Monday, August 16, 2021

Cohutta Pinhoti

So I had a good day at Noontootla, but that was all gravel, and it's relatively easy to have a good day on gravel. What about proper singletrack? Eh? I wasn't quite ready to go climb Stanley Gap or anything, but I figured P3 and P2 would be a good test of my fitness.

So, last Sunday, I grabbed some Waffle House on the way out of town, and made my way up to Mulberry Gap for some proper low-level Adventure.

I was greeted by the Cohutta Cat as I walked toward the main office. The Cohutta Cat likes the same kind of scratches that Delilah likes - all along the back, backwards against the grain of the fur. So much purring and licking. Sweet, sweet kitty. Ok, now get back to stalking and murder.

The Cohutta Cat

I checked in, talked to Kate and Tori a bit, then hit the trail. I can usually gauge how the day is going to be by how I feel on that first kick over Mulberry Gap proper. It went better than expected, so maybe the rest of the day would follow suit.

P3 was ideal.

Or, at least P3 was my concept of ideal. The tread was perfect - that little bit of leafy duff over tacky soil, but not so tacky that you leave tire tracks, just tacky enough to hold on... The rocks were dry. It was slightly overgrown, but not so overgrown that you couldn't rip everywhere, just enough to be like "yeah, I'm really in the woods".


Seriously, I can't remember riding it where it was more like I wanted it to be.

I cleaned every switchback on the way out. I only had to get off once, to duck under a downed tree.

My legs felt great. My lungs felt great. My heart felt great. I wasn't really crushing it, but I was on the gas. It felt really good to be able to be on the gas again.

At Hwy 52...

One Less Spark

...I hung a left and headed over to the Cohutta Overlook.

Cohutta Overlook

The rocks were just baking in the sun, and almost too hot to sit on. I hung out there for probably 15 minutes, trying to remember the names of the various ridges and mountains. I could see the Bear Creek Overlook, and I could identify the ridge that divides Windy Gap and Tibbs, as well as the ridge that ends at Potatopatch. I could barely see the tower on Grassy Mountain. Of course, Turkey Ridge was pretty clear. I couldn't see much to the northeast though. I guess I never noticed how much the trees get in the way during the summer.

A family drove up while I was there, and the mom and 2 kids looked like they'd been riding earlier. Turns out they had been, at Flat Creek no less. The dad and one of the sons were going to descend P3 later, and the mom and other son were going to pick them up at the bottom. It sounded like a good day.

I'd hoped to cool down a bit, and be sweating less profusely while descending, but I had no luck with that. There was a slight breeze, but the sun was blazing, and I was just getting hotter and more sweaty sitting there.

Time to ride back down.

P3 isn't entirely downhill in the other direction though, and there are a couple of switchbacks that you have to climb. The very last one is tricky. Not the switchback itself, but rocks and roots that you have to climb over after it. I sketched on that one, and ruined my otherwise perfect record that day. Dangit!

It almost goes without saying that I set various PRs coming down P3. This bike is effortlessly fast, conditions were perfect, etc.

I checked the time, and it looked like I had plenty of it before dinner at 6, so I headed out on Shakerag to P2. Shakerag was fast and fun.

As I hung a left onto the P2 approach, I noticed a sign I hadn't noticed before.

P2 Sign


I made it up the approach to the P2 parking lot without feeling like I'd put in much effort climbing. The grasstrack just sped by. You know you're feeling good when you suddenly realize that you've arrived the the P2 singletrack, instead of anxiously looking for it around every curve.

PRs on P2 as well. Go figure.

I did get a little wild in one curve. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I ended up getting a little bucked and did a bit of an extended Pedal Hang-5 to recover. Maybe I'm thinking of the wrong trick name. Where sitting on the seat, riding a nose wheelie, with one foot on the pedal, and the other kicking forward and backward to maintain the balance point. Whatever that is. I ended up doing that for longer than I wanted to get the back end down. But, it all worked out, and it wasn't scary, just definitely not what I'd planned.

I maded it back to MGap in time for dinner, but without enough time to get a shower first. On the one hand, this is good, because if I'm just completely soaking wet with sweat (as I was) then a shower doesn't feel all that good to me. If I'm that wet, then a shower just feels like more wet. Yeah, it cools you off, and yeah, you get clean, but I don't really enjoy it, per-se. I usually have to air dry first, and then it feels good. So that was the upside, I got a chance to sit around and dry off for a while. The downside was that while I was sitting around, drying off, I feel quite certain that I was also really stanking up the place.

But, at the time, that hadn't occurred to me, so I just enjoyed Donna's ribs and cornbread, and the company of the various MGap staff and clientele. Seriously, the ribs were outstanding - there was a dry rub AND bbq sauce, they were so tender and warm, and of course the meat just fell off the bone... The cornbread really made me happy though. Just big, bulk-chunk cornbread. Oh man, so good.

The post meal shower was sublime. I don't remember the drive home, so I guess it was uneventful.

It was a good day on the bike - the second in as many rides. I don't want to jinx it, but I might be getting back to normal.

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