Monday, January 31, 2011

Oooph! That's gonna hurt.

and yes, now it certainly does. Yesterday afternoon I got out for a little dose of Pisgah. Sophiedog the Brave and I arrived at the Turkey Pen parking lot at 4:45 with the plan of an out-and-back on Squirrel. I was hoping to catch sunset at the furthest out point so I had lights along. Just after the bridge on South Mills River I knew the ride was going to be interesting since there was a sheet of ice making it nearly impossible to even make it even to South Mills. I knew then that the ride was going to filled with ice or mud every foot of the way. Up Mullinax was a great warm-up despite the thick mud I had to slowly churn through.

I turned onto Squirrel with the intention of scoping out the trail redo but immediately found that I had to concentrate of every dip, turn, climb, or trail obstacle along the way. The trail work was hardly noticable but what I did see was that I probably shouldn't have been out there. The trail still needs to recover from the snow. There was either a ribbon of ice or two inch deep mud covering the majority of the trail. It was slow going and the landmarks took forever to reach. I wasn't feeling very motivated but decided that at a minimum I was going to Cantrell Creek. Well, to my surprise after Laurel Gap the trail was in much better shape and I was happy with the choice to soldier on. The trail work became more apparent and I wholeheartedly approve. Good work guys.
When I arrived at Cantrell

the sun had set and it was time to light up and turn around. With hardly a break Sophie and I were headed the way we came but within a minute my light turned off. Wha? Click Click.... nothing. Well, I had put both batteries I had with me on the charger at the same time and both batteries blinked their happy green light saying 'yeah! I'm charged' so when the main battery died a moment after it turned on, I panicked. Will the second battery do the same thing? How much time do I have on full burn with that tiny battery anyway? I quickly decided that retracing my steps was not going to be a good idea and that I needed to get off the hill IMMEDIATELY so I turned around and before even trying the backup battery I was descending Cantrell Creek. At the first creek crossing

I could no longer see so after a quick prayer I turned the small light on with the small battery. I was shocked at how bright that little thing seemed deep in the woods. I needed to get out of there though so with a new since of a fire under my ass I put the pedals down and hammered down that rocky, wet, down tree covered, deep DEEP in the heart of Pisgah trail. I knew that if I made it to South Mills I was home free, that I'd hardly even need a light once I was down there. Well, I made it off the hill (and across the 5 wide creek crossings) without another light issue and after a quick photo of the lodge I was rolling back towards the Jeep.

It took me a minute to start to smile and think about what I had just done, Cantrell Creek is a blast, even when in a panic mode. It was no longer a time to panic though, it was a time to reflect. As I was making my way back on South Mills I caught a glimpse of what I first thought was a huge rising orange moon. No, what is that?? Someone had a HUGE campfire roaring up on the hill where I don't know of there even being a trail. I was looking up the hill at the fire to my right, not paying attention when suddenly it felt like I had been kicked in the leg by a horse and I was laying flat on my chest with my bike on top of me. Moving at no faster than 5mph I had run directly into a cut off branch of a downed tree and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I got up and thought about the folks up the hill camping and what they must have just seen. A single light moving steadily along and then an audible OOOMPH! and the light stopped. Anyway, I quickly got up and started to hammer. Sophie was game and I just wanted to get out of there before the pain really set it.

I ended the ride by climbing the singletrack rather than 66 jumps and was headed home2 hours and 32 minutes after I started. I texted Erinna to let her know I was out of the woods and that ended up being a great idea on my part, she had a delicious dinner ready and waiting the moment I got in. Awesome. Thanks for pushing me out the door Erinna. I needed an adventure like that. I needed that ride. Droid Stats: 11.29 miles, 2933' climbing, 2:02 moving time, 2:32 total time, 5.5 mph average moving speed, 16mph max. (hmmm... interesting, when I load the gpx file into Topo I get different stats. 10.9 miles, 1680' climbing. I wonder which is more accurate.)


  1. Cantrell at night with little light is what it is all about! Sounds like a good ride.

  2. FWIW - I believe the Topo representation of altitude can really muddle things up - basically from what I read they don't consider it when calculating distance traveled... A GPS with an altimeter (barometric preferably) will do the best job of calculating distance since it accounts for elevation. The steeper the route the less accurate Topo is.

  3. What app are you using on your Droid?

  4. Anon,
    I'm using My Tracks: