Thursday, November 27, 2008

Take the Bull by the Horns!!

On Tuesday I drove north from Atlanta to Bull Mountain in Dahlonega GA. This is another IMBA Epic ride area. You can see the trail map here. This trail was by far the most difficult I have ever been on. It was way beyond my ability, and it was way beyond the ability of my $600 hard tail bike. I suppose this area is a great challenge for someone looking for an advanced ride, it was just way too much for me.

From the parking lot, which is waaayyy up a long, skinny red clay road, you make the short climb up the fire road to the trail head.

This is the start of the Bull Mountain Trail. From here it was a very steep climb through a lot of roots and rocks. I ended up walking about 80% of the first mile. It was just too much for my meager ability.

It's hard to see in this picture, but somewhere on the climb up the mount on my saddle bag broke. If I'm breaking things going up the hill, I can't imagine how it could have lasted a downhill run through here. Hard core downhill riders would be well served going down this trail. I had no desire to beat myself up quite this much.

Luckily I had some zip ties in my backpack, so I strapped the bag back to the bike and went on my way. I made a mental note to not put my car keys in this bag any more. If I would have lost this bag I would have been in big trouble.

This is one of the few pictures I took of the trail. It looks OK here, but under those leaves is a cornacopia of rocks and big tree roots. This part of the climb should have been easy, but it was still a slow go. It was unbelievable how long it took me to get this far.

When your grandfather told you he walked uphill to school both ways, you can be sure this is where he went to school. This must have been his dad's truck that broke way up here in the middle of nowhere. Grandpa had to walk to school ever since. The path seemed like it was always uphill, never downhill. Lots of pork and beans so far, I need a little candy.

Near the top of Bull Mountain was the Bare Hare trail. This trail was a little better, at least I could ride it....

Lots of these little stream crossings on Bare Hare. So many leaves make the streams hard to see until your already in them.

Since it took me so long to get to the end of Bare Hare loop I decided to abort the rest of my riding plans for the day and take the fire roads back to the car. These roads were fun and fast. If only I weren't so tired from the climb.

This was a little bigger stream that I had to cross to get to the road back to the parking lot. It was very cold at this point in the day and I didn't want to get wet. I kept looking for a way to walk across it, no such luck. It was really easy to ride across...

Right after this crossing was when things got really bad for me. There were about three forks in the road, all of them not marked very clearly. The first two ended up being dead ends on private property with large "Beware of Dog" signs. Finally choice number three took me back to the car. If you get to this stream remember to take the first right. Don't go left, else you will have a very long climb to get back.

Perhaps someday I will return, once I am a better rider and have a better bike. I made through the Bull, but the Bull sure did beat me up on the way.

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