No matter how rebellious of a mood I'm in, this is not what I'm looking for out of a ride:
Then it dawned on me, PMBAR is just two weeks away. This weekend is the Big Frog 65, so any route recon I felt needed to be done best get done. I came up with a plan. It would not be a good one, no maximization of fun per feet of climbing. I warned the others. They said they were in regardless.
Party van moments. Joey decided we needed to play Nick, Jana, Joey, and Dicky's Infinite Playlist. Everyone took a turn with the MP3 input cord. Broody chick music, Nick's collection of whatever it is today's youths are listening to, Joey's Stryper and Thin Lizzy, and me trying to play the longest live tracks I had in order to avoid all the former.
We decided to park at the Pisgah Tavern. Although it added unnecessary mileage, we would finish at the beer, so there's that.
Up Clawhammer, elevation that was gained was wasted going down the wheelchair ramp that is South Mills, and then up the fun downhill portion of Squirrel Gap...
a break on Squirrel...
and through the tech portions of Squirrel to Laurel Creek.
"Don't worry about riders coming up. No one rides up Laurel very often."
Fortunately, the equine enthusiasts were down with the sickness, and our chance encounter was pleasant... at least until we hit the section of trail all pocked up with horse hooves, mud, and shit.
Finishing Laurel to Bradley.
Not many people bother riding Bradley Creek. Way too many creek crossings compared to the dry roadbed of 5015 which essentially gets you to the same place, but since Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever made 5015 off limits last year, I saw no reason not to familiarize myself with this nightmare experience once again.
Morale was low. Jana does not like creek crossings. She had her shoes off for the first two, but once I convinced her that we were going to be crossing the creek every 5-6 minutes for the next 30-40 minutes... she gave in and left them on.
Nick did not like the crossings. The phone that replaced the lost phone mentioned in his love note was in his back jersey pocket unprotected from moisture and unexpected dunkings.
Joey took it all in stride. Nothing bothers Joey. He's a human desiccant bag, absorbing all that is bad and taking it in stride... and he's not edible.
Nick managed to rip his valve stem off when he snagged one of the many pieces of detritus bramble that littered the highly unused trail. This did nothing for morale.
More creek crossings. More trepidation. I took Jana's bike from her on several occasions, but her being and independent woman, she wouldn't wait for assistance. She ended up in the dunk tank up to her waist. The water was cold, the air chilly, and Jana soaked. A boo-face, and then she soldiered on.
Dicky's Tips on Creek Crossings
1. Keep your bike out of the water ENTIRELY. Unexpected currents can tug at your wheels and toss you off balance in a skinny second. No matter how short you are (you can't be much shorter than me) figure out a way to do it. This is not about saving your bearings, although that is an additional benefit.
2. Step like a boss. Don't let the creek know you're trepidatious. It smells fear. You will splash your crotch and likely others as well. Fuck it. Keep moving. If you start to slip, get that other foot in action and find a happy place. Keep moving forward... always.
3. Deal with it. Dawdling makes it suck all the more. Get across, be happy, celebrate the moment. Having cold, wet feet puts hair on your chest.
4. Keep your phone/camera in a dry bag. A simple Zip-lock or a Fönbag will do. If you think you might fall and soak your phone, give it to someone who is more confident in the creek. That way, if they fall, they owe you a new phone. The only other option is to just toss it over the creek and hope for the best.
Everyone soaked up to and in some places including their crotches, we tooled down 1206 to 476 to South Mills to Buckhorn over Clawhammer and then on to 5075 so I could see the connection that was not on the map but all so important at last year's PMBAR... that is until Zac broke and axle and then nothing else mattered.
Down Avery, backtrack the unnecessary mileage back to the Pisgah Tavern to miss closing time by more than a half hour.
No beer equals no win.
Long ride with good friends equals all win.
Mexican food, novelty sized beers, road pops, Micheal Jackson dance party, and somehow home before 11:00PM... only about four or five hours later than expected. Not bad.
All photos compliments of Nick "Dip and Spray" Barlow's new non-flip phone.