Yesterday (Wednesday) Kris and I met Robb a few minutes from the house to do some riding. Kris did some great road riding in Pisgah and Robb and I started out to do a 4.5 hr loop including Turkey Pen and Squirrel Gap, trail conditions allowing. Things started out great. It was warm out, but there was a little coverage from the sun in the woods.
There were some tricky steps I rode up (pat on the back) where I practiced picking up the front wheel. My arms are pretty sore today. I tackled some roots and some rocks and sent 'em packing. Yeah, I'm pretty slick. Then I took a misstep and wound up falling off the steep side of the trail. And then a little while later I did it again. After that you could say I was more cautious and conservative.
Fitness-wise I was feeling ok, though. After one big climb, it was more like WI, with shorter climbs and descents. There was some cool stuff out there.
After a few miles, maybe 8 or so, we started running into some downed trees. Robb had a small saw along, so we did a little trail work. Robb did some sawing, and I did a some clearing and photographing.
Robb figured it was more of the same, downed trees and slow going, so we turned around. That's when the trouble hit. One of the trees that had been pushed to the side was still clinging to the side of the trail and as I brushed past it made a play for the cassette.
Let me tell you, things were f**ked. With the derailleur in pieces and the hanger bent, Robb removed the whole thing and took a few links out to make a singlespeed.
Then the trick was getting the chain not to fall down the cassette. We tried jamming some sticks in the cassette, but that only worked for a little while. Eventually they would break off and I'd have to get off and put the chain back on.
The second solution was to zip tie and tape (ran out of zip ties) a stick to the inside of the seat and chain stays as a kind of chain watcher. That worked much better, with fewer stops.
All told, it wasn't so bad. It was nice out, we had ample food and water, and the people half of the expedition made it back relatively unscathed. I was happy to be back, though. I wasn't too tired, but I was a little shaken from my spills and not at all confident in my bike, so I wasn't trying the new stuff I had been on the way out. I'd love to make it back sometime to try again, though. I was really enjoying the trail up until the ride started requiring MacGyver level skills and engineering marvels made out of sticks.