. Yes, it was going to be a good day.
We had lined up a group to join us at Millstone Hill Touring Center. If you have never before been here to ride trails, you should go! I'm not kidding. To be fair, everything you have heard about Millstone riding is right: There are a lot of rocks. It's technical. It's not always flowy. There are a lot of features on those two free-ride trails. But the trails are well-built, there are miles and miles of singletrack, and there is enough terrain to keep any rider entertained. It is technical in a fun way. And yes, it is well worth the price of a day ticket ($10) - or season pass ($40). As eight of us pedaled away from the parking lot, down a side road, and into the woods, I again knew it: This was going to be good. We had a great group of people and miles of fun singletrack lay before us.
I won't recount the many trails we rode as we pedaled our way through a 10-mile grand tour of the whole place. Some highlights, though, were Locomotion, Boiler Maker, Fellowship Ring, and Roller Coaster. There's something for everyone here: Locomotion is fast and fun; Boiler Maker throws some challenging spots into the mix; and Fellowship has enough technical sections to keep any rider happy, plus this sweet section of looping flow through a beautiful forest. Roller Coaster, a fun free-ride trail with a major elevation drop and lots of BC-style built features, puts a smile on the face of anyone who rides it. Throughout the day we found several lookouts that afforded sweeping views of the water-filled quarries below and the valleys and hills of central Vermont continuing out from there.
These are the days we live for: surrounded by friends, woods, and bikes; with a few good views to put things into better perspective. There were long-time riders and newbies, including a road cyclist turned mountain biker on his first ever trail ride.
Later that evening, a few of us sat in the corner of a loud, busy apartment full of friends celebrating the thirty-one years of a most wonderful person; we laughed at how we could all snuggle up and go to sleep right there. Our legs were weak and worked, our lungs were raw, our heads were out of it; thankfully we had each other to commiserate and to keep from looking like lonely, wilted wallflowers. We all agreed, this was the best feeling to end a day with: tired, utterly used up and waiting, with a drink in hand, for a delicious spicy meal cooked by someone else. I fell asleep with my belly full, my heart full, and my mind blissfully cleared and at peace. This was a good day.