Monday, February 02, 2009
Clean Mountain Living!
Over New Year's weekend, Tiffanie, Vonnie, Suzy and I rode mountain bikes up a forest service road that started out along the Chattahoochee River, then started climbing up, up, up, until we finally seemed to have topped out onto a ridgeline that we followed until it reached a big clearing that the Forest Service had cleared and marked as a wildlife feed plot. We turned around and descended back to the cars, since it was getting late. Later, we looked at the map and figured that the road we were on dumped into State Highway 17/75 that leads up and over Unicoi Gap, where the Appalachian Trail crosses. We figured that we must have been close to this when we turned around. That was about 4.5 miles of riding to get to that point.
Suzy's brother Len came up last weekend, and he brought his bike, so we decided to tackle the same route and continue on until we hit pavement. We figured it would be a nice short ride to start to get our legs back under us for the season to come. Well, the 4.5 mile mark came and went, then we continued on until we came to a gate across the road closing it to motorized traffic. Len uttered, "What would Tom Ritchey do?" and we set off scampering around the gate and continuing on. We continued on, climbing and descending ridge lines and admiring the views, and occasionally stopping to catch our collective breaths from the climbs. We eventually came to another gate, which we crossed and rejoined a road that was markedly more travelled, but it presented a conundrum - a fork in the road. Right was a continual gradual uphill path, and left was an inviting LONG downhill that stretched out of sight around a bend. My instincts said Right, even though I eyed the downhill longingly. As we set off to the right, we passed a minivan with 3 kids hanging off the bumper having fun, and I shouted to them as they passed if there was a paved road the way they had just come - they replied, "Yes - WAY back there!".
At least I felt good knowing that my instincts were correct. We continued on, and eventually came to the pavement, 500 yards below the summit of Unicoi Gap. We chose to turn left, ascend the summit, take a few pictures and pause to suit back up for the downhill run back to town. 1.5 hours of bike time climbing the 10 miles of Forest Service roads, 20 minutes for the downhill 7.5 mile run back to town = one hell of an epic ride for January.
Sunday, we topped off the bike ride experience with a hike to the top of our subdivision and showed Len the summit of Sal Mountain, which is privately owned, but undeveloped - so technically we were trespassing, but we didn't get busted by the man.