Sometimes you just have to take advantage of your blessings, and so today, I put aside the job hunt, fired up the Garmin, and headed out to conquer a season-long goal, and revel in some fabulous Indian summer weather.
It couldn’t have been a better day. On what could be the last perfect day of summer, it was 76 degrees, no wind, clear blue skies, short sleeves, and the mountain beckoned. I started east up the mountain to Chilco gap, but rather than turning around and heading home, I pulled out my compass, took a bearing on neighboring Bernard Peak, and headed north (and up!) on the rough roads and snowmobile tracks less traveled.
With only one wrong turn (which cost me a ½ mile or so of uphill climbing) I was able to ride to the very top of Bernard Peak, which at over 5300 feet is the highest purely bikeable summit in the area.
After that, I jumped on the scary scary single track down the north face of the mountain. It was a pretty hairy trek, to be honest: quite steep and very narrow, though pretty smooth, all things considered. Good forearm workout, as it was “brakes on” for almost 45 minutes. The most difficult thing was that the edge of the mountain was literally right there! I also need to work on my very steep, downhill 180 degree switchbacks, as I ended up with two extra dismounts (unintentional and unwilling), and a couple of other close calls. In all, it was almost 5 miles of pretty challenging trail.
The cool thing about this trail was that I ended up at the top of the Twete road trail, right at the edge of Farragut! Basically, we can make an entire loop now without ever backtracking. After that, it was just a quick ride home, for a total of three hours of difficult, exhilarating and mostly new riding! It was pretty awesome being able to hit both Chilco and Bernard peaks in one ride, and I’m pretty sure this will be the main event of the “Crucible” race we’re going to host next summer, as part of “Adventure Week,” so I hope to ride it several more times for training, and to get a better feel for its intricacies. (I might try it again this Sunday, if anyone wants to come over!)
It ended up being about 7000 feet of ascent overall, which made for a semi-strenuous afternoon, but the weather and the trail were perfect, and I couldn’t think of a better way to finish out the summer riding season, unless you were all able to join me. I wore my heart rate monitor, and I was pleased that even on the real uphill bits, my HR didn’t get much above 150 until I was sprinting from the little ankle-biter dogs on the final hill back up to FARTquarters.
I’m ready for the long sleeve-and jacket season (I actually already wore long sleeves last week) but to have this one last glorious day was a special treat, and I accomplished a long-held goal.
I hope everyone is doing well, and that you’re still training… don’t let all of your effort and hard work slip! Keep it up, and we’ll get an early start on next year’s racing!
Can’t wait to share my new ride with all of you, and I wish you all love, good health and good training!