Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Silk Sheets

I was telling my brother... I've been riding a lot lately. I think I rode 30-40 miles every day last week except Friday. I've done plenty of riding, but they've all just been "rides". One of the things I loved so much about mountain biking and hiking is that I didn't go out for a "ride" as much as I went out for an "experience". It's not impossible to have that on the road bike too, but it's way less likely. You have to work at it. I've really been missing that.

Our ride this past Saturday almost qualified though. Almost.

We planned to do 60 or 70 out on the Silk Sheets. On the phone John said "meet me where you did last time" which I mistakenly took for "meet me where we met the last time we rode together" - at PBR in Douglasville, from where you can do a 70 mile route out to the Silk Sheets and back, but what he meant, which seemed so obvious to me later, was "meet me where you did the last time we rode the Silk Sheets." So I sat in the parking lot of PBR for like 15 minutes before that occurred to me.


I did eventually meet him at the correct location though and we got going right away.

It had been raining sporadically all over the metro ATL and though no water was currently falling from the sky, the roads were so wet that we had to ride staggered to keep from showering each other until we got south of Hutchensons Ferry.

Somewhere way south past the Roscoe store, there's a long, very gradual climb that John calls "Le Col de la Flint" because its in the Chattahoochee-Flint region, as opposed to the Chattahoochee Hills region. There's a little sign at the beginning that says something like that at least. So we charged up the Le Col de la Flint and it deposited us way out in the middle of nowhere.

Middle of Nowhere

Somewhere out there we passed through what was left of a little community along the railroad. There was a really old building called The Tin Gin that looked well preserved, a couple of old stone buildings and an old rock wall. Kathryn would have loved The Tin Gin. I'll have to find it again. Beyond that was a barren waste of a clear cut off to the right.

The Barren Waste

I guess the hills in the distance are around Rockmart or something. I didn't expect to see them, and I'll have to take a look on a map. There might be some good climbing over that way.

And that was it. Nothing but more woods for a long time.

Woods and ominous weather. We'd been watching a storm off to the right for most of the ride and it looked like we'd be riding into it eventually. It's one thing to get caught in the rain, but it's quite another to deliberately ride into it. Takes a little spirit.

We turned north and eventually back east toward home, and almost as soon as we did, rode into the rain. Fortunately it wasn't that bad, and it came on gradually. It never really poured.

A Little Rain

We had to ride staggered though to keep out of the spray and the one car that passed us was a guy in an H3 who pulled alongside, screamed something incoherent about taking up a third of the lane, set off his traction control when he swerved back into our lane, and then continued to set it off as he accelerated around the curve ahead of us.

The next 10 miles were uneventful aside from getting pelted in the eyes by raindrops. "The goggles do nothing!" It was a bit like that.

We stopped in Roscoe for water and I took the opportunity to wash my gloves. Normally one tries to keep ones gloves dry, but they were already wet from the rain. I often take off my helmet, put my gloves and the stuff from of my pockets in it, and throw it on the floor of the garage. Though I wash my bib, socks and jersey, the gloves are often neglected, and as such, were absolutely disgusting and inviable for wiping rain from my face. They needed a bath, badly, as the grey water that drained from them attested.

Somewhere closer to home we saw some flares on the road, and coming around the curve, ran into a police officer directing traffic around a firetruck. He smiled at us. "Man, you guys are crazy." I guess it does seem a crazy to be riding a bike in the rain, miles from anywhere, to a normal person at least... Past the firetruck were some skid marks. A pickup had overcooked it in the curve, slid off of the road and down a near vertical embankment into some trees. The trees had crushed the cab and the wreck just looked unsurvivable. My first thought was of the guy in the H3 earlier, but it wasn't him. It was a green pickup.

Wet roads. We took it easy around the last curve on Cochrans Mill.

In the end, I think we ended up doing 65 rather than 70, but it was a good 65. More importantly, between the rain, sights, and eventualities, it was closer to "an experience" than just "a ride."

May I have more.


Man, I have been buried in a project, for as long as I can remember. Weeks go by and I'm like "What day is it again?"

Case in point, my brother and I rode around Douglasville two weekends ago and I'm just now realizing that I have photos on my phone from the ride.

We met up at PBR and rode out from there.


When I first started out on the road, I was on the Bicycle Outfitters MTB team and I'd religiously drive down from Alpharetta in 5 o-clock traffic to hit the 6PM group ride in Douglasville. There were 2 routes that we used to do, depending on how much daylight we had - a 30 and 50. I have so many good memories of those roads but It's been years and years since I've been on them.

We rode most of the 50 that day and it was like meeting up with an old friend.


Some things were different - there's a new neighborhood off of Mirror Lake road with a screaming descend down to the lake, John had found a better route from Liberty Road back toward town, and Coursey Lake has been developed. But some things were just the same. Mirror Lake road is still super rough and the hills on Liberty Road and Coursey Lake aren't any less steep. I may be a little stronger these days though. Just a bit.

Two very interesting things happened too.

We passed a baby deer nursing from its mother. I've seen precious few baby deer in my life, rarely any deer during the middle of the day, and to my knowledge, the only animals I'd ever seen nursing before were cows and humans. Awesome!

Also, we needed to merge into a left turn lane and though John signaled, with what appeared to be plenty of time, the guy behind us maybe thought John was telling him to move over or something. As John began to merge, the guy sped up, ended up right next to me, and came really close to John's back wheel before letting up. It sounds sketchy buy John was looking back the whole time and ready to dodge if he had to. Then he was all "Jesus man, hand signal not enough for you?!" or something to that effect. When I merged, the guy pulled up alongside me and rolled his window down. I expected threats and incoherent screaming but instead he was really calm and nice, explained that "the signal seemed a little quick" and caught him off guard, and was effusively apologetic for how close he came to us. Then he pulled up to John and reiterated the same. Wow! How often does that happen?

We eventually made it back to PBR, grabbed some lunch at Taco Mac and watched a little of the Copa do Mundo.

The one thing that stood out to me more than anything else though. The heat. It's getting to be nice and warm these days. It was 97 on that particular day and I could feel that fluttery stomach action for a lot of the ride. Most of my rides these days are in the evening when it's cool but it sure is warm in the middle of the day. Woohoo!

I need to get in some more of that.