Monday, May 1, 2017

Cochran Mill

I rode with my brother at Cochran Mill last Thursday evening. I think it was last Thursday. The flowing singletrack was a welcome change from the endless gravel and unmaintained road miles I'd been getting so much of at Pine Log.

We spun two loops on the hill back by Henry's Mill before heading back to the lot to meet Justin. John noticed Glen's truck in the lot too. We hadn't planned to meet him, and he was out on the trail somewhere, but we hoped to run into him.

We ended up heading up the road to hit the Big Ridge Loop, and ran into Glen just as he came off of it and was planning on going home. Glen is funny. He's well known for short, incredibly fast rides. Like, he'll drive out, ride for an hour, average 17+ MPH, and go home. I remember way back in the cross-country days, he'd ride so hard on his first lap, that people would try to follow him, and blow up. Then he'd ease back to a reasonable pace, and the rest of us on his team would catch him and pass all of the guys he shelled. I don't know if he planned it that way, or if he was just riding, and that's how he likes to ride, but it worked out really well for us, and not badly for him either.

Anyway, there's a new section of trail that was recently built, called Tasty Grub. It's basically a side-loop off of Big Ridge, kind of early on. Glen followed us for that, then headed back. We finished out Big Ridge, and I managed to flat right before where you turn to head back to the road.

One of my CO2's was empty and the other didn't do an exceptional job of inflating the tire, so I had to nurse it a bit on the way out.

It was officially dark in the woods as we rode out. I'm not sure how we managed to see the trail. Justin actually had to stop and to put his headlamp on.

Two days later I met John out there again. He tried to get Marc and Justin to join us but they were both heading up to Mulberry Gap for the Brutal Loop, which is what I probably would have been doing too, if I'd had the foresight, and the cash, at the time.

So, it was just me and the frere. We planned to ride the whole system in 4 lollipops, which I had recently calculated to be 20.6 miles, give or take.

We ran into Karen (a friend of Glen and Justin's) back near Henry's Mill, and then into a large black rat snake a few seconds later.

Black Rat Snake at Cochran

We ended up running into the same snake as we finished up the loop too. It had basically gone about 15 feet in however long it took us to ride. Ahh, the life of a snake. Eat. Conserve energy. Repeat.

A huge blowdown had been cut out on the Henry's Mill trail. Little did we know that there had been blowdowns all over the place.

We had to take an alternate route to get around another one on the east side. Fortunately, the alternate route was clear.

There were a lot of people on the Cascades trail. The various falls were raging, the pools were deep, and folks were out enjoying the water.

There were a few downed trees, including one pretty significant section near Still Creek, but we made it to the upper falls without too much trouble. There's a lot of slickrock up there though, it had a lot of water trickling down it, and I was a little apprehensive about sidehilling it. I could imagine it taking out my tires and sliding all the way down to the creek. Fortunately there was a good line, it was pretty obvious, and there was no such calamity.

On the Nature Trail, however, we faced no shortage of calamity.

There was a blowdown stretching from the creek, all the way up to the top of the hill, and the whole area smelled strongly of pine. We had a hell of a time carrying over the first set of trunks. The next set was even worse, and kept pushing us further from the trail and further into the swamp. We knew the trail eventually climbed the hill, but as far uphill as we could see there was just more blowdown.

Eventually, we gave up, backtracked, and headed out on Cascades again. We even warned some hikers on their way in. They'd apparently had a tough time with the Waterfall Trail already, and weren't looking for more of the same.

In the middle of all of that, we ran into another snake.

Another Black Rat Snake at Cochran

Another black rat snake, to be exact. Seems like the most common snake I see.

Big Ridge, Tasty Grub, and 5 Turn Hill were all clean and clear. Other than a few bad lines, we didn't have any real trouble with them.

Thank goodness.

All tallied, we'd ridden more than 21 miles, even without the Nature Center/Waterfall loop. On the one hand, my route calculations must have been off somehow, but on the other hand, we ended up riding about the distance we'd planned on anyway, so it all came out in the wash.

Good times!

In other news, I recently also figured out how to add Cochran into my Dirty Sheets 50, making it a Dirty Sheets 75, so I'll have to give that a try sometime in the next few months too.

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