Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cohutta Pinhoti

Michele Z organized a Pinhoti ride for tomorrow, and I was all "yeah, that's just right" but then I checked the calendar and Iz has a gym meet tomorrow. Travis emailed me about riding too, I suggested all kinds of ridiculous routes, to which he replied: "I think some folks are getting together at Mulberry Gap at 11 tomorrow."

So that became the plan. I got there around 10:30 in case there was an 11AM roll out, but I was the first one to arrive. That is, except for Jason and Andrew because they live there. Jason's hand is healing up pretty well but apparently he's still got some work to do on it. Argh.

The MGap'ers had work to do so I got to wander around, "relaxing with my thoughts" until Travis showed up.

 Mulberry Gap

Since the last time I saw him, he'd grown this triumphant beard.

 Travis's Triumphant Beard

My beard sucks now. It's all half grey because I'm old, but not awesome-old, just lame-old and I have to shave it. Maybe when it's all grey it'll look bad-ass again like my Dad's hair does. "Yeah, I've been through some hard stuff in my life, just look how grey it made me." Most people can pull off the partial grey, but I'm not sure my beard can. Yet.

Everybody else arrived directly; some dudes I didn't know - TJ and Nick (or Neil?) and a guy named Brian I think. Man I'm bad with names. Mark "Carebear" Johnson was there too. He would lead the ride. Brian, if that's actually his name, was about to die of heat stroke at ORAMM last year when Carebear saved him. That's how they know each other.

We fiddled around until about 12:30...

 The Field

...then hit the road. Literally the road. We took FS roads around to the Bear Creek Trailhead.

 Bear Creek Kiosk

I was dragging around the 12 pound camelback again, which I would later regret, but thus far it had worked out OK. Some of the guys were moving slower than me, and the stronger guys appeared to be down for a social ride. It was going well until the slower guys decided to cut their ride short and let us go on ahead. I wanted to do the longer ride, but man, that meant chasing Carebear around all day.

We were joking about it. At the beginning of the race season he usually puts the wood to me, but toward the end, I can usually get past him. This is, of course, the beginning of the season, and he was riding a singlespeed. There was no chance of him sitting up. It would be rough.

We climbed Bear Creek, passing dozens of hikers and a nearly equal number of happy dogs. One of the dogs looked exactly like Namrita's dog Porter and at first I thought it was her and the E out for a walk.

There were little patches of ice here and there, but almost no mud. The roads had some of that really liquid splatter-mud going, but the trails were surprisingly clean. There are some steep step-ups about halfway up that started making me wish I'd left the camelback at home. Near the very top, there was a good bit of slushy ice and the road looked like garbage. We turned around at the switchbacks and headed back down.

We took the Bear Creek Loop trail instead of just descending Bear Creek proper - we'd passed a lot of hikers and it would be more courteous to take the loop around rather than bomb back down past them. I wish I could take credit for that idea, but it was all Mark. It wasn't as fun as the Bear Creek Trail, but none of us had ridden it in ages and it was something different, which is always good. It's mostly downhill, but there were a bunch of little kickers that I didn't remember and again, I was wishing I'd forgone the pack. Brian (if that's his real name) was turning out to be quite a climber. It was hopeless to try to keep up with him or Mark until we hit a downhill.

Despite taking the less-hiked route, we still ran into a couple out hiking, with a dog, who were a little lost and way short on calories. I gave them directions and a Milky Way bar which made her eyes light up like Christmas-morning. Lord knows, I've been there sister. Enjoy.

At the bottom, I dunked my foot, dabbing in Bear Creek. Instinctively, I cursed my bad luck, but the weather had actually been in the 50's all day, at least in the sun, so it turned out that it wasn't really so bad. I forgot about it within minutes.

Everything fell apart on Pinhoti 1.

 Pinhoti 1

I could kind of hang on the Bear Creekish, moderate climbs, but when it got steep, I fell back and back and back. Travis hit the wall there too. The other guys had to wait for us for like 5 minutes at the top.

Pinhoti 2 was easier.

 Pinhoti 2 Gate

The forest road and doubletrack climbs weren't too bad. I couldn't keep up, but I didn't get totally dropped. Nobody had to wait more than a minute or two. The descent, of course, was the best in the state. I kind of wanted to stop and check out the stump of the tree that knocked down the Captain a few months back, but I could barely remember where it was, and when I realized I'd passed the spot, I wasn't motivated enough to go back and see it. Another day for that.

Brian and Travis bailed back to MGap at the bottom. Me and Carebear rode a bit of P3. My legs were starting to twinge when I'd stand though, and Mark didn't have much left either. We ran into some guys on P3 and Mark showed us all a weird back-entrance to Mulberry that they used during the single-speed championship replacement ride a few months back.

Yay! What a ride. I was struggling all day, but it felt good to get back into some minor intensity. It's funny. All winter I back off when I get uncomfortable. I even ease up so I just don't get uncomfortable. But during the race season I get so used to it that it doesn't register as being uncomfortable, just as a quantitative measurement of how my body is performing. Every year, when I step up the intensity again, I struggle to remember how there could have ever been a time when I even tolerated those feelings, let alone welcomed them. There was a time though, not all that long ago even. All day I was thinking about that. It's funny what you forget.

Back at Mulberry, I ran into Travis again. Michele Z and Michael-from-Reality had arrived and were setting up a tent. The dudes we'd ridden out with earlier were building a fire. They had plenty of wood, but no tinder to speak of. Everything was damp too. There is literally no pine and no cedar on the Mulberry Gap property. It's almost all Hemlock. I wondered if Hemlock is full of resin like pine (apparently it's not, it's actually especially dry) but that wasn't the right time to experiment. Strike-a-fire sticks to the rescue! I've been carrying 2 of them in my camelback since last year. They were put to good use, and before long there was a Michele-approved fire going.

 Michele-Approved Fire

Also, I now know that you can carry strike-a-fire's around for a year and a half, and get them rained on a dozen times, and they still work. Good to know.

My plan had been to ride from 11 to 5 and then head home to eat with the family. If the ride took longer, I'd stay and eat there. Though the ride plan kind of fell through, as fate would have it, it was right around 5, right then, and I headed out. I nearly died of low-blood sugar on the drive home, but I had a good dinner with the family at Ippolito's.

After that I watched Mega Python vs. Gatoroid on SciFi. SciFi Originals are gloriously low-quality. Like SciFi movies from the 50's and 60's were by accident. So satisfying.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Silk Sheets

The details are way to complex to relate, but my brother and I were going to go hiking, then riding, then hiking, then riding... We ultimately ended up riding, on the road, on the Silk Sheets.

On the drive over, I saw this sweet lowrider.


A benefit of diversity. No way I'd spend time or money putting together a truck like that, it's too non-functional for anything I do. But fortunately for me, there are people in the ATL who are all about it, so every now and then I see some cool car or truck with no personal investment. Ahh, diversity.

We started at the church, next to the Charley's, off of Fulton Industrial. When I got there, there were like 20 other riders milling around, getting ready for a group ride. I saw several old-school BOR jerseys, but I didn't recognize any of the folks wearing them.

They all rolled out. I fixed a flat rear tire and got dressed. My bro showed up. He got dressed. About halfway through that, a guy came rolling up in an Aaron's kit. His name was Tony. He was from Rhode Island by way of Spain, and he's currently working as a Spanish teacher somewhere near or in Vinings. He'd missed the roll-out and wanted to sit in with us. He looked fast. We all hit the road a few minutes later.


It was killing me. I could hang in there, but that's all I was doing. My bro was talking about how fat and out of shape he was. Great. I can't wait for the crushination when he's in good shape.

We softpedaled when Tony had to stop and pee, and for the first time that day, John dropped back and got on my wheel. "Hey Dave, your tire's low." The tube I'd put in at the car was certainly suspect. I flat so rarely on the road... my spares have been in and out of my pocket a hundred times, and rolled around in the back of my truck for months. It's a wonder they hold air at all. We stopped at a church and fixed it, with an equally suspect spare.

It was in the 40's outside, and John was getting warm, so he took the opportunity to remove his tights too, which were on under his bib and thus required that he take off every stitch of clothing he was wearing above the ankles; a lot of work, but he felt like a new man afterwards.

I also felt like a new man. I'm not sure how much of it was getting a break vs. fixing the flat, or them easing up, but the rest of the ride didn't kill me. I took my turns, and we had a pretty good time.

We stopped at one store, somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. I've been there before, but I couldn't tell you where it is. I've ridden this route like 6 or 8 times, but not having ever looked at a map of it, the whole thing seems anonymous. Fortunately it's anonymous, quiet, scenic, rolling, country roads. Rolling being one of the operative words there. There are like 400 hills. Maybe more. All hills, all day.

In the last 5 miles or so, I was managing cramps. John had gone through a bout and shook them off earlier. Tony seemed fine. He only fell back a few times all day, and I'm not sure he wasn't just digging something out of his pockets.

Me and John hung out at Charleys for a while, post-ride. I don't get to spend nearly enough time hanging out with him as I'd like. I'll have to make more of an effort to do that. We also watched 4 different custody swaps. It's Sunday night, time for junior to head back to Mom's house. I'd never noticed a custody swap before, but watch, now I'll see them everywhere. Like the dude-cruisers, it's another subculture that I've suddenly become aware of. I'll end up scrutinizing every partial-family sitting in parking lot on Friday or Sunday night. You learn something new every day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Noontootla-Tooni-Winding Stair

The snow's almost all melted here in Cumming. I still can't drive up or down my driveway, but other than that, life has returned to normal around these parts. Apparently though, a little north of here, Diane and Ginny are still snowed in at Mulberry Gap. Figuring that the rest of the mountains are probably in much the same shape, my brother and I wanted to try to get a snow-hike in while we still had snow to hike in. But we couldn't make the timing work out, and instead I ended up going for a little bike ride.

I tried to recruit some comrades on Facebook, but apparently I was the only one to whom 40-odd miles in random snow seemed like a good idea.

Meet me at 10AM at the Jake Lot!!!!


 Jake Lot

There would be crickets chirping if it was warmer.

There was, actually, one other truck in the lot, and just as I was heading out, a guy walked out of the woods toward it. We talked for a few minutes. He'd been squirrel hunting and managed to bag a few. He said he's usually a deer hunter but apparently this year there'd been an abysmal season, so he was more or less resorting to small game. The going theory is that for some reason, over the last few years, there's been a coyote explosion, they've been preying on fawns, and that's really brought the population down. Apparently they did a study somewhere where they tagged 60 fawns and within a few months, 45 of them had been taken by coyotes. With all the snow, it was easy to see how many coyotes there really are out there. I only see a few of them every couple of months, but their tracks were everywhere.

He wished me luck and I was on my way.

I rolled out to Nimblewill Church Road and headed down to FS28-1. At the corner, there were a bunch of guys in some jeeps and a buggy, getting ready to have some fun in the snow. They also wished me luck, and I them. It would be pretty fun to go driving in the snow. I'd have been terrified last year, but I think I've got a good enough feel for it now. Maybe next time.

At the bottom of the first hill, I knew it would be a good day:


This is the kind of snow I'd hoped for when I went riding with Clark and Suzy a few weeks back; dry, packed and grippy. No rolling shower.

And so it was. And so I smiled. Big time.

Near Camp Merrill, I found this LCFD hat.


Lumpkin County Fire Department, I imagine. I picked it up. I'll mail it to them.

At FS80, I ditched the jacket. This winter, my training plan has been simple: do the same kinds of rides I always do, with a camelback, filled with 12 pounds of gear. Today was no exception, and stuffing the jacket in with all that other crap was a lot of work. I almost couldn't get it zipped back up.

There were some cars parked at the church with bike racks on them. I saw their tracks. Maybe I could catch them.

The climb up to Cooper Gap went by quickly. I passed two girls and a guy, hiking up the road.

At the quarry on FS42, there was a guy climbing the ice.

 Ice Climber

We exchanged greetings, and though I was fascinated and immediately had like 50 questions for him, I figured it would be better to ask them of somebody who's not in the middle of actually climbing ice, and moved on.

42 runs along the north side of the ridge. North side = less sun. It was colder, the snow was deeper and there was more snow on the hillside, but it was still dry, packed and grippy, and I was still smiling.

At Hightower I dug my jacket back out. The tire tracks I'd been following kept going toward Winding Stair, but I had a longer loop in mind. "You got away this time!"

The descent to Rock Creek Lake was fast, and a little sketchy. Randomly, I'd either catch some slightly grippier edge and it would yank my front wheel, or I'd hit some slightly slipperier patch and my front wheel would slip. Also, if I did anything to change my weight distribution, my front wheel would slip. Go for the camelback nozzle - front wheel slip. Try to unzip the jacket - front wheel slip. Scratch my face - front wheel slip. There is nothing scarier than one's front wheel getting yanked or slipping. I even had to stomp a few times to save it. Fortunately, I never went down and I got a feel for it about half way down the descent and it wasn't an issue again until way later, at which point it became a serious issue, but I'll get to that later.

Rock Creek Lake was completely frozen over.

 Frozen Rock Creek Lake

I thought about walking out onto it, but then I thought about how dumb I'd feel if I fell through and punted on that idea.

The fish hatchery and the church looked weirdly different in the snow.



Snow makes familiar things look unnaturally unfamiliar.

When I was far enough north of the ridge, I started getting into some roads that get more sun and the tread was slushier at times. I'd be cruising on packed snow or ice, hit some slush and suddenly lose all speed. Eventually I half figured out how to recognize it, but it took most of the rest of the day to get a feel for how to avoid it. You can't just turn.

At 333 I dined fancily.


It looked like the bridge over Rock Creek had been completely rebuilt. The gate beyond was closed and there was no sign that anyone had even walked there yet.


I left a deep, narrow trail behind me.

 Fresh Tracks

At first, I wondered if it would be too deep to ride through, but it was fine. It was occasionally deep enough for my pedals to hit the surface though. I almost got my feet wet, dropping off of some surprisingly solid ice into the only water crossing of the whole day too. I'm not sure exactly how I saved it. Skill? Not exactly. Maybe instinct. Whatever it was, my feet stayed dry.

I took 308 down to the old bridge construction road and hiked over the Toccoa Bridge.

 Toccoa Suspension Bridge

No, I didn't ride on the BMT. I carried my bike. Go look, the tracks are probably still there. Don't ride on the BMT, not even the 50 feet or so to the bridge, you'll destroy the whole environment. All of it.

I joke, but seriously, don't ride on the BMT.

A cool sheet of ice extended way out into the river. I didn't expect that. Nothing like new discoveries.

 Frozen Toccoa River

On the north side, I took the old construction road back up to Tooni Mountain Road (I don't remember the number), rode it out and hung a left on Hwy 60 and another left on Doublehead Gap Road.

I'm pretty sure that's the peak of Big John Dick Mountain in the background, with Little John Dick Mountain directly in front and to the left of it.

 Doublehead Gap Road

Many mountains in the area are named after somebody. Most only use the last name. You might be able to guess why these use both first and last.

Doublehead was either dry pavement or mostly thawed dirt. There was relatively little snow or ice on it at all. Just before FS58 I passed an older gentleman out walking. We smiled, waved, exchanged pleasantries. Everybody I passed today was happy.

58 was back in the shadows, colder and more packed.


Somewhere in there I'd ditched the jacket again, and I figured since I was climbing, I probably wouldn't need it. That turned out to be correct.

I passed a guy and a girl in a Jeep, and a little later, a guy driving a pickup with a super happy dog running out in front of him, and his family seated on the tailgate. The dog had that tongue-hanging-out-dog-smile going. "I'm running down the road! Woohoo!!! Yep, still running down the road! Yeah!!!! What am I doing? Oh yeah! I'm running down the road!"

I kept looking for a good place to take a picture of Noontootla Creek. It's so pretty up in there, but you really don't get a good opportunity to take a still shot of the creek. It's always there, off to the right, and if you're moving, your brain puts together a good view of it, I guess, but if you stop, there's just SO much magnolia. I did see one or two spots that I might have gotten a decent shot if I stopped, but I was past them when I realized it and at that point, there no way I was going to turn around. I was really feeling the ride, way more than the last time I did it with Travis and Russell. Ugh. The last few miles up 58 were really tough. I even walked a little.

At Winding Stair Gap, I put my jacket back on, gritted my teeth, went for it, and crashed almost immediately. I say crashed. It was more of a bail than a crash. I didn't roll on the ground, just kind of ditched the bike and stumbled out of it. FS77 is south-facing, and it was like 45 degrees. The snow was as random as I've ever seen. Every ten feet was substantially more or less grippy, more or less soft and/or more or less loose than the last. My front wheel would plow like every 5 or 6 seconds. I tried everything. Stay way back - no. Stay loose - no. Stay tight - NO. Stay standing - no. There was no magic solution. Eventually, it seemed that I needed to countersteer when it plowed and somehow get my body leaning the other way while the bike righted itself. Above all else, I needed to suppress the urge to stomp.

I think I went down 4 times, maybe 5. All like that first time, never at any real speed. And if that wasn't bad enough, after PR gap, there was this:



Instead of conditions changing drastically every 10 feet, it was every 5 feet. I kind of had the feel for it though, and though I sketched a lot, I only had to ditch the bike once more.

I'd passed some guys cutting firewood around PR Gap. They had a nearly full load in the bed of their pickup. Just below PR Gap, I passed this, unfortunate scene.


His bed was also loaded down with firewood. It looked like the truck just couldn't get enough traction to get that weight up the next little kick, then slid down and backwards, off the road. I've been there brother, or close to it, a few years ago. I was lucky enough to be able to drive out of my situation, but it could just as easily have gone like this.

To the right, it drops off vertically for about 20 feet, transitions to about a 50 degree slope for another 20 feet, and then runs out down a drainage. As it was, there were several trees wrapped around the truck, holding it in place. If it had dropped into that drainage, I'm not sure how survivable it would have been.

Pretty much from PR Gap all the way back to the truck was just like that photo above. The morning's gloriously dry, packed, grippiness had evolved into that sketchy insanity. Either that, or a really fine layer of super slick ice over slush that I'd slide around on, only to then break through and stop altogether. It was challenging, at best. Fortunately about half of it was either flat or a uphill.

The Inuit allegedly have 200 names for snow. I imagine they are names for all of the different phases of snow. I wish I knew those names. I think I saw most of them today. I figured out how to ride in some of them, how to muddle through others, and some, I still have no idea.

It was fun until Winding Stair, then it was nervewracking, then it was work. That's how it should be. I was dirty and tired, but it was a good tired. It was a good day. I was satisfied, but this was the biggest smile I could smile.

 Tired, Happy Dave

I think that this might have been the last "off season" ride. There's a 6 hour race sometime in February, The Snake, and of course, the Huracan 300. Time to pick up the pace again, my face doesn't look even remotely gaunt in that photo. The face of a champion is so gaunt that people immediately wonder if he or she has a tapeworm. I've got some work to do. Time to get it done. The last 6 hour seems so long ago though, like the memory of a dream. I wonder if I'll even remember how to ride hard.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow in Cumming (Again)

I'm working from home today, and the prospect of a night-ride is looking grim this week, so around lunch I jumped out on the road for an hour.

Though, given the conditions in the neighborhood, I went with the mountain bike instead of the road bike.


It's like 34 degrees, so everything is starting to melt. It was icy at the intersection with Hwy 20 and I spun a 180 trying to ease over to the right side of the road, but I didn't go down, Woohoo! Skills.

Hwy 20 and the main roads were pretty clear.

 Hwy 20

Yet another reason that I need a cross bike.

I rode through town, across the foot of a shrouded Sawnee Mountain...

 Sawnee Mountain

...and back through town again.

 Veterans' Memorial

There were a million little rivers running down the street and once again, it was the rolling shower. I've had too many rolling showers this winter.

Back in the neighborhood, I slid pretty well coming around an off camber corner by my house. The lady who lives on the corner was out with her video camera and just happened to catch it. We talked for a while. She hadn't been out of the neighborhood and wondered if the whole city was still shut down. It's kind of an odd mix. About half of the stores were open. Waffle House was open. They were open yesterday too. My boss and I were joking about that, actually. It can't be the apocalypse if the Waffle House is still open.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow in Cumming

Last night, pretty much everybody north of Macon got some snow. By the looks of it, we got about 6 inches in Cumming. I've heard some clever descriptions so far: Snowmageddon, the Snowpocalypse, Hothlanta, snOMG... they just keep coming. I think my friends to the north would call it "a bit of snow" or perhaps "Monday." Still, to us, it's pretty wild.


 Snowy Yard

Around lunch, I dug out my truck, which I parked at the top of my driveway last night.


I did a little 4WD on Hwy 20.

 Hwy 20

Racetrack was open...


...which was good because I stocked up on a few supplies, but forgot about gas.

We went for a little walk.


We tried to make a snowman, but it was too powdery and we were unskilled.

Sophie made an angel...

 Sophie's Snow Angel

...then she and I walked down to the end of Nuckolls to check out the overlook. Lake Lanier is down there somewhere.

 Lanier Overlook

Snow angels equal wet clothes, the wind was pretty harsh right there, and I had to get back to work, so we headed home.



I think we're going to have this snow for a day or two. Hopefully I can get a snow ride in later. Maybe even this upcoming weekend there will still be snow in the mountains and my bro and I can hike some more of the AT in it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Atlanta Beach

"You're working pretty hard for a 5 mile loop." - my brother's response when I told him I was heading down to Clayton County to ride the Atlanta Beach trails. I'd never been there, and exploring a new trail sounded just right this morning. Plus, it's south of Atlanta, which meant it would probably be warmer and have less climbing. Still, when he said it, it suddenly seemed like a lot of driving. He might be right. Now I'm scared to tell him about my Tour de Macon plans, he might organize an intervention.

The day started off right though, with a trip to the Dutch Monkey for a Dutch Crumb, a Cinnamon Roll and some black cherry soda. There was a bit of sediment in my soda today. Is it always like that? It tasted fine. Now I'm curious though.

Good donuts made the drive fly by. Before long I was rolling up on the Clayton County International Park...

 Clayton County International Park

...where they had various events back in the '96 Olympics. I'd heard it called Atlanta Beach, once, when I first moved here in 2000, but I could never get good directions, the internet didn't know anything about it, and eventually I forgot. Late last year I ran into a trail map, randomly. Having, in hand, confirmation of it's existence, I then felt compelled to ride it, I guess, "because it's there."

Somehow, I drove right past the sign pointing to the trailhead and ended up parking at the Nassau building.

 Nassau Building

That worked out well though. It was open, warm and had an officially designated "Men's Changing Room." Some kids were having some kind of indoor tennis clinic or something in there. In the building, not the changing room.

I bought some new shoe covers yesterday, which looked impossible to put on, like a brain teaser. Apparently you put them on first, before your shoes. It took me a minute to figure that out. They're lightweight, they hook over the cleats on the front of the shoes, and they velcro across the bottom. Classy.

It also took me a minute to find the trail, and then, yet another minute to get acclimated. It was a bit of a spider-web, old-school, a little rough, fall-liney, but still, it was in reasonably good shape. I'm guessing it doesn't get a ton of traffic. It reminded me of the old river-side trails at Yellow River.

For example, a set of step-ups, directly up an old set of farming terraces:


Eventually, I discovered the actual trailhead.

 Clayton County International Park Trailhead

From there, the trail led along the lake.


The first intersection was delightfully confusing.

 Confusing Signage

I guess you go right, but is it easy, intermediate or advanced?

Eventually, I discovered the secret of the markings. Arrows mark the recommended direction of travel, independent of their color. In lieu of arrows, you can also follow anything bright orange - ribbons, paint or other markers. Green arrows don't mean "easy trail." Yellow arrows don't mean "these arrows were once red and this is an advanced trail." All arrows just mean "go this way". I guess. There were Red, Blue and Green triangles here and there, and what they apparently meant was "the general area behind this triangle is easy, intermediate or difficult."

There's one creek that runs through the property, from north-to-south. Along that creek, I ran into the ruins of some old holding tanks or something.

 Holding Tanks

They were made out of sheet metal, nailed (not screwed) together. There was old pipework running between them. There is another set of these in the Bowman's Island unit of the Chattahoochee Recreation Area near my house, way out in the middle of nowhere, also right along the creek. Do they fill up when if floods? Are you supposed to put something in them to inject it into the water supply? I have no idea.

Around the back side of the property, the trail followed fire breaks through some piney woods, strewn with boulders...

 Clayton County International Park Main Trail

...and other odd debris.


This is my new favorite obstacle. You ride through the door.

 Trail Door

Eventually the trail led out of the woods and around the perimeter of the property. It was a little hard to follow. There isn't enough traffic to kill the grass. Looking closely, I could see some really faint yellow marking paint here and there, but I pretty much just guessed, and followed this levee wall thing on my left.

When I got back to the parking lots, the Universoul Circus was setting up their tents.

 Universoul Circus Trailer

 Universoul Circus Tend

I'd heard them banging around while I was out on the trail, but it sounded like gunfire - somebody shooting at targets or something. I wouldn't have guessed it was a crew setting up a circus.

There are probably about 5 or 6 miles of trail out there, but it took hours to map it all out. I spun another lap around in what had to be less than half an hour. That lap felt smooth and flowy and was actually a lot of fun, like a lap at a 6 hour race. It helped that I knew which way to go. I thought about spinning another one, but it was getting lateish and it's supposed to snow hardcore tonight. I needed to get back home.

I hadn't thought about it on the drive down, but driving back through the ATL, it occurred to me... Doc Chey's.

 Doc Cheys

A day that starts with the Dutch Monkey and ends with Doc Cheys... that's a good day even without a good ride, but the ride was good too, so, you know, icing on the cake. I don't think I'd drive an hour and a half just to hit it again, but maybe if I'm in the neighborhood... Actually, I'd be interested to see what it's like in the summer, and it's semi-close to my brother's house, and my dad's house. Maybe I will end up driving an hour and a half to ride it again.