Last summer I did a gravel ride with Trisha, DJ, and Derik. In fact, it was my first ride in Capitol Forest on Mama Cass. Today, my plan was to recreate that ride, but without going up to the top of Rock Candy Mountain. I looked at the PDF map I have of Capitol Forest, and wrote down the numbers of the roads I thought we needed to go on.
We met at McLane Elementary. It was me, Jean, Jan, Chris, and Trisha. I was really happy to see Trisha because she had gotten hit by a car a short while ago, and it was good to see in person that she was okay. Also, since she had been on the ride in August, it was good to have her knowledge too.
It was foggy, but the temperature was already 50 degrees. Just after portaging our bikes over the boulders, I took the sleeves off my jacket. We did the long climb through the fog on B 8400. At one point, Jean asked if we were at the summit. Uh...no. We just couldn't see the road continuing up (after a short short downhill).
In my mind, and on the paper, we needed to turn left onto B 8000. Trisha also remembered going that way. As we were climbing up B 8000, Mama Cass started to feel really bouncy. Uh oh, flat rear tire. At a break in the climbing, we stopped so I could fix it. I was a little nervous because the last time I had a flat on MC, it was very difficult to get the wheel back on with the horizontal dropouts. It is also hard to get the bead of the tire away from the rim. Trisha and I both wrenched on it until the bead came out. Then it was easy to get the rest of the bead off. Running my fingers along the inside of the tire, I found the culprit--a small piece of metal, probably from a car tire. I'm sure I picked it up on the road, and it took that long to work it's way through the tire to puncture the tube. Anyway, new tube in and inflated, it was time to put the wheel back on. Jean and Trisha held the bike while I slid the wheel back into the dropouts. I figured out that I needed to simply pull the chain back, put it on the smallest cog, then slide the wheel into the dropouts. Piece a cake! It's amazing how, when you figure out how to do something, it's really easy!
We continued on B 8000. We came down a very rocky, recently graded section, and popped out into the sun! Boy did that sun feel good! We continued riding. We came to B 8900. I looked at my paper. Nope, we didn't want that one. I looked at my Garmin. B 8900 was a dead end. We continued on B 8000. Oops, B 8000 also came to a dead end! What? Where was the turn for the B Line (the next road on my paper list)? Did we not see it? With nothing to do but go back until we could find the B Line, we pedaled back up that which we had come down. As I was slogging back up the rocky hill, I thought to put the intersection of Noschka and Sherman Valley Rds in the Garmin and see if it would give us a route. Sure enough, it did. We continued backtracking for a little while longer until the Garmin said to make a left onto B 8500. That was another climb, of course. But, we came out to some incredible views. I thought I remembered this section, but, then again, I wasn't sure. As we came to another fork in the road, it appeared we should stay left, because the alternative was, essentially, a trail. After much discussion, map looking, and Garmin checking, we decided we did need to go on the trail. I remembered doing a trail like this before, but I had no idea if it was the same trail.
We pushed our bikes up the trail. It was too steep and rocky to ride. We met some hikers who were coming down. We asked them if there was a road up ahead. They said there was, but first we would come to a big mud puddle. We came to the puddle. It was, indeed, quite big. Trisha rode through a part to the right. I walked, pushing MC through the puddle while I walked on the edge to the left. As Jean came to it, I said to go to the left wheeling the bike through the puddle, meaning, to walk the bike. Instead, she stayed on the bike using her left foot on the edge to scooter through. That was going well, until the puddle got quite deep...about halfway-up-the-crank deep. Jean's right foot was now submerged in the puddle. We all had a good laugh. Good thing it was a warm day! Jan and Chris did the walk alongside method.
One more push up to the top, and we were able to ride the remainder of the trail. We came out to the road that, if we went left, would take us up to the peak of Rock Candy Mountain. By this time, Trisha and I were certain we were on the same route we had done in the summer.
Soon, we reached C 4000. Now we were back on the paper list. As we came to a big 4-way intersection, I knew exactly where we were. I knew we needed to go left on C 8000, but the Garmin was saying to continue straight. I followed C 8000 on the Garmin, and saw that the Garmin route eventually came back to it, but further down. I also knew continuing straight meant another very steep climb (Geraldine and I had discovered this the first time we went this way). We turned left. The Garmin eventually recalculated.
C 8000 was the super long downhill. Last time, it had been recently regravelled, and was a bit of a wheel sucker. This time, the surface was perfect and I was able to go a lot faster. At one point I glanced at my speedometer. I was going 25 mph! Woo Hoo! Trisha, Chris, and I decided that was the most fun of the day! Jean and Jan experienced tired hands from braking. I know exactly how that feels, because I had the same experience the first time I came down, riding Stella!
The next obstacle ahead was the washed out road part. This was the part where DJ carried my bike across the log while I just had to walk across. We had determined we would use teamwork to negotiate the log with our bikes. As we came down, we crossed one bridge, and then we went across another bridge! Yay! They had fixed the washout!
From there it was just a bit more until the pavement of Noschka Rd. We continued to Sherman Valley, Waddell, and Delphi. I left my intrepid pals at Delphi and 62nd, and headed home.
When I compared the route from today with the route from last summer, except for our going to the end of B 8000, and not going up to the top of Rock Candy Mtn, it was the same. So, although my paper list had a different part, what I thought in my head was the way I wanted to go. What should we have done to follow the paper? We should have not turned left onto B 8000, and instead continued almost to the Rock Candy Parking area to pick up the B Line. Then we would have gone to B 5000, which would have taken us to C 4000. Oh well, maybe we can try that way next time.