Continuing the story from last week, after consuming half the contents of an Applebee’s I visited the Publix for snacks to get me through the next day’s ride, then returned to my hotel room, which, at this point in my trip, hadn’t started to seem like a prison cell yet.
The next day I set my sights on a place to the east of the place I had ridden the previous day. The two places I rode were listed on a trail review website as the two best places to ride in this area, so I had high hopes.
Having calibrated the area’s trails the previous day, I decided to go directly to the OMG, super-terrifying, double black diamond trail. Unlike the prior day’s trails, which operated on an alternate-day one-way system (clockwise one day, counter-clockwise the next) this trail was a bi-directional loop, so I figured if I liked what I saw in one direction I could flip around and ride the other direction.
I started with clockwise. The trail began with an alarmingly dull double track section. (Alarming as in, you mean THIS is the most challenging terrain they have to offer? NOOOOOOO!) But, that quickly gave way to a nice swoopy descent. A little rooty … would make for a challenging climb in the other direction. The trail continued in this fashion for a mile or two at which point I found myself at the bottom of some steep, rooty, rocky switchbacks. I rode as far up as I could without stopping, then got hung on a rooty turn and had to stop (also, lungs bursting).
As I was assessing the turn and trying to figure out if there was a better line, I heard someone coming down. Assuming it was another biker I looked up, and what did my eyes see but an apparition, picking through the steep, tight, rooty, droppy switchbacks – on one wheel. That’s right folks – there was a unicyclist riding the super, OMG, terrifying, double black diamond trail. I stepped off to the side to give him room on the turn that had bested me on the way up … he dropped off the root that had stopped me, then bounced once, twisted hard to try to make the next turn, then bounced again, right off the unicycle and the trail. No matter – he rode a unicycle down those crazy switchbacks.
He gave it another go and missed it again. He stopped to chat for a bit as I eyeballed the stuff he had just come down and decided to walk up it. Turns out, while he was doing some amazing stuff on the downhills, he didn’t climb on the unicycle, so we walked up together and chatted a bit about mountain cycling on one wheel and two. At the top of the hill I got back on the bike to ride, but I will confess that after a few ups and downs, and a few stops to catch my breath, he caught up with me towards the end. We said goodbye at the end of the trail, because by this time I had decided I liked the trail well enough to do it in the other direction.
Which kicked my ass … the switchbacks were great fun going down, but then I had the climb back up over all those rocks and roots. When I finished the trail I actually had the idea that I would try the beginner trail for a little extra mileage but it was hilly enough and I was tired enough that I started to regret it, and cut that part of the ride short.
I wish I could say the rest of the trip was as fun as that weekend, but it involved lots of time in a windowless room – albeit a windowless room in the same building as a bunch of flight simulators.