You Would Think, But You Would Be Wrong
Did up some short rides all last week. I EVEN did a short ride Saturday out of pure laziness. But Sunday the mountain beckoned, and who the hell am I to say no? I mean it's the mountain.
I had a plan for a ride that would be a perfect combination of single track, double track, and mountain forest roads. By my estimates it should have be about 45 miles. The problem is that I spent way too much time estimating the time and mileage of the ride, and SOMEHOW along the way forgot to pack enough nutrition for 45 miles in the mountains.
I started the ride by hitting a few miles of some nice flowing single track through the roots, rocks and ferns, then dumped out on to some gravel before heading up the Red Oak snow mobile trail. Red Oak starts with some chunky rock near the gate and is sort of a pain in the ass to get up, but then it becomes dirt double track. As I cruised along the trail I spied a fox up ahead. He looked at me and then start trotting down the trail about 30 yards in front of me. I pedaled along at about 12 mph behind him. He stopped looked back at me and then he and his big bushy tail jumped into the trees and ferns along the trail. Spotting some wildlife out on the trails is always a bonus.
At this point in the ride I was just totally stoked. My legs felt better than they have in weeks, the bike felt great under my buttocks, and the day was going amazing. It was great to be in the shade of the cool mountain woods on a hot day. Soon I was making my way up the back side of Seven Springs via Pritts Distillery. The single and double track parts of the ride were over for a bit and it would be all forest roads for the next 15 miles or so, with the plan to jump on the best part of the Seven Springs race course when I climbed up Neal's Run Rd. But first I needed to get those 15 miles in!
Let no tree go left unmarked! Nice homemade sign warning of the "soft road" surface ahead. While the gravel was deep on the first few miles of the descent, it was way worse a few weeks ago when D-POW and I did a similar loop. Oh yeah, someone is missing a Beagle too.
I stopped to photograph the flowers as the saying goes
(at least I think that's the saying) on the way down...
(at least I think that's the saying) on the way down...
I saw no other cyclists out on the roads or trails all day (OK there were two, you'll see later), but there were a few folks taking in the beauty of the mountain from the air condition comfort of their Cadillac, Lexus and Porsche SUVs, and kicking up gravel and dust along the way.
At about mile 27 or so, the shade of the trees was gone and the sun was beating down on me as the roads continued to go up. I was taking in tepid water from my pack and near boiling Gatorade from my bottles in an effort to stay hydrated and that was working. The problem was that I was hungry. I packed 3 gels and just took in the last. And I still had an estimated and planned 18 miles or so to go. What kind of an idiot plans a 45 mile mountain bike ride and takes 3 gels, and 2 bottles of freaking Gatorade for calories??? What is that about 300 calories for a planned 3.5 to 4 hours? I'm such an idiot.
Oh well, nothing to do but just keep on. As I downed the last gel and took a swig of the bum's piss in my bottles, I realized that the plan to incorporate more single track into the ride as I climbed Neal's Run was not going to happen. Curse me!
I finally got to the bottom of Neal's Run which is a great big and middle ring shaded climb along a stream for the first mile or two. I was content with my decision to ditch the single track. As I climbed I spied two bikes along the road, a couple of sweet Wal Mart Huffys. A few feet from them was a helmetless couple standing with their back to me. As I passed I say "hey, how's it goin'?" The woman smiles and says "Great" and her man friend say "good man" as he lets out a big exhale of pot smoke as I rode by. LOL! I couldn't help but just laugh as I passed. I see two riders all day and it's a helmetless, Huffy riding, ganja smoking couple. I should have asked for some food. I mean surely they were prepared for the munchies. Of course my luck it would have been some "custom" made brownies!
Eventually Neal's loses it's tree cover, turns to chunky loose rock and kicks up a bit. UG! I was ready to eat my hand!
I'm used to cracking during races, but cracking during my fun rides is just stupid. The Bike Gods had one more insult to throw me for being SO stupid....
I finally made it to Fire Tower Road and was plugging up on of the short climbs when hhhheeerreeee comes "Jack"...
Who is Jack you ask? Jack is a gold Lab who's lives at a cabin along the road. Jack was the mutt that started my bad luck streak of dog incidents about a month ago. And he was back. Running full blast at me as I pedaled about 3 mph up the hill. The thing was literally bounding through the air towards me. I stand froze as the owners are yelling "Jack, get back here!! GET BACK! He won't hurt you!! He just thinks you're here to see him (I wasn't)" as Jack flies through the air growling and hits me in the chest with both paws with his face right in mine like he wanted to stick his tongue in my mouth.
I stood there frozen like a constipated turd. Mumbling "Easy Jack, I'm nice, I won't hurt you (even though I wanted to smash his face with my cleated foot). Finally the dude's kid comes and drags the growling Jack away from me and apologizes. I continued to be nice (after all they're they DO have a big pissed off dog) and say "no worries, I've met Jack before under similar circumstances." To which the kid replies "are you the guy he chased yesterday?" WTF?? OK, you have a dog, live on a road that people apparently cycle and hike on and you STILL let your dog off a leash and able to chase them down?? UGGGGGG!! I was missing the pacifist fox I met earlier in my ride. *sigh*
Soon I was back to the xB, and ready to head home for copious amounts of beef and whatever they put in hot dogs before MEatless Week II starts on Monday. The ride ended with only about 39 miles, but what ended up being 4+ hours on the bike with all the climbing, the early single track and the bonking.
While I was an idiot for not packing more food, or sucking it up and using the Perpetuem that I recently swore off, it was still an amazing time in the saddle and a great way to spend the 4th of July and a great way to earn those burger calories!
Gonna just chill today, maybe do some work, and watch the Tour.