Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Backwoods and Byways: Exploring (Like) Daniel Boone

Wrote this last week but for reasons forgotten I didn't put it out.  I had a late meeting last Tuesday so I was able to run out that morning for a couple hours of riding near home.  So here, for your blogged pleasure is a bonus post:

I was moving slow in the morning.  My eyes were still inflamed so I was going to have to wear my glasses, and it was a balmy 45F in the out of doors.  Otherwise I had my stuff together.  The bike was ready.  I just needed to get dressed and get going.
The loop I'd planned was eighteen miles--almost nineteen--and is one of the cruxes for putting together the ninety plus mile loop of the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway.  The DBBB is an "off-road" scenic loop through Powell, Menifee, Wolfe, Lee, and Estill Counties that is comprised of public roadways and the majority of which are driveable in normal passenger four wheel drives.  That means you don't have to have a customized Jeep or some other rock crawler or mud-hog to do the route.  While I normally wouldn't seek out such routes the recent dry weather has me thinking the DBBB might be in fine shape for mountain biking, so I was conditioning and scouting for an attempt in the near future.  
After two muddy stints at CVP I had to replace the bottom bracket of The One.  Well, two muddy stints at CVP and a whole lot of sand and mud grinding across the Plateau over the past few years.  It was time for a new BB to be sure.
What better way to break it in than a baptism by mud?  I drove up to Spaas Creek and parked at the Powell/Menifee line.  It was cool but not cold and I was comfortable heading down the gravel road with my long sleeve jersey over a poly pro tee shirt, bib bike shorts and knee warmers, and my ankle cut wool socks.  I also had my wool cycling cap on under my helmet.  I didn't expect to overheat on my morning ride.  Sometimes expectations are way off.  I sweat all the time.  My engine just runs hot.

Spaas Creek was in better shape than it has been for awhile.  There was still quite a bit of mud, but the standing water stood low and the creek crossings were low enough my feet didn't get wet.  The worst part of it was all the sand that accumulated in my drivetrain.  I started the ride spic and span clean, but less than a mile in I could hear grinding.  I began to curse those who went before and kept the road a muddy soup.  Ages ago Spaas Creek was a relatively flowy mountain bike ride with hard packed dirt and sand and a few wet crossings.  

Anyway, as elevation was gained my heart rate climbed.  My head put off so much heat my glasses stayed fogged which made riding through the rocky and moderately technical terrain a frustrating chore.  I had to stop repeatedly to wipe my lenses.  I finally stopped and stripped off all the cold weather gear and stowed it in my pack.  The fun level had tanked; though I think with clear vision the ride would have been muy enjoyable.
When I gained the ridge I was surprised to find a trail sign.  I wasn't so surprised to see it had been broken off at the ground and propped up against a tree.  Some people's kids, man.

I continued out the gravel road to pavement at Fagan.  The DBBB follows KY 713 for a short distance and from Spaas Creek Road it's a bomb run descent to the turn off on Pumpkin Hollow Road.  I noticed the DBBB sign the other day when the kids and I were coming back from Hatton Ridge.  That sign was the key to my ride.
Despite the road sign and the trail markers I was a bit hesitant to turn on Pumpkin Hollow.  It looked like a driveway right to someone's front door.  But as soon as I had passed the house I was sure I was on the right path.  It was a long techy slog to the watershed divide and the Powell County line, but with contact lenses and a little more cardiovascular conditioning I believe I could make it clean.

At the top I knew the rest of the ride was cake.  I stopped to wipe off the fog one last time and then dropped into the Cane Creek drainage.  It was a nice long descent on a picturesque dirt road.  When I exited the woods onto the pavement I knuckled up a few gears and got the pedals cranking.  I still had about ten miles to go at that point and had been riding for over an hour.
The ride back to the Jeep on Spaas Creek was uneventful except for the one dog.  I Halt!ed his tail and kept cranking.  I returned to my starting point a few minutes shy of two hours.  With stops it was probably a two and a half hour ride.  I could easily turn it into an hour and a half jaunt if I could tone down my flab.

Still not treating my bottom bracket right
Putting all the DBBB pieces together is going to be a challenge.  I think my first attempt should be an overnight bikepacking trip with a single day effort to follow.  I know the route now.  Logistics are no problem.  Finding the depth in my bones to tackle the route will be.


My eyes are finally cleared up.  Doctor prescribed drops with an antibiotic and steroid and my ocular state is much improved.  I pick up new contact lenses this afternoon.  I'm hoping to be able to get back to being as active as I want to be henceforth. 

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