“You will get lost”

He had me at “You will get lost” — and I didn’t even know the guy’s name!

We met on a windy day at the canal. He is undoubtedly the most powerful skater I’ve seen there, and he has at least 10 years on me. We skated together for a while into a stiff winter wind and talked about kayaking and mountain biking… which of course is like feeding me Jack and Cokes … then he dropped the bomb:

There’s an amazing place for mountain biking right off Rt. 151, he said. It’s called Otis.

Haven’t been there, I said. I prefer Trail of Tears.

This is better, he said. There are two sections, before the power lines and after. You can go in there a ton and you will still get lost.

Talk dirt trails to me some more, I said.

But he was gone, into the wind, blowing past me with just a few strokes. Who was that bearded man?

Turns out, he was an angel of some sort.

I’ve sought out the trails he talked about, part Crane Wildlife Management Area conservation land and power lines that abut Otis air base, and it’s an epiphany. Better than Xanax or whatever the latest mood enhancer of choice.

I get lost there as often as possible.

Singletracks says there are 30 miles of trails there. I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. Give me an hour and I’ll find my way out in something less than 2. Unless I can think of a reason to stay longer (and I usually do).

In love with being lost.

In love with being lost.

The trails wind and climb around what can be called a series of (probably) glacial bowls covered in scrub and oaks. The shortage of rocks and roots is fine with me, leaving hardpacked trails with just a few too rocky or sandy to enjoy.

Bottom line, though, is that somebody — most likely NEMBA folks working over many years — has created an absolute playground for bikers here. I would love to say thanks to someone for the effort. It will save me thousands in therapist’s fees!

yes, there is a map, but do you really want to spend precious biking time staring at a paper?

yes, there is a map, but do you really want to spend precious biking time staring at a paper?

One day I was cruising through, thinking vaguely about landmarks that might show the way in or out. Sometimes I see signs of human existence — a glove on the ground or a pair of discarded underwear of course (why are they so often seen on trails? that’s a topic for a future post) — and I saw a clearly memorable landmark. It was a lawnmower hanging in a tree. In the middle of Godforsaken nowhere. I stopped, photographed it and got back on my bike. So much for landmarks — I’ve been back to ride there at least five times since and have not run across the lawnmower again. Nor could I take you to it intentionally. But that’s part of the fun, right?

lawnmower in tree. really.

lawnmower in tree. really.

One landmark I was tickled to find last weekend is Mt Zig, marked by a swing hung between two trees. Funny, it doesn’t show up on the map. So I really have no idea how much of the trails I’ve covered in my outings. But it doesn’t matter because it’s so damned much fun every time I go. Am I going to stop once I feel familiar with the place? Fat chance.

Mt Zig, out there somewhere

Mt Zig, out there somewhere

People who like straight lines and clear maps and brightly-lit “EXIT” signs need not apply here. You wouldn’t have any fun, anyway. My only regret in being “lost” all of the time is that I have a hard time finding the really fantastic, stand-out sections of trail to ride them again. So one night when I found a particularly amazing section I giggled through it the first time then turned around and rode it a couple more times because I knew I might not find it again. But that’s okay.

if you prefer straight lines and clearly marked trails, stay home

if you prefer straight lines and clearly marked trails, stay home

For a while I was trying to get to as many mountain biking spots as possible, all over the state and beyond. I might still do that, but I might have found true love here.

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3 Responses to ““You will get lost””

  1. pjf02536 Says:

    You need to do the eastern part of crane too …. there are a lot of trails and fields to run amuck in. It is great fun and your post inspires me to further explore the western part ( and up into the areas above into open Otis territory)
    BTW the power lines now have a nice Hardpack bed and the hilly terrain still makes it fun plus it goes further south towards town … so from Sandwich Road to Route 28 is quite the playground, with agreat variety of terrain 😉
    One day I hope to figure out how to get around most of the area without needing any pavement 😉

  2. pjf02536 Says:

    Heads up, if you re on the Western part of crane and you get to the power lines that head north towards the Otis rotary, be forewarned that that set of power lines lies on ‘Government Property’. You may be read the riot act and asked by the MP’s to leave the area.
    This is for the Northern power lines that cross the highway and parallel Rte 28 going north. Not the ones further south that start at the at 28 go southeast .

    • alisonwriter Says:

      Good to know! I spent a couple hours there last weekend and still covered new ground, haven’t made it as far as that rotary — yet!

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