When Howie Wemyss was on Facebook last week reading a post from the Coos Cycling Club he burst out LOL.
“They had posted something about a new trail and when I got to the second line I laughed out loud,” he said over the phone. “I had no idea what they were going to name it.”
Ironically, the trail had been on his mind. He walked it a year ago with the club’s executive director Jason Hunter when they were looking at the trail as a potential Gorham to the Glen pathway with mountain biking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
“I needed to get out in the woods and see how they were doing,” he said. “So Sue (his wife) and I grabbed our bikes to see it.”
“That was a really fun trail,” he said. “I haven’t done a lot of biking this summer so it was a challenge to climb the hill out of the valley. The downhill was swoopy fun.”
Wemyss retired in May after a nearly 40 year career at Mount Washington starting as a Mt. Washington Auto Road driver and going on to become general manager of the road and Great Glen Trails.
Hunter says honoring Howie with a trail name has been on the club’s minds for a while since he has been so instrumental to trail development on the Pineside of the network.
“Howie saw the importance of having a trail network in town and helped make it happen as a land manager for Gorham Land Co.,” he said in a email. “So I would say he had a lot of influence in the development of the Pine Mountain side of the network.”
Hunter admits Wemyss was probably surprised and a little embarrassed by having a trail named after him but deserves the recognition.
“Our tact is a little less straight forward and normal,” he said.
The trail, rated advanced/intermediate, is the club’s first machine-built trail. Finished near the end of August, the route is a 1.8-mile loop broken down into a half mile climb, half mile rolling traverse and a 0.8 mile downhill.
Though the trail may sound like a tasty sushi treat, that’s not the intent. It’s more of a play on Howie’s name. Think of it more like “How we roll.”
“This is definitely a play on words which I think is very clever,” said Wemyss.
But for sushi-loving mountain bikers who have rice, cucumber, crab meat and avocado stuffed California Rolls or rice-filled fatty Philadelphia Rolls containing salmon, avocado and cream cheese on their minds, Howie Roll will also satisfy as it’s loaded with a handful of gap jumps and rollers with plenty of big berms and high speed sections.
“I don’t eat sushi,” he said.
To find it, head east on Pipeline until you see the signs or try Church Street.
Built with grants provided by Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund and People for Bikes, this is the first phase of a multi-year project on the Pineside of the growing Coos Trails network that now has about 25 miles of trails.
Weymss was impressed with the “wonderfulness” of the ground.
“Gorham is blessed with a really nice sub-surface,” he said. “It’s got material that will hold up well when the drainage is done right.”
In addition to Howie Roll, the club is undertaking another project—rebuilding and improving the CCC Perimeter Loop, cut in the 1930s, in Moose Brook State Park. That has a targeted completion date of Oct. 1.
The club also has two trail work days scheduled for Sept. 19 and Sept. 26. On Sept. 19, meet at Moose Brook State Park at 10 a.m. to do some dirt work, corridor trimming and lumber hauling on the CCC Perimeter Loop. On Sept. 26 there’s some wooden feature builds and dirt work in the Jungle. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Promenade Street baseball field in Gorham.
Wemyss and Sue also checked out the Jungle when they rode Howie Roll.
“A lot of people in Gorham know about it,” he said.
It’s introductory types of trails geared to young riders.
The club plans to print a new map this fall that will include Howie Roll. Also, look for an update on the Trailforks app soon.
“I’ve enjoyed watching the club develop and see how much energy they have,” Wemyss said.