the annual birthday adventure

bday ride

In my ongoing quest to have an adventurous birthday (last year’s was spent on the Appalachian Trail), I decided to head to the mountains of north Georgia for some two-wheeled fun on the Pinhoti Trail. I recruited my friend Zeke – now retired, so he didn’t have to worry about playing hookie for a mid-week escape. Back when I was training for the Leadville 100, we used to have regular epic rides. I could *almost* keep up with him then; I admit I was a bit worried to embark on a day-long ride when my longest one in the past… year or so?.. was only 3 hrs. Fingers crossed my running legs had enough endurance for the day.

overlook at bear creek

We met at Mulberry Gap down in Ellijay. If you haven’t been here yet, DROP EVERYTHING and go NOW! This really is the sweetest place around. While it’s called a mountain bike getaway, it really is the perfect escape for anyone loving mountain trails (over 80 miles are accessible within minutes!). They have several bunkhouses & campsites, along with hot showers (& a hot tub), rec room w/wifi, bike wash & stand, and home cooked meals that are supposed to be fantastic. (Need to plan a weekend here!)

Pinhoti 3

Pinhoti 3

A quick recap of our ride – I had Zeke write down the trails, as I have only ridden them once years ago and can’t keep them straight! From the MG, we had a quick warmup on the gravel road, then another long climb up Pinhoti 2.  I like cilmbing, so I was immediately happy. Then we took FS90 up to the Overlook (a beautiful day!), then on to the Bear Creek downhill. The upper portion has just enough tight, steep switchbacks to keep you humble, followed by the most amazing section of flowy ups and downs that I was in a constant state of permagrin. The foliage was nearly fluorescent, with blooms everywhere and full happy creeks. (The only time I wasn’t happy was when the hornets were doing loops around me. Thankfully they got the memo it was my birthday, so none stung me, but wow did I get uptight.) Then we hit P1 and back down P2 to the main road. We waffled a bit, but threw in P3 at the end for bonus points. I will freely admit that it was here that I finally found The Wall.  My engine was done.

zeke and i

zeke & i

In all, we had about 4.5 hrs in the saddle (with some scenic breaks), 23.5 miles of riding, and 3,700′ of climbing. This equates to approximately 1.5 years of reverse aging. I have to throw out props to Zeke, who continues to amaze and inspire me. 30 years my elder, I was eating his dust the entire time.

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