Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blanket's Creek

Well, miracles do happen, it would seem. This past weekend a little one came my way and I found myself riding at Blankets Creek. The last time I rode there was the 6 hour Race to Sunset in like 2011 or 2012.

Things have changed.

There's some snazzy new signage.

Blankets Creek Signage

And the parking lot is like 4 times bigger.

Blankets Creek Lot

Awesome. I barely recognized the place. That happens out there though, every few years it seems. I first rode Blankets in 2000 and things have been changing ever since.

One funny thing too... Along with the new parking lot comes a new bathhouse with 4 bathrooms. BOTH bathrooms on the front side are for women and BOTH bathrooms on the back side are for men. So, if you glance at one sign, read "Women" and then just figure that the other one must be for men, you'd be wrong! Also, there's a little sign that says "Men" with an arrow pointing around back on the right hand side. So, if you glance at the one sign and read "Women" and then glance in the direction of the other bathroom and read "Men" out of the corner of your eye and figure that the other one is for men, you'd be wrong!!! I didn't make this mistake, but apparently it's easy to do.

My poor neglected mountain bike was covered in spider webs.

The Sled

Everything worked though, surprisingly. I didn't even have to bleed a brake. As much of a junk show as that bike has become, it keeps rolling.

Billy met me after a few minutes and we tore off into the woods...

About halfway around the Mosquito Flats I slid out in a turn and crashed. I might need some new tires but I mainly blamed it on roadie brain and roadie skills. Got to keep the weight off of the front wheel on dirt. Or at least more-off of it. Most everything else just came back naturally though, and I didn't crash again.

To ...

We rode the Dwelling Loop and then hit the South Loop.

Billy Climbing on the South Loop

One thing I noticed on both loops that I hadn't seen in years past - lots of little trails down to the lake, and lots of little trails into the neighborhoods. I guess the people that live in the neighborhoods use the trails to access the lake. Hmm... I wonder what the fishing is like in Lake Allatoona.

The other thing I noticed was deer. An abundance of deer. I passed within a foot of a small doe, switched back, stopped and took this photo of Billy riding past the same deer. Deer on the left, Billy on the right.

Deer to the Left

Then he switched back and stopped and we watched it for a while, figuring it would eventually run away.


We left only after getting bored of watching it. Later we saw another lone doe, a lone buck, and a mother and fawn. Deer everywhere! Unafraid!

The woods out there has changed a lot over the past few years too. The pines that grew up in the old fire road corridors are bigger around. There used to be dense brush from the edge of the old roads waaay into the woods, but now it's only dense right up by the roads. The woods is much more open and you can see a long way.

It was especially pretty on the South Loop.

Me Climbing Through the Greenery

Right in the sketchiest part of the South Loop, there was this pretty big ribbon snake just hanging out on the trail. I like snakes but Billy really DOESN'T like snakes. When it saw me coming, it moved just like 2 feet downhill. The backslope is super steep there, so it had a hard time keeping still and kept sliding really slowly downhill. When Billy pulled up I was all "Cool, check that out..." and he just thought I was pointing down at the slope and the lake before he saw the snake, so he was all "Yeah, check that out... ohhh, F-that, nooo-ooo!"

Ha, ha.


We rolled through Quell Holler, catching only pitiful, pitiful air. My 14-year old self would have been ashamed of me, had it still existed.

For as long as it's been since I've been to Blankets, it's been even longer for Billy. He didn't even know that Van Michaels existed. Ha!

The climbing was crushing.

Billy Climbing on Van Michaels Van Michaels Switchback

But we had a great time descending. I even got a small amount of water splashed up on me at one point. Man, it's really been a while since THAT has happened.

I wish I could say it was some kind of epic ride, but really it just felt like getting my bearings. I fought the bike a little at first. I had to think a lot. I really need to go back and just turn laps until it feels effortless. I'd done that at Sope Creek way back - just rode until something clicked and it felt like old times. Maybe I can do it again.

Blankets Creek... I will see you again soon.

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