First weekend of 2013 where the temps here in Georgia were reasonable enough to allow riding in shorts and short sleeves.
I started it off Friday afternoon with a Wind Battler. Truthfully, it was not very fun. Tried some new roads that turned out to be pretty lame overall. The whole time I was fighting a crazy headwinds it seemed, and I had no energy at all. The tailwind on the ride back to the car didn’t do anything to redeem the ride. It was so bad that later I went out to Little Mulberry Park to just have an easy spin and try to shake the bad vibes. Ended up riding there after dark, which was fun. At a certain point I kept seeing “leaves” in the middle of the trail, then I noticed that they weren’t leaves at all, they were frogs or toads (dunno which). Managed to actually get a decent camera phone shot of one, which kind of made a crappy day of riding a little better.
Saturday I met up with a few riding buddies at Charleston Park. It was the first time any of us has ridden there, and according to the SORBA forum posts about the trail, it isn’t actually officially open yet.
This was the maiden voyage for Mershon’s new GT Zaskar 29er w a 2×10, and about the third time out for Jay on his Cannondale. The trail system (about 5.5 miles) looked pretty rad from the map and and we were all pretty excited. I figured we would do it at least twice.
Right away there were issues. The first 1.5 to 2 miles of this trail are exactly the kind of terrain none of us have been riding at all through the winter. Lots of quick dips and sharp short but very steep climbs. We all headed in a little over zealous, and the trail quickly knocked us all down to size. Brian hasn’t been riding much at all through the cold season, and Jay and I have been doing lots of road work with long but gradual grinders of climbs, so short bursts of quick energy just killed us all. About 2.5 miles in Jay has a big problem with his shifting on the rear, which we could not work out via a trailside repair (more on this later).
The trail started to get a bit more likeable at this point…longer swoopier sections without so much of the rapid ups and downs. Jay was at the same place I was the day before though…just no energy coupled with mechanical issues…so by mile 3 it became pretty much a mission of just getting back to the car. We stay together when riding a new trail for the first time so we stopped a lot to get the group back together. Mile 4 to 5 was a blast…really wicked downhill sections and I was jumping everything, being an ass powersliding into turns, and hllering a lot. yeah I like to holler when I ride. Must be the beers.
Once we made it back to the car, it was decided that we would transfer to the much more tame Haw Creek, just to log a few more miles. I’ll head back to Charleston Park for a double or triple at some point but today was not the day.
Haw Creek was just flat, loads of loose dirt now that our area has stopped being the rain planet. Jay had a corner get away from him on his singlespeed rig and ended up with the first and only blood of the day. Brian opted for a single loop, Jay and I did a double. Haw creek is ridiculously short and tame, but hey, we’re not pros and we’re not trying to be. We’re okay with that.
I did the second pass at Haw Creek on Jay’s mis-shifting Cannondale, thinking I could dial it in while riding with the barrel adjusters, but it just wouldn’t work. After the ride, once we got the bike on his car rack, he noticed that the top cog on the rear was BENT! Check out how the cogs are squashed together at the bottom of the pic compared to the top. I have never seen that before. Well, now I have. The folks at REI said they had seen it a few times when jay took the bike in to have it replaced.
All in all, in spite of the troubles, it was still a pretty fun, but short day of riding.
Sunday, I headed to Jays hut for what I thought was going to be a casual chill road ride, just to get past the record setting amount of beers I drank from the night before. Turned out to be quite a bit different. Couldn’t help laugh that I had actually done all my weekend drinking before St. Patrick’s Day proper. There would be no beers today. I did manage to wear some green though.
We headed out and about 2 miles in Jay says “Around the corner is a hill I have wanted to do but last time I tried it I didn’t make it.” So of course we headed that way.
It was a pretty decent hill, and it set the tone for the whole rest of the ride. Since we were going UP a lot, we were also going DOWN alot, which meant a bunch of rad hillbombing around Roswell GA. Lately I’ve been digging geting tucked down aero as I can in the drops and hitting light speed on descents, then staying in the big ring little cog as far as I can powering up the next side. This ride had a zillion sections just like that.
We eventually crossed to the other side of the Chattahoochee River and headed down a cool side road towards a ranger station/park entrance. It was on this section, just towards the end of the road, that we encountered the sickest climb section of the day. It was hellish, and I had to resort to the full granny. It was only about 1/4 mile, but it was 8% avg grade and at the tail end a series of lengthy grinders that left you with just enough of a descent to catch your breath before you hit the wall. After that, the Welcome Center / Ranger Station provided a much needed break.
The way back was awesome though, more crazy highest gear spun out hillbombing in the drops.
All in all it was a great weekend of riding, and it looks like this summer I will actually be able to count on doing some rides with Jay and Brian, as opposed to the last few years which have been pretty much solo. It’s hard to find folks for me to ride with because most people are waaaay faster & fitter than me, and those that aren’t tend to be waaaay slower. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m not quite at the level yet where I can confidently join up with one of the local group rides, but I’m def ready to step things up some and start riding the big boy roads and trails.
Easing in as I would say.