Monday, February 21, 2011


Today (the 20th) is my birthday. Travis and Norma texted me something about a ride this past Wednesday, but it kind-of looked like the texts that I used to get from my old job, so I half-ignored them, figuring somebody was screwing around with nagios, only to finally read them the next day and realize that my birthday was coming up. I, of course, forgot again until my brother reminded me Friday night, and forgot again until somebody mentioned it Saturday afternoon. You'd think I'd keep track of these things, but some part of my brain must be in denial about it.

After Iz's gym meet yesterday, I spent the entire afternoon/evening researching and rigging up a means of hauling around my bike on the new Outback. I ended up cobbling together a roof rack from old parts. It leaves much to be desired, but it'll get the job done until I can do better. I spent the rest of the evening cleaning the Heritage off of my bike and got fewer than 5 hours of sleep.

Sunday morning, Norma had a ride going at 8:30 from the Jake lot. From the terseness of the email I figured it'd be Travis, her, me and maybe Johnny, but she'd brought half of North Georgia with her. I'd ridden with most of them before - Rob, Brad, Rex, Matt and Becky, and of course Norma and Johnny. There was a guy with them that I didn't know - Scott, and he turned out to be pretty cool.

 Jake Lot

Travis, however, didn't make it. Apparently his Stan's had failed, leaving both tires flat and despite his best efforts, they were flat again this morning. What a drag. Fix your bike Travis! I want to ride with you some more.

Prior to the roll out, I made a pit stop at the port-a-potty in the horse camp. Every single spot was taken. It was a beautiful day and every horseman in the tri-state area was riding at Jake. I talked to some of them for a few minutes, making sure we were parked out of the way enough for the horse trailers. We also joked about how far we were riding (which seemed inconceivable to them) and whether they'd need to bring ropes with them in case they found us dead along the trail and needed to drag us back to the lot.

When I got back, everybody was gone. They'd apparently rolled out and only noticed I was missing a few minutes later. Norma had come back to find me. We caught up and the ride was underway...

..for maybe 10 minutes until the only stick in the entire trail caught Rob's rear derailleur and sheared it right off.

 Rob's Derailleur

Rob's no rookie though, and he'd brought a spare hanger. Five minutes later we were rolling again.

We passed a suspicious looking guy at the end of the 83-bypass, took the parking lot connector down to the lot and headed over to the foot of Bull Mountain, where we noticed some trail work has been done recently.

Back in '08 or '09, I forget now, the Forest Service hired Woody Keen to teach some trail design and maintenance classes and then do an assessment of the Bull/Jake trails. I went to the classes and meetings and made some recommendations about what I thought should be done out there. Since then, Woody did the assessment and came up with a prescription and the USFS hired a professional trail builder to implement some parts of it. It looked like they'd finished some of it up recently.

The old trail:

 Old Bull

The new trail:

 New Bull

I tagged along with Walt Bready back in '09 I think to flag the corridor for that section of trail. The new trail followed that corridor at first, but instead of climbing up around the first draw, it switched back, crossed the main trail, wound around, crossed back and then eventually joined back up with the corridor we'd come up with. It looked like a better solution. I have to say though, I didn't notice any grade reversals, or at least no really obvious ones like at Jackrabbit or FATS. I'll have to ride it again though, I was pushing pretty hard at the time and it would have been easy to miss them.

Near the top of the new stuff, we ran into Debbie and Jess from the CTHA. I'd seen her truck parked at the bottom and thought it was her. They were up there to retrieve some bikes that somebody had abandoned on the trail. Presumably they had ridden up, decided it was too hard and just abandoned their bikes (and perhaps cycling itself) forever. Who knows though. If you somehow end up reading this, thanks for taking care of that Debbie. I meant to say so at the time, but my brain was running on one and a half cylinders.

The rest of the ascent up Bull involved riding...


...standing around...

 Standin Around

...and fixing more busted stuff.

 Norma's Front Tire Hell

Norma's front tire was giving her fits. She's put a tiny hole in the sidewall and the Stan's wasn't fixing it. She juiced it once, put a patch on the outside the second time, and then finally had to just put a tube in it.

We passed the bikes Debbie was up there to retrieve.

 Abandoned Bikes

They were just lying on the side of the trail. They were Wal-Mart bikes, but they didn't look too busted up. I really want to know the story behind them.

There was more trail work up on Bare Hare. I was disappointed to see that all of the loose rock that had been removed from one of the short, fun descents. I imagine it had to be to get the dingo through though. I might have put it back, myself. The entrance to the Bare Hare downhill had been improved, but I'm not exactly sure what was done. I can only vaguely remember what it looked like before. It seemed like it was about the same except for some additional rolling dips, but somehow it was a lot easier to climb.

The descent was as fast and fun. Some work had been done, though at the speed I was going, it was tough to tell exactly what. It seemed to mostly follow the old trail, but it was less chunky and much faster.

We cruised down the fireroad, crossed Lance Creek, rolled through Booger Holler and back around to the foot of Bull. Nobody had any new mechanicals. Everybody seemed to be able to keep a similar pace. There were definitely some stronger folks in the group, but they seemed content to ride easy or do intervals. Somewhere in there, we ran into Mike Horwitz and his buddy Franklin. We talked to them for a while, and they headed up Bull.

We took Jones Creek out to FS77. A lady was out hiking with her dog on the dam. The lake was super low. I've never seen it high, but never that low either. I wanted to see how the work we'd done out there last year was holding up, but we went through it so quickly, it was almost impossible to see. Up 77, right on 28A, right on Turner Creek. It looked like some work had been done on Turner Creek too. Maybe by hand? I didn't see any machine marks until we got down around 28B. It wasn't clear if the work was complete either. Again, we were flying through, and I only noticed the big, obvious changes.

Somewhere in there, my rear derailleur cable started getting bound up. I knew I shouldn't have washed my bike last night. It was ghost shifting, double-shifting, not shifting... Weee. On the approach to Black Branch it was really bad, even up front I couldn't get it to drop. Looks like I've got some work to do there. Black Branch was as fun as it usually is. While waiting for some folks to catch up, we noticed this neat little sculpture thing.


Near the end of Black Branch, I caught my left foot on a rock at the bottom of a hill and it kicked me forward really hard. Rex was confident I was going down, and he locked it up. I managed to hold it together, but it took a lot out of me.

At No-Tell, we stopped for a minute and I realized that both of my brakes were dragging really bad. I love Magura Marta's except for when I hate them. When the pads wear a bit, the caliper grab unevenly and you have to reshim them. Then, you have to do it again later. They're light though, and they were expensive, so I put up with it. The front brake was suffering from some of that. In the rear, it looked like the whole wheel was way off to the left. At first I thought my hub had come loose, but it wasn't that. The nut on my rear skewer is supposed to be used without a spring, but whenever I take the bike to the shop, they invariably put a spring in there, and half the time when I put the wheel in, it gets clamped funny. When I fixed it, I felt like I was on my road bike. Had it been like that all day?

My derailleur cable was still acting up though, and my legs were winding down. The Kicklighters were crushing me up No-Tell.

We spun up No-Tell, down and around Turner and back through the connector to Jones Creek. The breeze blowing through the weeds as I rode across the dam felt really good and I had one of those "yeah, this is why I ride" moments. This photo doesn't capture it, but looking at it reminds me.

 Jones Creek Dam

I nearly cratered climbing up off the dam. We ran into Horwitz and Franklin again at the foot of Bull, almost in the same spot we'd seen them before. Franklin had tweaked his thumb up on Bull somewhere. We took the 83 bypass and the Bull/Jake Connector back to the car and it felt like the Wednesday road ride - barely hanging on at the top of every hill.

At the corner of FS83 and FS28-1, we held up for the group and there were a pair of riders watering their horses just up the road. I recognized them from having seen them ride by during one of the work parties last year. The horses were beautiful. I need to learn breeds. They were brown with big patches of super-bright white on both sides and on their necks, and white manes. One of the horses looked small, but being down in the creek, I thought it was an optical illusion. It turned out, no, it was just a very young horse. We chatted with them while we waited.

"I think I wore my little horse out today."

Franklin was all "Yeah, I wore my little horse out too."

Norma, Johnny and Brad took off for another hour of riding. I half wanted to join them, but I'd already started to get undressed, thinking we were all done, and there was just no motivating me to put those sweaty clothes back on.

On the drive out, I passed the folks I'd seen earlier watering their horses. The lady was walking, giving her little horse a rest. I talked to them for a few minutes and got on the road. It was a tough ride home. I got a lot sleepier than I wanted to be, but not quite pull-over-you're-too-tired-to-drive sleepy.

Also, I'd been eating Margarita Clif Blocks all day (with extra salt!) and was starting to feel all blowed up like I do when I visit my in-laws in Baton Rouge and eat at Sammy's for three days straight.

On the upside, when I walked into the house I was greeted with all kinds of homemade festivities...

 Birthday Greetings

...and we went and ate dinner at Ippolito's with my brother, his family and my mom. The garlic rolls alone nearly put me in a coma. Except for the getting older part, it was a really good birthday. It was great seeing everybody, and it was a pretty fulfilling ride too. I hope that trend continues.

1 comment:

  1. What do you need for your Subaru rack? I have some old Yakima stuff floating around and would be happy to see if any of it might work for you.