Who needs a bike stand when you have excess webbing lying around?
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Up just beyond where I work lies "Succession" road. A short trudge through deep leaves and fallen branches on an old logging cut, with hemlock and white pine returning it to the forest, then left towards a green tunnel with a copper carpet of needles, and finally after a quick drop, a serpentine road bends left and right around the contours. To the left, a wide, darkened expanse from a controlled burn. The charred blackness in sharp contrast to the blooming redbud trees, rust colored roads, and specks of green from budding saplings. To the right, a downward progression out towards Prather Bridge road, the Tugaloo river, and the rolling hills of South Carolina.
Today I started left, rolling up and around bend after bend, past the burn and clearing my body of a hangover. With inhibitions still gone after the first car bomb last night, I pushed on past the expansive cul de sac at the top of a long climb. The predominantly coniferous forest closed in and another long abandoned lumbering road unfurled before me. Even though in my ears Ben Gibbard was appropriately repeating "there's nothing past this", I kept going until the trail disappeared, becoming a blanket of pine needles all around.
Back the way I came, explored a fire break for a bit, then past the connector trail, down...down...and down some more I rode out. Took the pavement back and spun the legs out.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Little did I know, I saved the best trails for last out at Lake Russell. I took the Selma towards those trails I was after on Sunday and found mud and happiness. Glad I had the tubeless wheeled mountain bike this time; there were proper rocky stretches, the aforementioned mud, and fast flowy descents that wouldn't have been nearly as fun worrying about flats on my cross rig.
New training grounds for sure.
Monday, March 12, 2012
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, after a day of barely working, really tired but motivated by the weather, I got out to Lake Russell WMA again. This time I was going to explore the easterly cluster of trails. I didn't realize how tired I was until I pulled into the lot at the check station and lost all motivation to ride. Sat there for a few minutes contemplating driving back or taking a nap in the truck right there. Eventually I pulled myself together and slowly rolled over new ground. A wrong turn took me just shy of the trails I was aiming for, past a redneck camp and their two threatening dogs, and straight through that ounce of energy I was holding onto. So rather than looping back to where I wanted to go, I cut it short back to the truck, to a shower, and much needed, albeit brief, shut-eye in a proper bed.
Today I filled up at a rather excellent indian buffet in Athens with AT friends Travis and Casey then drove through intermittent rain on over to Fort Yargo State Park. Again, with waning motivation and energy, it took some effort to get started. With limited days off ahead, I had to get a long ride in so I told myself I'd do two loops of the 12.5 mile outer loop.
Trails were super well marked and maintained. I was reminded of the trails at Bluff Creek Ranch that I raced on last year in Texas and the Boggy Draw trails in Dolores, CO. There was plenty of quintessential Southeast too, with loose sand and pine needles over hard, red clay.
My first lap was slow, stopping to check the many maps along the way. I wasn't terribly impressed with the flow until I was warmed up and going fast through my second lap. Fast, low tread tires seem to be the ticket there. There aren't many places where you need slow, tall knobs. It's nearly devoid of rocks and what roots exist are easily rolled over. In fact, with the trails as hard as they were, I was fighting against my knobby tires slipping out underneath me through a lot of turns.
It got me wondering what tire/gear setup I'd run at the race there in May, as well as whether or not I want to race there for 6hrs or 9hrs. Nine might be pretty damn boring.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Drove out to Lake Russell WMA today to explore its cluster of trails and gravel roads. I was not disappointed. Three hours of well marked and fun riding. And there's plenty of ground I haven't covered. Trails were mostly navigable by cross bike.
Glad I didn't end up in the creek twenty feet below. The final trail I took, the one I threw caution to the wind to take back to my truck with no water and fading legs, was beautiful all in all, meandering up and through seeps, a narrow bench cut perched above a picturesque stream. It was not, however, in the best shape, with many trees down, or ideal for riding, with awkward drops and bends.
The other trails I rode were wide, relatively smooth, and fast at times.
Only about twenty minutes away, I imagine I'll be going there to ride as much as I can this Spring. There's a good bit more to explore. Finding a route to ride there would be ideal as well...
Monday, March 5, 2012
Down in Georgia, back in a holler, way up in the piedmont, hoot n'ah hollarin'...so on and so forth.
Been enjoying my proximity to Athens, visiting good friends in my time off. Enjoyed S. Cross last weekend. I was sitting in the top ten for about two thirds, then I flatted and lost several positions as single speeder after single speeder zipped past. I was feeling strong. Short on sleep from travelling and with heavy legs from driving, but strong. 13th SS.
In the coming weeks I hope to explore the National Forest I'm near and the other trail networks within a stones throw. Chattahoochee NF, Lake Russell WMA, Stone Wall Falls, Victoria Bryant State Park, to name a few.