The last ride

A friend and I were headed to Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vt., for one last mountain bike ride of the season. On this dawning November day, as I stepped out of the car, cold air hit my lungs with every breath. The town was quiet and the trees were bare.

There was only one older man getting gas at the East Burke store.

It was just after 7:00 a.m. as we hopped onto the bikes to start our ascent up Darling Hill to hit the start of the trails.
When we got to the top of the hill, we took in the beautiful view of Burke Mountain, which, as  always, dazzled. We caught our breath before we started on the trails. We were just looking to do a short ride, so we started out by heading to one of my favorite trails on the network, Troll Stroll. This trail is usually filled with tacky dirt and an assortment of berms and bridging, but today it was covered in leaves and frosty ground.

We were pumping up and down, doing whatever we could to gain and maintain all the speed we could throughout the run. I was in the front, and it was as if it were a game of cat and mouse. I was trying to outride my friend through the woods, but hearing him right behind me was evidence that I was losing. We reached the trail junction and jumped onto River Run, a double-
wide tail that connects most of the trails.

Our next single track trail was Webs. This trail is placed amongst massive fir trees and it is always amazing to whiz in and out of the trees with each turn in the trail. Once again we were playing a game of catch up, but this time I was doing the chasing. I stayed right behind him right up until the end of the trail, where there is a long bridging section the leads over a swamp. The bridge is no more than 2 feet wide, and if you manage to fall off you will be greeted by shallow cold water.

We were back onto River Run now and were about to hit a break point in the ride at the pull off on the river on River Run. By this point, it is 8:15 and we are about half-way through the ride. At this point we are about to head back to town. We headed back up to Darling Hill Road and started our trek back into town.

We were planning on riding just one more trail, Kitchel. This is one of the premier trails that you have to ride if you go to Kingdom Trails. It is filled with berms, small table tops and is just a short, sweet ride with pure trail flow. To get to Kitchel, I tuned onto Bill Magill, then onto Sugarhouse Run. These two trails run through a sugar bush, and at several points you will have to duck under sap lines running through the woods. To us, however, this was just another connecting trail like River Run. We finally reached the Kitchel trail head and took  one last quick breather before starting our last decent.

This time I decided to take the caboose as we started down the trail. The first berm is always a speed catcher as we roll into the first jump. We both executed whips as we hit the air; next we were onto a set of rollers, which we performed a combination of manuals and pumping through to gain speed for the next table top. We hit the next set of berms and then onto the last few jumps. Before I even knew it, the trail had ended and we were back in town at the car. The ride was over, and it was sadly time to put the bike up for the winter months again.