Sunday, April 29, 2012

Looking back / Looking forward to TSE

Teaching in the environmental education field has allowed this former State College “local” to ride and race in some pretty spectacular sections of the country over the past year and a half. Last spring, I was surprised by all the good riding in the Hill Country around Austin, Texas. That summer I acclimated to the altitude of Colorado and was blown away by all the legendary singletrack. Now I’m in the North Georgia mountains, finding great riding, but with TSE on the horizon, instead of GA, I have Rothrock on my mind.

I’m here in Toccoa, which in Cherokee means “beautiful”, and sure, if you head to the hills outside of town where I live and work, this can still be considered true. A regular day involves leading 5th graders through the woods for most of the day and regularly into the night. Endurance training of a different sort.  Afterwards, while my coworkers head back to our shared house, crack some cold ones, and decompress like sane, hardworking people do, I grab my cygolite, throw on some riding clothes and hit the trails we teach on and the nearby, gated forest service road.

As I climb up the steep pitches of Lee Mtn road, kicking up crepuscular critters here and there, I imagine that I’m climbing Kettle road, the soul crushing wall early on in the Cooper’s Gap Stage 2. Taking the secret trail back down, I picture myself dropping Pig Pile, later in that stage, enjoying the speed and trying not the think of the slog of the imminent, deceptively named Flat Road.

On my days off I get out to nearby Lake Russell WMA for some gravel grinders on its beehive network of dirt roads and multi-use trails. The roads are reminiscent of Rothrock but the trails lack all the glorious rock of stretches like John Wert or Tussey Ridge (sweet, sweet Stage 6…). A little further South lies Paynes Creek, a lake-side loop designed and built in conjunction with IMBA. As I look out over Lake Hartwell, across to neighboring South Carolina, I pretend I’m looking at Raystown Lake, ripping it up on the Allegrippis trails. And though revenge is best served cold, I’m sure Rays Revenge will be flowing just fine in the heat of May during Stage 4.

Yea, there’s been some racing to get ready for TSE too. Early on in my move to Georgia, I took on Iron Cross’s confederate, trail-less cousin: Southern Cross. It more or less served as a long winter training ride and a reminder that hey, there’s some elevation ‘round these parts. This month I’ll find out if all those mild-winter base miles are worth anything out at the NUE series opener, the Cohutta 100.

I got hooked on riding on the back roads of Central PA and the bad-ass trails of Rothrock and I can’t wait to get back there to test my mettle in the Epic.  And you best believe I’ll be downstairs at Zeno’s Wednesday night for bluegrass!

Monday, April 23, 2012

NC to GA?

This weekend I was out at a conference and opted for the 90mile, mid-day departure, road ride back to Toccoa. I'd throw up a mapmyride route, explain the beautiful route from high Blue Ridge mountains to South Carolina Piedmont,  but....I was utterly unprepared for heavy rain and a drop into the 50's. Not far from the SC/NC line (pictured above) I took cover in the Caesar's Head park office, already on my way to hypothermia, as dense fog turned to sheets of cold rain. I was on the very crest before dropping several hundred feet to the light rollers of mile 60 and on (apparently going up this is a popular training climb). By my original calculations, this was where it got easy. Weather determined that this wasn't the case without a lot more clothes though. So a friendly extraction and return back to Hendersonville was on order. Although it was a failed attempt at a ride home, it got across how sweet the riding is up towards Pisgah.

Pain Cave

Last week was busy, so after several months of ignoring the rollers that I left in my truck, I pulled 'em out and stared into the dark of the front porch as I rode in place for a while. What an odd world we cyclists live in.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Georgia's attempt at Raystown

An hour away, in more far reaches of Georgia, some mountain bikers got together and built some lakeside trails. Later on, some nudists combined forces to put on a race there. Fantastic.

For me, wide, smooth, lake side trail systems will forever be compared to PA's Allegrippis trails at Raystown lake. And when for you "mountain biking" means "rocks" and the challenge of picking a line , this fast, presumably well flowing format of trail doesn't quite do it. Sadly, I re-affirmed this at Paynes Creek.

Places like Muleshoe and Pace Bend on the other hand... well they not only give ya the fast, flowy bits, but also some sweet tight, twisty singletrack and proper technical rock stretches. Of course, they're in Texas, a state with 90+% of it's land privately owned, so you have to pay to ride at these parks. This sure ain't Texas though....sometimes that's a good thing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Faster Mustache = Fresh Threads

New team means new kit. And what a fine kit it is. Yes indeed, those are bacon strips. Check out more FM happenings here. You could even get a jersey for yourself. Can't wait 'til I get mine!