The valley was darkening. Somewhere the sun was still in the sky, but the blanket of heavy Mordor-esque clouds quickened the dusk. I leaned over the handlebars and drove the bike forward. I rolled through another series of small puddles that had created an accidental flow trail in the middle of Spaas Creek Road.
When the road crested the creek bank I dropped back off the saddle slightly in case I was to hit a big rock under the water. Gravity pulled me over the edge, water exploded in twin cascading wings, no rocks were hit, and I carried momentum up the other bank, into a high-sided turn like a berm, and rocketed on down the valley. I yanked the front wheel to the side to skirt a large, loose cobble and then hammered on my Egg Beaters.
The whole dance was a race against darkness. As light evaporated from the sky the rocks under my wheels faded into invisibility and more obstacles disappeared into shadow threatening to discomfit me from my steed. I had to make it back to the car while I still had light.
The climb up Spaas Creek had been slower than my breakneck descent but still steady and firm. I reached the top of the gnarly climb in record (for me) time: 28:57 to cover three miles. That was still eleven minutes slower than Brian Schworm from Morehead on his recent KOM raid. I was happy with my effort, but I simply turned around at the top and let the bike roll back toward the car. There was no time to spare as the light gray clouds darkened. Dallying only risked a broken collarbone. Or worse.
Mandy knew I had headed for Spaas Creek with the singlespeed. Well, she knew I'd headed for Spaas Creek. I chose the lone geared bike to hopefully minimize the adverse effects of a ride up Spaas Creek in full slop conditions. The creek was up. Mud and water holes were topped off from recent rains. The temperature was a nice and hypothermia inducing 60F. As long as I stayed upright and kept my blood valve chamber humming there was no danger of cold related injury. Race the light; dodge the wrack and ruin.
I gotta admit, I've come to thoroughly enjoy playing in the mud on Spaas Creek. For such a long time I was pretty uptight over the deplorable conditions there. I've embraced it. "You can ride a mountain bike, right?" has become my mantra.
The farther down the valley I raced the faster I went. The thought entered my mind that I might be exceeding that speed where my capabilities ended. When velocity outpaces skill disaster can strike. Instead of giving in to the immature impulses I reined the Redline in. Instead of terminal velocity I maintained a respectable ramming speed.
I made it back to the Jeep while the dregs of daylight still swirled in the sky. I'd kept my promise to my wife and to myself: I was out of the woods before dark and headed home. The satisfied smile and coating of sandy mud was bonus.
The proverbial cat is out of the bag. We’re in the early planning stages of a big mountain bike race. Here. In the Red River Gorge area. And when I say early in the planning stages I mean pretty far along actually. I’ve been dreaming and scheming of this since before we moved back to Kentucky. When the endurance bug bit me I immediately translated that idea to my home turf. The problem was I spent years trying to come up with a route with minimal paved roads. Enter the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway.
Yes, I know, the DBBB is about 50% paved roads. Those are narrow country roads through rural and uninhabited lands. The longest stretch of the course that is paved passes through the Gorge proper along the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway. I think that offsets the fact that there is asphalt on the racing surface.
When the epiphany hit me all of the other ideas I’d had came crashing hard into my rear bumper. The race had basically been planned out except for having a viable route. While I’m still tweaking things I think I have a solid route with some contingencies in case of closures and I have—so far—a huge positive response to the Facebook page for the race that I had not intended to promote just yet. I think this is going to be huge.
Spaas Creek is part of the DBBB. The descent would be race direction. I think it’s going to be a great race.
Is this a "Spaas?"