Saturday, December 29, 2007

The crossroads

photo: Patrick Hartford

I've been getting some decent riding in with my time off this week. On Wednesday, we set forth on the Lake James (bitch!) loop. Nothing like a 5 hour road ride to set some perspective in your life. Given the fact that this was the longest bike ride I've done in about 2 years, it worked out pretty well. But I just couldn't leave it at that...

Jeff and I got Brian to cover the shop today (thanks, B-Rock!) so that we could meet up with The Mayor and Preacher Todd for a dirt road ride out in Collettsville. We met up at 10am at the "Hard and Flossie Clark" Park (I swear that is its name) and departed down Hwy 90.

Just as Hwy 90 is about to turn to dirt, there is a road to the right. This is Anthony's Creek Road. Anthony's Creek is paved for a couple of miles and then turns to dirt. When the pavement ends, the climbing begins. And climb it does. Up and up and up it goes with Anthony's creek sinuously winding from one side of the road to the other. Almost from the gun, there is a beautiful waterfall that cascades through a jumble of granite blocks covered in green moss and algae. The air was crisp and cool, but the climbing caused us to warm up pretty quick. Towards the top I had to stop and get rid of some layers as I was starting to soak my wool jersey through with sweat.

We got to the top, a little community known as Gragg. We rode along a ridgeline and then descended down towards Wilson Creek and the community of Edgemont. We rode through Edgemont and on toward Mortimer. Just past the old CCC camp there is a little store. The store sits at the intersection of Hwy 90 and Brown Mtn. Beach Rd. This is a fairly important little intersection when cycling in this area for, as Jeff put it, this was "one of life's crossroad moments"; a decision point. At this point we had been riding for 2hrs and 45 minutes. Take Brown Mtn. Beach Rd. and we're back at the car in about an hour; take Hwy 90 and we have about the same ride time but with a lot more pavement. Or option 3: take 90 for a bit and then turn onto the all dirt "18 Mile" road and add another 2+ hours of ride time. Guess which option we chose?

"18 Mile" road is a beautiful, if not jagged, ride that has many ascents and descents and goes through at least two distinct life zones before dropping you onto Adako Rd. I readily admit I had a few dark moments towards the latter sections of the road, but it was worth the extra mileage.

Upon returning to the car, I immediately dubbed this loop the "7 faces of death" ride, but we were all in agreement that we seemed to not feel as beat up as we did at the end of the Lake James (bitch!) ride on Wednesday. I regret not having brought a camera, because the views were stunning and pictures would serve as ample inducement to get you to ride this route, but I also regret that I have not developed the habit of applying Chamois Butt'r before doing these epic rides. I keep trying to remember, but the habit just isn't ingrained yet. However, I do have a deeply ingrained habit of complaining about not using Chamois Butt'r at the end of long rides when my hind end feels the way a baboon's butt looks.

I got home, got a big hug from Owen (and his assistance with putting the wheels back on my bike), jumped in the shower and took off for Sledgehammer Charlie's in Blowing Rock. I hadn't been there since they moved, but Chuck had been talking about the food during the ride (never a good thing on an epic ride) and so visions of brisket and apple crisp sundaes danced through my head as we hit the road. The food was excellent, Owen ate his weight in french fries and baked beans (I'm sure an interesting diaper story is imminent) and I ate like there was no tomorrow. And now, since I feel somewhat human, I'm gonna call it a day and go crash out.

And Todd: today's ride was totally blog-worthy!
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