Thursday, November 19, 2009

the misty mountain of despair

Four days of near perfect weather, and when I finnally have time to do a long ride, I'm greeted with this:

(If you're from W. PA, you may have mistaken this for a picture of the sky, but its actually the first result for 'grey' in google images. If you hail from some sunnier part of the world, this is what Western PA generally looks like from October to August)

I checked the weather, and rain was predicted all day. After considering my situation while I drank some cereal and ate my coffee, I decided to ride anyway.

It was about 45 degrees and grey when I left Greensburg, so as expected, the mountain top was grayer, five degrees colder, and shrouded in fog. I pulled on all the wool I had at my disposal, and headed off into the mist.

I took to loop trail, and tried to take it easy through the giant puddles in an effort to stay semi dry. My tactic work for seven minutes, at which point it started to drizzle. Abruptly, the drizzle turned into a down pour, and I was thoroughly soaked. I no longer bothered to avoid the puddles.

I rode the length of the mountain across Black Bear Tr. and down Hobble Bush. After climbing up Fish Run, I rolled onto the fire road and headed for the turn pike. The rain had slowed, and at that point I thought I had a chance of making it to Hidden Valley.

From Drop Box
I made it to the turnpike cut, and rolled down to the bridge that crosses the road. It was noticeably colder on top of that ridge.

On the other side of the bridge, I remounted my cycle and started climbing up the treeless snowmobile trail. I thought to myself, "Well at least it isn't raining while I'm out in the open." Literally 30 seconds later, it started to pour again. The wind picked up, and it felt like the temperature dropped ten degrees. The Laural Mountain side of the turnpike was cold, but the Hidden Valley side was absolutely brutal. I plugged along for fifteen more minutes, but when the rain showed no sign of stopping, and my drenched feet ceased to have much feeling, I decided to turn back.

I really just couldn't stomach riding another 25 miles of this:

From Drop Box
(Those are not my footprints. Apparently there was some other idiot trudging about in the wilderness.)

I recrossed the turnpike, and realized that I had at least another hour of riding before I could sit inside the nice warm Grumbler.

From Drop Box
Why must it keep raining?! Bwaaa

I pedaled back to the single track just as fast as I could, thinking that somehow a small trail would be warmer than a wide road. In retrospect, I have no idea what made me think that. When I finally got back onto Fish Run I hastily changed into some dry socks and pulled on some warm gloves. In about five minutes my dry socks were as wet as my wet socks.

I decided to ride back to the car on single track, thinking that pounding over a few miles of rock gardens would revive the feeling in my feet. Again, I have no idea where that logic came from. I rode part of Black Bear again, but when I realized that the pools of water on the trail were cooling my feet exponentially more than the rocks were warming them, I rolled back onto the fire road.

I turned off onto Summit Trail, and took it back to the parking lot, where I was greeted by three chickens:

From Drop Box

Overall, it was a freezing, wet, and miserable 3 hour ride. But that doesn't mean that I didn't love every second of it.

Of course, when I returned to Greensburg, it was sunny:

From Drop Box
Screw you November.

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