Friday, January 7, 2011

Winding Stair Night Ride

"It's been a little while since I been out tha house..." at night, at least. Being sick kept me from doing much at all, and the New Year's holidays gave me plenty of opportunity to ride during the day. It's back to the grind now though, so night rides are back on the menu.

Last night, Tim Winters joined me. It's odd how I know Tim. A while back I was looking for data on trails out west to put in my trails site and some folks on the SORBA forum said he had a ton of it. So I contacted him and he was like: "sure, feel free to scour my garmin connect account." Which I did, and realized that the two of us were at almost all of the same events, and continued to be at the same events all year, somehow never running into each other. Eventually we did though, I think at Tribble Mill. Ahh, the modern world. You can get to know people without ever meeting them, then when you do, it's like you're old friends.

So anyway, Tim joined me and we hit up the Winding Stair + Hawk Mountain loop. It had rained the day before, so we stuck to the roads. Maybe one day I'll get to hit some trails up there. I'm hoping to do a night ride on Bull Mountain proper sometime.

When we met up at 7, it was about 35 degrees. I spent like 30 minutes getting dressed and then we got going. My last remaining fleecy bib died last weekend, so though I was cozy everywhere else, from knee to waist I had only lycra to cover me, and that entire area went numb after a few minutes. It wasn't until right around Cooper Gap that I started to get good sensation back.

There was no moon to ride by, it was all lights. The Ranger camp was quiet. The quarry had a few icicles dangling, but nothing photo-worthy. The road was in good shape though, mostly dry, only a little soft here and there, and we made good time to Hightower. A little further up the road, Tim crushed his chain into some gigantic rock and bent his spider - not super bad, but enough to warrant some attention.

Some attention:

 Tim's Roadside Chainring Surgery

Unfortunately, deadfall that's frozen and thawed 20 times is tantamount to particle board and ineffective against precipitation-hardened aluminum. It was still rideable though, and we continued.

Up to Puncheon, up Hawk Mountain, back down the old firetower access trail from the peak which was more of a tunnel through the thorns than a proper trail, and back down to FS42. We were done with almost all of the climbing, but that just meant that we had a long, cold descent ahead. So far though, nether's having thawed, I was more comfortable than I'd been on these rides, so maybe the descent wouldn't be too bad.

As it turned out, it wasn't too bad. Tim dropped his chain a few times coming down Winding Stair, and had to lead with his vanilla foot to keep good chain tension, but it was manageable.

A big buck leapt across the road in front of us right where Winding Stair flattens out after the first descent. That was really cool. I've seen plenty of deer lately, but not in the mountains, and no bucks.

I'm starting to wonder about the Mountain King tires. If the tread is soft, I can really feel the rolling resistance, more so than with the Pythons. Also, I was really letting it go on Winding Stair, and still wasn't pulling away from Tim. That may have more to do with his awesomeness than my tires, but it seems like back in the day, it was quite a thing to be able to keep up with me on a descent like that. These days, everybody can do it. Am I just slower, or has everyone else gotten faster?

We hung a left on 28A, another left on 28, and climbed the tough rollers back to the church. Tim's rear brake was rubbing and it seemed like his wheel might have slipped forward during the incident with the rock, but again, it wasn't unmanageable.

Yay, night ride, and my toes were barely even numb. Much better than last time. The only real trouble was that I never felt warmed-up. My breathing was hard and erratic throughout the ride, and my muscles never got limber. That's how it goes sometimes though.

We both live in Cumming, so we caravanned back to the Waffle House on exit 14. Mmmm, mmmm. There, Tim discovered his ankle was hurting too. It seemed like that collision had taken quite a toll, but further inspection revealed that he'd left his rear skewer loose, and he remembered that he'd tweaked his ankle taking out the garbage or something. So, multiple, unrelated events had conspired to cause a set of seemingly related problems. That seems to happen to me a lot in software development. I imagine it happens in any kind of engineering. I wonder if there's some Law about it, like Murphy's Law or Finagle's Law: "Given a set of N, seemingly-related problems, there's a 53% change that there are N-1 different causes..." or something like that. Maybe I can come up with a Law like that. Watch, that'll end up being my life's work.

At any rate, it was a lot of fun and hopefully I'll get to try again next week. Maybe the weather will even cooperate enough to ride some trails.

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