This past weekend, Ben and I drove North for some mountain biking. We stayed at my Grandparent's lakehouse on Lake Rabun, and drove up to Tsali in North Carolina on Saturday morning. Unfortunately we didn't plan super well and the two trails there I wanted to ride (the left and right loops) are Horse-only on Saturdays, but this turned out not to be much of a mistake. We rode Mouse Branch first including the optional scenic overlook portion, and it was pretty nice. The trail was a bit crowded and some people going at a leisurely pace didn't want to let anyone pass them, but we managed to finish the 9.7 miles in under an hour which is pretty fast for us. (The woman that won the gold in Olympic mountain biking this year averaged 12mph if I remember right.) After PBJs, we did a lap on Thompson Loop which was awesome. The first part is very fast singletrack, then a lot of climbing, and then one of the longest and fastest downhill sections of singletrack I've ever ridden (elevation graph). 25mph on a mountain bike for a couple of minutes feels pretty fast! So of course, we had to ride that loop again for a total of ~25 miles for the day and as many hours on the trail as it took us to drive there.
On Sunday, we drove the 15 minutes from the lakehouse to the Stonewall Falls Loop in Clayton, GA. From reading around online, I didn't know quite what to expect. There was only one car in the gravel parking lot and no real signage, but we hopped on our bikes and set out. The first 7 miles or so seemed like they were all uphill, and for the first time in a while I actually had to walk up a few sections, but we were rewarded with the second 7 miles that were mostly downhill. I don't need to ride this again, but probably will if I'm at the lake for more than a day. Ben really liked it, so you might! It was "real" mountain biking with almost every kind of terrain: rocks and dirt, slowly recovering forest fire areas, flat trail following a stream with several stream crossings, super sketchy downhill sections on powerline cuts, banked turns, sand, narrow cuts through heavy undergrowth, steep uphills, etc. I like trails that are a little more consistent so that I can get in the appropriate "zone" for the trail, and this one kept me on my toes. My arms are a bit scratched up from all the bushes, and my shoes are still drying out, but if you're comfortable on a mountain bike and in the area this trail is worth trying. Our loop ended up being a little over 13 miles and took us about 2 hours.
These were the first mountain bike rides I've done of the length I was used to before the whole collarbone thing, and while it's nice to be back on that bike again, I still have some catching up to do in the mountains and on the track! Since Feb 1st this year, 1593 miles on road rides, 230 on casual ones, 822 on a trainer, 125 on the mountain bike, and 108 at the track.