I can officially say that I've had my fill of the peach/vidalia onion plagued suburbs of Northern Atlanta. Work was a challenge all week, and it took my focus off training with any real intensity or mileage.
We woke up at DSG Sunday morning craving some sort of breakfast sustenance, tried 2 different local dives before having to finally settle for Shonies. Never again, 'nuff said. Back in the car, Jut and I ran the subarus through a car wash, and hit the road to catch the end of the Ducktown race at Ocoee. We had obviously picked the best event of the weekend, the NWWC parking lot was a ghost town, race had ended, but we still expected some sort of atmosphere. I can say that without a doubt that I do not miss racing little XC races every weekend against 30 other guys.
Alpharetta, GA: I got out Monday for a little recovery. Nothing to write home about, just trying to survive on the crowded suburban streets of northern Atlanta. Legs felt like hell for the first 8 miles, but they loosened up and things started looking better. Tuesday, hit up the Big Creek trails, a tight little system that is shared between Roswell and Alpharetta. Ran into the mouth, Bruce Dickman, and did a lap with him to feel the place out, and find out that it was 10 minutes by bike from my hotel, not the 45 mins I had spent in traffic to get there. Followed that up with 2 race paced laps, and then went out for some tacos with Dickman. Info Wednesday it was back to the Reality Bikes Club ride, this time with even more people, and more scooter support, this time, our vespa'd accompaniment hung with us for the whole time. As did the bitchy Tri girl that never shuts her mouth. I'm used to all sorts of roadie douchebaggary at this point; The B rides of our great land are filled with all kinds of attitude, ego, and mothering. This girl yelled at everyone for everything. And she had a little male counterpart in the pack that backed her every word. No more Reality Bikes rides for me, that girl just ruins riding a bike on a nice afternoon. Info
Here's the fun part. Dickman, while slightly agitating at times, does know a lot of folks in the southeast MTB scene, and over taco's put me on the phone with Shane Schriehart. I should note that I had a pretty good idea that Shane was a fit individual, probably faster than me, but then Bruce goes ahead and introduces me as "the guy from Ohio that beat you at Snake Creek Gap." Great Dickman. What's that they say about first impressions. Christ. So even after all that, I head up to the Mulberry Gap Bunkhouse for the weekend, and plan on riding with Shane on Saturday.
I left out of the Bunkhouse about 9:00 to get over to the Gates Chapel/Road to Bear Creek parking area where everyone who doesn't know about the bunkhouse parks. Make some brief hellos, and I have just enough time to realize that Shane is sporting a bike with one of those shifty things on the back. Some sort of towel should have been thrown in at this point, but where's the fun in that. We take off towards 90b to pick up Pinhoti 2, and drop to Conasauga Rd, spin past the Mulberry Gap Bunkhouse I could have still been sleeping at, and continue on until right before the gravel turns to pavement.
It is at this point that the most hellacious climb I have ever witnessed begins. Tibbs. Upfront; I walked a lot of this, so don't allow the following description let your mind shape me into some kind of hard man. Allegedly 9 miles, actually looks like 5 upon review, but it covers nearly 3200 feet of climbing, so 9 miles would have felt better. Lots of loose rock at the beginning, some incredibly steep pitches, and then the middle leveled out a bit. Up top got even worse. Huge rocks, like the kind that you ride up on to, not just around. Super technical line decisions, and lots of pushing. Lots of pushing for me. I wouldn't mind trying this climb on a geared bike, just to see if I could do it. Shane smashed it, and had actually turned around to make sure I wasn't dead. I was, but still walking, so we continued. Hit forest service road 68, which I think was on Cohutta, and started the drop in on the Windy Gap bicyle trail. This was just as technical, and just as steep, only this time around it was pointed down. And fast. The first 2 or 3 miles are filled with little steep descents and punchy climbs, littered with child sized boulders. Then comes some steep switchbacks, sore forearms from squeezing brakes, and a nice little resting stop halfway down. A downhill you need to rest on. Imagine. The bottom half is shared with motorcycles/four wheelers/what have you, and is much wider and free of technical rocks. It is extremely fast, confident and full of jumps with level to uphill landings. Those who know me have seen my mid air follies. No troubles here. Hit stuff with lots of speed, and clear 15-20 feet of air, with a nice landing only inches beneath you. Great trail for you gravity folks, just need to find a way up there other than Tibbs.
Windy Gap ends out on the paved section of Conasauga Rd, so we once again rolled past the bunkhouse. We were about 28 miles in and I was done, but didn't know Shane enough to back out. We rolled back to Shakerag road, where I thought for just a minute we would leisurely make our way back to his car (nevermind that I would still have to bike right back to the bunkhouse) Here is where Shane got sadistic, and beat me to the ground. He turned around in the middle of the road, and made a snap decision to CLIMB Pinhoti 2, something only fools do. But still, I think, "Okay, Pinhoti 2 to 90b to car, not bad" OH know. Pinhoti 2 to Pinhoti 1, swichback onto Bear Creek, Bear Creek to FS 68. We finally turn around 3 miles shy of Potato Patch, the summit on the Cohutta 100. I'm truly done for. I think if I hadn't been there, Shane would have been up at Potato Patch looking for something else that pitched skyward. I put in both earphones, turned up the volume a bit, and dropped Bear Creek to the parking lot, and then the FS road all the way back down to Gates Chapel, and Shane's Car. He hooked me up with some Dedicated Athlete nutrition products and prototypes and sent me whimpering on my way back to the bunkhouse. Info
All said and done, GPS tells me 55.66 miles, but it was turned off for the entire Windy Gap downhill section, so I'm going to guess a conservative 60 miles with 9,300 feet of climbing.
Ginni hands me a big mason jar mug of mystery ale, and that's it folks. Bedtime at 8:30 after another great bunkhouse dinner.