Saturday, August 14, 2021

HVNEMBA's Rockhouse Hill Sanctuary Challenge

When planning a mountain biking event sometimes you have to roll the dice and take a chance on the weather. We did that this Saturday for the Rockhouse Hill Sanctuary Challenge.  The Housatonic Valley Chapter of New England Mountain Bike Association held their new fund raiser at the Oxford High School, which happens to neighbor one of the up and coming premier mountain biking destinations in Western Connecticut.

Rockhouse Hill has so much to offer with challenging cross country riding trails, technical sections with armored stream crossings, expertly built bridges, and features galore, like what you will find on the Rollerville, Adeline Gray and Peach Farm Trails. Partnering with Housatonic Valley NEMBA, a local Oxford Resident and High School Teacher, Joe Lanier, has developed the wonderful property to what it is today. Joe also leads a Youth Conservation Corps whose mission it is to maintain the property and promote good trail stewardship and maintenance. 

Our first event at Rockhouse started out a little soggy. The weather man said 40% chance of rain today and sure enough it rained, and it rained hard. After another bout of rain the sun came out and the humidity set in. Still, these trails are so well maintained that a rain like this very little impact to the overall trail quality.

New England Mountain Bike's Executive Director, Travis Counsell, was on hand with some club swag and Class Cycles was providing bike maintenance support. I have done many events in the past when I was the Chapter President of the sole NEMBA Chapter in Connecticut and I took the stragglers out with me on a ride.  

Accompanying me on the straggler ride was Todd Lewis who is also a member of Riding Club Ilumenati, those crazy guys that right at night, mostly in Easton, but have also been known to ride along the coast and in New Canaan, North Stamford, and Pound Ridge, NY.

We started off with the basic loop that gets you over to Rt 188 and into the Moose Hill Section of the Property. We rode up the Lallament Trail, granted the preferred way is the other direction but I wanted to try it this way.  When we got to Rollerville we hooked up with the Intermello Ride being led by Lori Johnstone. 

Leaving Lori we continued down towards Peach Orchard where we got into the Expert/Send it ride being led by Dave and Kathy Herde. Peach Orchard was all new to me, quite challenging and thoroughly enjoyable. 

We did the Adeline Grey Trail twice, which is a feature rich trail with table tops, big rollers and drops.

My first run was a little skittish but the second run I did some of the harder rollers and even got air on a few of the jumps as well as other opportunities on the trail system. 

As we were riding back we came across a couple of the YCC kids managing a water station which was a godsend! I was nearly out of water and the water was so cold and refreshing it energized me.

Photo Credit: Todd Lewis

It's been awhile since I rode ten miles on a mountain bike and I was wiped. Given how humid it was I was sweat soaked everything that I was wearing. The cookout was the perfect ending to a great ride.

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