Sunday, December 8, 2019

Baldwin's Birthday Ride

Baldwin sent out a text to like 100 people last week, wanting to know if we were in for a birthday ride, starting somewhere around P3. Hmm... Sounds good, yes. The only problem was that it was on Saturday, Dec 7th. The same day as the LSU-Georgia game. And not just any game... the SEC Championship! 10AM start. Game is at 4. Should be doable, even if I had to bail a little early, and that was definitely possible, as the Pinhoti's offer plenty of options.


Mark values punctuality. This also helps. I want to say, everybody was there, kitted, and ready to go well before 10AM.

Aaron was actually the first to show up. I was number 2. Shane Schreihart and his buddy Chris(?) were third. Cool to see him two weekends in a row. My brother showed up next, cranking Down's Underneath Everything, so hard that I could hear it clearly make out the song through closed windows. Everybody else got there right after.

It was in the high 40's at the time, but the temps were climbing and everybody overdressed. At like 9:50 we were like: anybody else coming? No? Let's go!

I did the Turkey Shuffle last week, but failed to get in any mid-week rides. Unfortunately, blowing leaves off of the driveway yesterday didn't count as exercise, and my legs were starting to get stiff climbing P3. Great. Baldwin was leading, and trying to set a pace we could all keep. I was behind him, but still had to drop back, over and over, until I was last. I did make all but 1 switchback though, and I wasn't like off the back, I was just at the back, so I guess it wasn't terrible.

We debated a bit what to do next, and figured, since we were in the area...

Cohutta Overlook!

Look at that crew of sexy beasts.

Just look at us.

P4 was really leafy. It gets more traffic these days, but not so much that you can say that it gets good traffic. We waited for everybody to catch at Tatum Lead. The little climb out of P4 looks like nothing, but it's a little steep. Same goes for Tatum Lead itself. That first climb. I hate it. It's literally my least favorite climb in the entire NF.

I took the lead down the Tatum Lead Road, but was eventually passed by Mark, Shane, and Aaron, with their 29's, 2.35's, and 110 mm forks. I need to get some of that here soon. Of course, I've been saying that for years and years now.

P5 was its typical sketchy self, and made even sketchier by all the leaves. Apparently Mark and Aaron had some trouble with it, but they were ahead of me, so I didn't see what happened. I caught the leaders going around some downed tree. Like 5 of us made it to the clearing, way ahead of everyone else, so we waited. And waited. And... wait...ed....

Hirsch came down after a bit. Apparently someone had cracked a carbon rim and it was leaking air and they sent him ahead to let us know. It was getting cold in the shade, so we moved out into the sun. Unfortunately that meant moving out into the open, which meant moving out into the wind. I'm not sure it was actually any warmer out there. Patrick went roaming off toward the creek, for some reason. Marc mentioned something about Alzheimer's and it reminded me that I'd recently learned about the glymphatic system that removes plaques from your brain, and how it's only active when you're in deep sleep, and how they're thinking that's the primary cause of Alzheimer's and dementia - long term exposure to shit sleep. Me and Hirsch and the frere were talking about that for a bit. Patrick comes back and he's like: "I ride away for a minute, come back, and you guys are talking all kinds of science."

Yeah. I wish I had recordings of crap we end up talking about, over the years, in the middle of the woods, while waiting for other people. So much weird stuff.

Eventually everybody else showed up. A boot and a tube were sufficient to get it working. The crack was small too, so it wasn't like the rim was going to fail right away.


About halfway out to FS3, we had a Sean of the Dead moment.

You know that scene where they're headed to the Winchester, and they run into the other crew of survivors, led by Sean's ex girlfriend, coming the other direction that looks a lot like their crew? It was like that.

We ran into this crew of other riders, coming the other direction. They were led by Jeff Harris, and included Mike Palmeri. It wasn't clear where they started, but they'd come down Peeple's Lake Road, and were going to climb P5. Woo! We wished them luck. We'd joked about doing that earlier in the day. It's a tough climb on a good day, with all of the debris. With the addition of leaves, it ranked pretty low on my list of things that sounded fun.

At FS3, we debated what to do. Marḱ's plan was to take P6 out to Dennis Mill and decide how to get back from there. John had to be in the car, ready to drive away at 2PM, so he said some goodbye's and headed out towards Old Federal Road. I had a less strict timetable, and had hoped to finish the ride with Mark and only miss a little of the game, but it was noon, and any route back would take about 2 hours. Riding out to Dennis Mill would take another hour at least, best case. Probably more. So, I was looking at more than 3 more hours on the bike. Game starts at 4. That's not just cutting it close, that's missing a lot of the game. "I'd better follow my brother. Take care you guys!"

I spent the next 5 miles catching him. Those rollers on Peeple's Lake Road are tough. You can't even come close to carrying them. Just one grind after another. I finally caught on halfway to the Stallion Store on the road.

It was nice to be able to draft each other, and push each other on the climbs. It made the rest of the ride back a lot more fun.

We rode around the back side of Ft. Mtn, took CCC Camp Road to MGap Road...

...climbed over MGap proper, and made it back to the car with 1 minute and 30 seconds to spare.

Ha! How's that for hitting a deadline?!

As we passed MGap, there were all kinds of signs for a race. I think they had an ultramarathon up there this weekend. We didn't see any runners, but there were a lot of signs.

John threw on his clothes and hit the road in record time. It took me a minute longer, but in that minute, I saw Brian drive by in his blue truck, then saw two riders pushing bikes up the road, and got to talk to them for a minute. They were up from Florida, had gotten shuttled to the top of P2, ridden down, and were now pushing up over "the final insult" as I am prone to calling that kick over MGap proper. They'd ridden P3 the day before, and were amazed how much climbing there is in Georgia. That's the Cohutta's for you. It was deja vu from the previous weekend. I'd had a very similar conversation with some riders at the tail end of the Turkey Shuffle.

I made it back to my general locality by 3:30, but the final leg of the journey was tricky. I was at Paces Ferry Road, but there was apparently construction ahead, and it would take 40 minutes to get to Hollowell! Goodness. Via surface streets, I managed to get home at 3:55, and get to Siracusas by about 4:10. We missed less than a minute of game and everyone was happy. We were even happier later when LSU won. I honestly felt bad for GA though. They shut down our run game. Their secondary played really well. But they could not penetrate our offensive line. Burrow had like 7 or 8 seconds sometimes to throw the ball, and with that kind of time, somebody's going to get open. On offense, they just couldn't complete a pass. And the injuries... my goodness. So many good players out early.

But I digress... This is supposed to be an outdoor journal, not SportsCenter!

Happy Birthday Mark!

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