if i’m not bleeding, it’s not a bike ride

Yesterday I rode Bear Creek Trail in Ellijay, GA for the second time. Thanks to my friend Chris Korte, I was able to ride a full suspension Specialized, which is much like piloting a water bed with good steering. Instead of climbing like real men, we decided to shuttle ourselves up top, Chris, myself, and Chris’s friend Dave, going down two at a time while the third man drove back down. Oddly enough, we found that riding down the mountain is faster than driving. By almost ten minutes. Of course, that’s not too hard to believe after I tell you that I held the group’s speed record of 29.1 mph. That’s down the side of a mountain. A bumpy one. ‘Twas awesome.

Of course, that kind of speed comes at a price. I was warned about a downed tree near the top of the trail, and I stopped for it fine, but when I swung my leg over my bike to dismount, I ran my leg right into one of said tree’s broken branches. Shortly after getting back on, I took a tumble over my handle bars that probably would have killed me if I hadn’t had my helmet on. So that wreck left me with some road (trail?) rash on my left shoulder, which made sleeping last night a pain (Ha! Puns!)

I wanted to take some video, but I made the decision to live the moment rather than just try to document it. I only half regret it. I do have SOME video though, which I hope to have up before the end of the week.

On to more suburban topics. My sister, Page, moved in to a house right down the street from me. .2 miles away to be exact. It’s a five minute walk. 2 minute bike ride. 6 and a half hour plane ride. (You gotta compensate for security.) It’s been 7 years since Teresa and I have lived relatively close to any family. My other sister, Kathie, moved to Columbus a while ago, but that’s still 2 and a half hours away. We can do some weekends together, but it just ain’t the same.

It’s funny, riding back and forth between houses, dropping my bike down in front yards, and running inside. It’s a lot like being 8 again.

We’ve already had several dinners together, I’ve gone over late at night after Tree goes to sleep to just hang out…it’s almost like having a real social life. I could get used to it. Guess I need to start scheming now about how to keep them from moving at the end of their lease. Unless they want to move next door. Hmm…maybe I should scheme to drive out my neighbors…

Heck, tonight Teresa and I even get to go on a date! Well, maybe. I don’t know if Tree has talked to Page about watching the kids yet. So…80% chance of a real date tonight! Only a day after our 7 year anniversary no less!


It would appear I have some apologizing to do.

In the past I made some disparaging remarks about Florida Mountain Bikers and their silly attempts ate mountain biking in a state as flat as a pancake. (Maybe not here, as I cant find any posts on it.) As it turns out, you only need a few feet of elevation to have quite a bit of fun. Also where speed is difficult, more technical, narrow trials can add challenge.

Last night my cousin-in-law Chris gave me a tour around the Balm Boyette Trail system in CITY Florida. It was a decent drive down those never ending rural Florida roads that all look the same,leading to a nature preserve that the local mountain biking group has gone to great lengths making into a very fine trail system. This nature preserve is closed off to all vehicles, so once you’ve parked your car it’s nothing bikes for miles. The first of many trailheads is a nice two mile ride down some sandy fire roads. I made a comment to Chris about how that probably helps keep out the kind of people who don’t know good trail etiquette. The ride in acted as a good warm up, something I’ve never had much discipline to do. From there, the trail system is a series of short runs that all seem to end at the beginning of another. It’s a very nice flow. Sometimes you get a nice little half mile or so ride between trails, which is great to catch your breath and take a few sips of water.

There were a few trails that consisted almost entirely of short, steep drops mirrored by short climbs on the other side. It doesn’t sound to exciting, but those were easily some of the largest and steepest drops I’ve ever ridden. This is why I have to recant the whole “no hills in Florida = lame riding’ thing.

My favorite spot though was when we rode out on one of the fire roads and I got to see something you don’t get to see often in Florida: a landscape. The sun was setting, and the fire road ran across the top of a ridge that looked over a modest rolling field. It wasn’t anything to make a painting out of but I can honestly say it’s the prettiest I’ve ever seen Florida wilderness look. Then we turned around and hit a very short trail that had two killer jumps on it.

I should also mention that this is the first time Ive ridden a full suspension mountain bike. I must say the sensation is something kin to riding a water bed. You float over bumps and debris like they’re barely even there. It gave me the confidence to try some crazy steep drops, and to hit those couple of jumps with the speed and height I really wanted to. Landing made me feel like a kid on a hotel bed. Downside, sprinting was pointless. I’d stand up to give some good hard pushes on the pedals and the bike would just sink down barely accelerating. That definitely took some getting used to. I will say that anyone who rides full suspension and complains about riding without a chamois is a wuss.

Al in all it was a great time, and Chris was an excellent trail guide. I had a ball, tried some new things, and learned a lot.