Monday, February 8, 2010


Super Bowl Sunday! And since it was the first time since 1984 that I really cared about watching the Super Bowl, I was reluctant to go for a ride. But since it was also likely to be the only day of good weather this weekend, I went for it. It would be tight, but if all went well, we could get in an epic day of riding and still catch the game.

I met Norma, Travis and Russell at Nimblewill Church at 9 and we were riding by 9:30. The plan was to climb up to Nimblewill Gap, descend 28-3, take some roads and trails around to Noontootla, climb that and descend Winding Stair back to the car. If we could get back by 4, I could get home by 5 and get to my brother's house by 6:25, just in time for the game.

The climb up to Nimblewill was nice. Sunny sky, not too cold. At the top it was all snowy, but still not terribly cold.

 Nimblewill Gap

In the winter, from somewhere up there you can see the gold steeple of North Georgia College in Dahlonega, and I meant to take a picture of it, but of course, I forgot.

28-3 is usually sketchy because of how rocky and chunky the roadbed is, but today it was a new level. There were inches of snow to either side, and in the tire tracks, ice with a thin layer of snow on top. Sometimes the ice was thick enough to ride on, but then randomly you'd break through and roll for a while before popping back up onto it. Nobody crashed, but not for lack of trying.

Eventually we got down out of the snow and it was a lot easier. Still chunky and fun, but no longer scary. Russell has become a formidable descender too. In past years, Travis and I could take off and leave him when it got technical, but not any more. I noticed this a few months back on the Hickory Nut, but I'd forgotten about it until today.

From 28-3 to Noontootla there was an endless series of pointless ups and downs, a two-footed dab in a freezing creek, an infinitely steep climb, one of my favorite descents in the world and a long log-crossing on the slipperiest log I've ever dared to cross. All awesome.

Me, Travis and Norma had a nice tempo climb up Noontootla. I was following my bonk-at-the-top-of-Noontootla weight loss program again, but this time I timed it better. Norma and Travis got away from me in the last mile, but I kept them in sight for all but the last 500 yards or so.

Russell wasn't feeling all that great and had planned on taking a short-cut to Winding Stair. Unfortunately he'd flatted too and caught a ride with a guy. We talked to that guy on our climb up Noontootla, but then when we got to Winding Stair, Russell wasn't there. Some Rangers were parked nearby though, and they'd seen some other folks come through. We figured they must have given him a tube.

The descent down Winding Stair is also one of my all time favorites. Though, somehow on two different occasions, I managed to get a stick jammed up in my spokes, where it would whack my frame with every revolution. Sounded like I'd broken something, but it was actually no big deal.

Near the bottom, we ran into Matt and Michele who I think might have thought they were on Cooper Gap Road instead of Winding Stair.

 Matt and Michele

At the very bottom we saw Russell driving toward us. He'd apparently gotten back unscathed. Once again I had to walk the last 20 feet of the climb back up to the church because of uncontrollable chain suck.

We got back at exactly 4:00. I got home at exactly 5:00 and got to my brother's house at exactly 6:26, only missing the kickoff itself. Not a moment to spare all day. And, to top it all off, the Saints won in their first Super Bowl ever. Geaux Saints!

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