Sunday, November 4, 2007


Yet another fun weekend spent Cruzin through the woods on my Santa Cruz over two of the best singletrack trails in Georgia; the Pinhoti and Rich Mountain.

Saturday we had a nice relaxing afternoon in the Cohuttas on the beautiful Pinhoti Trail. Raja and I joined 4 of our roadie friends on a 2nd attempt at the Pinhoti. This time last year, we thought it would be fun to try and convert some of our shaver buddies over to the dirt. In the first mile up the climb of the Pinhoti Trail, we already lost a rider to a casualty. In our usual caring attentive fashion, this mishap wasn't even noted until 3 miles later, and we knew someone was missing. Miraculously, Geoff remained friends with us, and eventually decided to give it another go.

It was made clear that I was welcome on the ride, but my camera was NOT. Being guilty of posting compromising photos on local forums, no one wanted to fall victim to my clever schemes. As much as I enjoy a good laugh, I understand there are times to put joking aside and give others the freedom to be themselves. Besides, a ride without the chore of picture taking would be like a mini vacation for me.

Geoff, Travis, Robert, Rob, Raja, and I took off for our Pinhoti Take #2 Ride. The goal was to do all 3 sections of the trail and enjoy the lookout at the top of Hwy 52. It was a spectacular day, clear as a bell, with a fabulous view to reward us at the top. We saw our friends, Larry, Gary, and Allan on Pinhoti 2. I was happy to be riding a nice relaxing pace with my friends, but wished I was in better shape to hammer with Larry.

As much as I enjoy a good thrashing ride, this year they have been few and far between. I'm getting lazy and cannot find the motivation to continue the maintenance required to keep my body at that level. My mind remembers the thrill, but my body doesn't want to keep pace. In the meantime, these relaxing rides fit the bill just fine.

It was a nice day in the saddle. Our goal was reached, with 25 miles for the adventure and no casualties. Although a few big crashes were had, the big smiles on their faces afterward let us know it was okay. We had fun trying tricky sections over and giving them a chance to get a feel for this thing we call mountain biking. I think they had fun, and hopefully we'll get a chance to do it again. Otherwise how else will I get to pay them back for all the times they drop me on the road, hehehe.

I was a bit nervous for Sunday's ride after having ridden over 3 hrs on Saturday. Even though it was an easy pace, just being out for so long (4+hrs) wears me out. But it was exciting to be around a different crowd and meet some new faces. The turnout was huge. Our longtime friend, Mike Palmeri of Cartecay Bikes in Ellijay, was hosting a "Santa Cruz" ride. Almost 20 yrs of riding with Mike, when he calls, we come a running.

Every bike was welcome, but the focus was on Cruzers. About 20 Cruzers and 10 "others" showed up for the adventure.

We met at the Stanley Gap Parking Lot in the Rich Mtn Trail System. This trail represents alot of history for me and Raja. Back in 1988, when we began our mtn biking journey, there weren't that many trails to ride. You couldn't be picky, and had to take what you could get.

This was the hardest trail around (and still is one of the more difficult), especially with our green behind the ear effort on fully rigid, toe clip bikes. Those first few rides were not filled with nostalgic heart warming times. Not only have our abilities and bikes been upgraded, but the trail has as well. A few changes in the route of the trail have greatly improved the enjoyment of the climb from those first few years.

The leaves were in full color, bursting yellows and reds. It was a treat for the senses to ride through the singletrack completely enveloped in a color show. The leaves also made for a good game of hide n seek to play with the rocks and roots waiting to jump out and snag your wheel.

After the ride, as my bike was laying on the ground, the tire gave a big "boom". Turns out I had ridden out a big hole in the sidewall, thanks to one of those rocks. I am very glad it held up to the end of the ride. My tire, some guy's sprained ankle, and a blown shock were the only casualties I know of for the day.

Rich Mountain is a very challenging and technical trail, even for the best of riders. I could not help but smile though, as my Blur floated down the steep rooty drops and over the rock strewn downhills. What I wouldn't have given for this bike 15 yrs ago. Yes, it helps to have 19 yrs riding experience under my belt to make riding easier, but there's nothing like a super full suspension bike to take the heat. My 40+ yr old back thanks me.

We climbed up and over Stanley Gap, then took the connector trail to Flat Creek, where I foolishly tried to keep pace with Kevin. He has a marvelous riding stance, very calm and relaxed. It reminded me of racing day strategy, where much of your riding is as mental as it is physical.

Fortunately we rode Flat Creek counterclockwise, enjoying the long long rocky downhill. A short singletrack climb brought us up to the trailhead, where we headed down to Deep Gap. After crossing Aska Rd, we climbed to Green Mtn and then flew down the fabulous singletrack all the way to Aska Rd.

It was my first time on Flat Creek Rd, off of Aska Rd. It was nice way to shorten our time spent on the road, riding along the beautiful river. After a brief jaunt back on Aska Rd, we turned off onto Rock Creek Rd for a long arduous 5 miles back to the pkg lot. Mary kept pushing the pace, and I had to stay with her to remind the guys of the pecking order for the day. Actually I was anxious to get back for the schwag/trivia giveaway. Cartecay Bikes had Santa Cruz hats, bottles, shirts, and socks; something for everyone, literally. Cool! Thanks Mike!

It is always a treat to ride with Mary and Kevin Kellar of North Georgia Outdoors and Fitness Magazine. Kevin will ride you into the ground, and then smile and talk shop with you afterwards. Mary smiles even bigger than Kevin, and doesn't even act like she's working as she pushes the ride pace higher and higher. The thing I like about these two is their willingness to ride with and encourage other riders.

Quite frankly, I don't give a hoot n high holler how dang fast someone is if they can't ever take the time to ride with riders of lesser ability. Want to earn my respect? Be fast and courteous. Introduce someone to mountain biking and keep the sport growing.

It was a great weekend, good riding, lovely scenery, and no crashes. I'll take this kind of Cruz any day over a Love Boat Cruise!


James Bigler said...

Sounds like you had a great weekend. Lots of quality time in Ellijay. I think Ellijay would be a great place to live if you could get a job there.

The leaves at Stanley Gap were really colorful. You are getting really good with your camera.

19 years of experience is impressive. How many miles do you think you have ridden?

Anonymous said...

Hey there Polly! Great Write up as usual, always enjoy your pics and layout. Very creative! Thanks for the kind words. You all have been inspiring and encouraging folks to ride for close to 20 years. Thank you!

P.S. You tore many legs on that climb on Aska Rd., including my own ! Awesome.

See you on the next adventure...

Take Care,
Cartecay Bikes

Anonymous said...

Hey Laurie,

You guys are the pioneers! Were not worthy!

What a fun day! It's always great to ride with you & Raja! Had a great time! For what it's worth,I don't think I can take credit for pushing the pace, I was trying to keep up with you! But thanks, it sounds good anyway.

See ya on the next ride!