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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wrote this for my own memories, but figured I'd share.

Yesterday’s big ride was a classic loop somewhere 45 minutes from home.
27 miles and some 5000' of climbing.
The ride started with a 2.5hr pedal up a 100yr old forestry rail grade that was predominately rock strewn and sopping wet. We held a very strong pace; having left at 6pm we were trying to beat the sun. Due to a flat tire, we failed and had to climb the final 2 miles up in the dark with lights. The pace dropped significantly not being able to see far enough ahead to miss the harder edged rocks (or rather the few spaces between them all).
On reaching the trail near the white trailer, we cruised down the steep and rocky upper section of our descent and landed in a small meadow with slight views of the small mountain town at the bottom. The sky was clear, and the sliver of a crescent moon and the stars were gave only a hint at the shapes of our surroundings.

After doing a little stretching out and getting our heads on straight, we began the 7 mile journey down the backbone of our mountain. With just enough light to see just far enough ahead, the speed that we traveled down this 18" bench cut trail made for an absolutely otherworldly visual experience. The trail is relatively smooth, with the occasional root or stray fist sized rock, making it possible to let go and allow gravity to hurdle you through narrow rhododendron tunnels with total abandon. This continued for maybe 20 minutes, but time was irrelevant and meaningless under such conditions.

There are only three wrong turns that can be made in the ride, and the rule is simply "stay right". Two of the wrong turns are very close together, and when we approached the first, I had somehow thought it was supposed to be a four way intersection instead of a wrong left hand option, 50' of trail, and then a wrong straight ahead option. Confused and wondering what happened to the wrong straight ahead option (which I took last time I was out here past sunset), I forged ahead on foot through the mountain laurel to reaffirm something that wasn't. Two steps in to the blackness, I put my hand on a tree to secure my balance and took another step that wasn't there.

What transpired over the next few seconds was a succession of darkening realizations, beginning with" OOps, I stepped in a hole" to "Dang, I stepped over a 3' ledge" to "where the heck did the ground go" to "Oh my god, I’m still falling". I hit the ground completely disoriented, and was thrilled to be conscious, but before that security could hold fast, I was going end over end again down the mountain side. My greatest fear at this point was that I would soon be going over another larger and rockier drop. Thankfully the ground leveled off enough that I came to a stop. Looking up at a 12-15' vertical to slightly undercut landslide that must have occurred during the big storms last September, I wondered how I made it down alive, and more importantly at this point, how I was going to make it back up.

A little bushwhacking and trudging through exposed roots on the edge of the slide, I pulled up and got back on to the level surface of the trail.
Climbing back on the bike, the remaining decent was taken with a wee more hesitation and caution. Still, regardless of my mental state, I will usually prefer to leave the brakes alone, so long as there is a chance at staying upright and on the trail. Thankfully, it was mostly switchbacks and not the high speed straights of before.

Dropping into the bottom campsite and crossing the creeks, it concluded another awesome run on [email protected]#$$#% ridge trail.

Five miles and 700' vertical of gravel road, cranking full on back to the car and it was time to eat. Hot food. Served. But it was 11pm, and this is a small town, in the Bible belt, on a Sunday night. Thankfully we have Waffle House as our salvation, and The All Star Special did me well with its three eggs over easy, two sausage rounds, a pecan waffle, a side of grits and two pieces of toast. I went ahead and ordered up a double cheeseburger all the way to finish off the appetite and went home to clean my wounds and go to sleep.

Cold. Blue. Steel.
1,709 Posts
damn, son!

thumbs up on the ride report. glad you didn't step off an even larger wash, and end up in the eternal abyss. ;)
who did you wind up riding with? and who got the flat climbing up?

i had a pretty incredible ride yesterday, as well.
not due to the amazing, isolated and pristine trail conditions that you encountered, but because my girlfriend asked me to ride with her. big deal, right? except that she hasn't been riding her MTB for the past 2 years because of a really bad wreck that broke her arm and shook her up. and she used to ride a lot. now she is finding that love for riding again. and as a bonus, we took her 12mo old black lab with us for her very first bike adventure. and the lab never once wondered why i chose to ride a bike with only one gear! she was one happy, tongue hangin' trail dog.

it is going to be an amazing summer. :D
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