Monday, July 11, 2011

DuPont Ride

I went out for a quick ride at Dupont yesterday. I hadn't ridden from Corn Mill Shoals access in a while, so that's where I parked the Grand. There were only a few cars in the lot when I started, and it was a really sticky and dreary morning. It only took about two pedal strokes before the sweat started pouring down my face. I need to get one of those headbands with the sweat gutters built in.

I headed down Corn Mill Shoals and the trail was pretty wet, but this area holds up to wet conditions really well. My first destination was Burnt Mtn (clockwise), and it was great as usual. I was a little worried about the rocky downhill being slick, but it wasn't at all even though the rocks were wet. After Burnt, I rolled down Little River and took the second Cedar Mtn Trail on the left. I pedaled some and walked some. The slickrock was surprisingly grippy considering how wet it was. Once up on Big Rock, I stopped at the usual overlook, and knocked down a small can of Pringles.



It was so nice up there, I think next time I'll pack my hammock and take a nap. After flying down Big Rock, I took Longside, which is always a lot of fun, and then turned left on Pine Tree. I rode the new connector section of Pine Tree across the street, and then Cascade Trail. This will be a nice little trail once it's worn in a bit. I only wish it looped. I did it as an out and back, retraced my steps a bit, and headed up Rock Quarry Rd. I had only taken this up to Micajah, and over to and down Wilkie in the past. This time, I stayed on Quarry Rd. up to the actual quarry and looked around for a bit.



After leaving the quarry, I climbed up Buck Ridge, and took the new part of Micajah. This is a really awesome, new section of trail. There is a big slickrock section, and then the singletrack is nice, flowy, and fast, even though it isn't settled in yet. This was so much fun that I stayed on Micajah all the way back to Quarry Rd and did the loop again, and then finished the ride by coming down Wilkie, which is always a lot of fun, too.



Dupont is such a unique place, and I'm always discovering something new there. I'm really glad the Legislature gave it the State Recreational Forest designation.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Squirrel Gap

Until Saturday, I had only ridden a small portion of Squirrel, from Wolf Ford to Cantrell. That section was a lot of fun, but I knew the "Classic Squirrel" would be even better. Yesterday, I finally got to ride the good stuff. Eric, my ride guide for the day, met me at Turkey Pen bright and early. It was actually a chilly drive in the Heep.


We headed down S. Mills to Mullinax, and started the longish, but not too bad climb. We merged with Squirrel and continued to climb the narrow, bench-cut ribbon of singletrack, over rocks and roots until we hit what I'm told is called the "Saddle." This was where the real fun started. The trail stayed very narrow, and basically became one long rock garden. It was pretty tough, and I was dabbing a lot and walking a little. This was a type of trail that I'm just not used to yet.

Before I knew it, we were at Cantrell, and I was on familiar ground, sort of. This section has become pretty overgrown with thorn bushes, thickets, briar patches, or whatever you call them. I ended up pretty sliced up, but it was still a blast, adding to the difficulty of the trail. We got down to Wolf Ford, and decided to hang out in the river for a bit. As we were walking down to the water, Eric reached in his pack and pulled out two ice cold beers. We sat in the river for a while and talked about how much it sucks to live here.

Eric doesn't like his pic on the web, so I smudged his head.

Did I mention these were ice cold?



After our break, we turned around and headed back the way we came. When we got to the techy section, I did much better. I don't know if it's easier to clear in this direction, or if I was just more used to it, but I didn't dab a whole lot, and didn't walk anything. Once we got to the Saddle, it was almost all downhill, and it was fun. While on Squirrel, we still had to be pretty careful not to go off the side of the narrow trail, but things opened up on Mullinax, and we could let it rip. I felt on the verge of being out of control on several occasions, but Eric still crushed me on the downhill. During the last climb on Mullinax, the hot and humid weather caught up to me and my quads started cramping pretty bad, but I was able to walk it out and finish the ride.

It was a great day in the woods, and I found my new favorite trail. It's a trail that can beat you up a bit, but not in a demoralizing way. I can't wait to ride it again.