May 31st, 2012
I slept alongside the babbling brook although not restfully because of the heat and humidity and the fact that I was almost on the road and concerned about being told to leave. I put my bedroom away and went seeking a spot to fix bfast not on a stream side. I found a pull over on the main hwy. Then I drove into Ellijay. The instrument light remained off.
I parked in a downtown lot and walked the streets a bit. Classic case of old Ellijay on narrow downtown streets and the new town out on the highway. Made it a rest day.
Shane gave me gifts to deliver to Mulberry Inn that I needed to deliver before I moved on. The brake light remained off inspiring stopping confidence. I drove out and visited w/ Diane, one of the owners. Their establishment advertises a get away for mountain bikers to which they meet. They are riding distance to sections of the Pinhoti and Bear Creek trails. I chose not to camp for a fee. I drove further out the logging road and the light turner back on. Shit, steep gravel logging road and will I be able to stop? I found a camp spot up off the road. Forecast called for t-storms. Shortly after putting rock chocks under the wheels the rain fell. I had to shut the side door because rain fell inside the van and I closed the fan because rain was dripping thru the fan. It appears that I have finally sealed the roof / fan interface. Wet night. No cell service.
Yesterday I needed to address the brake issue. I drove into Ellijay to cell phone coverage. I used my Android to search for repair shops. None for Sprinters. I found a shop, Affordable car care, and gave them a call. he said bring it on over, he had the pads. No way; 1) he could work on it right away, and 2) how could he have the pads? I made the shop. He inspected the pads and determined indeed they were worn. He met first item. Second item, he made a phone call and before the wheels were removed a truck pulled in to deliver the correct pads. Badda bing, new pads on and the light didn’t turn back on.
Able to safely stop i drove to Cartecay Bike shop, owned by Mike and Terry. Actually I met them briefly yesterday, Today Mike had more time. He invited me to ride Fri. AM. Sat they have a trail work party that I will stay to help on. He told me of the Stanley Gap ride I would enjoy and drew me a map.
Northern GA is mountainous and tree covered. Rock creek rd started as pavement then gravel as it climbed higher to Stanley gap. I passed several old mule farms since abandoned. Gaps are low spots on a ridge.
I missed the parking lot which was right @ the gap dropping down the other side. I called Mike who corrected my error. Small graveled level parking lot. Cool, place to stay the night.
I geared up and pedaled up, The admissions fee was a 2.75 mile climb gaining almost 900′ on old hiking trail single track. Hard work.
Stanley Gap trail, oak tree cover
I reached a high point and questioned my proceeding on this out and back loop. What ever I rode down I would have to climb back up. I passed the test and repressed the thinking part of my brain and dropped down. The trail reached a junction w/ Flat Creek loop. Imagine a creek named Flat flowing off the side of a mountain? The loop was mostly abandoned gravel logging road. The climb out was killer causing me to stop several times gasping for breath. The downhill back was a hoot. Drop the seat and juke and jive.
The solar shower was toasty @ 6:15 when i arrived back at van. I spent night @ 3100′. Low humidity and just above 60 degrees.
Today was laundry day. Again the smart phone. research revealed no laundromat in Ellijay listed in the us dex pages on line. One was listed in Blue ridge where Shane said i should visit. Blue Ridge is just a few miles S of NC. Nice laundromat. I played tourist and wandered the city streets. I visited @ Cycle South bike shop.
Forecast is for rain tonight and tomorrow. I am in the parking lot of Ingles grocery store. What a grocery store. Shortly I will drive back to Stanley Gap TH for the night.
I have a bike repair appointment in Asheville this Tues. I called this wonderful PT who has worked on m y body previously in Brevard and have an appointment for this Thurs. Pisgah is pulling me. My SI joint is acting up. The tendinitis in my right shoulder is exacerbated by typing.
May 29th, 2012
Sunday night I drove out to shooting range south of Dalton to a place I had previously camped. A peculiar old guy was standing by a small smoking fire occupying the site. darn. Drive on another 2 miles on single track logging road until i found a place to pull off the road for camp. Way out there but great internet access. I heard trains from Dalton. Slept w/ the door and window open. It is hot and humid night time temps don’t reach 60 degrees.
My plan is to be @ Bear Creek @ 9:00 to shop ride. I made it. I remet Stacy and Jeff, 2 go to shop riders. Together we swept the first part of the Snake Gap race 3 years prior. I rode w/ Shane. Again, everybody on 29ers and mostly hard tails. Our ride was Tanasi trails @ the Occoee white water center, home of the Olympic kayak completion for the Atlanta olympics. Shane knows the trail system quite well and we burned it up. Did a bunch of climbing and traversing that gave us an almost 6 mile descent w/ some small climbs dropping 800 feet culminating on Thunder Mtn. Local knowledge trumps reading a map. Shaved legs crowd. I struggle on the uphills but on the flats and downhills I am right there. So maybe their light weight bikes beat me on the climbs but I can squish over the rough on the downhill. We finished our ride w/ a dip in the Occoee river. Lots of weekenders enjoying the river as picnickers, kayakers, and rafters.
Shane saved it
returned to Dalton and 90 degrees. I lingered grocery shopping in the AC.
Plan is to drive over Fort Mountain to Mulberry Gap to ride some more Pinhoti trail. Fort mtn rd topped out @ 3000′ with 76 degree temp. The XG was full as I would have paid to sleep high and cool.
The hwy dropped down to 1600′. During the descent the brake light turned on, something wrong w/ the brakes. Explanation was either fluid loss or electronic. The fluid level was fine. Troubles brewing. How much can i trust my brakes before fixing. I remember Mulberry Gap having a steep climb then descent to their gate. I started up the road w/ the light still on. Decided not to proceed. I backed up and the light went out. I flagged a driver down whom I mistook for Sam from the Hub in Brevard. Instead it was a local guy. I asked if he knew of a place to camp. He said follow me and showed me a slight pull over right on a babbling brook, not quite a river but I had my down by the river camp spot. A hill blacked out XM reception. Cool but still 73 degrees went I went to bed. Just hot.
I have peed so little in the last several days in spite of all the fluids I drink and not all beer. I am taking today as a rest and hydration day after 6 straight days of riding to hang in Ellijay.
May 27th, 2012
Today i rode the 2nd part of the Snake Creek gap Pinoti trail section, the harder of the halves. Finished temp was 91 degrees. Saw a guy and girl team on the trail and that was it. Too nasty for GA riders? Babyheads sharp edged granite obscured by grown up poison ivy. Deep tree cover. I rode the most of the previous 4 rides. Rocky technical, there are some smooth sections but what the take away is: rocks. I rode baby chain ring and 2nd on rear that allowed me to ease my way over the edges. The trail length is 16 miles. By the end I was sweat soaked. My gloves and hands were so slick I had difficulty twisting the grip shifters. Trail is notorious for rattlers and copperheads. Shane said word of wisdom is: Ride. I adhered to his word until The Wall which climbs up over lots more rocks w/ a few slick moves. The trail breached a confederate stone fence. My engine started misfiring so i put it into walk and scrambled over the rocks. Trail ends @ a high point then a descent down a double track to the highway. Screamer on the gravel. Trail officially ends @ the pavement right @ Dug Gap. I rode the road back to the TH. A courageous 38mph descent from the gap. Then anaerobic pavement climbs. 3 hour ride. No snakes but maybe a golden eagle on the ground b4 taking off.
from outcrop above Dug gap
I hung @ the TH for a shower. The 2 riders I met rode into the parking lot. They are riding and out and back. The road was over 6 miles which was good enough for me, it is not in me to ride it out and back. The guy said the trail rides better coming than going.
Yesterday I tried the Pigeon Mtn trail from Estelle camping area. The map that was posted located me however, the trails showed were not on the ground. I rode a dirt road climb to an overgrown skidder road thru grownup poison ivy. Nary a sign of use since last rain. A nice size stick lodged itself between my derailleur hanger and cluster. Stuck pretty good, took some wiggling to free it then inspect damage. Appears that I stopped b4 incurring damage. Another high 80 degree ride. I studied the map some more for the bike TH which wasn’t far away. I made the turn off the st highway to a paved narrow county road that soon turned to rough dirt. I passed the last house where a boy looking right out of deliverance stood in the front yard w/ his arm raised in greeting. Road dead ended into an old farm w/ no present occupants. I took a shower in their parking lot. No trail from this location either.
Clean but still sweating I drove to Dalton and Bear Creek bikes where I remember its location. Store is empty. Failed business? I goggled them on my convenient Android and learned of their new address. Shane is still in business and doing well. Another bike shop still in business amid the sea of vacant commercial buildings. I hung in the shop enjoying the AC. Shane invited me on his Monday ride up to Tanasi in TN.
I drove up & over Dug gap seeking camping spot in the USFS. I picked a road in good gravel condition driving to the end b4 I found a level spot. In the deep shade but no internet or mosquitoes, just 3 horseflies. I set my chair up then set to read. To my surprise a cnty sheriff’s car drove by then turned around. I passed scrutiny as I think he was after something bigger than me.
Way hot at night even w/ the door and window screened and opened. Lay still and still sweat. Temp drops into mid 60s.
I slept in today. I made scratch pancakes even including some store bought blueberries.
Sat I met the BUMP group out @ 5 points TH. Grace joined us later. 5 Points is a newly constructed trail, mostly machine cut that has aged a season. Impressive how many miles of trail can be carved into a small area. Well marked and mapped. Maybe 300 feet of tech. Machine cut. Hot and sweaty.
Earlier at the Ingles grocery store I saw this young fit attractive woman. i didn’t say Hi nor did she. Later @ the TH she drove up to do some reader board stuff. Into my web she drove. We conversed. She is doing what she needs to do to work in outdoor education. She arrived in GA w/o a place to live. For the last 3 weeks she had been living in her tent until she found a house 2 days prior. She knows Sam and Jordan of The Hub in Brevard where I will be by weekend.
Thursday after completing my wash i drove to Chattanooga to ride Raccoon mtn. trail is on a plateau above the city and the Tennessee river. Some old machine cut that is weathering into a less noticeable machine cut. Saw a group of 4 riders. Thing about my lifestyle is I ride when most mtn bikers are working. I rode all the stuff I previously walked.
Snake taking exception to my presence
Parking lot solar shower. Drove down to town. I checked out Suck Creek bike shop, nothing to hold me there. I found a cool place for dinner down town. I sat at the bar beside a young woman who is a lawyer based out of NYC doing consulting work for domestic violence cases.
After dinner I headed towards Trenton and 5 Points ride. Trenton is the last town before climbing up and over the mountain. I found an industrial park and an out of business parking lot for the night.
last 2 rides were thru almost waist high poison ivy plants. Today i saw leaves that looked like poison oak, I wonder. I wear knee socks. I have been washing off w/ lye soap a considerable time after exposure. To date no blisters. The chigger bites still itch although fewer each day.
drove out of the mtns for internet. The geography is valleys bordered by mtn ridge on each side then somewhere there is a road that climbs thru a gap and down to the next valley to be repeated. Today my high point was 2500′
SO, tomorrow I will ride w/ Shane. Tues I will ride some Pinhoti outside of Mulberry Gap. Wed I might catch Jackrabbit @ the TN / NC border as I head to Brevard. Pisgah coming up.