Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Riding with Blue Ribbons

So it was a great camping weekend this past weekend. I know of some guy, who came up with this crazy ride plan and from the beginning I said “Ain’t going to do it even though it does sound grand.” I knew from the beginning that I would not be in great shape come November and the last thing I wanted to do was to blow out all of my passion for winter riding this early in the season.

So with that in mind Kristin and I decided to make it a joint effort for fun. I headed up to the campground Friday evening. Joe and I came up with a plan for a night ride as I couldn’t stand sitting around after more than 10 days off the bike.

Our plan for the evening was slightly ambitious and I kept commenting that if I were riding “the route” that I would take off on Friday night as there is no way I would sleep well anyway but all this is gibberish since I was obviously a spectator for this weekend.

So Joe, Buddy and I headed out into the night. As we drew closer to Clawhammer the decision was made to go up it. Then as we came to Maxwell Cove, we decided it was an excellent cloudless night for an excursion to the top of Black Mountain.

The climb up Maxwell went by quickly and we arrived at the Gap with Buddy still in tow. Buddy really enjoyed the hike up to the overlook and I was surprised by how quickly we came up on Turkey Pen trail head.

We took in the views on top of Black while I complained about the city light pollution that we could still see. I exclaimed that one really has to reach the Parkway before some of that pollution fades but we both agreed that this was a pretty nice spot for a night time picnic.

The great thing about all the October rain is that it makes biking with the dogs so much easier as there were plenty of opportunities for Buddy to drink along the way. After some walking and bike descending, we made it past the Buckhorn shelter and onward to the next overlook. Joe (a.k.a. I need an LED) said he wasn’t so sure about his new battery and he was scared it might not make through our proposed route of Buckwheat to Bennett.

We reformulated our plan and decided a trip down Avery Creek would better suit our needs. As “I need an LED’s” light kept fading, I was having a blast down Avery as I can’t even remember the last time I rode this trail and I am ready to go back during the daylight.

I had warned Joe that I sometimes get turned around trying to follow Avery at the bottom and sure enough we got turned around two or three times before we made it out to 477. If you think finding your way in Pisgah is tough, add some darkness along with leaf litter and see how you fair.

When we made it back to camp, only two “participators” were still up around the fire. Clay expressed his opinion about the 14 hour mark and then tried to find his tent as Joe and I kept the fire going into the wee hours.

After hearing the “participators” head out in the dark Saturday morning I drug myself out of the tent and started pinning blue ribbons on myself for the ride. I think I had eventually pinned 4 or 5 of those blue ribbons on before the “morning” ride took off.

Joe and I had a guest in the form of “Not too Fat to start a century” but “maybe too fat to ride candies” Nick with us. He had an unfortunate blow out of his pedal early on but Joe had a loaner for him. Sure enough he would break the non-loaner less than 5 miles into his second attempt at a ride that day.

Buddy had to chill in the car and wait for Momma to show up this day as we would be frequenting the too busy for a dog highway 276. Unlike our “participant” friends, we were looking for a nice easy day. So with extra Blue Ribbons in our pockets we took off up Bennett Gap to Coontree.

Coontree was a hoot until I had a small wreck trying to ride the log ride at the bottom. Another pedal catastrophe had “I ain’t too fat to attempt a century” talking about the campsite and his house. Joe and I convinced him that a ride was going down for him sans upward pedal stroke on one foot, onward we pressed.

Davidson River to Butter Gap via the newly found trail thanks to the non-promoter of the non-event that was going down. That’s a lot of vagueness but you get the point. After a break down by a creek and a lot of BS’ing about almost catastrophic bike events of the past, we made the final push up to Butter.

Hesitantly I took the lead down butter but with 6 inches of goodness on either side of “Broken Pedal” he was still able to keep pace despite his mechanical woes. I thought for sure I was going to get passed. It was nice riding Butter without all the stop and go that it was from downed trees last time.

I argued that we didn’t have skinny tires therefore we should push back up Coontree and descend Bennett to complete the day’s trip and eventually everyone agreed. Again the descent down Bennett had “I’m going to sue Wall Mart for everything they got” riding my ass all the way down as he insisted I go first. Who isn’t going to listen to a guy who weighs twice your weight and can wrassle “hush hush” riders as though he was born along the Earp lineage?

Saturday afternoon and night was spent pinning ribbon after ribbon on my shirt waaaaaaay into the night. We fed racers and cheered everyone on as they finished their long days in the woods and eventually my blood ran too thin (I must have pricked myself with so many pinned ribbons) to wait for the last rider to come in.

Lost Dog Sunday was spent cleaning up and convincing Yuri to wait for me to ride. After he waited for a couple hours we were finally ready to head out. Buddy had been riled up all morning playing with every dog incessantly in the campground and I thought he needed to burn some energy as Shade and Kristin were already on their merry way home.

Yuri and I started discussing route options up Clawhammer when all the sudden Buddy was not there. I had seen him in a creek and then he just vanished. It was strange as Buddy is appropriately named and therefore doesn’t leave my side when Shade isn’t around.

I yelled and yelled as I thought maybe he had chased something up one of the ridges and eventually I told Yuri to go on as I had held him up to the point of frustration. The weird part was that we never heard rustling leaves. So I rode down clawhammer and back up to where I had lost him yelling the entire time. I was starting to get nervous when I rationalized that he must be tired and headed back towards the campground where he had been for the last 3 days. As I headed down the second time I saw some friendly bikers who said that they had seen my orange vested canine running down 477. Well at least he wasn’t hopelessly lost in the woods but now I was worried that some hunter might think he was “worthy of the hunt” even though I know Buddy doesn’t like strangers so that comforted me slightly.

Sure enough when I got back to the car there was his happy face and it brought great relief to my mind. There was even a lady there waiting with him as she had seen him running down the road. I thanked her for her kindness as she said he wouldn’t even come close enough to her to take a treat. That’s a good boy!!

1 comment:

LowCountry Joe said...

Very glad Buddy was found safe...what a weekend!