Good Livin' Dunne Wright

Photo: Bear Cieri NIKON, 1/3200 sec, f/4.5, ISO 800

Good Livin' Dunne Wright The Interconnectivity of Vermont's People, Places and Trails

Small talk whispers through the air, the common chatter of a local trailhead: “What’s Quinn doing for work?” “Okemo is supposed to open for Thanksgiving, can you believe it?” “What a busy summer…”

Nearby, the area's distinguishing geological feature, a large boulder split at its center, seems to stare down at us as we gather in a parking lot next to a tiny nursery. A woman walks by with a big smile, roots slithering from her dirt-smothered Carhartts.

As we prepare to ride, the locals glow, quiet and proud. Here, only out-of-towners speak loudly. The Reading Greenhouses and Farm Market, during this era of my youth, provided the stage for a subtle confluence of Vermont’s culture—not only the start of a bike trail, but also a place to stop and buy a Christmas wreath.

A place's essence can be elusive. Sometimes we're able to pinpoint it, especially in areas where we've spent countless hours opening ourselves up through time spent exploring. I came to understand Vermont through the connection of its trails to its people—the Joe’s Jungles and Lyle’s Labyrinths, singletrack so intertwined with its caretakers it became one and the same. This connection between people sculpted my idea of mountain biking as community.

As kids, we built jumps in our yard; in the ditch that separated the Sunoco gas station and our parents’ shop, and on every other free patch of earth in between. We’d pedal into town and wave at Ricky Blake as he sat in his luxurious steel-clawed bathtub retrofitted with a propane heater. His hot tub. On other days, my wave was directed at the nursery tender as I slipped behind her greenhouse into the forest. Our little secret, I thought, as I rolled directly through the giant Split Rock. It was the first proper trail I ever rode, and its unique entrance sparked my imagination as I wondered how the behemoth came to be and why a trail snaked from its guts.

Maybe it was the mushrooms we investigated, or the slithering snowmobile trails covered in leaves, or the landowners who reprimanded us for jumping their driveways, but each adventure sculpted us. Each adventure shaped the way we lived and the way we wanted to live when we were older.

But Split Rock was merely my portal into a larger world. The regular loop meandered across dirt roads, past properties owned by equestrians who you might even see on the bike trails and finally across an iconic New England covered bridge before heading back into the Labyrinth. In the early days of my endurance, I wondered about the dark trails that dumped back onto the main Labyrinth loop. It wasn’t until I really pushed my dad with my curiosity that he took me up Rush Meadow Road to Good Livin’ Dunne Wright.

The trail name was derived from four landowners—the Goodmans, Livingstons, Dunnes and Wrights—who accepted the trail flanking the back quarters of their properties. At that time, I’d never ridden proper trail networks, just rogue trails adopted by people who respected the builders linking together forgotten pieces of forest. I found rhythm on Good Livin’ Dunne Wright in the way it wrapped itself sinuously along the hillside. Mostly, though, I was just impressed by the people who made that trail work.

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