Words By Jesse Schloff // Photos by Jesse Schloff and Daryl Kinney
Most of the time.
Reality is, mid-week freebies are pretty awesome. As monsoon season splashes into rainy spells here in the Northeast, a lot of our weekends to date have been unrideable. Some of the best opportunities to ride tacky, puddle-free singletrack this spring/summer have fallen mid-week. So pat yourself on the back if youâ€™re rolling Mondayâ€™s and Wednesdayâ€™s off, because youâ€™ve definitely gotten the goods.
Take this past Wednesday at Perry Hill in Waterbury. Dave Clifford, iRide mechanic and shredder, Daryl Kinney, road rider turned singletrack animal, and I headed out for a ride. Collaborating early, we spotted afternoon showers bearing down on us and sketched out a late morning ride. The parking lot was bone dry when we pulled in and the sand on the spin up the first climb was only slightly damp.
Were the trails dusty? Hell no, but they were far from soggy, and any of the gooey spots we came upon were easily forded. What we did find was plenty of sticky: challenging granite to paste our tires onto, miles of tech-filled climbs and swirling descents. As hours passed we saw only one other biker and a trail runner. The hill was ours and we plundered.
The ride took a tough turn when Daryl supermanned over the bars in a rock garden near the mid-point of Joeâ€™s trail. His Nikon took it hard but a simple $20 UV filter did exactly what it was designed to, shattering into pieces and protecting his 50mm lens. It was a classic lesson for any rider who brings a camera into the woods â€“ Daryl spent an extra minute at the start of the ride screwing in the filter and it saved him $500.
One of the best rewards of peddling Perry Hill is the ride out. No matter what trail you’re on, you’ve worked hard to get there. Which means one thing: itâ€™s a rip back to the car. If youâ€™re coming from the top of Joeâ€™s, like we were, your forearms and rotors will love the quarter mile flow of sinewy, pine-needle-padded trail through a towering spruce stand before the balls-out gravity run to the bottom.
As we exited through the tunnel back to the parking lot we spotted thick, towering grey clouds. By the time I took the bike off the car and stashed it in the garage the first fat drops were landing hard. By 6 p.m. it was hammering rain. Most of my buddies were just pulling in from work.
Mid-week ride days? Hell yeah.