Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Day Southern Style

While millions of Americans were bringing in the New Year sitting on the sofa watching the sport of Football, us Southern Folks celebrated the first day of 2008 by actually participating in a sport......you guessed it.......Mountain Biking! What better way to mark the beginning of a new year than by zipping through North Georgia's most beautiful trails with 40 of your favorite friends!

Mike Palmeri hosted his annual New Year's Day ride this year at everybody's favorite singletrack trail, The Pinhoti. Even the subzero temperatures could not keep all these mountain bike enthusiasts away. Wearing everything but the kitchen sink, it was hard to recognize even our closest friends. The sun was shining, but the wind would viciously rip through our bodies like a blades of ice. No way we were hitting the road today. That's the beauty of mountain biking. You can tolerate even the harshest of weather conditions (to a degree)!
Bundled up like little snow bunnies, we headed up the gravel road towards Bear Creek. It's a beautiful road lined with rhododendrons. But our destination was not to be Bear Creek trail today, we were forking off to the left onto the first section of the Pinhoti trail.
We climbed a bit and warmed up quickly. My balaclava came off instantly, and my gortex jacket made me feel like a brownie in an EasyBake oven. But the gortex would come in handy on the downhills when we would be zipping through the 38 degree air.

I had accidentally grabbed the wrong battery for my compact point-n-shoot Canon. It went cold dead after 3 shots. Doh! Fortunately, I had also packed my Nikon D40, a recent purchase for our Hawaii trip. The downside to that is I would have to work extra hard to get pictures today.
The camera takes up my entire camelbak, so I don't carry any tools (relying on SherpaMan for that). This enables me to "easily" whisk the camera out at a moment's notice. Of course it's not really that easy. I have to get far enough ahead of the other riders to jump off my bike (literally) while already mapping out a spot to throw my bike (a bike on the side of a trail doesn't look good in pictures). Then I jerk off my right glove, sling my camelbak off onto the ground, unzip it, and jerk out the camera. All before this can happen I have to already have figured out a spot to set up for picture taking; make sure the light is behind me, is there a cliff for me to hang off or do I clammer up the sidehill, and make sure no trees are blocking the view.
Okay, so I'm in position and here come some riders. Time to grab some shots while trying not to slide down the precarious position I am in on the slippery bank. All the while, my heartrate is at Level 5 because I've had to sprint ahead, and I have a hard time holding the camera steady.

Ten shots later, I'm disgusted because I realize I picked out a stupid location, but it's too late to do anything about it. Time to jump back on the bike, catch up (always on a hill no less), pass as many riders as possible and start the whole procedure again. Shew.
300 pictures later, I have 140 that are usable and maybe 10 I like. That's how the cookie crumbles in photography.

As beautiful and wonderful as the Pinhoti trail is, it's also the most challenging trail for me to get good pictures. There are no convenient spots to catch the action and the lighting is not the best under the heavy foliage. I always find myself quite disappointed with the results of my work whenever I ride there. Today was no exception. But I suppose that adds to the challenge of it all. Live and learn.

I've got a new toy to figure out how to use effectively. I feel like a newbie mountain biker that has been handed a Maverick mountain bike to ride. It will take a while before the bike's (camera) full potential will be realized. All I ask is that you all be patient with me. And any advice is appreciated!

So, back to the fun at hand. We continued the fun by climbing up Pinhoti 2 for our treat of the day......the downhill. This downhill has to be THE best downhill in Georgia. Maybe even the entire southeast.

We were having a blast! Raja traded bikes with Captain Can't Spellcheque for a brief test ride during the downhill. Kevin was on Cartecay Bike's Maverick loaner bike for the day. We were taking easy, just having fun when we came upon a rider climbing up the trail. No big deal.

It was a big deal to Miss Cranky Pants though. She growled at us as if we had come barging in her house disrupting her afternoon nap. She needed a nap, that's fo' shuy. This is a picture of the exact opposite of how Miss Charming greeted each of us as we passed.

Turns out, everyone in the group had a colorful encounter with Snarly Susie. She even hit Big Daddy Vic as he rode by her! Have you seen Vic! I wouldn't hit him even if I was wearing bubble wrap. Wow!

Thanks Ill Pill for providing us all a big laugh for New Years Day! As if we weren't already having enough fun!

Some of us turned around at the bottom of Pinhoti 2 to climb back up for more. We wanted nothing to do with riding back on a gravel road. Singletrack is the way to go! Got to run into some more friends coming down. So we talked them into going back with us. Mountain bikers are an easygoing bunch!

But I had to hurry back to the car. I told Mary that I had baked some chocolate goodies for them, and I knew she was waiting. Afraid they would break into my car, I decided I best get back with the key.

MMMMMMmmmm, chocolate and mountain biking! That's how we celebrate the New Year in the South! Is there really any other way?!

View the slideshow of our first ride for 2008!

Here's to many more fun adventures for the year! See you on the trails!


Anonymous said...

Hey Laurie!

Thanks for another great recap! It's so nice to enjoy a day out & be able to see pictures of it afterwards; we appreciate your hanging off of cliffs in an effort to capture our fun! I hope you & Raja have a great time at The Snake!

See ya soon,


Namrita O'Dea said...

happy new year!

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