Choose Your Own Adventure

Well, isn’t life dandy?  Between lots of extra stuff going on and my transition to a newer model of the C3 road bike, my big plans of throwing
down some miles took a big hit this week.  I was “forced” to try to get in a little extra climbing to make up for it.
I figured I may as well have fun while I was at it so I met Jacob on Tuesday for a Roxy shakedown to test his new SRAM XX1 drivetrain.  Yes!  Another 1×11 brother!
Surprisingly, the muddy clay wasn’t too bad and we did a bit of exploring on the lower northwest side of the peak.
1 Sunset Unreal Cycles
It was a great evening for a ride and 13 miles later, we had a couple thousand feet knocked out.
2 Jacob Unreal Cycles
Wednesday through Friday were pretty much worthless as far as riding went, so I set my sights on a big ride for Saturday morning.
By a quarter to eight I was rolling past Griffin Creek Elementary on my way to a date with Anderson Butte.  The Paru was climbing that steep mountain like a goat and I was feeling fabulous!
Nearing the steeper portion of the road, I was overwhelmed with a sense of civic pride as I saw evidence of some classy goings on that had unfortunately misplaced the Anderson Butte sign.
3 Classy Unreal Cycles
6 miles and 1600 feet in, I finally turned off the main road and onto my first gravel.  I wasn’t done climbing though and after a few ups and downs I had another 1200′ on the tally before beginning the long descent down past Wolf and Deming Gulches to Sterling Creek and Buncom.
4 Sterling Unreal Cycles
Trying to keep my breaks to a minimum, I rolled on through and started the easy climb up Little Applegate Road on my way to Anderson Creek Road.
5 Little A Unreal Cycles
6 Fence Unreal Cycles
7 Gravel Unreal Cycles
Finally reaching the 4 way at the top of the long westside Anderson Creek ascent, I turned left for a little more climbing toward Anderson Butte before dropping down the east side and hitting Sleppy Mine Road.
8 Anderson Unreal Cycles
After Sleppy, all that was left was the speedy, paved descent back down to the car.  It was a great day for a medium length ride on some exceptional gravel roads and I finished the day with about 7300′ of elevation.  Good enough for me!
As Sunday rolled around, I seemed to have lost my touch with rallying the troops and putting together a group ride.  Either that, or it was Valentine’s Day and everyone but me has a life. Ahem….Whatever the case, I decided to tackle Mule Mountain, out in the Applegate, for the first time.
Right choice!
The trail was in PERFECT shape as it had absorbed the little rain that had fallen the night before and was sticky, but not muddy.
Having hiked a bit of the trail in the past, I thought I remembered it being kinda steep.  It is.  The ride starts out with a climb and, aside from a couple short flat spots, it doesn’t let up until the top.
9 Rocks Unreal Cycles
I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Right at mile 3, the pitch got even steeper and I have to admit to carrying my bike for a hundred feet or so.  I would like to say the climbing from the day before played a part in my inability to ride the steep section, but I won’t know until I try it again with fresh legs.  It ain’t easy either way, I’m sure.
10 Madrone Unreal Cycles
My favorite parts of the ride were the rockier bits toward the top and the fact that the trail is really quite narrow for most of its distance.  On the climb up, much of my time was spent simply trying to keep my front wheel straight so I wouldn’t bury it in the side of the hill on one side or roll off the cliff on the other.  It was awesome!
11 Toa Unreal Cycles
As I neared the top and subsequent turnaround point, I was a little nervous about the descent staring me right in the face.  That fun narrow path was about to have me barreling down it with the same dangers I had just endured on the way up coming at me way faster now.
12 Saddle  Unreal Cycles
I just went for it.  There were a few places where I had to choose between buck brush ripping me open on the right side or going off the dang cliff on the left.  I got some scratches.  But, I made it down.
I’m really happy I finally tackled the Mule.  It was only an 8 mile ride, but it was the best short ride I’ve done in recent memory.  The exhilaration I felt when my life literally balanced on a ledge was a drug I don’t normally like to tap, but for some reason it just felt right this time.
The new road bike is supposed to be ready this week.  I can’t freakin’ wait.  Disc brakes on the road with all the descending I do is going to be so welcome.  It’s time to get those miles back up too!

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