Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jones Downhill

Thinking of yesterday puts a smile on my face. It was a lazy but early morning, starting with breakfast at Adam's Mountain Cafe. We got there close to opening so the world famous cinnamon rolls were available and they did not disappoint. Mmmmm. Whole wheat cinnamon rolls with honey icing, which practically makes them guilt free! It didn't matter though - we had our work cut out for us that day, with a 5+ hour mountain bike ride on tap.

We loaded the car up and hit the trail right at noon. Let the 12 miles of climbing begin! We both rocked our hard tail 29ers (I finally chopped 2" off the handle bars and it no longer feels like I'm maneuvering a low flying aircraft). Opting out of adding on an additional 1.5 hours of riding from the house and roughly 1,500 feet of climbing, we started at the Gold Camp parking lot at around 6,500 feet. From there the route climbs over 12 miles to roughly 10,400 feet, where the air is cool and thin. At that elevation, it's important not to put yourself in the red zone where recovery is non-existent.

The first part of the climb is a hiker/cyclist/equestrian only trail that links to a red neck/biker/gun shooting crowd. As we were plugging away at the first section, Chris Carmichael came bombing downhill. Up, up, and up we climbed. At the half way point, we came upon a lookout where we felt silly in our spandex/camel back outfits compared to the gun rack welding, muddy jeep driving "YEEHAW!" screaming crowd. Shortly there after, we saw two guys pulled off on the side of road, having target practice at various bottles aimed toward the road. Sweet. I was very thankful to see two Forest Service patrol cars cruising the area.

We kept climbing. Two and a half hours later, we found our trailhead - 701. Just as we got to the top, three dirt bike riders from Pennsylvania crested and were friendly enough - but also a reminder that we were going to be sharing this single track with bikers as well.

I'll put this out there right now: this single track downhill is TOTALLY worth every single minute of uphill climbing, at altitude!

The trail was a little technical for me in some rocky sections but as the day wore on and I got sick and tired hiking my bike, I grew some heuvos and clipped in, rolling over the majority of features. That's actually when the real fun began - when I didn't give a shit anymore about whether I crashed or put a foot down and just went for it. Suddenly I was clearing stuff I would have hesitated on before and hooping and hollering about it. Thankfully the boy waited for me at certain points throughout the ride - and at one point was starting to get worried only to see me pop out with a big smile on my face with satisfaction of NOT un-clipping. YAHOO! He had been waiting about 15 minutes. Ha!

After 2 hours of single track, we came out onto High Road and decided to continue climbing up to the parking lot. And who did we see coming down High Road at the exact same time? The guys on dirt bikes from Pennsylvania. We all did a double take. Nice!

We were both blown by the time we got back to the car. A quick stop at the store on the way home for hamburger fixings and beer and we were in bed, sawing logs by 9pm. I think that's the trick to living in this area: play so hard during the day that you have to got to bed by 9pm. Done.

Yep, I still have that pinch me feeling.

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