This day began with really good scale-news: 203 pounds, my lowest weight of this effort! That's 2.5 pounds lighter than yesterday, and it's not like I starved myself. Probably a little anomalous, but the latest low point and I'll take it! :-)
I thought it was a pretty innocuous plan: ride the Peak to Pomaria leg of the Palmetto Trail, 6.5 miles one way, then back. Left around 7 this morning, found it with the directions, no sweat.
First problem: The entire non-trestle length of the trail was laid with coarse gravel. I don't know the grades of gravel, but I'd call this more like 'stone' or 'rock'. Two inch wide stones were not uncommon. This led to 6.5 miles of almost unrelieved vibration. It was that kind of vibration that makes my muscles itch. Do you ever get that? I used to get it sometimes when I jogged. I've never known what to call it besides an 'intramuscular' itch. I expect to be sore tomorrow from the constant pounding and the 'holding onto the bike for dear life'.
Second problem: I was the first person on the trail this morning and it was spanned by many, many spider webs. Now, I am not an arachnophobe at all, but I don't like driving through spider webs and I don't really like having spiders on me. I'm guessing I drove through between 10 and 15 spider webs that resulted in one spider crawling on me while I drove and two hanging from my arms(as three separate times). (That is, that I saw. There could certainly have been more.) I took to scanning myself like Thomas Covenant after riding through each web.
(Thomas Covenant is in a series of book by Steven R. Donaldson. Covenant is a leper and has to constantly scan himself for injuries, since he can't feel them.)
I started thinking of myself as the arachnicide (horrible Latin). Then, for some insane reason, I applied some of Tolkien's Elvish: Ungolcrist, the Spider Cleaver. Or, better (since I don't know the word for web), Ungoldring, the Spider Hammer ( I think that's a bad mix of Quenya and Sindarin).
I kept wanting to turn back, but then kept thinking, 'Ok, one more song' (listening to my exercise playlist, which certainly got me through, if nothing else by helping take my mind off the ride).
(If you want, you can see some non-exciting pix I took on the trail over on Facebook.)
Came out at Hope Station Road, just past halfway and was seriously thinking about turning back. But then I looked at the map and realized I could finish the trail and then ride back on the roads. I could do that. I could do another three miles of the trail, but couldn't face more than nine (finish and back).
Shortly after that, it started to sprinkle. I hadn't looked at the forecast at all. I thought, 'Man, this is going to suck. It's going to rain.' But then I thought, 'Maybe not. Maybe it'll just sprinkle.' And that's what it did. A little sprinkle is nice. It was a good moment.
Something I did enjoy: there wasn't another single soul on the trail in the time I was on it.
In retrospect, why was I expecting a smoother, easier trail? I don't have a good reason. But I sure was surprised at the roughness.
By the end of the ride, I was covered in spider webs. Particularly, I had lots of spider webs stuck in the hair on my arms.
Here's the SMap page for the trail ride.
Another of my mistakes (definitely a theme of this post): I thought 'I'll get to the end of the trail and I can have a snack to fortify myself'. Except I forgot my wallet :-(
Good: traffic on the road on the way back to the Peak trailhead was light.
Here's the SMap page for the ride back from Pomaria to Peak on REAL ROADS! ;-)
I am a little worried about my bike: I just got it tuned up and then vibrated the heck out of it for 6.5 miles over an hour. But, hopefully it'll be ok.
Not fun. But, I made it. I didn't give up, so it was not a 'failure'.
(Methodological note: I recorded a lot of the thoughts for this post on my Blackberry with the Voice Notes on the drive home. I love my Blackberry! It's got everything! :-)