Friday, March 5, 2021


Since that jaunt around Bull Mountain, I'd done some local rides, kicked around Lost Mountain with Billy a bit, and was starting to feel like an actual mountain biker again. This was fortunate, as I received a text from Marc Hirsch last Friday evening to the effect of "Hey, sorry it's last minute, but me and Baldwin are going to Coldwater tomorrow. You in?" Something like that.

Heck yeah I was in.

Coldwater is all shred. Some trails you experience the geography, some you experience the forest, others you experience the trail itself. I don't know about some of the green trails, but all the trails I've ridden out there are that last one. All shred. I don't ride that kind of stuff all that much, so I was really looking forward to it.

I grabbed some Waffle House at like 8AM and got out of town by 8:30. Marc and Mark were, as it turned out, not far behind. Marc called me right as I was getting off of the highway, and we met at the trailhead a few minutes later.

I don't remember exactly what we rode, but we parked at the Montsanto trail head, climbed for a while, spun around the Oval Office, and climbed something else.

Somewhere in there Marc stopped and fiddled with his shock.

Marc Tweaking Something

Ha ha. I have no shock to fiddle with. On purpose. For that reason. One less thing to have to fiddle with.

I'm not sure if the ultralight XC rig is really the right tool for the job at Coldwater, but it had been getting the job done so far.

Mark's bike was not getting the job done though. Brand new frame. I think it was his 3rd ride on it. We rode through some little rock garden and I heard this super loud creeeeaaak sound from behind me. Like a rusty old door that hasn't been opened in years. The heck? It actually took us a while to figure out what had happened. It turned out his deurailler hanger had rotated about 30 degrees clockwise (if you're looking at it from the drive-side). He didn't think he'd hit anything, and didn't notice anything get jammed in there or anything. No idea. And why would it rotate? How could that even be possible?

It wasn't held on by allen bolts or anything, just a single, giant nut that you just have to crank down. We didn't have the necessary giant wrench on us at the time, but I managed to wedge Marc's multitool in there and twist it back into the right position. It looked a little bent though, and it took a lot of fiddling to get it to where he could use most of his gears, and still, it was shifting slow. It was better than nothing, but far from good.

A few days later, I was at Glen's shop and he had the same frame. Turns out Mark had the correct hanger in there. Our guess was that it rotates when it's under extreme pressure as a last-ditch effort to avoid breaking itself or the derailleur. Mark must have either hit a rock with it, or pulled something into the jockey pulleys without feeling it.

He was able to limp along though, so we had a decent rest of the day.

We tore down Goldilocks, then climbed and climbed and freaking climbed. We kept passing groups of other dudes, but they were all finished climbing.

Other Dudes

...why were we still climbing?

The answer, as it turned out, was Bomb Dog. Or, as I remembered it "The Blue Trail". For as close and as awesome as it is, I actually haven't ridden Coldwater that much. John and I rode it a few times, years back, when there were only 2 trails - The Green Trail and The Blue Trail. The Blue Trail is now Cub, Bomb Dog, and whatever the climb back up is called. The Green trail has some other name. I'd only ridden all of the modern stuff once since then.

Bomb Dog is super fun, but I swear that I remember it being super smooth with endless jumps. That day it was rocky and chunky, and though there were lots of jumps, they were mostly rounded off. I had to yank if I wanted to catch any air. I couldn't just float, and I ended up mostly just pumping or manualling. But, I'm not complaining. Still tons of fun.

Climbing out these two guys rode up behind us and we were like "man, they're moving" so we let them pass. Turns out they were on e-bikes, and the second guy was like "Hey! I know you! Silver Comet..." and to his friend "I see that guy on the Silver Comet all the time..." Indeed, he probably does. Later, checking Strava, I realized that it must have been this guy Steve that I've met out there a few times. Ha ha. Maybe I'll see him on the Comet again sometime soon.

We took a quick break at the other lot.

Halfway Out

There were 2 other dudes in the lot that were getting ready to head out. One of them kept checking the map over and over, and seemed to be having trouble figuring out where he was, though Marc pointed it out to him several times. The other guy had the loudest brakes I'd ever heard, and he was rolling around, barely pulling them to make as much noise as possible. It sounded like he was driving a team of donkeys. We headed out ahead of them, but had to stop for something, and they passed us. We ended up following them for like 2 miles until we had to stop again, and that guys brakes brayed the whole time.

I want to say we re-climbed like half of that super long climb that we'd done before, but only half of it, and then bombed back down to the car.

Whatever that trail is we took down was really fun. Lots of jumps, though again, many of them were rounded off and I had to kind of push into the face to get any pop.

Back at the car, I was freaking exhausted. Lots of climbing, and you'd work all the way down the descents too. Legs or core, non-stop, all day. I had that good whole-body tired going, and it was great because I hadn't felt it in a long time.

Some guy across the street from the lot was doing yard work, and he was cranking some pretty good tunes. I remember hearing some Prince song for a bit, then like 6 people drove up on 3 four-wheelers cranking Jack and Diane, and they talked to him for a while before leaving. I don't remember what came on next, but it was also good. An odd thing to remember, but hey, I remember it.

We grabbed some lunch at the Peerless Grill in downtown, which was the same place we'd eaten last time we were there, and it was amazing. The Alabama Fish Basket - blackened catfish with sweet potato fries. My goodness. Amazing.

I was worried I might get sleepy on the drive home, but it never happened. I was just happy and content the whole way back.

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