Riding This Week


Chainbuster MTB Racing Series - Georgia's friendliest MTB racing. 6 & 9 Hour Endurance racing for solo or teams.

Dirty Spokes - Duathlon and Trail running series. Love these guys. First class events.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving in Cherokee and Tsali Trails

This weekend my family and I were treated to a cabin in Cherokee, NC with the Pattillo's. I say treated because Jess's Dad Mike Robb reserved it and invited us to go. Of course I was excited because I knew I'd get the chance to ride at the Tsali trails which are only about 15 mins away. More on that later because what I was really looking forward to was the kids enjoying a ride on the Polar Express! You see I happen to be "The Man". That's right, I'm The Man. I booked the Polar Express for all of us.
We left Bryson City on a real train and went to the North Pole, drank hot chocolate, ate cookies and sang carols at the top of our lungs. Santa got on board and gave each child a reindeer bell. Yes...I am The Man.
The conductor came by to punch the kids tickets. The speakers in the train car played the movie music and then read the story as the kids followed along in their books. It was worth every single penny. They haven't stopped talking about it yet.

That was on Saturday night but on Saturday morning I got up early and headed to the legendary Tsali mountain bike trails. It was a chilly 30 degrees when I left the cabin at 7:00AM and by the time I got to the trail is had warmed up significantly to 31 degrees. But I wasn't worried because I had my new LG winter mountain bike shoes.  They've been waiting on a day like this to keep my feet warm and dry. It's funny, I went biking on Thanksgiving morning with the Elam's and Dustin and Todd. The only things that bothered me were my fingers and toes. That lesson helped me decide exactly what to wear for my assault on Tsali. LG head cover, Hincapie winter bibs, sleeveless baselayer, jersey, Hincapie Wintex Jacket, LG insulated gloves and of course the shoes.

Tsali Trail Head
All week long I was conflicted. I've been to Tsali only two other times. Each of them on Saturday. That means that according to "the rules" I'm supposed to only ride the trails to the left of the lake. I wanted to ride the right side but that's restricted to horses on Saturday's. Hence my dilemma. So I decided to get there and see who all was there...like a park Ranger. To my delight the only cars anywhere were trucks with no trailers. And nary a Ranger in sight. So I decided to pay my two dollars and ride the trails I wanted to ride.
Tsali Trail System

In my wisdom I figured that if any horse riders showed up they would ride the left loop by the lake first. I have no basis for that but I wanted to ride it first and not run into any horses so I headed in and began riding along the ridge line. What a great view! The leaves are off the trees and you can see just how high up on the mountain side you are. The trail is smooth and rolling and really fun. It didn't take long before I came upon a hunter sitting on the hillside staring across the lake at the other side. My bike is really quiet and the wet trail kept the leaves soggy so I pretty much sneaked up on him. I knew better than to yell "Good Morning" or something so I just rode on by hoping he wouldn't roll off the mountain. I don't know what he did.

After about 15 minutes I decided to make a video of some of the trail. Here it is:

I stopped on one of many Lookout Points to take in the view and eat a Honey Stinger Waffle. It didn't take long before I got cold and needed to keep moving. I shot another video for you guys here:

The trail loops away from the lake and takes you into the forest. As I rode I started feeling guilty about disobeying the rules. I really didn't want to spook a horse or get in somebodies way. Besides that I was hoping to run into some other riders I could talk to. So I decided to take the main trail back to the trail head and ride on the justified side. As I made my way up the mountain that lead back I rode up on another hunter. He was tip toeing down the trail in full camo. We're talking camo baclava, gloves, boots, and even his gun was camouflage. All accept for his neon orange sock hat. I've always wondered about that. Can deer see the sock hat? If so, what's the use in being completely invisible accept for your head. I mean I could see his head glowing through the trees and across the switchbacks. Guess that's why I'm not a hunter. I can only be an expert at one hobby at a time. Anyway I quietly passed him and just put my hand up for a greeting so I wouldn't disturb his sneaky mojo.

Tsali Left Loop

On a Tsali Lookout Point
Once back at the parking lot I saw there were more riders but they were all out on the trails. So I decided to do the Thompson Loop clockwise because it looked like a workout. I had pretty much rode like Alice up to that point. I was right. Lot's of climbing to start and then switchbacks along the lake. I wrapped up a great ride by pushing through at race pace.

By the way, I love my GIANT 29er. It's the perfect bike for all things. Lock it out for speed or run it loose for comfort. It's a sturdy rocket with tubeless tires OR a lazy boy on wheels. A bike for every mood. And don't be scared of tubeless if you haven't tried it. I've had great success running Stan's NoTubes sealant in mine. If you can't take the stress then carry a tube with you. I also removed the outer chain ring and replaced the space with washers. Joe at Habersham Bicycles fixed the shifting and poof, it's a double. I hardly ever use the small ring in the front so I moved the left side shifter over out of the way so I wouldn't accidentally shift small on a rocky downhill. It all worked great all season.

On Sunday morning I decided to go run around Cherokee before breakfast. Well...I got lost. I ended up on the other side of the river from the cabin. I just knew that right around the corner there would be another bridge that would save me but it never came. My knee started hurting and before I got back I was shuffling along like a 90 year old man. I think I ran over 267 miles. I saw every shanty hut and rusty car that Cherokee had to offer. The only other signs of life were the unchained blood hounds kept at bay only by the shear inconceivableness of a grown man shuffling down their road of no return. This, dear friends, is why I like riding a bike.

The jog of death not withstanding I had a great weekend. I didn't eat healthy. I didn't use my brain all that much. I watched a lot of football. Pretty much the typical palmares of the average American male...who is also a cyclist.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! I'll be riding at Yargo on Saturday with Thomas Pattillo and the Edwards boys. Join us if you can! AND Sunday is Family Biking Day! 2:30pm at Gainesville College.

Have a great week!


1 comment:

  1. What??? No WBL this weekend? You'll be missed.

    Great video BTW.