Eddie and I went on a recon mission of a certain area yesterday, to scout out parts for a potential route for a potential event in the making. But, we didn't have any maps on us, nor did we have any lights. We did have a bunch of gu's, a space blanket, a lighter, and iodine tabs though. We started our ride around 1:30pm, and it's starting to get dark around 7pm in the woods now, not to mention cold. The plan was to get about 4 hours in and to ride some new stuff. We had one compass but that's it, and we didn't break it out until we were already lost. Without a map, it didn't do us a ton of good.
About 40 minutes into the ride we turned off the main gravel road in hopes of discovering some sweet singletrack or even B-roads. Well, we found it alright--though some of it was really overgrown with briars waiting to shred your skin, or trees fallen over the trail (too big to hop over), and some of it was so steep that not only did I not want to ride (or walk) up it, I didn't want to ride (or walk) down it!! At one point in the ride, some nice open trail points downhill, for a ways, and Eddie says to me, "If we go down this, it's going to be a real committment". Since we had only been out 1.5 hours I said, ok, let's go for it (though I knew I didn't want to have to backtrack this same route). I was planning on about a 4 hour ride since the doggies were waiting for us in the car.
Somewhere between that point and another hour or two later, after several dead ends, we found ourselves in the woods at an intersection of what used to be two overgrown road beds...one appeared to be marked with pink ribbon as if it was going to be a real trail some day. I had been navigating us back North, by keeping the sun to the west...but apparently Eddie had a different idea. After going in circles all over this one mountain I started getting nervous and a little frustrated. Eddie plops down and starts creating a map made of sticks on the ground to show me where he thought we were. Of course, I didn't have time to look at stick maps..I reiterated how stupid it was of us to go out into the middle of nowhere without a map or even a light. We decided that it would be best to follow the pink ribbon trail in the same direction until it hit something...anything...before the sun started to go down.
Eventually we found our way to a main road and I was completely turned around. Apparently we had to go SOUTH, not NORTH as I had been thinking all this time. (This is why I should never be the navigator! Though I am better with a map, than without, I promise). Thank goodness Eddie's method of freestyle navigation still got us back where we needed to be. At that point, I would take several miles of climbing on a gravel road over being stuck in the woods anyday. Eddie was using a new GPS system and reported to me that by climbing this gravel road we had actually raised our average speed for the day! That's how much bike-whacking we did through the woods. We arrived at our car safe and sound almost 5 hours after we departed. It was a happy reunion with the dogs, and then we returned to Josh's house to get cleaned up and got a bite to eat. As we drank a beer at the Crimson Moon Cafe, we laughed about the days events, and how I wasn't a big fan of Eddie's way of freestyle navigating. Good times.
It really was a great weekend--relaxing, great riding, and the best company. Thanks to Eddie's coach Josh for letting us stay up there again. Now we both REALLY want to buy a place in the mountains. We're going to figure out how to make it happen next year.