I am a huge fan of NEMBA. Every since I moved back to New England I have been so impressed by the work they do on trails and working to build the community. There are some really great people working hard to make sure the trails stay open and to help grow mountain biking. It doesn't hurt that they are all really cool people. My good friend Lee Toma lives over near Blue Hills and always posts such great photos of the riding. I have only ridden a few times on Blue Hill. It really is a gem of a riding area near Boston.
When Lee told me NEMBA was going to be doing a Toys for Tots ride I immediately said sign me up! The ride was schedule for the Sunday after the traditional season finals of our CX season. I asked via the internet for people to please bring a toy to Ice Weasels that we could donate to the NEMBA Toy drive. The #NECX came up big time. I was expecting a few toys but what showed up was very unexpected. We collected three bins of great toys! What a difference that is going to make in some kids lives.
I am sad to admit I haven't done too many NEMBA rides. Maybe one or two. So I didn't really know what to expect. People were so friendly. I didn't know anyone other than Lee and Steve Cobble but everyone welcomed me on their ride like I had been a part of their club ride for years. It was nice to see so many fat bikes! Lee and I both were on our fatties. I have to say I am loving riding a fat bike in the woods even without snow. The woods in New England are strewn with fallen leaves. The leaves hide all manner of dangers-rocks, roots etc. Throw in some rain and you get a real tricky riding surface. A fat bike with its big tires at low pressure just grips and rolls over all of it. Not to say you can't drift a bit here and there but it makes the riding so much more safe. And fun!
Lee and I joined Steve on the "easy" ride. It was a big group. Nicely mixed by different levels of abilities and it was very nice to see an almost 50/50 split between men and women. Steve led the ride from Houghton's Pond. We rolled mostly over wide fire roads but did jump into some really fun "secret" singletrack. We rode out to a former Nike site which was totally surreal. The woods were in good shape. I would say we rode for about 2 hours before heading back towards the lodge. We stopped to take a great group photo and enjoy the beautiful day.
I can't say how impressed I am by how the group rode together. NEMBA really works on keeping the riders together so no one gets lost or separated from the group. At intersections one rider would stop and wait til the last rider came through and made the turn. We accordioned on this way for the whole ride.
At the two hour point most of the group wanted to head back and get some food. A smaller group of us decided to head up to Buck Hill. I had heard of Buck Hill but never had the chance to ride it. Buck Hill is a new trail built by NEMBA. Riding a trail built by mtn bikers is so nice. It has such a nice flow. It is a switchback climb with some technical features that really make you concentrate on the climb. When you pop above the tree line the whole sky seems to open up. From the top you can look in 360 degrees and get an amazing panoramic view of Boston.
We spent a fair amount of time on top of Buck Hill talking about the ride and all the hijinks that had ensued. The descent off Buck Hill was a blast. We rolled back as a group to the lodge with ear to ear grins. I can't believe how much great riding that there is in this area. NEMBA has done an amazing job working with the DCR and the local community. What a great day of riding and meeting new friends. Thank you to NEMBA, DCR, Lee Toma, Steve Cobble and the #NECX for helping make the NEMBA Toys ride so successful.