Friday, November 29, 2019

Rottenwood Creek

Yesterday, up at MGap, Jennifer Braddock told me that the planned work at North Cooper Lake Park had been finished. When I lived in Vinings Estates, I rode there a lot, but having moved just a little farther away, I've been busy exploring elsewhere since last February. I guess that was enough time though. The work is done, and she said it was worth checking out. Today, I felt like burning off some Turkey, so I put together a route and figured I'd give the park a run through while I was out.

Turns out I may need to make a special trip out there. The new trails are involved. It's not so much a mountain bike trail, as it is a "bike park" which is apparently a term these days; means there's jumps and stuff. Out in the field on the way in, there was an elaborate loop, full of obstacles. It looked like you could ride off of the trail into all of that though, so rather than hit it right away, I figured I'd hit it at the end of the ride.

The system has a bunch of loops, sort-of stacked, but not exactly. It's not immediately clear exactly what was preserved from the old system, so it'll take a minute to map out. I rode the easy loop, then the intermediate loop, which was full of berms and jumps, then another easy loop, this time picking up the trail that I figured ran around to the back of the property. There's this one section where you bomb down a little hill, come around the end of a big block of concrete, then have to shift way down and climb another steep hill. Right as I hit the bottom another guy came around that block from the other direction. I almost stopped. He almost stopped, but there was no way.

For the first time in 21 years of mountain biking, I actually crashed into another mountain biker. We crashed about as harmlessly as possible - only our bar ends touched. But my shoulder is garbage, and fell right out of socket. When it popped back in it stoved my whole arm and the whole left side of my chest. By far, the worst that kind of thing has ever hurt. Fortunately, I managed to land on the other arm. Before long the stoving wore off and I could test it and put weight on it. It only bothered me if I pulled on the bars, and then only a little. It was amazing how uninjured I ended up considering how badly it hurt!

It was cool to meet the guy that I ran into though. His name was Colston (I think) and he rides there a bit. He had his sister with him and I think her husband or boyfriend. We ended up riding together for a while afterwards - hit the flow trail and screwed around on the pump track for a while. He said that he thought that the trail was directional, but I didn't see any signage to that effect. There used to be, but it had been taken down, and the carsonite sign leading into the system specifically said two-way traffic. We checked the kiosk. Yep, directional. I was going the right direction. But only by pure luck. We had no idea. The line of sight at that spot just needs to be opened up. Even if all the mountain bikers are going the right way, we could easily run into a hiker there.

But... That whole thing was supposed to be a little side trip for a bigger ride, and after all that I finally got down to the real business. Silver Comet - Cumberland Connector - couple of roads - Rottenwood Creek Trail. That was the trail I wanted to actually ride. It had recently been extended a bit, and I'd never ridden the section that goes down by the river.

Well, I did today:

Ha ha!

The tread was weird on that whole trail. Some kind of very porous concrete. Like a bunch of little cement balls sintered together somehow. Like a wide, coarse, linear cinderblock. My guess was that it would drain well and provide good traction if it was wet. I wonder how it's made though.

From there I took a piece of the Moutain to River trail back up to Cumberland and basically retraced my steps home. Mostly uneventful.

Passing by Smyrna Bicycles though, I noticed their Open sign was lit up. I'd popped a spoke a few days back, wrapped it up for my night ride yesterday, and noticed the tire rubbing the frame when I cornered today. Hmm... If they were open, maybe they could fix my wheel. Yep! Fixed! It took a while to find a matching spoke for my strange wheels, but he did it. Score!

That little side trip cost me 20 minutes or so, and put me back home in the dark, but it was well worth it. I'm riding the Turkey Shuffle tomorrow, and functioning wheels are a plus.

Bear Creek

Crazy stuff happening these days. Kathryn's folks were planning on coming up for Thanksgiving, so we planned on having it with them while they were here. But! Two weeks back, Kathryn went in to get an MRI as the first steps of going to see a specialist about some back and neck pain she's been dealing with for a while. We're officially old though, so pfft. Probably just standard old people stuff, right? Nothing to fret over. Maybe some PT... Anyway, she gets the MRI, they make us wait around for an hour while somebody reads it, then finally send us home. We're happy about that because we were missing the LSU game. And, then we get a phone call urging us to come back. Already long story short(er)... She had to have urgent disc replacement surgery and spent a couple of days in the hospital. Meanwhile her dad came into town and spent a week with us, mainly ferrying Sophie around, shopping, and holding things down on the home front while we were either at the hospital, or getting back into the swing of things afterwards.

Making it back up for Thanksgiving a week after leaving to go back to Louisiana would have been a tall order, but it was made even taller by him getting really sick on the way back and still not being recovered a week later.

So, where all of this is going is... Mulberry Gap was having Thanksgiving dinner, and we'd written off going up for it, but it was now, again, a possibility. So, we had our own Thanksgiving dinner a day early, which worked out well for Iz and her boyfriend, and me and Sophie went up to MGap Thanksgiving afternoon and ate with them.

Good food and good times.

I got in a good night ride, while I was at it, and it felt like I was carrying around an extra pack's worth of gear in my belly. I rode up to Holly Creek Gap, hung a left and took the Bear Creek trail down from there.

There was a mylar balloon in the middle of the trail somewhere in there.

Rare to see them on the actual trail.

I'd washed my kit, but then managed to forget all of it at home. Fortunately I had an old Reality Bikes long sleeve jersey and some fleece running tights in my duffel bag. I had, somehow, managed to bring my shoes and helmet. And, my gloves were just still in my helmet from my last ride. So, clothing worked out. I was happy to have the fleece tights too. It was chilly. Not properly cold, but chilly.

We spent the night in The Trails End cabin. I slept quite well, though I forgot to put a water bottle next to me. All I had was half a bottle of Dr. Pepper. It was weird to wake up and drink that instead of water. It's like the exact opposite of what you should drink in the middle of the night - sugar and caffeine. When we went to bed, the radiator had only been on like 30 minutes. A few hours later it was toasty and Sophie made me turn it off. Then a few hours later it was chilly again and I turned it on half way. I'll have to remember that, or maybe just remember to dial it down or something. But, full-on is a bit too much if it's in the 40's outside.

Ahh, morning.

We had the standard delicious MGap breakfast - pancakes, fruit, eggs, etc. For some reason, I love the fruit. It's just strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. I could totally mix that together at home, but somehow it's special when I eat it there.

Diane was in town, so I got to see her again. This time, she was up with her husband though, and her grandson Gage, whom I've heard a good bit about over the years. Cool to finally put a face to the name.

Proctor Creek

There's been a renewed effort of late by the City of Atlanta, and surrounding counties, to connect the various bits of paved trail in and around the Metro Atlanta Area. I remember seeing a master plan back in 2000 when I first moved here. It's nice to see it finally getting built out. The Beltline is coming along, although it'll probably be a little less fun to me when it's completely paved. The long gravel sections are kind of fun as-is.

There are also Whetstone, River Park, and Proctor Creek Greenways. Each is like a mile and a half long, maybe, but they sort of wind their ways in the general direction of the Beltline from the general direction of where I live. Maybe someday they'll connect to the Comet, somehow.

I managed to get out and ride the three of them a while back.

It's pretty much what you'd expect:

On one ride, I also discovered Gun Club Road, and the crazy old cemeteries along it. Large sections of them have just been left for the woods to reclaim, and since they're built into the slope of a fairly steep hill, there are all kinds of leveling structures with trees growing through them and busting them up. One day I need to explore those woods. Old topo maps also show a Gun Club Park up on one of the little knobs in the area. Today it's just woods too, but it is alleged to have had a swimming pool and other facilities. I wonder how much of that still remains. I may have to mount an expedition into those woods as well.

On that same ride that I discovered Gun Club Road, I also managed to discover and explore an old section of whatever landfill that is out there. Oddly, the only road into it is now blocked off by new neighborhood construction. The whole area will soon be inaccessible by vehicle and unmowable. I wonder if they'll cut in a new road, or just abandon it completely. There are a bunch of test sites out there. Maybe they've been stable for long enough to not worry about them any more.

There appear to be more little bits of paved trail that I haven't explored yet, and I'm looking forward to hitting them soon, if just for the novelty of it.


Like I said in the previous post, it's been tough to get a ride in lately. For the most part, the best I've been able to do is local rambles, and they're usually not worth writing about. I did discover The Great Tire Graveyard of Mableton, Georgia a few weeks back though.

Which, to me, at least, is worth remembering.

Look at all those old tires.

So many old tires.

Jones Creek Trail Work

Every now and then I'm like: "Ok, THAT was the busiest I've ever been." These past 2 months have been like that. Barely any time for any particular thing. I've barely been able to get in a ride, or a hike, let alone write about it. Let's see if I can catch up...

Not exactly a ride, but we had multiple work parties at Bull/Jake, doing finishing work on the reroute of the Jones Creek Ridge Trail between the foot of Bull Mountain and the dam. Mike Reiter has been doing the machine work, and we've been following up behind him clipping roots and raking. I've mostly been the guy with the pulaski, hacking out stuff that's too big for clippers.

Lots of ultra trail runners have been showing up to the work parties. There are apparently a couple of races that utilize Bull/Jake, and part of the entry requirements are that you do some number of hours of trail work somewhere. That's a great idea. I wonder why none of the mountain bike race organizers ever thought of it.

There's still a bit left to do, but man, look at the result so far:


Terry Palmeri made it up for one of the work days, brought her grill, and fed us all hot dogs afterwards.


And, speaking of dogs, Mike and Terry both have super cool dogs and I got as much dog time as I could while I was up there. I think we're having another work day on Sunday 12/1, and I'm actually kind-of excited about it.