On to the real news. Cheetos are nowhere to be found in the house and the closest thing I have to an XBox is a Super Nintendo from 1991 but this is still one of the funniest things I have come across on craigslist. I went ahead and sent my money in for the Cheaha Challenge this morning after getting a text from Boris that he was in. Here is an elevation profile to give an idea of how they get in the 8,000 vertical feet. Looks like an EKG file gone very wrong:
Hopefully some other Birmingham people will be down to wake up at 4 AM to do a road ride. There are some good MTB races occurring around the same time (April ish) but Cheaha will be a blast and there are always ways to make a road ride more interesting.
I have a cross bike with Dura Ace parts and a Powertap that would be the smart choice for this ride, however I will be riding my hoopty (fixed 40/15). Sometimes interesting is more fun than smart.
ESI grips-the best around.
Someone asked about doing Cheaha on a fixed gear a couple years ago and I laughed at them. My viewpoint on the whole long distance fixed thing has changed over the past year of riding one...it is doable if not always the fastest way around. I figure it will be good practice for the leg breaking climbs up in Pisgah National Forest during PMBAR in May.
On the PMBAR website the phrase PLEASE DO NOT UNDER ESTIMATE THE EXTREME DIFFICULTY OF THIS EVENT! appears not once but twice. There is good reason for this. I have underestimated Pisgah two of the four times I have been there:
1. Back in 1999 my Pisgah mojo was strong after having a great solo ride on Laurel Mountain/Pilot Rock the year before. I came back with a plan to ride some big pieced together route from a guide book in the Dupont area somewhere. The weather was a bit iffy but so was my plan so off I went. The sky began to look more ominous as I slogged up a long gravel climb. I looked to the the west while double checking my map to see nothing but black clouds and lightning. Around this time, my mom called to let me know there was a tornado warning. Poop. The climb finished with a three mile climb up an old powerline covered in two foot high grass. I hate snakes and this seemed like the perfect place to meet one but I saw none. The eventual descent I worked so hard for turned out to be some old logging road with ruts and baby head rocks galore. I rode the last hour in a miserable storm and made it back to the car none the smarter than when I started.
2. I returned the following summer with plans to ride both Tsali and do a big epic out in Pisgah (epic is used to describe way too many things but it is quite often the right choice if you are lost in a national forest). Tsali was fast, smooth, and well marked...it's Tsali. The ride I did the next day was none of these things. I planned out a long ride before leaving and copied a page out of the guidebook and had it laminated. Telling anyone exactly where I was going other than "Pisgah," by myself was apparently not on my mind that morning. The scene from 127 Hours where Aron Ralston smugly walks out of the outdoors shop to get trapped under a boulder certainly brought back some memories. The ride turned bad quickly.
I overshot the entrance to my desire trail and climbed a bonus six miles before realizing my mistake. The bonus six mile downhill led me back to the overgrown entrance to the trail. This was followed of two miles of bushwacking to get onto some rideable trail. Should have turned around here but I was too stubborn and wanted to ride. On South Mills River, I was greeted with no fewer than fourteen deep creek crossings and arrived at the wonderful swinging bridge.
The problem with this bridge is that it looks the same from both sides and I was approaching from the wrong side. This is where I entered somewhere I am still not sure was a hike or bike trail. I spent probably four hours on a big loop with weird offshoots that ended nowhere before finally coming up on some hikers who looked completely freaked out by me. I was out of water, food, and a plan. The hiker gave me a Clif bar, some iodine tablets, and kindly informed me I had twenty miles of some of the toughest trail in the forest including the hikeabike up Black Mountain or thirty miles of two lane road to get back where I needed to be. Hmmmm. Trail it is. Fear is a powerful motivator and I ended a nine hour ride in Pisgah with tireless, panic filled legs. Lesson learned. Don't. Ride. Pisgah. Alone.