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Singletrack Biking
Fast-paced, heart-pounding bike trails

09/24/15
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



If tandem bicycle rides on wide, paved roads or rail trails aren’t your thing, hop on mountain bikes with your special someone for a faster-paced ride through winding, narrow wooded trails. Singletrack mountain biking is when the trail is so narrow it is approximately as wide as a single bike. Southern New Hampshire offers several mountain bike trails of varying difficulty, but be warned — they’re not for couch potatoes.

Patrick Lessard at the Bike Barn in Manchester has a few recommendations.
There are the singletracks in Bow Town Forest that offer some double track sections, a few bridges, quick climbs and zig-zaggy descents. As with many wooded trails, obstacles in the form of rocks, tree roots and mud abound. The website singletracks.com says it’s 6 miles long and ideal for an amateur above a beginner.
Lessard also says bikers can choose between the 7 miles of trail at Musquash Conservation Area in Londonderry, the Horse Hill Nature Preserve in Merrimack and the Friends of Massabesic Bicycling Association network of trails in Auburn.
“It’s definitely not easy riding. It’s challenging, very demanding and demands focus. You’d never call it just a cruise in the woods,” said Jack Chapman, FOMBA president and founder.
Chapman began creating the trails in the late 1990s in a piece of land Manchester Water Works agreed to let them use in the hopes of diverting bikers away from coastal trails used by people who go there to fish.
“We have a chunk of real estate over in the vicinity of Depot Road ... bisected by the Rockingham recreational trail, which is the old rail bed used for recreational purposes,” Chapman said.
Chapman estimates the tightly packed network of 11 trails consist of about 12 miles combined. The trails are named things like Hemlock Loop and Moosetrack, but Chapman doesn’t give them difficulty grades.
“The reason we don’t do that is because all the FOMBA trails are fairly technical in nature. I don’t think any of them can ever be considered easy,” Chapman said. “Basically, if you go on them, it’s at your own risk.”
He says the difficulty level at FOMBA is similar to that of the trails at Fort Rock in Exeter, though Fort Rock has more elevation changes. Bear Brook has some elevation changes as well, but it’s not as narrow as FOMBA.
“Bear Brook does have some technical spots, but it’s much more wide open, so maybe a little less turny and twisty,” Chapman said.
As for athletic couples, Chapman said riding bikes on singletrack trails can make for a good date “as long as they don’t plan on doing much after the date.”
But you don’t need to be an expert to ride them. First-timers should take their time and get to know the terrain. The constant turns, climbs and descents can be both physically and mentally taxing.
“Unless they’re in really, really fine shape, it’s going to kick your butt,” Chapman said. 





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