Sunday, February 27, 2011


This past week was a marathon: late nights at work, gym meet in Sevierville, Father/Daughter dance at the girls' school, and today I rode at Bull/Jake again. Yeah, I rode there last week, but my brother and Hirsch wanted to ride there this weekend, I haven't ridden with either of them nearly enough, I had a great time there last weekend... I was all about it.

I got up early to fix my old-and-busted rear derailleur, which turned out not to be busted because of getting water in the housing, but rather because the cable had frayed up inside the shifter. There were only 2 strands still holding together. It's a wonder it hadn't snapped on me last weekend. I got that squared up though, met my bro at ATL Bread at 9 and got to the Jake Lot at 10. Shortly thereafter, a bunch of equestrians arrived, followed closely by Hirsch and some dudes he'd brought with him.

 Jake Lot

I recognized two of the guys' bikes from various races but I didn't know them; they were Philip and Jacob, from Birmingham, in town for the Southern-X yesterday. Ron from Faster Mustache was also there. I know I've seen him before, and pretty sure I've met him before, but neither of us could remember when or where.

I talked to one of the guys on horseback for a minute: "Where are the trails?" He knew about the Bull/Jake Connector, but I told him about Jake proper and he headed off that way.

We rolled out at about ten minutes to eleven. I was sure I was forgetting something. Marc and I joked about it but I couldn't figure it out.

Bull/Jake Connector -> 83 Bypass -> Bull Parking Lot Connector...

At the Bull lot we waited for Ron who, as it turned out, had ridden down the road. There were two ladies there with some apprehensive horses. She brought one of them over to introduce him to me and my bike. I talked to him, but he kept looking at me sideways. He wasn't really sure. "Yeah, you sound like a guy, but I don't recognize that creature you're riding."

We headed up Bull. There were some grade reversals on the new cut that I hadn't noticed last week. Not really deep ones, but they were there. I guess we'll see how it holds up. Climbing Bull was fast and fun. We passed the same lady out hiking with her dog that I saw last week at the dam. She said she lived nearby. Nice lady, cute dog.

The weather was in the low 70's and it felt warm. Marc was all "This feels hot, what are we going to do when it's 85 degrees?" Yeah, I remember 85 being cool last summer. It's funny how you acclimate, and funny how you forget.

The guys from Birmingham had never ridden there before, so we stopped at the truck for the obligatory photo op.

 Phillip on the Truck

Rex and a buddy of his were there when we rolled up. I guess he didn't get enough last week either.

I had realized a few minutes earlier that what I had forgotten when we rolled out was to apply some Chamois Butt'r. Fortunately either Jacob or Philip (I forget who now) had half of one of those single-packs left over from yesterday and I was more grateful than you might imagine.

Riding through the rhodo tunnels on Bare Hare, one of the Birmingham dudes commented on how cool they are and that they don't have them in Birmingham. Since we are apparently botany nerds, this led to a discussion about whether it was actually rhododendron or some kind of magnolia. I'm pretty sure it's magnolia, and since I am king nerd, I was going to look it up in this little book that I have when I got back to the car, but of course, I forgot, and now we may never know.

On the Bare Hare singletrack descent, Jacob popped his chain, I got a stick jammed through both jockey pulleys on my rear derailleur, John dropped one of his bottles (which he dropped again on the fire road) and also popped the zip tie holding his front brake line to his fork, which he fixed by tying part of a granola bar wrapper around it.

On the fire road descent, I got a wasp or a yellow jacket or something in my jersey, and it stung my back six times before it finally ran out of poison or something and gave up.

Next we climbed Lance Creek road. I hadn't been up there in a while. About 3/4ths of the way up, I started fading. I'd been on the front all day, but for a minute there, I dropped back and had to ride myself back on, which I was only partially successful at doing. The babyhead climb was rideable, though it wasn't immediately clear what had been done. At the very top, some work had been done to fill in some ruts and create turnouts, but in the rocks themselves, it didn't look like they'd been bulldozed out of the way. More like dirt had somehow filled in the space between them. It made me wonder if all that rain we got earlier this year had just washed the road down into the rocks and then they went up and fixed the road. Hard to say. It was still a tough climb.

We rolled back down Bull Proper. It's been a long time since I descended Bull and man, it was fun. I forget how fun it is. I used to ride Bull after work twice a week a few years ago. I wonder if I can get a few after-work rides in up there again this year. Not too far down, we passed the ladies we'd seen in the Bull parking lot earlier, with the apprehensive horses. They still seemed a little unsure of us. Nervous or not though, they must have been pretty fit. It's relatively rare to see horses on the Bull loop. It's a long way up and a long way between sources of water.

We passed the lady and her dog again about 2/3rds of the way down.

At the foot of Bull, Jacob and Philip had to bail. They'd ridden the Southern-X yesterday and weren't up for more than a few hours on the bike today. Still, given that they'd raced the day before, they'd put in some really stout miles. I got Jacob's number. Next time I'm in Alabama, I'll give him a ring.

Me, John and Hirsch rolled out on Jones Creek Ridge, where they'd done some controlled burning since last week.

 Controlled Burn on Jones Creek

It smelled kind of weird; not just like burnt wood, but sweet and flowery. Marc thought it smelled like burned plastic. Maybe.

The food plot had not escaped the burn...

 Controlled Burn at Food Plot

...but it was hemmed in by the roads and ended at FS77A.

We headed up 77 for a minute, and stopped to eat and take a break at top of the first rise.


My brother had been having a semi-rough day. For the first time in recorded history, I was in better shape than he was, and he was feeling it. From what I've seen in the past though, he'll drop 12 pounds in two weeks and be all that much stronger for having ridden around with the extra weight. I don't expect I'll be on the front for long.

But, today he was feeling it and he was all: "This is Winding Stair, right?" "Yes." "Ok, I just want you to know I'm not climbing that." Ha ha. I had actually thought about climbing it, but I didn't tell him that.

Instead, we took Turner Creek around to 28-1, which was really fun, and John bailed back to the car there. Hirsch and I rode Black Branch, which was fun, but kind of tough, and neither of us had much left in the tank at the end.

Turning back onto 28-1, we saw a green blur roll by. It looked like Eddie, but I couldn't be sure. Whoever it was, they were over the next hill and out of sight immediately and we were way too toasted to even think of chasing him down. It turned out that it was Eddie. He was out clearing Southern-X markings. We rode by him at the 28-77 intersection but he saw us, shouted and we talked to him for a while. It was cool to run into our friend, but we were pretty motivated to get done and he had work to do, so we didn't hang out for too long.

The climb over the Bull/Jake Connector was taxing. When we were done, it was good to be done. We'd only ridden 4 hours, but it was a full 4 hours.

Right as we got back, some teenagers drove up, and as they were getting ready to ride, one of them commented on how the other had no helmet. I had just bought a new one. The rear strap of my old one was giving out. It still worked, but it wasn't as tight as it should be. Still, it was better than nothing, so I gave the kid my old helmet. "Oh man, my mom's going to be so happy..." I'll bet. Enjoy.

I rolled through the horse camp on the way out. I'd seen Debbie's trailer there earlier, but she was gone by then. I've only seen her up there working, it's nice to see she's able to get out and ride sometimes.

We at at El Jinete in Dawsonville, which I've seen 100,000,000 times, but never managed to try before. Their Chile Colorado was very spicy. I'll eat there again.

But the marathon wasn't quite over. The roof rack on the Outback has been incredibly noisy: "Wooooooooo" and Clark had 2 Yakima fairings from old racks of his that he wasn't using, so as soon as I got home and unloaded, I grabbed my family and headed up to Sautee to see if either of them would fit. Clark had to dremel off about an 8th of an inch on either side of the 33 incher, but it fit, and it worked like a charm.

Sophie made a new friend too. Chloe the dog.

 Sophie and Chloe

Apparently when Sophie sat down next to her, she put her head in her lap and kept it there most of the night. Their fur didn't bother Kathryn's allergies either.

We all win!

Next weekend is the Huracan 300. I've got most of my gear together. My bike seems to be working pretty well. I've been riding as much as I've had time for. All that's left is to go for it. I can't even conceive of how Rob set his 41 hour record time, so I'm not likely to threaten that. I might even finish dead last. My goal this year is simply to finish. Wish me luck. Here I go.


  1. Well can't wait to see you out here. You ever seen any grayhound racing they run fast cause they are chasing a rabbit. Rob rides fast cause he's being chases by an Indian.