I was long overdue for a Syllamo trip. I was actually planning on it for it for a few weeks, but since Ryan was at Mississippi Grand Prix, I knew there was a chance that I’d be going at it solo, and I didn’t want to tip off you stalker types that read my blog every day. Fortunately, Matt wanted to check out the Outdoors SIR9 demo bike on some real singletrack, and we headed over friday after work.
Saturday morning, we hit the trail going reverse race direction on the blue and orange. Doing that always makes the race direction seem easier since it forces you to start with a technical decent then climb relentlessly the entire way from the Highway 5 trailhead.
You know what sucks? They’re logging on the blue trail now. A good half mile of what was the first singletrack in that direction has been opened up to “logging equipment” size. Damnit.
In climbing away from the highway, I quickly realized that geared bike riding had made me a little soft, and that I wasn’t fully over the cold I’d caught earlier in the week. Matt was also looking a little tired, so when we arrived at the White River Bluff trailhead, I suggested that we finish our ride by going up Green Mountain Road and down to Gunner Pool, then back. Along the way back, I realized that I wouldn’t get my prescribed 4 hours for the day unless I took a detour, so I bombed down to Blanchard Springs and climbed back out to polish off the day with about 4600 feet of climbing. Hopefully that one will pay off at Cohutta in a couple of weeks.
Back at the cabin, we engaged in one of my favorite past times- drinking a beer & sitting on the porch to watch the sunset. Afterward, catfish.
Sunday, I wanted to ride the entire trail loop. We started off at the Scrappy Mountain trailhead, rode the “easy” section of the yellow to the red, around the red and “hard” part of the yellow, and back to the car. I got into a fight with the rocks somewhere along the way. Rocks 1, me 0. At the car, I dropped off Matt as well as my Camelbak, which was making my back hurt (I finished the ride with one bottle, making refill stops at the jugs we dropped at the trailheads on the way in.
Highlight of the ride: cleaning the entire green trail “overlook” rock garden from end to end without putting a foot down. Me 2, rocks 1. Low point- getting chased and bitten by a swarm of horseflies while negotiating the short climbs on the orange trail. Luckily, Matt met me at the Highway 5 trailhead with bugspray so I was able to suffer in peace for the remainder of the ride.
I felt like I was flying up the last climb- a nice feeling at 5+ hours into a ride. When I made it back to the trailhead, I realized that I’d finished the loop a lot faster than my race time from last year (granted, conditions last year sucked… but it’s still a good feeling). So, I didn’t get the 6 hours that I’d planned for, but in a good way.
Syllamo’s Revenge is probably going to be the hardest race I’ll go to this year. The additional miles are going to destroy me if I start to cramp like I did at Ouachita, but hopefully this weekend leaves me a little more prepared.