Sunday, June 22, 2008

An adventure and a demo

My nephew turned one year old on Saturday. Amy had to go to a baby shower at lunch so if I was going to get there on time we would have to drive separately. My cheapness reared it's ugly head and decided that paying for the gas to drive two cars all the way up there would be way too expensive. So I pulled up google maps and figured out is was only like 50 miles to my sister's house. I decided I would ride my bicycle there and catch a ride with Amy on the way back.

I woke up early on Saturday and the weather didn't look great but mentally I had already committed. So I headed out under a light sprinkle. I decided my family would not be pleased for me to stand around in lycra and bike shoes for the birthday party so I carried some spare clothes and flip flops in my backpack I use for commuting. I even threw a third water bottle in there just in case I got extra thirsty.

The ride up to Dahlonega was very beautiful. I saw some cool farms and rolled through a couple of town squares. The cars were all really considerate to me. A couple of super close passes and one honker but really much better than I anticipated. It helped that for the most part there was a pretty good shoulder all along Highway 9 where I could ride and cars could still pass with very little effort.

It has been awhile since I have had a good adventure and it felt good to do something that scared me a little. I have a ridden a lot of short distance rides lately but nothing of this length so I wasn't 100% sure I could make it. Even thought it took me almost 3.5 hours to get there, I felt great the whole time. I bet I could have even turned around rode right back home if I wanted to.

Once I got there my sister put on a big show and told everyone how far I rode. I have hard time feeling comfortable in these types of situations. I don't really feel like what I did was all that impressive and having someone hype me up like that makes me feel weird. Plus it leads to whole bunch of conversations where people tell me why they can't ride their bicycle. I don't know how to handle those situations either. I do my best to listen and try to understand their point of view though.

I think humans are pretty amazing and accomplish some incredible feats when they set their minds to it. I also think they can do an amazing job of coming up with reasons why something is not possible if they decide they don't want to do it. I don't think this is what these people want to hear though.

Maybe I should have just told them the truth that I was scared to do it. I had no idea if I could make it. I did it anyway though because I knew I would feel really good about myself if I did make it. Plus I carried my cell phone and figured someone would take pity on me and come get me if I bonked, got lost, or if the weather got too bad. It was not like I was going to Mars or something.

Sunday Amy and I went to a bike demo at Chicopee since Amy's bike is a little too small for her. We knew that about her bike when we bought it three years ago, but we wanted a bike with the lowest standover possible so Amy would be able to get off the bike quick if needed. Amy's skills have been rapidly improving lately, and we have been going on much longer rides together. Her poor fitting bike is causing some neck and shoulder pain so it is time to upgrade.

We got to ride three bikes at the demo. One small Gary Fisher HiFi, one medium Trek Fuel Ex, and one Gary Fisher HiFi 29er. The lady helping Amy pick out her bike was pretty funny. She was ordering around everyone telling them what bikes they should ride and what size they should ride for each one of those bikes. Finally this one guy yelled at her and said enough with the sizes. I think he was half joking but it was funny that I wasn't the only she was driving nuts. She made a crack to me about how "tame" I was for riding my bike since it has a rigid fork so I might have been just a little put off.

We were very happy to be able to ride the bikes though. The Fisher 26er was fun. It's suspension was very plush and going downhill was a blast. It wasn't much of a pedaler though. I owned two Fisher's and neither on of them every shifted of felt normal when pedaling. I think it is there trademark.

The Trek was fast fast fast. I was blowing through turns at very un-James like speeds. If I had to try and keep up with chocolate girl for the day this is the bike I would want. I did notice that the front end did not seem to soak up bumps as well as the fisher. I could feel every bump on the Fuel even though the wheel never seemed like it was out of control. It tracked really well it just let my hands know about every bump.

The Fisher 29er was disappointing. The parts on it where no where near as nice as the parts on the other bikes we rode. The Fox fork on the 29er felt like one of those crappy elastomer forks they put on K-mart bikes compared to the 5" forks we rode on the other two bikes. I ride a 29er so I was very disappointed that I couldn't like this bike the best.

Gainesville Sorba was nice enough to cook some food up on the grill. I cleared us a spot in the woods and pulled out a nice log to sit on while Amy procured our lunch (I am still waiting on my change). We had a relaxing picnic in the shade and watched that crazy lady tell people what to do. All in all pretty good day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cooper Gap to Rock Creek Rd

Amy and I are not quite up for the full Winding Stair Loop so we have been riding the loop section by section. Today we rode from Cooper Gap over to Hightower Gap with a little side trip down Rock Creek Rd to the lake.

I don't know the name of the lake but it is very beautiful. When we pulled up to it today there were a couple of kids paddling a bright red canoe on a deep blue lake surrounded by tall bright green grass with a backdrop of a ridge filled with dark green trees bordered by a light blue sky. I wish I had a camera so I could show you what I am talking about.

We hiked down to the lake shore and sat there awhile just taking it all in. It was a nice way to have lunch. We noticed that these people had parked on the road, gotten there canoe out, and ferried there camping gear across the lake. Then they setup their camp on the far side of the lake. What a great idea. They had total privacy.

The ride back to the car started out with a nice 3 mile climb. Amy handled it like a champ though. We only stopped once and that was completely my suggestion. I never heard a peep out of her today about needing a break. I think we ended up with 12 miles total.

After our ride we stopped at the Crimson Moon on the square. They had live mountain music. I really enjoyed listening to them, and I can't wait to go there again.

Had a funny experience there though. I was waiting in line for the bathroom, and this lady was taking a really long time. When she finally finished, I went in the bathroom and had to hold my breath it smelled so bad. When I got back to the table I start telling Amy the whole story and really exaggerate the story to make Amy laugh. A few minutes later I look over my shoulder and guess who is sitting right behind me. The stinky lady gives me a nice big smile. Whoops.

When I got home I called my dad. He seemed in good spirits. I don't think he reads this but just in case HAPPY FATHERS DAY!!! You are the best.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ellijay Weekend

Amy and I spent last weekend in Ellijay. Ellijay is my favorite place to ride bikes in Georgia. Unfortunately the drive to Ellijay takes about an hour and a half.

Dreading having to turn around and drive right back home after riding, Amy and I decided to camp out Saturday night and spend the weekend. Amy found a cool place to camp right next to the Pinhoti 3 trail. The place she found Mulberry Gap has both bunkhouses and campsites. If you call ahead, they will even cook your meals for you.

We got up early on Saturday loaded up my car and headed to Ellijay. We parked on Gates Chapel road at the bottom of Bear creek. Then we headed up FS90 to start of the Pinhoti 2. Amy and I rode with our x2cycle tandem all the way to where the downhill starts on the Pinhoti. Then we separated our bikes and rode down to Conasauga Rd at our pace. After the super fun downhill, we connected our bikes again and headed back to the car via Shakerag.

After our fun ride we went to Corks and Crumbs on the square. Amy claims she likes to go there for the chicken salad sandwiches, but I really think it is because of the huge selection of homemade desserts. We loaded up on both and then went over to Cartecay bike's new location right off the square.

I spent a fair amount of time oogling over the bikes and bike toys. I also chatted a little with Kevin and Mike. There are both really cool guys. I met Kevin at the women's clinic earlier this year. His wife was helping chocolate girl teach the class, and Amy was attending the class. Kevin took us on a hard ride up Owltown Rd and over to the River and Boyscout Loop. Mike fit me a long time ago on my bike and spent a long time with me giving me tips and how to pedal and how to do well in a race. After indulging myself with only a small purchase of socks we headed over to Mulberry Gap.

We met Diane there and she gave us a tour of the facilities. They have these tiny wooden cabins called bunkhouses that contain you guessed it bunk beds. They also have fans and a heater. The have a large eating and gathering areas full of books, maps, and board games. There is a huge bath house with showers and toilets. There are a pair of koi ponds and pair of hot tubs. There are two large campsites with picnic tables and electric hookups. There is also a large grass field for primitive camping.

After the tour Diane showed us to our campsite. We relaxed awhile in our chairs then got busy setting up camp. I spent way too much time trying to find the most level spot and rid my spot of any sharp rocks. By the time I got the tent up dinner was ready. Ginni made us homemade organic chicken with new potatoes and green peas. We also had a really good salad and warm bread and even an oreo pie for dessert. It was delicious.

After dinner Amy and I played scrabble. I impressed Amy with my knowledge of two and three letter words. Since I took about 10 minutes to come up with each of my words it was almost time to go to bed by the time we finished our game. I read a little bit, washed up, and then went to bed.

The next morning we woke up early and started breaking down camp. Ginni and Diane had breakfast ready for us before we could finish. We feasted on blueberry pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, coffee, and orange juice. I felt like a king.

After breakfast we hung out a little and talked to Ginni and Diane. There are warm, funny, and a joy to be around. Eventually they had to get ready to go help out at the Carter's Lake race so we said our goodbyes and headed back to our camp. We finished packing up and then headed over to Bear Creek.

We rode up the Bear Creek trail to the Pinhoti connector and then over to the Bear Creek Loop Road. For the first time we were able to stay connected on our x2cycle the whole way up even on the singletrack. Once we got to the start of the singletrack downhill we disconnected and rode back down to the car.

We both had a great time even though we were both really sore and tired when we woke up this morning. I can't wait to do it again.