January 2006
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Day January 9, 2006

a weekend with 5 guys in spandex

this past weekend was dedicated to training and exploring the mtns around blairsville for the upcoming Odyssey & NGAR races. I carpooled up with bill & ken, meeting kevin, stephen & michael who were driving in from TN, NC & SC. we hopped on our bikes between 10:30/11am, with a starting temperature of 27F but lots of sunshine. i don’t have the quad we used to refer to, but we explored a variety of paved, unimproved & forest service roads with a bit of doubletrack here and there. then there was the time when all semblance of road disappeared and we found ourselves fighting rhodo up the side of a mountain. we figured this would be something tony (of raceday/ngar) would make us do, so we persevered and did eventually get to the road we knew was hiding on top somewhere. it was tiring, but our local comedians stephen & michael kept us laughing the entire time (who can quote nearly any movie i could think of – these are my ngar teammates and will make 30hrs fly by!)

we wound our way and soon i found myself climbing my first Gap (no, not just any gap, but one of the famed Gaps of the 3 & 6 Gap rides that the roadies do): Wolfpen. (one day I’ll get a road bike and tackle the combo…) anyways, instead of simply stopping at the top, we took a FS road off to the right and climbed another 500′ or so. (ha! take that roadies!) after this we had a long rolling descent into the vogel state park / coopers creek area. it was here that night started to fall… and our next mechanical (michael had a flat earlier): bill’s rear brake rotor FELL OFF. yeah. weird. the screws just weren’t there. bizarre. sadly though, even without rear brakes, bill flew by me on the descents. (sure, he had no rear brakes which would make him go faster, but i think i’d freak out and drag my feet the whole way. but of course that is my fear of descending taking over… i really need to work on that. i can tell i’m improving in every other area of my fitness/skills, but not that. kevin had an interesting theory though.. i commented that i have trouble focusing on the ground ahead when going downhill… can’t make out the obstacles and pick a good line, making me even more nervous. he asked if i ever got motion sickness. as a matter of fact, yes i do: can’t swing on swings, go on roller coasters, and curvy mtn roads do get to me if i’m ever in the back seat. he suggested maybe it’s my equilibrium being off that is causing my sight problems. intersting theory. where i go with this now, i have no idea though…)

back to the training. only 1 more mechanical troubled us, about 20 minutes from our finish: i got a 2″ nail stuck in my rear tire. finally, after 9+ hours of riding, we finished. i’d be interested to see our mileage & elevation change… we tacked some good stuff! next up was dinner.. the guys were drooling over a place called (i think) the RIb Joint. (or shack. or something. but it was ribs and had a big fat pig on the sign). no tofu ribs here unfortunately ;P we had originally planned on going for a night hike, but the excessive amounts of food and thoughts of a hot shower at the hotel won us over. we all piled into one room (cheap that way!) and crashed out (after i lucked into a massage for my aching back from michael – these teammates are keepers!!)

sunday started with another gourmet meal, this one courtesy of the waffle house. ken went to meet his teammates for their secret training, while the rest of us hit the arkaquah trail. we started at traprock gap (elev around 2200′) and hiked 5.5 miles (climbing nearly 1400′ in the first mile!) over 5 peaks (and around 1), then ended at brasstown bald, the highest point in ga (el: 4788′). this trail is just incredible in every way. the views were stunning! once you topped out the first mtn, the ridge trails were quite nice, with the rhodo forming a bit of a tunnel for us to go through. while the weather got quite warm today (60F at our car), huge icicles hung from some of the rock faces (and there was even a light dusting of snow in one shadowed area :-) of course once we got to brasstown, we had to hike it all the way back. our legs certainly got a huge workout! (in fact they’re still sore now and i’m really wondering how the heck i’m going to keep up on the run in the morning!)

in all, another incredible weekend in the new year. i had a disposable camera with me that i’ll get developed soon and post. i’m sooo missing my digital! now that my car is paid off (yeah!!), i should have some extra fundage next month (if i don’t spend it all on race entry fees) and should be back in business soon.