Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TransRockies Training Camp #1 - A success!

We're back! My first TransRockies Training Camp was a huge success. We found an awesome spot to camp and the weather was absolutely perfect! We were seriously in heaven.

In three days I rode 25.5 hours (all on the MTB) and covered approximately 240 miles and climbed 40,000 ft.

And best of all..no flats, no mechanicals (bike or body), and no rain!


We arrived at Cooper Creek WMA at about 8 pm to find that all of the “improved” campsites were already occupied. It turns out that the only amenities at the campgrounds were a well and stinky pit toilets, so we kept driving down the road and found a nice, quiet site just off FS 236. It was essentially an old roadbed in an old growth forest. There was also a nice flat area down the hill next to a small creek – really a primo site and super private, but the thought of trudging up and down that big hill every time I wanted food out of the car was way too much for me to deal with, given the amount of elevation I’d already have to deal with on the bike. That being said, we pitched our tent on the high ground and set up camp pretty close to the car.

I was pleased with our site, as it was very tranquil and we wouldn’t have to deal with all the drunken Memorial-Day ya-hoo’s who were likely staying in the campground.

Pretty homey if you ask me, and plenty of room for more tents if we have some company next time!

Ample parking, day or night...

Our backyard...


Today was my “easy” day. Only 70 miles and 11,000+ ft of climbing. I broke the ride into two loops, so that I could swing back by the campsite to refuel and let Chris know that I was still alive.

My first loop was south on FS 236 to Cooper Creek Rd, which turns into FS 33. I took FS 33 until it hits Hwy 180 and then climbed up to Wolfpen Gap. Once there, I kept climbing on Duncan Ridge Rd and took that across the ridge and back down to FS 4 and eventually the campsite. This took a little over 2.5 hours and I was feeling good.

After a quick PB&J and a little Coke, I was out for loop #2. For this one, I headed back out to SR 60 via Mulkey Gap Rd and then proceeded to FS 69/Fish Hatchery Rd. I took the FS 333 cut through to Double Head Gap road and then headed south to FS 42. From there it was a long climb up to Winding Stair Gap, across the ridge, and then back down FS 69 the same way I came in. This loop took me 4.25 hours. I was pleased that I didn’t use my small chainring on the entire ride – I must be getting stronger!

On the way back in, I stopped at Cooper Creek to “bathe” and soak my legs in the REALLY COLD water. It must have done the trick, as I had good legs the next day. I had just under 7 hours of rolling time for the day.

That evening, we had to head to the local store to buy ice, so we stopped at Sea Creek Falls on the way back for a little side trip.

Goat trail near falls...I vaguely remember stumbling up this in the dark during NGAR '06.


Today would be a bit tougher…76 miles and 13,000+ ft of climbing. The good news was that I was meeting Kim and would at least have a riding partner. We headed towards Fish Hatchery Road and climbed up to Winding Stair Gap. From there we descended and picked up FS 77 which we took over to the Bull Mountain Trail. We climbed the gravel section and Bare Hare and right about the time that we can start cruising on the downhill section of the Bull Mountain trail, Kim’s rear hub completely locks up and the wheel won’t roll. So we were stranded 30+ miles from the cars, with a bike that was completely inoperable…The only thing Kim could do was to loosen the skewer a bunch so that the wheel could rotate in the dropout. I handed over my phone to Kim and decided the best thing would be for me to ride back to the campsite and come back and pick her up with one of the vehicles. This was no easy task, as the campsite was a 3 hour ride away. So there I was, alone again, with no phone and no personal protection (I had Kim for that). I made it back to the campsite, told Chris the situation, and we headed back out to rescue Kim.

During that time she managed to roll her bike down Bull Mtn, then ride up Cooper Gap and down FS 15 with the skewer completely loosened, so when we found her, she was only 10 miles from the campsite. The downside was that her carbon dropouts were pretty much destroyed.

Once we got Kim back to the campsite and on her way back home, I still had to head out for about 2.5 more hours of riding, as our loop had been cut short by the mechanical. I rode a forest road loop up to Duncan Ridge Road and then climbed on that until I hit the Coosa Trail. On the way up, I saw a big, fat black bear about 50 ft from the road…Yikes! Ride Faster!!! I THINK the bear took off, but I was still apprehensive about riding back by that same spot on the return trip. (I made sure to sing to myself and make lots of noise.) By the time I got back, I was up to 8.5 rolling hours for the day and all I could think about was food.

If I have to choose between food and cleanliness, I’ll choose food every time, but it resulted in me having to go do my icy creek soak after the sun went down, which made it seem even worse. I must be dedicated to put myself through these sort of things…

Yes, I am wearing a swim suit...


Today would be the toughest day, not only because I was already tired, but because it was 90+ miles with around 15,000+ ft of climbing. Thankfully, there were some fast pavement sections, but there were also some grueling climbs as well. My day started with heading over to Fish Hatchery Rd and taking FS 333 to Double Head Gap Rd. From there I took back roads along the Toccoa River towards Shallowford Bridge. Once there, I headed up Aska Rd to the Long Branch trail. I climbed Long Branch and Green Mountain, then descended Green Mountain into Deep Gap. Then it was a long and painful grunt on the Stanley Gap trail to Stanley Creek Rd. Here I met Chris and refueled. I was feeling pretty good, considering what I had just ridden over, and at 3.5 hours, I was a half hour ahead of schedule.

I continued towards Cherry Log on Rock Creek Rd, and then wound around for a couple of hours on back roads until I climbed up to Watson Gap on the Cohutta 100 Route. Climbing up to Watson Gap was definitely the low point of the ride for me. I just felt hot, lethargic, and unmotivated. I think I even did that burp/puke in your mouth thing... I popped some E-Caps and drank some Coke and my outlook quickly improved. The next series of climbs over to Potato Patch didn’t seem that bad, even the steep pitches after Betty Gap. A big thanks to the Forest Service for dumping a load of fresh gravel on all the roads, so that the descents were as much work as the climbs. I arrived at Potato Patch for a second major refuel at 7.5 hours in. You’d think at that point, I’d just ride down Bear Creek and call it a day…but no, that’s not my style. The plan was to ride down Bear Creek, and then take Pinhoti 1, 2, and 3 to the “finish” at the Cohutta Overlook. It would make for a much more dramatic ending, especially if the sun was setting as I rolled in. The downhill singletrack on Bear Creek, Pinhoti 1, and Pinhoti 2 really lifted my spirits and I was excited to know that unless I was eaten by wild boars, I WAS GOING TO FINISH MY RIDE!!! I don’t think I’ve ever been so elated climbing up Pinhoti 3 in my life, but every foot climbed was a foot closer to my goal. I arrived at the Cohutta Overlook in just under 10 hours rolling time, thoroughly worn out and thoroughly satisfied.


Overlook grand..

Now could somebody please feed me some real food?

Best weekend in a LONG LONG time.

I was so happy that I was actually able to complete all three days of riding, and I actually felt pretty good the entire time. I wasn’t flying, but I was pretty steady and reasonably comfortable, even on the steep, grunty stuff.

I’m planning another one of these training camps for the July 4th weekend, so hopefully with some more notice, I can round up some more folks to join me. Perhaps Julia and Neal? There's some unexplored areas I'd love to check out, but need some company for such an endeavor.


Namrita O'Dea said...


i'd love to join for some of the july 4 training so let me know!

Hunter & Neal said...

Hi Lisa,

I will backin the USA tonight or at least the next week and look forward to catching up...you can ride recovery and I can hurt big time...I am keen to get back on the bike again...time with Hunter and Julia has been good for me :)

Sorry for being a bit of a "dofess" before I left....I tend to fall of the planet every now and then...hmmmm...

All the best to you and Chris!