Visiting one’s parents is always a treat. I love my folks… and their yapping dogs, and my sister and lovely niece that live with them, and the perpetual sting of relatives that stay on extended visits… with their dogs.
The ‘rents live in the rural outskirts of Newport New Hampshire. An area I have had little appreciation for.
I suppose my aversion to liking the region came from the fact that my folks moved there from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Like any Kingdomite I’ve always been patriotic when if comes to my local roots. And I refused to let my romanticized vision of “home” be tainted by an area I know little about.
A few months ago I paid the family a visit. My lil’ sister was to be married on Saturday and I knew everyone would be riding a particularly poignant emotional roller coaster. Upon arriving we were greeted by no less than four yapping mutts and ten plus family members, who, due to genetic predisposition, all insist in talking at the same time over a TV broadcasting at full volume to drown out the cacophony of kids and toys splayed across the living room floor.
I generally make it two hours before my head explodes.
But this time I came prepared. I had heard that there were some local trails behind the high school just a few miles form the Thibault household. After conducting a little iPhone research on the ride down I was surprised to find the trails were well documented and supported by local trail stewards Team Pinnacle. After some minor sleuthing I even found a decent trail map worth printing.
On saturday morning (wedding day) my brother Joe a.k.a. Jo-Bo and I broke out at dawn and headed to the trail network. Following the map (linked above) we decided it best to access the trails from the midpoint parking lot situated on Summer Street, a sleepy dead end avenue in the village of Newport. At 7:30am only a few more barking dogs greeted us.
We headed up into the network and took an immediate left down the South Boundary trail. The idea was to do a big counter clockwise loop around the periphery. This plan proved fruitful. We headed down toward the Newport High School, checked out the hulking dinasour of a ski jump that stands above the school’s campus, and climbed back toward the top of the network. The signage was not always accurate but with a little riding by brail and some dumb luck we found our way up to a beautiful town overlook called Pinnacle Summit. As we rode along we experienced all the quintessential elements of quality New England riding: roots, loam, old double track and flowing rock-encrusted singletrack. We were pleasantly surprised.
I was particilarly impressed with the trails near the upper end of the network. The intersections were less frequent allowing for longer ascents, descents, and easier navigation. After a pause at the aforementioned overlook we descended some rustic singletrack that led into an area where the trails felt less multi-use and more MTB specific and remote. We pedaled uphill until we were pressed for time; the wedding was fast approaching so we arced back on the top of our loop and were parking lot bound. In a final stroke of luck we found a fantastic flowing trail called Grenville’s Eastside with some long fast sections and extra large hand built berms. After stopping to inspect the local’s handiwork we continued on to find our favorite piece of trail expelled us right where we parked. Perfect!
Joe and I hastily packed the truck and headed back to the Thibault family homestead. Having just unwound ourselves with a cool morning ride we were ready to take on the day’s matrimonial escapades.
I’m excited to head back down to Newport in the spring. The trails were great and I take great comfort in knowing they are waiting for my return. I applaud the local trail stewards for maintaining such a great resource so close to town! Thanks for saving my day… and relationship with the fam’.
OMG, even though it only takes two hours for your head to explode I was so touched and impressed with your writing. I love you dearly and am so glad you found something that makes you so happy in our location. I have always felt we were very much like the NEK, only with more options.
Thanks Ma. I love you too.
Those trails are great! They host the Pinnacle race every June there and it’s one of the races I’ve always looked forward to.