Monday, May 30, 2016

Blanket's Creek and Rope Mill

I've done the Blanket's Creek - Rope Mill combo so much that I don't even write about doing it any more.


My brother John had never done it until this past weekend. So, I guess that's worth writing about.

We'd tried to ride it the weekend before, but just couldn't make it work out. It had rained all day Friday, rained again Friday night, and then he was busy late Saturday through the end of the weekend.


This past weekend it worked out great. We met around 4, and got on the trail by 5. Got to love the summer. You can start riding at 5 and still have nearly 4 hours of light.

John's gear bike is hurting right now so he brought the single speed.

1gle speed

Or onegle speed as I was calling it that day. Blankets is pretty good on the single speed, and I imagine Rope Mill is even better.

We rode Dwelling and Van Michaels first, then headed out and over to Rope Mill.


The singlespeed did kind of suck for a short little bit on the road, I think. There's a quarter mile or so where he was spun out, and then another quarter mile where he had to stand for most of it. But, hey, that's the game.

Crossing 400 always makes it seem like an Adventure, and this time was no exception.


On the way down to the trail, we passed a guy walking. He had no shirt, and what appeared to be one working eye. He was so well tanned that I thought maybe he didn't own a shirt. He spoke like a crazy old coot, but his words were substantially more sensible than his tone of voice would predispose you to imagine. He was trying to figure out how to get to the "wider part of the river". He'd been down to the park and that wasn't where he wanted to be. Oddly, he seemed to think that the river was wider upstream, or at least wider in the direction he was pointing, which was upstream. I reassured him that he had been, in fact, heading in the right direction, and that the river gets wider as it approaches the lake, not upstream: "Keep going down this road, hit the river, stay right, follow the river. It gets wider and wider as it approaches the lake." For this I received a sideways high five and he was off!

He had no belongings with him, and from his lack of geographical insight, clearly wasn't well educated, or local. Why was he so interested in "where the river gets wider"? Clearly not to fish. Train tracks border the back of the property though, and I've seen people that more clearly ride the rails along that road from time to time. Best I could figure, he was one too. There could be a camp down along the river. I've never seen it, but I really haven't looked. His belongings might be stashed in the woods somewhere while he finds it...

This made sense to me at the time, but really, who knows?

John had literally never ridden any part of Rope Mill, and given how much I have, that seemed crazy. I guess he's never ridden Allatoona either though. But, I've never ridden Cochran Mill, so maybe we're even.

Rope Mill was fantastic. We had to ride the less fun direction, but it's hardly not-fun, just a little less fun than the other direction. Actually, I shouldn't say that. The Mill part is less fun, but I like the Explorer trails more in that direction.

We ended up riding whichever the green trail is twice because I screwed up the turn on to whichever the blue trail is, as I have done several times, and never seem to be able to get right in that direction. No big loss though. John described it as the perfect no-brake trail, and I suddenly realized what I've been missing for the past year and a half...

We used to have this philosophy about not hitting the brakes. It wasn't just a goal, it was a way of life. It was a key differentiator. I was off the mountain bike for over a year and a half, but I made a serious effort when I was back on it, and felt like I recovered all my skills and most of my strength. But no! Ha! That was the missing piece. Brakes. Or rather lack thereof. How could I forget? And, what a difference! Stay off the brakes Dave! Just making the effort made the second lap noticeably easier than the first. Maybe not materially faster, but it took way less effort. Ha! God, I've been fighting myself all this time...

So, after that little revelation, we shredded that blue trail that I forget the name of, and then the Explorer trails as well, before heading back over to Blankets.

The ride was great. John was impressed with Rope Mill. I was impressed that I was able to stay on the gas all day. If it had been a race, I wouldn't have completely embarrassed myself. I say "completely" because my tiny wheels would certainly have embarrassed me some amount, but my lack of cratering would have averted total humiliation.

I'm thinking pretty seriously about doing the Race to Sunset. I guess if I do, I'll have a chance to find out for sure.

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