Still time to ride

Sunday afternoon in Waterbury. There is a dusting of snow in the woods and it's still hunting season, but somewhere along the way I acquired a bright orange jersey with fluorescent yellow trim, and with this pulled over a couple of layers of winter gear I figured I would be plenty warm enough as well as highly visible (no chance of being mistaken for a deer) -- and this proved to be the case. I met a couple of hunters but they were friendly and respectful and also saw plenty of tracks in the woods, but heard no gunshots.

This trail has a series of short steep climbs and descents and the non-traditional setup of my mountain bike means that climbing is very taxing (I am thankful that I didn't get a single speed -- I think that it is too hilly around here for that to be very practical); being maxed out on a climb will warm you up in no time at all. This is one of my favorite times of year to ride in the woods, in the summer it would be wet, buggy, sticky and very hot.

The image (from NASA's World Wind program) shows some of the changes in the Vermont woods. There's a loop on the top of Blush Hill that is lined with large new houses on big private lots -- this development is plainly visible from the summit of Camels Hump. There's also a new development going in on the lower slopes as well. I really wish that land use patterns were more efficient and conserved more of the land: People aspire to live in big houses on big lots out in the woods.

I recently read an article on the decline of hunting in Vermont that noted how many dirt roads have been widened and improved and now development has spread further out from town and village centers. Sometimes I mock myself for my condo-dwelling existence but at least it is high density housing and I can walk or bike to the grocery store, bank, library, etc. unlike these places in the woods where a car is pretty much mandatory to do anything.

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