Monday, March 2, 2009

The Rock (Muddy) Road Rash Hash....

The weekend was wet. That sentence can pretty well summarize anything I type about in this post. Well, then you have the added bonus of the fact that the weekend included booze. Plus there was snow, in Georgia. Then there's the fact that it was cold. Ok, so there was a lot of interesting facts that made up my weekend.

Saturday was warm and wet. I woke up later than usual on Saturday. That was a nice bonus to the start of the weekend. For the past few weeks, I've been getting up earlier on Saturdays than I do during the work week. So catching some extra z's played out nicely. I just lounged around the house all morning with the wife and watched a few movies. The whole time it there was a nice downpour outside. A couple of tornado watches later, I was on the bike. I mean, how can I contain myself. I'm not gonna let any rain keep me off the bike.

I haven't hopped on the commuter in a while. Recently I decked it out with some full rain fenders and a rack with panniers for some light touring/commuting. With those fenders on the bike, I figured this was the chance to finally test them. The roads were soaked and there was hardly anyone on the roads. What a perfect setting for a mid day ride. I stopped by the bike shop for a brief chat and decided to get a cup of joe down at Jittery Joes. After the coffee, I strolled around downtown for a little while then hit the liquor store and a buddy's house for dinner. So my saturated Saturday turned out pretty good.

Sunday was pretty awesome too. I didn't sleep too well Saturday night because I left the bedroom window cracked and heard rain all night. Normally rain is pretty soothing but it was the thoughts that went into my half asleep mind. I kept thinking that the Rocky Road Rash Hash was gonna either get canceled or the conditions would be too rough for me to even want to ride. So after a few cat naps, I woke up, got my gear together and headed out in the truck for an epic ride.

When I got to Juliette, GA (set of "Fried Green Tomatos") the rain was getting harder and the temps were dropping faster. How is it normal for the high temp of the day to be at 6:30am? Along the edge of the gravel parking area, the Ocmulgee River was breaching its banks and overflowing into the parking lot. There were a couple of guys in the parking area and Monte had a fire pit out with a few logs burning. Will showed up shortly after with a pop up canopy to keep us dry for a short time. Mike and Maria showed up with some warm coffee and donuts. Then Tim showed up with some off the shoulder jokes. By 9am we had a bigger group than I ever imagined would show up for an event in these conditions. Not only that, everyone was pretty pumped about riding.

The rain continued to pound harder and the waters continued to rise on the edge of the river while we all stood around the fire. Collectively, we decided to ditch the idea of a 50 mile hash. Instead, we opted for a 15 mile mud ride. This was the shortest of the loops we could ride but turned out to be harder than we ever expected. As we started out on River Road, we were soon to hit some sticky mud. The road is normally hard packed clay but the rain has turned it into a muddy swamp. There were a couple times that the mud just sucked my tires deeper and just about sucked the life out of my calfs. Normally I would consider quiting in these conditions. But that thought never crossed my mind. This was actually fun.

The hills actually felt shorter than normal because that was not where my focus was. I was focused on keeping my bike moving forward through these conditions. I finally breached the steepest climb and met up with the faster riders. As a group we all headed out for the next intersection. After we got off River Rd., the forest roads were a bit better. The temperatures continued to drop though.

About 10 miles into the ride, we stopped at the favorite creek crossing and took a short break. We all celebrated our ride with some cold beers and PB&J. The creek is normally low enough to ride/walk across. This time it was about a class 2/3 rapids. Right as we downed our beers, the rain started turning into sleet/snow. This was what we all wanted. We were experiencing the worst conditions that we could possibly face in Middle Georgia. The only thing that could have made the weather worse would have been a torndo. But we were still stoked.

Another 4 miles later we all made it back to the cars soaked from head to toe. The fire was still smouldering and we got it going again. Everyone got changed into some dry clothes and we continued to hang out in the now drizzling rain/sleet and drank a few more beers. The day couldn't have been more memorable. This ride proved to the select few of us that nasty weather doesn't alway mean you can't ride. Its what you make out of it that makes the experience.

So I'm glad I didn't bail on this one. I'm looking forward to the next event that can build memories like the Rocky Road Rash Hash did.

Keep the Rubber Side Down!!

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