Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cohutta Pinhoti

Cohutta Pinhoti!

Me and the frere have been trying to do a ride together for quite some time. Between his kids' cheer competitions and reliable weekend rain though, neither of us had heard much from each other for a couple of months. Fortunately, our luck changed a couple of weeks ago. Mark B. was getting a ride together from Mulberry Gap and it seemed like just the right kind of thing for both of us to get in on.

Bright and early that morning, I headed up through Ellijay...

Ellijay Billboard

...and arrived at Mulberry Gap at the appointed time. Mark is always punctual, and also he lives up there now, so he was already there, but everybody else was running a bit behind. No problem though, that just gave me more time to catch up with Andrew and Kate and Ginny. It had been quite a while since I'd seen them, all winter basically. Everybody seemed to be doing well. Diane's in Florida pretty much full time now, spoiling her grandson, or at least trying.

Marc, John, Chris, and Ed showed up a bit later, but not late enough to delay the actual start of the ride.

Andrew, Marc, and Chris

That's Andrew, Marc, and Chris, left-to-right.

I'd ridden with Chris like 2 times before. Once up there, and once in the Oconee, back in 2013. I was sure I'd ridden, or at least raced with Ed before. I recognized him and his bike, but I don't know when it might have been.

The weather was perfect. Slightly chilly even, but I was sure I wouldn't be chilly for long, climbing in the Cohuttas. We rolled out downhill, hung a right on CCC Camp Road, and that was about it for the downhill, for a long time.

Rolling Out

We passed that property that has the sign that says something like "Nothing on this property is worth risking your life over." Obviously implying that trespassers would be shot. Apparently two of the guys (can't remember which two) had seen and heard a guy fall off of a ladder on the property, last time they were riding up there. They even debated for a second whether verifying whether his life needed saving would be worth risking theirs. They decided yes, and helped the guy out. He was an elderly gentleman, but apparently as tough as you might expect, living on a farm in the mountains, and was hurt, but not badly injured. He thanked them, and kindly, didn't shoot them for trespassing.

Everybody had to either pee or shed layers at the Cohutta WMA sign, so I took a photo of it.

Cohutta WMA Sign

At this point, I was still mid-pack, having no trouble keeping up.

We stopped briefly at Barnes Creek Falls.

Ed at Barnes Creek Falls

And that was about it for keeping up.

It was like a lightswitch. I was off the back for the rest of the ride. At least while climbing.

We ran into a couple of guys at the overlook. I initially thought one of them was Glen Slater, but it wasn't. He just kind-of looked like him. Everybody else stopped, but I was about 20 seconds back by then. Everybody took off when I caught and I wasn't about to fall further off by gawking at the view, so sorry, no photos of that.

We ran into some fellas from MGap at the upper Bear Creek Lot. They'd shuttled up and were planning on downhilling back to Mulberry Gap. We wished them luck and did a little downhilling ourselves.

Switchbacks and Crossing Barnes Creek

After crossing Barnes Creek we assembled again and I led the descent down Bear Creek, at least, at first. Almost immediately, I lost my chain. I'd had to do some work on it a few days earlier, and forgotten to lock out the clutch. Dangit!

OHHHHH, also! The work I'd had to do was reroute the chain correctly through the derailleur. Between the jockey pulleys, there's this little chain guide that the chain has to go over. The last time I broke a link, I apparently routed it under the guide. It had been dragging on it for months. When you're in smaller gears, it's not so noticeable, but it was really, super noticeable when I was climbing. I figured the chain was just too short. It is a little short, but also, it was freakin' dragging hard against the guide.

For months!


Anyway, I'd fixed that, but it didn't seem to be helping me climb. Forgetting the clutch didn't seem to be helping me descend either.

A little later I got way sideways manualling a puddle and almost crashed. Then I got a stick jammed between the spokes and the frame. Then later I dabbed in a creek and had to walk around this guy standing there trying to figure out where to go. It was funny... The guy's female companions seemed to think that the trail kept going on that side, rather than cross the creek, which is a common mistake at that particular crossing. It's a really wide crossing there, and it kind-of goes around a corner. The guy was standing on a rock in the middle of the creek. He seemed to have gotten himself on one that he couldn't get off of without getting wet, and didn't know which way to go or what to do.

P1 was fun, but I was off the back again.

Mark was like "Sorry for passing you, but I just didn't want to wait any longer." Ha! Yeah. Yeah.

P2 was also great. I was off the back on the climb, but mostly kept up with Mark and John on the descent.

I love that trail, but the very tail end of it beats the heck out of me these days.

As we rolled back towards Mulberry, some of the guys were debating whether to ride P3 or not.

Post P2

John was like: "If we just take a left, we'll end up finishing it. So lets just take a left."

Ed ended up going straight, but the rest of us took a left.

It goes without saying that I was off the back again. But, I cleaned every switchback. I did dab once, but just in some random spot. I got passed by some dude going for a Strava KOM at one point. He passed everybody, it turned out. He was on a mission.

I was only about a minute back at Hwy 52, or so they said.

The frere was lookin' real photogenic that day.

Lookin Good

Real good!

I cleaned all of the switchbacks in the other direction, except the last one. Arguably I didn't dab until the rocks and roots that follow it on the next little climb, but I think of them as being part of the switchback.

Back at Mulberry, Ginny had some pulled pork sandwiches ready for us.

My God, they were good. Nothing quite like a pulled pork sandwich to hit the spot like that.

Lunch at MGap

There was some chocolate cake with fluffy whipped raspberry icing on it too. It almost hit the spot as hard as the sandwich, but I wasn't quite as hungry by then, so I'd have to relegate the cake to second place.

There was this reclining lawn furniture on the back deck too, so I reclined in it for long enough to worry about whether I'd get a sunburn or not. It was the first time this year I'd even thought about the sun.

Yeah, Cohuttas!

I'll be back up there for the Brutal Loop later this month, if all goes well. Can't wait.

Oh, yeah, on the way out, I stopped and took a photo of the rock wall and collapsed chimney of the old homestead ruins at the corner of Shakerag and Conasauga Road.

Shakerag Homestead Rock Wall Shakerag Homestead Chimney Pile

I've seen them there forever, but never managed to get a photo. That was kind of my last chance for a while too. They'll be totally obscured by leaves soon.

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