Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Little Chili, A Lotta Muddy

After missing a few of Mike's Cartecay Chili Dawg Rides, we were able to join in for ride #7 in the series. The last ride was a fog to me; really, we spent the entire ride in fog. Today's ride looked more promising since we could see the front pushing through with potential of sunny skies. This was an exciting prospect since the past week had been nothing but gloom and rain.

A good size crew was present with a nice mix of guys and gals. I will never forget my first decade of mountain biking where every ride was 99% male and 1% female, with me being the 1%.

Even though there was a nice mix of genders, I was still shaking in my Sidi's over the company I was keeping. Lean mean cycling machine women were decked out in their fancy kits.

An equal number of intimidating guys with some even coming from Ohio (Nick? on the far left). Mike was riding his tricked out 27.5lb Maverick and Kevin was once again on his singlespeed.

We enjoyed a nice warmup on a beautiful country road of Ellijay.

But the beauty of the morning was shattered when Mike led us up a wall. Looming before us was the steepest road climb my legs had seen in quite a while. The only redeeming feature was being on my mtn bike with mtn bike gears in lieu of my roadie 39x23 drivetrain.
We all know that the camera flattens out the terrain. There was no way to capture the steepness of this climb. I like this over the shoulder view. If you look behind Ken down the climb you see all sorts of things happening; riders weaving and stopping. Of course, I had no idea what was going on behind me. I was just trying to get to the top in one piece.
I felt like we were climbing Hogpen. What was Mike doing to us?

Kevin was impressive on his singlespeed, ouch!

We survived our punishment for the day and finally hit the dirt, er uh, mud. Mike took us on a fun downhill doubletrack.

Normally I'm not fond of mud. But this was a hoot!

We had a blast trying to keep the rubberside up and out of the mud.
Most of us were successful (note Larry in the background).

And some of us were not! Mary's wheels were truly stuck. Not to worry, she eventually managed to unwedge her bike to freedom.
Eventually we hooked back up to a paved road where we split into 2 groups. Mike, always the conscientious ride host, waited for the rest of our group, while Kevin led us on to Noontoola/Springer Mtn. (honestly, I know of very few ride hosts that are as polite and helpful as Mike, no rider is too slow).

Although the climb is a gravel road, it rises gradually alongside Noontoola Creek affording the rider relaxing views and soothing sounds of the babbling waters.

As beautiful as the climb is, I had a hard time enjoying nature's show. Instead I was watching the lead pack pull away on this middle ring ascent. Now granted, at 43, I'm not that old, but I am accepting the fact that my "season in the sun" is long since over. Gone are the days when I would have been up front. Yes, I admit it, irritating the guys was one of my greatest joys in mtn biking. How I miss those days.

I adore Mary, and am happy to see she's ready to step up to the plate and carry my torch. I watched in the wings as she steadily picked her way up to Kevin. Trying desperately to close the gap, I did not want her to reach him before I reached her. Once she passed Kevin, I knew my chances would be gone. My heartrate was climbing, 150, 151, 152. I couldn't let it go any higher lest I blow my chances of finishing the ride. Settling in at 151bpm, I let Mary be my inspiration and focus.
Her cadence was relaxed and easy. There was no straining. That means she was fresh and far from feeling the acid I felt in my legs as I labored along. I followed in anaerobic envy.

Sure enough, Mary caught Kevin and soared on past him like an eagle. With my spirits crushed, I managed to finish the climb with Norma nipping at my heels. Well, at least there are lots more women to continue my call to annoy the guys!!
We took a right and continued the climb to Springer Mtn.

As pretty as the Noontoola climb is, the climb up Springer is unending. Teaser downhills give you a false sense of security. I trailed along wimpering behind Raja, Mary, and Norma, who all looked fresh as daisies. My last memories of riding up here were in 32degree weather and my hair literally froze into icicles. At least it was a lovely day this time!

Convinced that the downhill had been removed, we were elated to finally reach the long awaited descent. Of course, the fun was over with all too soon and we were back to Big Creek Rd. Just a few miles down (more up than down) the road and we would be back to the Firestation Start.

The Fire Station is where our homemade chili is waiting! Thanks Chefs Larry and Kit!!

I ended up with 31.8 miles, 2 hrs 54 minutes, and 3200' of climbing. A good workout!
After some good chili, now all that's needed is a nice bath.

Thanks Mike for another great day in the saddle!!!

Gee whiz, I luuuuuuuv mountain biking!!!


Anonymous said...

Hey Laurie!

I told Kevin that we need to snag your camera during the ride so that there are pictures of you too! What a crazy ride, there was a little bit of everything in there, even the lost downhill on Springer Mtn! I wasn't loving the wet gravel road, but the upside of that was that I got to witness you, Raja & Norma soar down like birds. It's always great riding with you. As for carrying your torch, I appreciate your encouragement, but there's only one Mama! I hope you & your Sherpa have a great New Years Eve!
See you tomorrow?

Becky said...

Go Girl Power! ;-) Laurie, I don't see how you can take incredible pictures like that AND ride like you do. Another awesome story. Happy new year!

Anonymous said...

Becky Said... Laurie, I don't see how you can take incredible pictures like that AND ride like you do.

No Kidding! I have a full time job just riding the bike! Mama stops, takes pics, catches back up... Great Interval Training! Plus the over the shoulder while riding shots are especially impressive. Not only does she not miss a pedal stroke, but without looking through the lens or viewfinder, she actually gets great shots! BTW, she makes a pretty good brownie too! Don't worry Laurie, I didn't eat Mike's....yet!