I just got back from my first ride of the year and all I can say is “Ouch.” About 20 yards into the ride my legs were berating me for being a heretofore lazy idiot who now expects them to actually do something besides walk to the fridge. I made one circuit around the park, plus a little extra for a pathetic total of 3.79 miles. Sad, sad, sad. Now I have to try to stay motivated to actually hit the trail at least a few more times this week so I won’t keep starting over…

And I need new batteries for my GPS unit, which died 6 minutes into the ride. Not that I really need it to get around, but the geek in me likes recording my rides via satellite.

I Found the Old Mill Wheel

Tonight while riding at Tribble Mill Park, I found the remnants of the old mill wheel. I had been within about 20 feet of it before and never noticed it, but a fellow last week told me where to look. I looked tonight and sure enough, there it was. I’m going to go back with the camera tomorrow and take some pictures which I’ll post here.

It was a strange thing standing there on the stone wall next to the collapsed steel(?) wheel. I was struck with a sense of profound sadness; which was odd since I didn’t know anything about the history of the mill. I have been getting this feeling a lot lately as I look around at all of the construction work going on in this area. Old houses are being torn down or moved in droves in order to build yet another Walgreens or a new strip mall. Houses that have been there for decades or longer; each with histories and lives, happiness and sorrow. Enormous trees that were there before the houses. I’m all for progress and such, but there’s some point where you just feel like saying “Do we really need another drug store?” I don’t know where that point is, but lately I keep sensing that we’ve passed it.

The sadness I felt was in knowing that this mill wheel was once part of a thriving mill. Yet here it was collapsed and broken in the woods. The wall that once diverted the water from the river lay in pieces. I didn’t know any of its history, but all that was left were ruins. I did a quick Google and found this story about the nearby town of Dacula. In it I found this

In the 1920s, he [Newton Giles Pharr] bought Tribble Mill, a water-powered mill where farmers had their corn ground with a mill rock imported from Germany. Situated near the rapids of the Alcovy River toward Walton County, the mill also offered a cool summer outing — people would travel out from town and wade, swim and picnic near the water.

which confirmed some of my thoughts. I don’t know when the mill was destroyed or how. The wheel is now broken and rusted, but it looks like it was once around 12 – 15 feet in diameter. I can imagine it tirelessly turning the shaft which turned the cogs which ultimately turned the meal-grinding stone, hour after hour. I can just imagine folks in their bathing costumes sitting on the sheets of granite by the river having a lunch of chicken and fresh fruit, with the mill behind them grinding out corn meal. I could almost feel the spirits of those who used to frolic there. It was a very sad moment; I don’t know that I can explain it any better than that.

Still More Trails

I spent nearly two hours at Tribble Mill Park tonight exploring new trails. I had no idea how long I was out there, but it was a blast. These trails are becoming something of a Siren song: each time I’d think “OK. I’m going to head back now,” I’d see another trail and hear it beckoning to me. “Come on! This way is much nicer than that way. Try it, you’ll like it…” in a very ethereal voice. So I went. I was tearing down trails that were no more than 5 or 6 inches across. Root, rocks, gullies, slippery rocks with running water. I had to stop at one point as I came over a rise because the other side was waaaaaaay too steep for me to navigate down and remain in one piece. I finally had to look down this one trail and say “NO! Foul Temptress! I rebuke you!” when I realized how dark it was getting…

But the temptress that was that last trail would get the last laugh. When I made it back to the parking lot I decided to take one more trip around the paved trail. I was a little over a mile into it when I got stung by a BEE right under my right eye!! Holy crap, that hurt! I felt the impact, then the stinger enter. I slapped at it, knocking my sunglasses off along with the little bastard before he got too much venom into my face. I’m still swollen and it hurts mightily, but it could have been much worse.

After a few minutes of lightly touching my cheek (Ow! That hurts!) and cursing some more, I headed out to finish my last lap (another mile and a half or so). I got back to the car, packed up and went home.

With the exception of the bee sting, it was a lovely evening.

I’m Digging the Off-Road Thing

I have recently started doing some off-road riding out at Tribble Mill park, as I’ve mentioned before here and here. I kicked it up a notch this morning when I drove out to the Yellow River Regional Park which is about 10 miles from my house. They have two main trails here, the River trail and the Creek trail. I rode the River trail and it was glorious! I encountered a few other riders, but for the better part of an hour it was just me, all alone in the woods. The sounds and smells of an unspoiled forest are a wonderful thing. All I could hear was the “singing” of Cicadas (or something similar), the sounds of my wheels on the trail and my own breathing. There was quite a bit of mud and sand (not fun) in some places but generally good trails, quite a bit of them paralleled the Yellow River, which provided its own sounds to my journey.

I was actually in the woods for about 1.5 hours, actually peddling for an hour. Near the end of my ride I came upon three other riders and we chatted for 10 minutes or so about equipment and such. Nice guys, they were. I tried another Clif Bar, but just like the last one I tried, it just sort of tasted like bird seed held together with some sort of paste. At this point I much prefer PowerBars.

Anyway, I had a lovely ride, came home thoroughly filthy and smelly, but happy and content. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, which is a bummer. If it were not for the rain, I’d be out on that trail again.

The Old Mill Site

I asked a fellow cyclist today at Tribble Mill if he knew where the trail was that would take you to the old mill site. He did and told me where to look. I had driven in my car to this particular parking lot before, but I hadn’t noticed the wooden posts about 8 feet back into the woods. These were the markers indicating the trail head. I headed down it, very down, a long way. I hit a hole and augered the front tire in, came off the seat and landed on the top tube. Ouch! And the left pedal came around and ripped down the back of my leg. Lots of choice words were uttered, but being alone in the woods, and no one was there to hear them…

Anyway, I continued down the trail and finally hit large sheets of granite. It looked like being at Stone Mountain. I could hear a fast moving stream nearby and headed for it. The stream was about 20 feet across and moving at a pretty good clip across the rocks, making lots of noise. It was a lovely sound, and a lovely sight. I didn’t even attempt to cross because I could tell that the rocks were very slippery and I would slip if I even tried to ride across. As for the mill, I don’t know what was supposed to still be there. I could see a man-made wall about 30 feet upstream from where I was standing, but no good way to get there. So I hung out by the stream for a few minutes then headed back out. That hill was now an ascent instead of a descent and was quite hard. I had to walk a little of it, but I ultimately made it out and headed for home. Total ride: 9.32 miles.

I Beat The Hill!

The hill at Tribble Mill Park that I mentioned here suffered a crushing defeat today as I surmounted its summit. It sounds impressive, but it really isn’t. Most riders probably wouldn’t flinch at this hill, but it whooped me the first time I tried it. Today I made it over the top with only a brief stop half way up. After that I picked up the multi-use track at the bridges and finished a counter-clockwise circuit. After resting for a few minutes and eating 1/3 of a chocolate PowerBar I headed out again to do a clockwise circuit.

After completing that circuit, I rested again and decided to go just one more time and headed out again clockwise. This time as I approached the bridges in the woods, my right calf was starting to cramp, so I parked on the first bridge and got off to stretch. While standing there I was looking at the trails below me next to a little stream and decided to go off-road and check them out. So I backtracked about 150 feet to a little wooden bridge that I figured was the entrance to these trails. I was met with a fork and headed to the left, which was the direction of the stream. I was immediately faced with an enormous mud pit with no obvious way around. I could tell by the tire tracks through it that it presented no problem for a lot of folks, but this being my first off-road experience, I decided not to tackle mud just yet. So I turned around and took the right fork. This was lovely! I was back there for about a mile, pedaling almost the entire way. No one else was around; just me, the birds, and a lizard. O yeah, and one squirrel.

I finally came out back to the road and stopped for about five minutes to finish off the PowerBar and rest. I then picked up the multi-use again and completed the circuit for a total of nine miles. I’m tired, but it was extremely fun. I’m going to have to check out some of the other trails out there.

Ullrich Wins Stage 12

In an amazing ride, Jan Ullrich of Germany, riding for Team Bianchi, rode the 47 kilometers in 58′ 32″! Incredible. Lance came in at 01′ 36″, almost two minutes behind. Armstrong keeps the Yellow, but today’s victory brings Ullrich to within 34 seconds of catching up.

I Overdid It

I went riding again last night with grand plans to ride 12 miles, topping the 10.6 I did Monday night. Well, about 30 yards into my ride my thighs just above my knees started hurting mightily. I pressed on, thinking that I had overdone it, and I would just complete the one circuit and go home. But by the time I finished the circuit, I was feeling a little better. So I stopped, had some water and a chocolate PowerBar and decided, stupidly, to set out again. I was in pain again about a mile into this circuit and ended up walking up one particular hill. I did ultimately finish riding the circuit at a decent pace, but I was hurting. I’m still hurting today. Ibuprofen is a good thing.

So, for the time being, 5 days in a row is too much for me. My plan is to ride Friday through Monday, then off on Tuesday, ride on Wednesday, then off on Thursday (for Weight Watchers). Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Made It: Ten Miles!

I made my fourth trip in as many days to Tribble Mill tonight, planning on doing two circuits of the track, which would bring me to about 5.5 miles. After the second circuit I stopped for a delicious Vanilla Crisp PowerBar and to finish off my 70 oz. of water. While stopped I met another rider and we started chatting and then, re-energized, I decided to set off again. We set off together, chatting while riding, easier than the previous two circuits. After making it around again, I was at 8.42 miles and I could just taste that 10 mile mark. I decided to press on to get to 10, so I started making another circuit, then turned around after about .75 mile. When I made it back to the parking lot I made another partial circuit, riding much easier now, to cool off. Total distance: 10.6 miles. Total time: 62 minutes. Not a great time, but it’s good for me.

I had set a goal last Friday to be able to ride 10 miles at a go within one week; looks like I achieved that goal a few days early!

Hamilton Will Ride!

Holy broken collarbones, Batman! According to Lance, Tyler Hamilton, who broke his collarbone in 2 places during that terrible pile-up in Stage 1 yesterday, will ride today in Stage 2, and will ride as long as he is able. What an amazing desire to compete! Here’s a bit more on this over at Bicycling.com. This story also mentions that Jimmy Caspar, of the FDJeux.com team, will be riding with a neck brace! That’s dedication to the craft, I must say.