Giant ambassador Adam Craig recently took the opportunity to return to his roots, where the charms of riding the northern woods of Maine are alive and well. While there, Adam helped build a new trail that’s inspired by an old one.
Generally speaking, the further north you go the less you’ll see cycling woven into the culture. But that doesn't mean bikes aren't still present. Those who choose to overcome the challenges of these regions get rewarded—when they’re not shoveling snow or chipping ice.
I was fortunate to grow up in Maine in the 1990s, a time when MTB racing was young, healthy and on the rise. Our modest Maine Points Series had hundreds of cross-country riders slugging it out amongst the rocks, roots and muck. Beyond that, the New England regional Trail 66 series was contested at ski areas and also featured the gravity disciplines dual slalom and downhill. Each of these events required skill and optimism to be competitive. Sugarloaf’s stop on the Trail 66 circuit was called the Widowmaker Challenge with its namesake section of rocks and roots.
Once we started looking at the feasibility of cutting trail through beautifully gladed ski runs, it became apparent that, while not without challenges, it was certainly possible to rake in some turns and see what the riding might reveal. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for simple turns in the woods, and this was the perfect canvas.
Considering that my favorite part of the Widowmaker Challenge was always that tech section, it seemed only fitting to work on extending that experience farther up the mountain. After appreciable research, we found a line and got to work. With a little help from some all-stars—namely Brenna from Sugarloaf, Giant Factory Off-Road Team manager Sebastian Boyington, and Zak, a die-hard trail volunteer from Belfast—we took this idea and quickly made it reality.
The tools of the job were, in order of use, a hedge trimmer to clear the low brush; leaf rake to clear the debris; McLeod and hoe to dig the shapes needed; a shovel to enhance natural jump lips or landings; and a rock bar to pry out a few stones that just had to go. In no time at all we were testing the turns and learning about the line.