Monday, April 09, 2007

April Snow Ride, Goat Style

As I drove up 25 Saturday morning, I started noticing cars with quite a bit of snow on them. Huh, southern snow in April I thought. That should make for an interesting day in the mountains. Jeremy had gathered some nutballs for the Goat ride.

Slowly our group amassed to 9 riders. It was a brisk morning, but nothing as cold as the last time we attempted a ride of this magnitude. During the week prior, I had convinced myself that I was going to give my legs a stress test on this day.

After a lot of chit chat about the cold, we headed toward North Slope, our route for the day would be:

North Slope, Black Mountain, Maxwell Cove, Clawhammer, Black Mountain, Club Gap, 276, 475B, 225A, Cove Creek, 225A, Daniel Ridge, 475, Cathy’s Creek, Butter Gap, Club Gap, 475, 276 to the cars.

I was right behind Mike B. on the first climb of the day when I heard a stick rustling over the top of his helmet. I looked up just in time to see a stick whip lashing into my eye. Struck in the face, I slam my bike down to the ground and grab my eye. I regained my composure to realize that I had lost my left contact for the second time two Saturday’s in a row. I tried to walk fast to let somebody know I would have to get my spare out. I caught up to a couple people waiting for me, whipped out my spare contact and on we went. The sting from the branch was immense, I couldn’t hold my left eye open for longer than a second without having to shut it. I was hoping that the sting would eventually go away so I could hold my eye open.

Going down snowy North Slope was a challenge. Wooden water bars were ice and snow covered and they gave me the jitters as I negotiated them like a one eyed captain negotiates the ice fields of the sea, very slowly. I made it down slowly without mishap, I was even able to negotiate the steps at the bottom.

We cruised back by the cars and waited as a couple people messed with minor mechanicals. Next up was up Black Mountain. Going up Black was not nearly as tough as it seemed earlier in the year. I was able to ride most of the steeper pitches with my gear and when I was walking, most of the gearies were walking.

When the trail kicked down for the last little bit, I slowly made my way down again as the trail was super slick with snow. About that time I was able to finally hold both eyes open but my left eye was pretty blurry. We cruised down Maxwell Cove.

Again I felt pretty good going up Clawhammer and as I turned the last switchback, I looked up and saw Mike in front of me. If I was keeping pace with Mike, either he felt bad or I felt good. We chilled for a minute at the gap and then made our way to Club.

I had never gone down Club Gap before, only up. So I looked forward to jumping in line and that is what I did. I was in front of Broussard and Dave as I cruised down. I was feeling good when I looked up and saw a large branch lying in the middle of the trail. I navigated my front wheel and left pedal by the branch when I heard WHAM! Next thing I knew I was catapulted through the air, shoulder hip and back check the ground and I slide to a stop. My back wheel just barely caught the branch. I ate the dirt hard, really hard. Luckily I came to a stop just before the big bone breaking rocks.

I collected myself, checked out the bike. Nothing broken on either but my hands were now frozen from being drug through the snow. I had to take it real slow the rest of the way down the short downhill.

As we climbed up 475 headed to Cove, I warmed back up and felt good again. We started cruising down Cove and soon thereafter Mike flatted. Close to the same spot I flatted on Cove eight days before.

We took the short cut back up to 225 and over to Daniel. Coming down the rocky section of Daniel I heard some ringing in my spokes. I had broken one off.

Over the old washed out bridge and on up to Gloucester Gap. I was still feeling pretty good on this climb and pushed it hard. We stopped at the Gap for a rest and then pushed the rest of the way up to Butter. I thought about the last time I had ridden Butter, during the SWANK. I took up residence, second to last going down Butter, I needed to go slow.

Once we made it out to the Fish Hatchery, the call was made to head back to the cars. It was a long day on the bike with around 45 (remember, Pisgah miles are like dog years) miles in the end.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Surprised we didn't see you out there Saturday. We were camping near Clawhammer down the horse stables road. The snow started about 11 or so Friday night & continued well past 1:30 Saturday morning when we finally went to bed. Hard to get moving after sleeping out in 27 degree weather. I think we picked the wrong way to go up that trail. It seemed we were hiking the bike more than riding. We went up instead of down. Poor decision on our part. Sounds like you guys had a good ride despite the physical & mechanical setbacks.