Saturday, August 6, 2011

Riding with a gnome on my back

I got out EARLY this morning for an interesting ride, to say the least. The Pisgah picture game is going strong and there's an added feature now, a 3+ pound 12" tall garden gnome. Well, of course, I had to go get that gnome. I started early with Clawhammer first.

View 2011-08-06 06:17 in a larger map

It was just first light when I left. If I had started 15 minutes earlier I would have needed a light. The right turn for Maxwell came soooo much quicker than expected that I just hammered around the corner and headed to Pressley Gap. On the way up I noticed a few things: The woods are completely silent at first light. The bloodsucking flies come out about 20 minutes after first light. Flying insects of all sorts were out and about buzzing along. I kept the tempo high and blew right past the chimney, I didn't even see it, even though I was looking to stop there for my first break of the day. I was at Pressley, again, before I thought I was due, so I turned onto Black without a break.
The climb up Black will surely either have made me stronger or taken years off my life, I'm not sure which. The deer/horse flies were unbearable. I got bit on my arms, head, face, ankle, and calf within minutes. Welts that pulsed with dull sting all over. I was not going to be discouraged though, that gnome was fucking MINE!!!! and I ran every time I was off the bike during the hikes and hammering like mad every time I was on. I also found that if I was running with my bike in one hand and violently swinging my helmet with the other hand I could fend them off. I must have been quite the sight. When I found the gnome hidden a few yards down Turkey Pen trail I snapped a few photos,
got bit by more horseflies, strapped the thing to my back, and was out of there. Immediately I started to feel a bit of a bonk coming on so I slowed the pace a little and relaxed during the descent. If I can't come to a stop and rest because of the flies, I gotta catch my breath somewhere.... I took it easy on the tech switchbacks, didn't stop at the overlooks (there was nothing to see but thick fog anyway) and was headed to the shelter quicker than I could have imagined. My planned route was to head to Avery Creek but that wasn't going to happen. Even though I felt a little hungry and I was starting to itch from the bites my legs felt strong. I was standing and hammering to the shelter. What happened then? As I was passing the shelter two spokes broke in my rear wheel
and whenever I put pressure down the tire would rub the frame. Oh, and I didn't have a spoke wrench. So the gnome's new home was now going to be behind the shelter. It was an easy decision. I took a few photos for the game,
stashed the gnome,
ate, and otherwise took a long breather before coasting back down Black to the gap, then down Clawhammer all the way back to the Jeep. Funny enough, just as I got there I ran into BrouSSard. Guess what he was up to. Yup, out to get that gnome! I told him where it was now and we parted ways. Thanks for coming up with the game Maida! Thanks for adding that heavy as hell gnome The Hub!