Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Cohutta Pinhoti

A few weeks back I had a great idea!

I'd been spinning a lot of laps around Blankets recently, successfully dodging bad weather, and feeling reasonably strong. I'd had a few successful rides in the Blue Ridge WMA area, but it had been a while since I'd ridden in the Cohuttas. Not a terribly long while, but long enough to make me want to get in some more.

So, me and Sophie drove up to Mulberry Gap. I rode while she milled around the place, did a little summer homework, and kicked back.

Kate had just returned from a rough trip to Kansas where some wicked dehydration had put her in the hospital. I'd read the story, but it was cool to hear it firsthand. I could totally relate too, the same kind of thing nearly happened to me the last time I did the Huracan.

I changed in the midstation bathhouse and noticed this weird dedication on the back of the toilet.

In Memory

What could it mean??? Last I heard, Brett Davidson was alive and well. I think he's even leading some bikepacking training rides this summer.

I was almost ready to roll out when I remembered that I hadn't changed my pedals. The one on the non-drive-side had seized up at Bull Mountain the previous weekend, and I'd acquired a new set during the previous week, but hadn't get changed them. I'd even done a mid-week ride on the busted one, seriously pushing my luck. I mean... Just to get every last mile out of it.

Dangit. Frustrating little delays.

Fortunately it was quick and easy to swap. To save time, I only swapped the busted one though. So, I was riding a brand new black Eggbeater 2 on one side, and a blue Eggbeater 3 on the other side where the spring is so old and worn down that you have to lube the body on either side of the clip so it doesn't squeak against your shoe all day.

Every last mile.

Finally, I took off in the general direction of Adventure.

Ginny's last words to me on the way out were something indicating that I was going to get rained on. It did look possible, and that is how my luck goes sometimes, but I was optimistic.

There was another day rider there who left just before me. He checked in just ahead of me, and was new to the sport, and this was his first ride in the Cohuttas. I recommended he take the shuttle over to the upper Bear Creek trailhead and ride it and P2 back, but he went for the tough climbing instead - P3 to Hwy 52. We ended up rolling out at the same time and climbed over Mulberry Gap proper together.

When we hit P3, he dropped back, but he looked like he had it - like he might enjoy it even, if he took it easy. I never saw him again though, so I'm not sure how it turned out.

P3 was in great shape. The tread was perfect, and it was a little overgrown, which is always fun.


I guess overgrown isn't ALWAYS fun. There can be ticks, for example.

I felt strong, and I cleaned every switchback.

As usual.


And I still felt good at Hwy 52.


On P4 it started to rain, but not enough to even make it through the canopy.

That changed on Tatum Lead though, and by the time I hit P5, it had drizzled, poured, soaked me, dropped back to a drizzle, and stopped altogether.

P5 was beautiful.


People had been riding around some of the rougher sections, and they'd started getting backfilled and overgrown. "Healing" so to say.

There were some downed trees near the bottom.

Downed Trees on P5

And the grass in the field was super tall, almost over my head.

P5 Field

It started raining pretty hard again, somewhere around there, and then stopped abruptly again.

Baker Creek was roaring, but I had trouble getting a good photo of it.

Baker Creek

At FS3 I had a decision to make. I'd planned to take P6 over to Dennis Mill but the clouds were super dark in that direction and it was thundering constantly. To the north it was a lot clearer and I could even see the sky in a few spots.

North it is.

Actually, it was west and then north, but not south.

I've only ridden Peeples Lake Road a few times, and I had forgotten how punchy it is. It's like 100 short, steep climbs and descents. There's no good way to keep speed, and then at the end, there's the final insult, followed by an almost dangerous downhill to the highway.

At Peeples Lake proper, there was all kinds of excavation going on.

Peeples Lake Work

I couldn't make heads or tails of it. It wasn't clear what they were doing, and I didn't remember what it used to look like. They might have removed the old toilets and dug up the tank. I couldn't remember if that's where they had been though. They may have been down a little side road from there.

No idea. It was a mess though. Something to see.

Heading North on Old Federal Road, the sun was getting lowish, and the patchy sky made me happy.

Old Federal Road

I didn't stop at the Stallion.


I thought about stopping. It's traditional. But I had plenty of food and water and opted to keep moving.

There were good views of Fort Mountain to either side of Holly Creek Baptist.

Holly Creek Baptist Church 1 Holly Creek Baptist Church 2

And even more between there and the gravel, but nothing I hadn't taken photos of before.

There were a lot of people hanging out along Holly Creek. Some fishing, others just playing in the water. There was one kid splashing like crazy, having the greatest time in the world. Her parents were well amused by her antics and it made me smile seeing it too.

Further up I paced a pickup up the road, and around the first switchback. The guy sitting in the bed was like: "Man, I don't know how you do that!"

Ha ha!


Even further up, I passed the rock slide repairs. Last year I'd ridden through when they were still working on them. There's some kind of weird felt and chain-link slurry wall in place now.

Chain Link Slurry Wall


I was still feeling good when I got back to MGap, but the final climb up the hill to the barn was as tough as always. Sophie happened to be walking around right as I got back too, threw her arms up, and greeted me: "Dad!!"

It was nice to see her.

She'd had a pretty good time. Shed walked all over the property, including the trails, played with the dogs, and ate some steak strips and ice cream with brownies under it.

I let Andrew know that I'd made it back safely, grabbed a quick shower, got changed and stood around in the barn talking to Ginny for a while before finally heading out.

I hadn't eaten steak, ice cream, and brownies, so I grabbed some dinner on the way back. I think Zaxby's, but I don't really remember. I do remember feeling worn out and really content, like I had after the previous week's ride. I hoped it would be the start of a trend.

Sophie crashed and slept most of the way back. I guess she was pretty worn out too!

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