Sunday, July 02, 2006

Rained out at Seven Oaks

Well, I did that Seven Oaks ride I was talking about, but it didn't turn out the way I'd planned. I rode out Saturday at about 4pm and got there with plenty of time to spare. The wind was pretty strong out of the west so I had to gear down on the gravel. I was only chased by one dog so I'd consider that a success.

Once I got there I set up my hammock to hold my campsite and went out on the trail. There were a surprising number of campers there (probably because of the holiday and free camping), but none of them looked like cyclists. I had really hoped to have the place to myself, but I should have known better. The trail was in good shape, dry and packed, and I was able to clean some sections that I hadn't been able to ride before. Four dabs and three dismounts for the first lap. I'm slowly becoming a better technical rider. After the first lap I laid down in my hammock and rested for a while. After about half an hour of rest I went out for a second lap. I did better as far as dabs go, I don't think I had any, but I dismounted four times and one of those was over the handlebars. I still can't get the hang of those downhill switchbacks.

After that I made some mac & cheese, tried a yogurt granola bar (pretty good, thanks Amy) and laid down for some more rest. It was tough to relax the way I'd wanted to with the other campers though. They had some bad music blaring, kids crying, 4x4 pickups revving, and other general noisiness. A little before dark the races started up at the Boone raceway to add to the general hubbub. Did I mention that you can hear Hwy 30 and the railroad tracks well too? I think I should have opted to ride into one of the harder to access campsites down in the woods. It would have been a lot quieter, but I would have had more insect problems.

Just after dark I started to hear thunder, I hoped it would pass me by, but it just kept getting closer. I got up and rigged my tarp over top of the hammock and hoped for the best. Shortly thereafter it started to rain. I hoped it would be one of those quick rainshowers, but I wasn't in luck. The storm lasted all night. At first I stayed pretty dry, but then I started to get splashed and the longer it lasted and the harder it rained the wetter I got. I started to get cold and though I knew I wasn't in any life threatening danger I knew I wouldn't get much sleep if I didn't warm up. I hadn't brought a sleeping bag since I hadn't counted on getting cold, but I had brought my emergency blanket. You know, one of those Mylar sheets. I've used them before and they aren't too bad, but they don't breathe at all. So I had to choose, damp and cold, or soaked and warm. I chose soaked and warm.

I could feel water trickling down my body and insects crawling all over me, but I was too tired and uncomfortable to do anything about it. At least the thunder and rain cut down on the disruptive noise. I put up with it until morning when I decided I'd had enough and got up to make some breakfast. I've had some pretty miserable nights out and this wasn't the worst, but it definitely ranks as "miserable." I pulled quite a few bugs out of my gear, including two grasshoppers and a spider out of my helmet. After making some more mac & cheese I decided to pack it in.

I had planned to stick around for the IORCA State Championships today, but I thought that with the rain and so on the race would be cancelled and I didn't want to spend $30 to ride (if you can call it riding) on a muddy course. I rode home through Boone on the pavement in the rain and had to wait for a long train at Jordan, but I got home pretty quick anyway. I was home by 8:40. I hung up my wet things, showered, and took a nap to make up for the restless night.

So yeah, I guess I had a good time. Hopefully the trail will dry out by Tuesday for Cory and I and anyone else who'll be joining us (Paul? Eric? Nick?). I'll have to rethink my packing list for ultralight camping though. I don't really care to be that miserable on a longer trip.

Update: it seems that the championships were not cancelled. Oh well. I'm a slow XC rider anyway. I'm trying to watch the Tour on OLN, but our satellite reception is horrendous. Sometimes I can tell they're on bikes but most of the time it's colored squares and "Geo...capie...Pelo...eak awa..." and so on.


Paddy Humenny said...

sounds like you need a bivy sack fella...'bet the nap was awsome once you were home...see ya in Wi

Matt Maxwell said...

Yeah, I've got a bivy sack for winter stuff. I haven't tried it for summer but it's wonderful in the cold. That would have been a good idea.

Paul said...


I am out for 7 Oaks, but would gladly do a gravel grinder. I am not up for mud at 7 Oaks.
Give me a call if you want. 233-3058

Matt Maxwell said...

I understand about the mud. Three days of rain and I don't want a repeat of TI. Maybe a gravel ride would be best. I'll see what's going on with everyone else. I'll call you when I get back from work tomorrow.