This little trip of ours did not quite turn out as expected. Aside from the general destinations, everything else was rearranged. The original plan was to hit Thomaston on Saturday, stay in Macon that night, ride Dauset on Sunday, and then hit JL's BBQ in Macon, on the way home.
Mother nature had other plans. The rain predictions for the weekend swung wildly the entire week leading up to our departure. By Friday night, the predictions were for rain to start midday, early afternoon on Saturday, with 70% chance on Sunday. It wasn't looking good. We revamped and decided to leave early and hit Dauset on Saturday. That trail system gets closed after heavy rain, and we didn't want to miss it. The fog was so thick you could cut off slabs and eat it on your sandwich. You could hear water dripping from the leaves while we got dressed. It actually started to sprinkle as we rolled out from the parking lot.
Dauset's trails are super fast and well groomed. Half the fun is just being able to rail corners at mach 9. Not when she's this wet though. The wet clay surface would turn your tire loose with little to no turning pressure. The game of the day became more about who could ride the nastiest, wettest, rootiest, rockiest sections without dabbing. Before long, everyone was laughing and carrying on as if we were not coated in a 1/2" thick layer of trail grime. 2.5 hours and we only averaged about 7.5 mph. Everyone was pretty well toasted when we decided to call it quits, and head for a pressure washer and a hotel.
We conned Ray, the hotel maintenance guy, into hooking up a hose for cleaning the bikes. This was great, but the hotel has industrial pressure wash pressure at the hose, and Ray keeps insisting that he help by blasting all known lubrication from every bearing surface on the bikes. It will be interesting to see if any of us has to replace a bottom bracket this week.
The next morning we wake to find everything soaked outside. A big time thunderstorm had pushed through, and we knew we were in for another swamp fest. Amazingly enough, the rain we expected to be with us all day, disappeared as we drove to Thomaston! By the way if you own a Garmin navigation system for your car, hit it with a hammer, drive over it with your car. The whole time it will be screaming to turn left or right, to avoid its own immanent demise. Then buy a map, and read it yourself. For whatever reason, Big Jim Slade's Garmin took us up through Birmingham to get to Thomaston. We just kept saying that the longer we drove, the drier the trails would be. It all worked out... eventually.
Thomaston was to be a true Ken-venture, without Ken. I was the only one who had ever really ridden here, and it had been at least 5 years. Apparently no one is really riding this truly tough, and damn well worth the drive trail system. Why the locals don't ride here every weekend, I'll never understand. This trail has 3 main climbs, all granny gear style for yours truly. The 1st is a mile long switchback beast, with plenty of loose rock and roots thrown in for good measure. To top it off, you start this damned climb .9 mile into the trail. Forget a warm up, it's straight to incinerate, for your poor legs and lungs. We wandered this system for some time. Some of it I recognized right away, others not so much. If you see the GPS track of our route, you see lots of fingers off the loop, where we had to backtrack as I realized yet another error. We always found our way back, though. Unfortunately, we added in a couple of hella tough climbs in the process!
About an hour and a half in, you could see chinks in people's armor. Folks were cracking, both physically and mentally. Derwood, Little Ball, and I started taking turns, moving down a piece of trail, to see if it was correct, to save others the effort of having to climb back up another dead end downhill. Everyone was more than ready to see the trailhead. Wrecking Ball kept me sane, telling me over and over again, that adventures are almost never as much fun when they are actually happening.
By the time we reached the trucks, legs and patience were toast! We cleaned up, loaded up, and headed for the highway. Unfortunately, being in Thomaston, it was just too far to back track to Macon for JL's BBQ. There had been enough back tracking for one weekend. We headed south in search of food, but apparently everyone on Hwy 19 is a farmer who grows his own food and never eats out! We got skunked all the way to Albany. By then everyone just wanted to be home, so drive through fare it was , eaten by exhausted, cranky folks, with sore legs.
Despite his claims otherwise, Big Jim Slade was running out of gas, and his patience was being tested. I was glad to see him smile and relax on the journey home. I don't want to be the one who runs him off, for another 9 years.