Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Keeping it Alive

With the departure of our favorite Hausfrau, the excitement of each new day's adventure departed as well. Rajasan and I changed gears and worked double hard to keep things hoppin' and fresh. Time to step out of my daily routine and monotonous ride schedule. Keep the vibe alive. For the first time, I joined the weeknight gang at Big Creek.

The humidity was so thick, you could cut it with a knife, but that did not stop us from having fun. epoJoe and TreyBiker punished us on their singlespeeds, and I got to try out my new suhweet ride!

I really enjoyed the smooth ride of my new 140mm Talus. Flying down the flume was better than a ride at Six Flags. Robb jumped over tall buildings in a single bound, while I was content to roll off the drops. It's fun to ride with the new younger guard that's not afraid to go big. If I cannot do it, at least I can play with the ones that do.

Saturday was National Trails Day, which greeted us with a plethora of trail working opportunities. The obvious choice for us was at Blankets Creek. It has been a while since we've attended a work party, but that does not mean we have not done our share of trail building in the past. Our work parties were in the day without these fancy dingos and machinery. We cut Dwelling and Zig Zag the old fashioned, back breaking, long laborious way.

Steve Houghton fought, slaved, and forged his way for us to work at Bull Mtn. These battles are far from over, but the progress has been significant in 20 years.

Being out on the trails without a bike in sight was a new sensation for me. Things look different in slow motion. Details stand out.

The terrain takes on a new dimension. Even though our hands were holding tools instead of bikes, the mood was as light and fun as on a regular bike ride. It is possible to work and have fun at the same time. Funchik brought her 2 children along, and they joined in as if they had been doing this all their life. Impressive!

Everyone worked pretty hard, except for me. I have this incurable disease of seeing my entire life through a lens. Someone must document, lest we forget. You have to keep it alive.

It is never a good idea to do a ride after a work party. In fact, we have never ridden after working. But the bikes were in the car, and itching to get out. A small group of us suited up and took it easy around Dwelling.

Then came another opportunity to keep it alive and exciting! Speedy had a tangle with a tree, and the tree won. Time for a trip to the ER. We used Raja's frequent flyer card to get in.

The upside of getting stitches (if there is an upside) is that you get put through the "FastTrack" instead of the usual nightmare ER triage. As I said, we have frequent flyer membership. I know the drill here, and was thrilled to play tour guide.

What I did not know is that they now hire Stand Up Comedians to fill in for the MDs. Our doctor had just gotten off his shift from The Comedy Club, and he delivered jokes nonstop. Speedy never knew his arm was getting stitched up, because the doc had him in stitches laughing! I think he's waiting for the punchline in this pic...there wasn't a serious moment to be had. This Comic/MD did a great job of keeping it alive!

Sunday was a beautiful day despite the promise of soaring temperatures. In our effort to keep it alive, we went in search of a new trail. It's not often we ride anything new around here. In 20 years you can cover alot of territory.

This was a serious ride. There was a long list of do nots, but the only thing we cared about was the DO. Bikes allowed here!

That was a good thing, because Rajasan had his new toy. Freshly built as of 10:30 the night before, he was anxious to put it to the test. Everyone was anxious for him to ride Elroy the Ellsworth. Raja's opinion is good as gold in these parts, and all were waiting with bated breath. Would this be the epiphany for which he's been seeking?

We started on familiar terrain climbing sections 2,3, and 4 of the Pinhoti Trail. I adore summertime in Georgia. The trails are thick with green foliage and alive with vibrant sounds of nature.

Lately, when we've talked to Greg or Larry, they have been telling us of their mega route rides that include some "new" trails towards Ft. Mountain. It sounded enticing. The real clincher was when Raja heard of some wicked long climb. A challenge had been put out on the sorba forum for anyone to make the climb without dabbing. That's all it took, Raja was itching to take that challenge head-on. He ain't afraid of no climb.

Larry was happy to ride along and help us find the way. He had gone down the "climb" in question, and was curious to find a trailhead that had eluded him last time.

Also along for the ride was The Clogger. Could he survive an epic with The Raja? Of course he can! He survived a week in Moab and Fruita with us. The spell had been broken and he is no longer afraid of us. busted.

Our 5th rider was regularJoe. This was his first epic, ever. Would he survive? That was the question.

After we successfully climbed P2,3, and 4, we took the road towards Tatum Lead. It had been eleven years since the last time we rode this trail. I didn't remember a thing. Good, something new! Larry spotted a trailhead off to the right which took us on a long extremely fun downhill. As we bombed down it for what seemed eternity, I coulld not help but wonder when we were going to eventually regain all this lost elevation.

Yikes, that would be the bugger climb for which we were searching. 30 minutes of climbing at 3 mph tops. I had no idea at all what to expect, so I rode very conservatively in order to be prepared for any surprise thrown at me. Turns out the surprise was the long unrelenting grade. The Garmin showed bits at 25 and 27%. I believe it.

I watched as Raja and Larry pulled away. I had no intention of pacing anyone since I did not know the climb. This was all about saving energy and staying on the bike. No dabbing. Uh oh, I saw Larry dab ahead of me. I kept plodding onward. He dabbed again. It made me nervous. Keep plodding. Raja never dabbed, but steadily climbed ahead. Anytime the terrain pitch became manageable was my chance to go as slow as possible while trying to lower my heartrate. I never realized the skill that takes! Still no dabbing. Would it be possible that I could make this climb? I was beginning to have my hopes.

I could hear a motorcycle. That meant the road was ahead, which meant I was near the top. I can do this. Stay calm, keep plodding. My heartrate was soaring, my skin could barely breathe through the heat and humidity, surely I would explode right here in the middle of the trail. I became very aware of the steepness of the trail. The front end was becoming difficult to keep down. Doh, I did not lower my 140mm fork down at least to 120mm. Exhaustion got the better of me and I ran off into the thick undergrowth. Shoot!!! I almost had it. Another 12ft and I would have conquered.

Once I stopped gasping for air and regained my composure, I looked up to see if Raja was basking in all his glory. I knew he had made it. The guy can climb anything. He's like a spider. Cool. I was happy for him, and beamed with pride as if I had something to do with his success.

Here I'm looking back from my fatal dismount point. You cannot tell, but this is a 27% grade. You can see that it's narrow, grown over, and not exactly smooth pavement.

regularJoe was a bit disheartened that he had to walk. Beginning to feel like an utter failure, he was relieved to hear Raja say that was the hardest climb he had ever done. That put it in perspective for him. It's cool, Joe. You're still hanging tough and have plenty to be proud of too! You're riding with Spider Rodge!

With no where left to go but down, we enjoyed a ride along the top with luscious views. A few miles on the paved road and then picked back up our descent to P4. It was mostly all downhill from here. A well deserved downhill! What a beautiful trail!

It turned out to be a fantastic ride, albeit hard. After 4 1/2 hrs, 34 miles, and 4400' of climbing, we were ready to call it a day. The Clogger and regularJoe did us proud. Great job, guys! I knew it would be a walk in the park for you. And thanks, Larry, for patiently riding with us and being our scout!

Yes, the Hausfrau is gone, but things are still kickin' down South. We're alive and well and enjoying new adventures. Just over 2 months and we'll be on a super grand adventure in Switzerland. But until then, we will have to keep the excitement alive here. Seems to be working!

Thanks, europhotoninja, for my happy place photo!

Note: for some reason Explorer is having issues with my html, and pushing the right column down below the posts. If you open the blog in Firefox it will appear normal. If you have the answer to this problem, I would greatly appreciate the help with a solution!


Becky said...

Whoa, 27%? I can't even imagine. You both are impressive "spiders" to me. Glad I could be there to capture and share a moment of your happy place!

regularjoe said...


Lisa said...

Wow - your blog has to win the prize for the best mix of passion and life! Clearly you have some great friends - hanging out looks fun whether you all are riding or building trails.

And your photos... absolutely inspiring. Thats it, Im gonna beg my hubby to bring me home a bike. Ummm, and a travel budget. Sheeesh you have been to some cool places!

Thanks for the smiles.