Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mountain Biking Maury County, Tennessee (Vacation, Part 2)

While we were visiting the parental units, my sister (along with her two boys) and I decided to go over to Maury County and visit my cousin Carol and her kids. My cousin Jeff caught wind of it, and called me up to see if I wanted to sample some of the local singletrack. I'm always up for a mountain bike ride, so we made plans to hit the trail after Jeff got off work on Wednesday.

Jeff is one of those guys who can really get to you if you are the least bit competitive. (Luckily, I'm not...) He's always the quickest to pick up any new activity, can ride a wheelie for miles (on either a pedal bike or a motorbike), races (and wins, unlike me) and just generally shows me up...I mean shows up the competitive guys who happen to be around.

So, I went into the ride with the full knowledge that I was about to get my butt kicked.

Disrobing in public! Tsk, tsk...

Jeff is a bit taller than I am, so his bikes are just a tad big for me, but rideable. He graciously let me have the new Jamis, with hydraulic disc brakes and XTR components. Keep in mind, though, that I was riding in street clothes, on platform pedals using shifters I've never ridden offroad with and Jeff, in full moto/Eurotrash mode, has his brake levers set up opposite what I'm used to. The front brake is on the left, and the rear derailleur is a Rapid Rise, so the shifter works in reverse.

It was a recipe for hilarity.

Jeff called some buddies, to see if they wanted to meet us. Apparently, the dark clouds and near-constant thunder and lightning scared them off. Sissies!

The two of us took off for the first 8.5 mile lap, and I was instantly soaking wet. No, not from the rain (it was a gentle shower, just enough to turn the trail into snail-slime); I was soaking from the 180% humidity that is the norm in Tennessee. We rode along, with Jeff in the lead, warning me of upcoming turns and obstacles and occasionally asking (facetiously, I suspect) if the pace was too slow. Every time he asked, I'd suck my lungs back into my chest and say, "Nah, it's fine." Then, I'd go back to slowly dying and shifting in the wrong direction.

At one point, the trail tops a small bump, drops precipitously to the creek bank, then curves back to the right, away from the creek. I got a bit sketchy, so I grabbed a big handful of rear brake to correct my line. Of course, I actually grabbed a big honking handful of front Magura disc brake, and launched myself down the trail, sans bike. Oddly, I landed on my feet, avoiding a faceful of mud, and then almost fell down laughing.

Jeff, meantime, was soft-pedalling along waiting for me to catch up so that he could drop the hammer, once again.

I got back on, shifted to the wrong gear, and struggled on, slipping and sliding on the greasy trail. Minutes later, we were back at the truck.

"Want to do another lap?" Jeff asked. "We don't have to. I'll just be doing it for fitness, at this point..."

"Hell yeah, let's go," I replied. "Just keep in mind I'll be even slower than I was on this lap."

And, I was. In spades. But, I had a blast. It was nice to not only ride a mountain bike while I was there, but it was the first time that Jeff and I have been able to do something together in more years than I can remember.

If you embiggen this picture, you may think that someone hosed me down. Nope, that's auto-hosing (sweat to you Yankees).

Let me advise you, though, that even if you subscribe to the idea of Bicycle Chic and don't want to wear special clothes to ride a bike, it's not a good idea to mix cotton Fruit of the Loom underwear, high humidity, 17 miles of technical singletrack and this "saddle". I walked funny for two days. (Actually, I've walked funny for about 45 years...)


At 6:14 PM , Blogger Apertome said...

Sounds like fun! What were the trails like around there?

At 9:43 AM , Blogger Jon said...

That particular trail was pretty fun. The singletrack was pretty narrow, as it should be, and the trees were closely spaced (particularly by Colorado standards). I had forgotten why I always trimmed my bars so short, when I lived back East.

The 8.5 mile loop was cleverly slotted into a relatively small amount of acreage. I don't think that we were ever over a mile from the car as the crow flies. In some spots, you could see the trail you were about to ride on, 10 feet to one side of the section you were currently on.

No huge climbs, but some short little grinders that got me out of breath (even in the thick, low-altitude air) and some vertiginous drops into small drainages kept it interesting.

All in all, it was a fun trail.

At 6:26 PM , Blogger Apertome said...

It sounds kind of like a trail I rode in Indiana, not a big plot of land, but they really used every little bit of it. Which is cool, but sometimes it feels a little pointless when you return to the same point 10 minutes later, thanks to the curvy trail. Tight and twisty can be fun, though!


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