Saturday, October 11, 2008

Assault on Brushy Mtn

Paulding Sorba hosted their first annual "Assault on Brushy Mtn" to introduce the mtn biking community to the many incredible trails they have so diligently been building and grooming as of late. The word, assault, sounds so abrasive and hostile, yet that is appropriate nomenclature for many a bike ride we have done. I did not want to assault anything today, but rather "Embark upon a Fun Adventure" of the New Mtn Bike Trails. How's that for a Festival Title?

Paulding Sorba has some really cool exciting members just oozing with motivation, energy, and ideas to make mountain biking fun and accessible not just for the athletes, but for the common everyday citizens of their community. Hardworkers like TJ, Scott, Derick, Buster and Dave (only to name a few) along with countless volunteers have built a fabulous network of singletrack trails running right alongside the Silver Comet trail. Even though you are never more than 20 feet away from the paved path, the dirt trails give a sense of being in the middle of the woods, worlds away from the hub bub of city life. You can see the Comet just behind PJ and Rusty as they play in the singletrack oblivious to the paved universe.

Raja took me on the trails for my first time last Tuesday, and I felt like a little kid that had discovered a new secret hideout in the woods. Yet, you can look over your shoulder at some places and see triathletes hunched over their aero bars riding by on the Comet and power walkers keeping stride with their ipod music. It's not just anywhere that so many disciplines can all coexist and play together in such close proximity.

There were 3 options for our ride this morning, 12, 20, and 50 miles. PJ was geared up to do the whole enchilada, and had no idea what she was in for! I told her that ignorance is bliss. After it was over and done, she said she now understood that theory.
During the previous day's phone conversation, I had unwittingly peaked shredder Michael's interest in coming to the ride. He showed up along with Andy and Steve. I knew I would not be seeing much of these guys during the ride, so we tried to get in our socializing beforehand. Al, Rusty, Rob, Scubacruz, Lori, PJ, and Badge were also there signing up for varying options. I was surprised to see such a varied group of riders.

Crockett, our fearless leader, called the meeting to order and gave us the lowdown. This was NOT a race, he specifically stated. Well, that was a load off my mind! Steve and Andy had been downplaying their riding abilities all morning, and we all know what that means. They were going to kick our butts with Michael leading the pack. Maybe with this tactful announcement, a truce would be called and we could actually ride for fun?! Riiiiiiiiiiiight .

We were gently dismissed, and the pack went barreling down the Comet towards the side trail as if free money was being dispensed at the trailhead.

Hitting the rolling dirt track, one cannot help but give into the adrenaline and flowing fast trail. We raced along at a fast clip, heartrates climbing higher and higher. Last I checked there was no race number plate attached to my bike, so why was I keeping chase? The faster you go, the more fun it is! These trails rock!

Once you hit one of the short little climbs though, the fun factor fades and your common sense tends to take over the voting process.

Things got more intense and I could only watch as Michael's wheel pulled away from me. "I've got to get my heartrate under control or I'm going to bonk in the first 5 miles," I thought to myself. Backing off a click, I took advantage of the rolling downhills to gather my thoughts. Michael and I popped out onto the Silver Comet for a few hundred yards, and we could see the rest of the lead pack just ahead. I knew Michael would motor up easily to close the gap and hook back on to the train, so I jumped on his rear wheel. But he is so incredibly strong that I could not stay in his draft, and fell back a few bike lengths.

As we popped back into the woods, I could see Raja letting some riders pass by him. He too had come to the same conclusion I had. "What's the point in racing this? Let's ride with some of our friends!" We waited at the top of the next steep climb and joined in the fun with our friends that were experiencing these trails for their first time. Personally I want to be remembered not by how fast I can rip up a trail, but as a friend that is simply a fun person with which to ride.

Now that my bursting lungs were no longer the focus of my attention, I took the time to notice the beautiful surroundings and subtle Fall colors beginning to emerge.

The trail is narrow and zips through trees and up and over not so subtle switchbacks. For being a trail that runs parallel to a paved path, it dishes up some real surprises.

This is not a dull straight-as-a board flat trail as one might expect. Challenging for a beginner and yet just as interesting for an experienced mtn biker, you will not be bored out here!! I'm excited to have something new to ride that is only 12 miles away from the house.

The singletrack treats end right before the Pumpkinvine Tressel Bridge giving you about 9 miles of dirt altogether. Today's route was going to take us further down the Comet and then off on some gravel dirt roads and paved roads. Less than an hour into our journey, everyone was still full of energy.

At mile marker 12, our sag stop was waiting. There was no need to carry much water or food, because they had plenty of supplies in stock. Paulding Sorba had all sorts of safety measures in place, and signing into the sag was a must along with getting our wrist bands hole punched. A phone number was on each wrist band in case a rider got lost, and needed to call for assistance.
The only thing Paulding Sorba wasn't doing for us was turning the pedals on our bikes. That was up to us! After fueling up and getting safety clearance, we turned off the Comet onto McPherson Church for some gravel road grinding.

The entire route was well marked with yellow ties hanging from tree limbs, signs with arrows, and marked trees. The paved roads were a welcome change from the gravel, yet they had their own disadvantage. Climbing on the road on a 27lb squishy full suspension mountain bike is no walk in the park, and works you twice as hard as your skinny little road bike would. Raja and I wanted a good workout today, and we were getting it! The clouds would come and go, with more coming than going, and the wind blew fiercely reminding us that a real roadie ride would have been torture.

The route took us to Braswell Mtn Road and then to Brushy Mtn where Scott was waiting with sag #3. He pointed us down a doubletrack gravel trail that would eventually lead to a nicer singletrack trail. Mmmmmmm, fresh big gravel. Now that takes a bit of experience to learn how to ride, and thank goodness I have a wee bit of know-how to endure it.

We were thrilled when that finally ended and we took a right turn into a thick overgrown trail. Are we sure this is the right way? Yep, I see the yellow ribbon hanging just ahead, we're on track!

No mountain bike ride would be complete without the obligatory creek crossing. Be careful though, this stuff can be slick and sometimes it is better just to walk it.

The next section of trail reminded me of what we used to ride 15-20 years ago in our beginner days of mountain biking.

It was a nice old raw piece of trail without any fancy grooming. Taking us up a respectable climb, it took all your focus and concentration in order to make it without dabbing. I really liked this section.

Once at the top, we rolled along and then quickly descended down a short steep pitch that dumped us out onto the Comet. Darn, we were having such fun in the dirt.

In just a few short clicks, we were back at our first sag stop with TJ still manning his post. This time we went the other direction on McPherson Church for a steady climb up to Willow Springs Road. We are very familiar with Willow Springs since this is part of the Hulseytown Loop we used to do on a regular basis. Down Willow to Mt. Olivet and once again we were back on the Comet.

This meant that shortly after we went through the tunnel we would pick back up on the singletrack side trails this time in the opposite direction.

Yea! Dirt track again, where I feel at home.

Wait a minute! What the heck?

That's not something you see everyday on the trail! We didn't even see those in Switzerland! I've seen people walk their dogs on the trail, but their llamas!?!
This was definitely a first!

After shaking off the shock of our Llama encounter we continued on towards the Maniac switchbacks which Al attempted with ease. This is another one of my favorite sections of the trail.

We were nearing the end and our odometers were still far from 50 miles. 42 miles is all we would get credit for at the finish, but that was plenty! PJ wouldn't argue with that distance either. She had assaulted, embraced, and embarked these trails with gusto and I was very proud of her!

As we rolled into the park, Crockett was announcing our arrival over the loudspeaker as if we had completed the Tour de France. Bowls of chili and chicken soup and trays of treats were waiting for us to consume. In between bites, we listened for our number to be called out in order to pick out some cool schwag off the table courtesy of the many generous sponsors. Raja and I scored a pair of Tifosi suglasses and a huge jug of Hammergel.....suhweet! The best part, of course, was just hanging out with the fun folks of Paulding Sorba and enjoying the super weather and laughing at stories from the day's events.

If this is what an Assault is all about, count me in! Thanks Paulding Sorba for an awesome Assault on Brushy Mountain. We look forward to next year!

1 comment:

Chris, Brigette and Norah Dusack said...

Hi Chocolate Girl, the Assault on BM looked like a GREAT time, we would have been there had we not been at the 12-hour of Conyers. It was great to meet you today! Wanted to share our photos w you, they are at

I have one other of Gayle doing an endo-faceplant but did not post it there until she says it's cool, but did you see it? Whoa, I have to check on her. Hope to ride w you another time soon! Brigette Dusack