Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Orange (trail) is the new black

I finished loading the truck on sunday morning and headed out towards Dahlonega, Ga. Future note to self in the future go back to alpine starts. The reasons why are simple traffic, riding time and forgetting shit. Getting to Dahlonega requires a drive through The ATL. It's a nerve wracking experience especially when I have bikes (Voodoo and Kona S/S) on the rack. the 75/85- I-20 interchange is no joke friends. Thankfully I did it on a weekend so it was not as cutthroat like it usually is through the week.

Riding time was effected as well. I rushed to get up there and was harried to find the trail fortunately the MTB project app was wonderful. Gone are the days of scratching through guide books to find sketchy directions from years ago that were not up dated. Using my "challenged" phone (more on that later) and GPS I was able to get to the trailhead for the IMBA Epic up there Jake and Bull mountain. I did not get up there until after 1500ish (3pm) which is cutting it close for me because I don't know the trail or area and yeah I did not have a map of the trail either (forgetting shit) Of course it took me FOREVER to get away from the truck it usually does and I snapped a pic of the trail head map then realized that the battery was damn near dead on my phone.

Let me say here I had a feeling that I MAY be headed for disaster at this point. No one knew where I was at specifically, with no map and a damn near dead battery on my phone. Rain was in the forecast and the parking lot was rapidly emptying because it was sunday and most normal folks had lives to get back to. I also knew that from a couple of things I read that these trails can be marked poorly or not at all. I figured life was a gamble and if I got lost or stuck I could survive a night out in the rain. People have died from such thinking. I have read Deep Survival enough to know better. Such is life and at times you gotta gamble. My reasoning was that I could ALWAYS backtrack. I decided to follow the orange trail at a little over ten miles I figured I'd pull in to the truck well before dark and the rain.

I followed the orange trail and found that the last round of winter storms have been real tough on the trail. I could see how IMBA could give this place an Epic status. I equated it to seeing a beautiful woman after she's been thrown down some stairs. Sure she looks the worse for wear right now, though you can still see the beauty underneath the bruises and broken bones she'll still be beautiful given time and a little work. The local crews obviously put in a lot of time clearing out snags and marking the trail. It's a great piece of trail design esp the one section that they obviously rerouted but still crossed the old tread path on a fall line. It was a nice climb. I was riding the Voodoo because I was pressed for time and I did not know the terrain. It was my second day of riding after riding Dauset the previous day on the Kona S/S and unintentionally dropping the hammer and riding like a madman there. I was feeling it by the time I got back to the truck which thankfully was before dark and before the evening rainstorm started. I've said it before and I'll say it again, when riding an unknown trail I will be tons more cautious walking pieces I could ride. I figure on that day at least I was pushing my luck enough already.

 I saw only one other rider climbing up a piece of trail I was coming down I heard him before I saw him. A easily 300 lbs guy on a niner in all new gear riding with his helmet on his bars. Look I get it the helmet can get warm, just dude when you got a new lid like that it makes your head cooler. He had that crazy near bonked look in his eyes. I asked him if he was cool and he just kept on huffing on up the trail. Climb bro climb!

I got back to the truck and saw that the lot was empty. I figured that hell with an empty lot I could take a shower then discovered in my late start rush that I forgot my soap and wash cloths. I had deodorant just forgot every damn thing else (slap head with palm of hand) The battery died on the phone about 3/4 of the way on the ride. Lucky me I did not get lost although I did go up the blue trail(?)  a bit just for a look see in the end I figure I did between 11-15 miles for those of you who keep up with that.

I cooked a yummy can of chunky soup had a beer or three used a chair (yes an actual dining room chair) someone left behind to sit in and study for a spell. I crawled into the truck read some and fell asleep only to be woken up by the sound of rain on the camper shell that night.

And that is my first day of my small riding vacation. C'mon back to hear about buckets of rain my ride on TVA land and my time up in Chattanooga which was back in 2011 voted one of America's best towns.
You'll also hear of my freak sleeping injury which even as I am writing this I still can't figure out. Thanks for reading.

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