Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winding Stair/Noontootla

Finally I got to ride my mountain bike. Finally.

It rained and snowed and iced all day yesterday, but today it was sunshine and blue skies. I'd read that Mike Horwitz had an all-FS-road group ride going on up in the Blue Ridge WMA and that sounded just right.

We met at the Jake Lot around 10 and were pedaling by 10:40 or so. It was cool, I met a bunch of new folks, and got to ride with a couple that I don't usually get to ride with.

 Getting Ready

Yeah, the sun was out, but every branch and needle of every tree had a thick coat of ice and it was melting fast. Every few minutes, another tree would shed some huge amount and it would come crashing down like somebody dropped a chandelier. Not a good day to be in the open woods.

 Icy Trees

The roads were a little wet, but pretty nice.


On the north side of the ridge, it was a different story. 42 was icy and dry snow lingered in the woods. A couple of riders got off the front on some descents. I'm a pretty good downhiller, but I didn't have the courage to keep up with them. They either really knew what they were doing, or really didn't know what they were doing. Nobody crashed, but I saw a couple of really sketchy slides.


At Hightower Gap, somebody had parked a truck under a tree, and every minute or so, the tree bombed it with a shower of grapefruit sized hail. I see an insurance claim in that guy's future.

Descending FS69 was a rolling shower, or more like a firehose aimed at my face. And every other corner was a sheet of ice. Tricky, tricky, tricky. Rock Creek Lake looked awesome though. The surface was as still as a sheet of glass and the mountain behind it was icy-white.

At the end of 333, some locals were git'en'er done with a pickup in an awesome mud pit. They knew what they were doing, but they almost ran over one of our bikes. In their defence, they probably couldn't exactly see it lying on the ground, coming around a corner, but it was a close call. If Matt hadn't pulled it out of the way there would have been some carnage.

I felt good, but I had a plan and it might eventually involve some suffering. I need to start losing weight for the race season and an upcoming Trans-Georgia attempt, so I'd intentionally had a light dinner last night and a light breakfast this morning, and planned on sitting right on the edge all day, keeping myself alive with Clif Blocks. If successful, I'd create a tremendous glycogen deficit, without actually bonking. I do it all the time and it seems to work, but it's easy to let it go too far, or not bring enough food and actually bonk. If you bonk, it still works, but, it's miserable.

Climbing Noontootla, I still felt strong, but I needed to pee and pulled up ahead of the group for a few minutes. When I stopped though, they were right behind me. I guess they thought I was attacking and countered. Next time I should probably tell them what I'm doing :) That break and the attempt to bridge back up was all it took to push me over. Five minutes later I was out of fuel and out of blocks. I'd bonk completely in about 10 minutes, so I just kept throttling back to keep it perpetually 10 minutes away. But, every kicker required a little extra effort, and with each hill... Five minutes, three minutes, one minute. Done. And still 2 miles from the top. Those last 2 miles were just a crawl of tunnel vision and nausea. It didn't help that the ice on the road was like a slushie and every mile took a mile and a half's worth of effort.

At Winding Stair Gap, four of the lead riders didn't even stop, but the two guys I got up there with did. The guys behind us didn't know where to go, so we waited. I sat down on a stump until the funk passed. It wasn't super cold, but it was cold enough and we were all starting to get chilled. The guys behind us could be 20 minutes back, so I grabbed a bunch of deadfall and built a little fire. I'd brought some "Strike-a-fire" sticks, but they'd got a little wet and just would not strike. Fortunately one of the other guys had a lighter. Score. We were in business, but it was short lived. The rest of the guys showed up only a few minutes later. I was almost disappointed. It would have been nice to get warm.

We took off, and immediately I noticed my rear tire was soft. I juiced it. If it leaked again, I'd change it. We couldn't really let it go on Winding Stair. Slushie snow again. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful except I had to walk the last 10 feet of the last climb from all the chain suck. Actually, it's remarkable that I managed to stave it off until then.

Me and Mark Johnson ate at Moes. We wanted to eat at Quizno's but it was gone. My face was covered in mud, but I didn't notice until I glanced in the mirror after we ate. It looked like somebody had tried to give me a spray-on-tan with a dirty airbrush nozzle.

Great ride though. Just what I needed. The group was cool and all pretty well matched too. We had to regroup a few times, but never had to wait more than a few minutes. Now if I can just get a repeat next weekend. Here's hoping.

No comments:

Post a Comment