Sunday, July 29, 2018


My parents were in town a few weeks back and my Dad and I managed to get a ride in at Noontootla Saturday afternoon. He mentioned the day before that he'd been "fantasizing" about riding there for a while, and though he knew it would be super tough, considering he's been living in Texas for 10 years now, it was on his mind. So, it seemed like the right place to go.

We got there mid-afternoon and actually parked up the road a bit, off whatever FS road that is across from Peter Knob Road. The idea being that we could get in a couple of warm-up climbs before hitting the main 8 miler.

On the way over to the first turn we passed a little ringneck snake on the road and I stopped to show my dad. It was super docile, and barely complained when I picked it up. He'd never seen one before and was surprised, given its size, that I noticed it at all as we rode through. I put in in the grass, hoping it wouldn't slither back out onto the road and get run over.

We hung our left and started climbing. It's hard to say if the warm-up helped or not. Noontootla is a tough climb no matter how far into your ride you are when to get to it.

Me and Dad Climbing Noontootla

We'd had some rain the day before, so the creek was high and raging, and the campsites were wet, but the road was only slightly damp. It seemed like we'd made the right choice from that perspective too. The in-town trails might be open, but they'd be a mess to ride.

We made it to the top in good time, hung a left, ripped across 42 to Hightower Gap...

Ripping FS42

...and then bombed down to the fish hatchery. There were relatively few people camping and fishing. There's a weird looking pipe along the creek somewhere in there, that if you don't know what it's for, might be terribly confusing. It's about 8 inches in diameter, 4 feet off of the ground, and leads from the road to the creek, but slants down, but ends in mid air about 2 feet above the surface of the water. I've seen dozens of them and I puzzled over them for probably 6 months before it dawned on me what they're for. Then, not a week later, I saw one in action. My dad had no idea. They're for stocking the creek. At the hatchery, the fill these trucks with water and trout, and then drive them along the creek until they get to one of those pipes. The pipe is at just the right height to catch trout (and water) as it pours out of the truck. From there, they go sliding down into the creek. And voila! More trout in the creek!

I love stuff like that. Incomprehensible structures who's purpose and mode of operation become so obvious later that you wonder how it is that it wasn't obvious to begin with.

The Shady Grove rollers were a little tough on the padre.

Dad Climbing on FS69 Shady Grove

As were the kicks on 333.

I saw a coyote dart across the road about 100 yards up near the BMT, but my Dad was just a little too far back to see it.

We made it out to Doublehead Gap Road, and got to within a mile of the car when my Dad's legs had finally had it and started cramping.


He usually keeps mustard packets with him and chugs them if he starts twinging, but he noticed that he didn't have any with him shortly before we started riding, and there was no good opportunity to get any. I wish I knew how it is that mustard fixes cramps. It must be some kind of allergic reaction, or something like that, because there can't be any actual chemical that does it directly - it happens way too fast. I guess the internet might know. Maybe I should look it up...

I rode back to the truck and picked him up. As luck would have it, it began to pour down rain when I was about 2 blocks away.

Insult to injury!

Fortunately the back hatch of my truck is good shelter in the rain and we didn't get too wet.

Climbing, cramps, and rain aside, it was still a good day.

I tried hard to eat at Zaxby's on the way home, but the line was moving unimaginably slowly. So, we eventually bailed and went to Wendy's, where my bike made it under the pole, but still hit the awning.


Someone needs to recalibrate that pole.

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