Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Catherine Furnace

The local cuisine
While I absolutely love my local trails, sometimes you just have to drive far away for that special something that only real mountains can give you. Today I headed out with Rickyd to join the MORE ride at Catherine Furnace. As usual, I made absolutely sure that we were late for the 10am ride time. Turns out everyone else (except maybe one person) was late too. By the time we hit the trail around 10:45, we had a huge group of 13 riders (that's a lot of people ditching work). The peloton included ride leader Scud (who was the last to arrive), Crashmore, Lee, Chance, Camp, Chunk, Nick, and Mike. I expected lots of climbing on this ride and I wasn't disappointed. First up was a 6 mile fireroad climb. Yummy. Camp, Rickyd, and I form a little breakaway group early on in the climb with Camp pulling away as the trail got steeper. After it became clear that he could out climb either of us with one leg, he took it easy and stayed back to make sure the rest of the group stayed on course. From here on, Rickyd and I traded the lead several times, but about 200 yards from the top, my skinny chickenlegs failed me and Rickyd was king of the mountain that day. I don't know why, but Rickyd seems to think that I'm faster than he is, even though I've never beaten him in a head-to-head race. Nick is another supa-fast rider, although today he was riding his bomber full-squishy bike which must have felt like a boat anchor on this climb. At the top we pause to regroup. There's a trailer parked nearby with a barking dog (and who knows what else) inside and a deer leg on the ground. My cell phone rings to remind me of a doctor's appointment that I will miss. I pull a McDonald's apple pie from my camelback. Have I died and gone to heaven?

So ends the best part of the ride for me. From there it was a short hop to one of the best overlooks I've seen anywhere followed by a rocky ridgetop trail that really tested my flowability (and found it lacking). Here, I get smacked by a branch and get a nice little cut across my nose that won't stop bleeding. I try to ignore it, but blood is all over my face and getting sucked into my throat when I inhale. Luckily, Scud is carrying bandaids. We finish a long downhill section and get to a miserable uphill hike-a-bike that seems to go on forever. Here, Camp shows us mortals just how far one can ride a singlespeed up a supposed hike-a-bike trail. After the hike-a-bike, another long downhill back to the parking lot. About 4 hours of good riding. Well worth the 4 hours of driving to get there and back.


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