A Beautiful Day to Ride at Paris Mountain

I have been carrying my bike around on the rack for too long, without riding it at all. Yesterday, I finally was able to get away from work for lunch. (I typically do a number of work related lunches throughout the week) This weekend I am riding in a race at Dupont, hosted by SORBA, which will consist of 45-50miles of mountain bike trails. I have done a race there in the past, but it was (only) 35 miles. This will be a real challenge.

Yesterday's Paris mountain ride goal was to see if I could sustain a fast pace, without taking any water breaks after long climbs. Saturday's ride will be considerably long, but the only way I will be able to get a good time is if I only take breaks at the food stations.

I parked in the first parking space on the right when you enter the park, because it is about 3 feet away from a restroom where I could get changed quickly and get out on the trail. I aired up my tires (about 30 psi) particularly because my rear tire has a slow leak.

I looked at my cell phone. The time was 12:30

I took off over the walking bridge on the Lake Placid trail, which is supposed to be for hikers only, so I am careful not to tick anyone off by riding too close or coming by too fast. I followed it around to where it connects to the Mountain Creek trail, and continued on past the amphitheatre. Just after the log crossing (which I only go over on the return trip) I caught up with a hiker. I read a blog recently about why hikers hate bikers, and one of the reasons is because we "sneak up" on them and scare them. I made myself known way in advance, then let her know which side I was passing her on, and she seemed to appreciate the gesture.

I continued up Mountain creek, and turned left when it connected to the Sulfur Springs trail. I crossed the road to the sulfur springs parking lot, then headed up the sulfur springs trail toward mountain lake. There is an old gazebo, where I turned right and took a short, unofficial trail through the woods, which connected back to sulfur springs trail/access road, where I turned right. I do this so that I won't have to carry the bike up the steps by mountain lake.

This access road took me back to the main road, just between the start of the hincapie challenge, and the archery range parking lot. I turned left and suffered through the climb up the road, which for me is the hardest part of this entire ride. It just seems to go on forever.

At the top parking lot, I did one circle to catch my breath, then continued on up fire-tower trail. (Have you noticed that I have said "up" when describing every turn so far?) Fire-tower is a trail that deceives easily, because it appears fairly flat, but is not, and will wear you out. Near the end of this trail, I reached the connection point for the newest trail at Paris Mountain, Kanuga. I turned right, jumped on this trail connector, then headed down (finally) the left fork of the Kanuga trail. This is one of the most fun downhill sections of trail anywhere. I have to be careful here because I can really get going much faster than is safe for me to be riding.

I reached the north lake loop trail and turned left. It was a beautiful day to see the lake, and the trail wraps around and rides along the dam on the far side. What a nice spot! But today I was just trying to keep my speed up, because now I would have to climb back to the top. I took a left on pipsisewa and headed back up the mountain. This climb is miserable, but when you know the trail, you learn when to kill yourself, and when to take it easy. This trail connects to Brissey Ridge, which I climbed all the way back to the parking lot. I was able to stay in the middle ring up front the whole way, which was a good sign that my endurance was holding on strong. The climb from the north lake back up to the parking lot is miserable, but once you get to the top, it is all downhill... almost.

At the parking lot, I crossed over to the Sulfur Springs trail again, which has a short hard climb away from the parking lot before a hairy decent down the mountain. This trail is very dangerous, because it is rocky, rooty, steep, and beginning to wash out badly. Yesterday, there were some trees across the path that made the trail even more treacherous. I did get off and step over one tree that I would like to go back and ride over another day, but earlier I had committed myself to not do any jumps, logs, or wall rides that I could mess up my clock time by damaging my bike, or scraping myself up. Yesterday, the clock was king. I also realized that my brakes were adjusted too tightly. Before the race Saturday I will have to adjust them. I liked that my stopping power was faster, but the extra tension created too much muscle fatigue in my hands.

Sulfur springs brought me back to mountain creek trail, where it connects at the archery range parking lot. I took a left, and continued downhill, on the homestretch now. Just before reaching the amphitheater, I did take the log crossing, because I just love the way it is built, and headed back toward the xterra. instead of turning left toward the lake placid trail, I went on straight, and hit the connector trail that comes out at the park center. I went across the porch, and off the other end. This gave me some elevation to get speed back across the flat section by the lake.

All that was left was to cross the long wooden bridge, and shoot up the hill on the other side to the parking lot. I quickly dismounted and checked my cell phone for the time.

It was 1:43.

1 hour and 13 minutes. A personal best by 1 minute.


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