Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fall is still around in Mid TN

Troy and Thad and I packed up the Element and drove over to the mtn and rode Franklin State Forest yesterday with their friend Chris from Tullahoma. We were looking forward to a day of great riding and great weather. In the end we got decent weather and great riding that we had to cut short. It was colder than we expected and some of us, Thad, didn't bring the correct equipment. He had to sport the Dicky look but at least there was no socks and sandals going on. I just brought my underarmor long sleeve base layer and was toasty after a few miles of warm up. December 22nd and we all still wearing shorts.... Fall is still in effect.

The trail was in good shape and has a long new section that isn't quite burnt in yet. We started with this section first with the idea that we would finish across from the ranger station and not have to ride any road back. The new section is twisty and relatively flat. A lot of sections are still very bumpy with loose, clumpy dirt. I felt like it took me a long time to really warm up and get the legs feeling good. My left thigh never felt good and progressively got worse through out the ride. I'm still not sure of the cause, whether it's muscle or tendon related, or if it's a bit of an over-use injury, or a tight tendon issue. The pain would be there on every down pedal stroke and was feeling similar to the IT band issues that I had in my right knee a couple years ago. That injury was mainly brought on from over-use too early in the season, but also from tight IT bands and a mis-aligned pedal stroke. One other idea on my left leg issue is Thad and I's small crash around 21st ave after the Tap Room on thurs. I can't remember if I landed on my left thigh or not.

The pain during the FSF side was enough to get me worried about being able to complete Snake Creek in two weeks. I did a long stretching session last night and iced both knees. I plan to be diligent about my stretching for the next couple weeks and take a little time off from the bike. I was not able to ride much in Oct and Nov, but have put in 50 off road miles this past week so I am wondering if maybe I just hit it too hard doing two laps at Hammy. My body probably just needs to repair and rest.

After we crossed the bridge over the creek at FSF and were riding the other side, everything started to look familiar to me. The trail gets more flowy and I was getting into a groove and keeping up with Thad and Troy for a bit. Each time we'd stop though I had to 'work' through the pain in my thigh to get back in a groove again. Each stop seemed to make it harder and harder to get going again. This section of trail was completely covered in thick leaves. Most of it fast rolling but some sections gave you the 'do I have a flat' sensation.

We stopped at a couple overlooks and chowed on some snacks. I brought my camera on the trail this time so I was able to snap some during-the-ride shots for once. During one of our pit stops a hunter strolled past us and barely acknowledged us except to mutter, "You guys are pretty brave to be out here during big game season." I hadn't even thought about hunting season and of course, none of us were wearing very visible clothes or vests. We shoved off and continued riding. The trail snaked around and in about 10 minutes we were in a valley next to the same hunter. We hear this crazy loud gun shot go off and look up to see this hunter saying something to us. He was clearly not raising his voice loud enough to be heard by us, so we can only speculate what he was saying. We were all taken back that he would shoot over us and were coming up with all these reason to explain it. Finally, seeing that it was after 2pm we decided to find the highway and duck out and ride the road back to the parking lot to be safe. This hunter was clearly POed that we were out there and we didn't feel safe continuing the ride. We rode 5 miles back on the highway as the weather continued to cool down and starting misting.

After a post-ride Yazoo we changed into dry clothes and packed the cars up and headed to the local Mexican joint. They were dead and we rested and chowed down on chips and salsa. The food really hit the spot and the $1.75 Dos Equis went down smooth. I crashed on the ride home and got a short nap in. Thanks again for driving Troy! I'll get you back for gas next time or your next few beers are on me!

The rest of the pictures from the ride are HERE.

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