If you're old enough to recognize the above lyrics, you're old enough to share the pain in my joints.
*this is an outdated post from the Westside death march a few weekends back*
Me: tour guide, ride promoter, big ego
DK and ZB: smart for cutting it short
Goal: Big west side miles
Plan: fish hatchery> pilot mtn rd> backside Farlow> 215> Pinhook gap> Balsam Lodge>
281 south> Panther Town> Toxaway estates via cold mtn rd> 281 north> Tanasee Gap> 215>
back to Fish Hatchery.
Our ride started mostly on time. It was stunningly hot, even at our 9:30 am start. Up to Farlow from the fish hatchery in typical climb like hell from the get go fashion.
We hit farlow then dropped the backside down to 215. What a ride. I don't spend enough time on the back side of Farlow. It's a beautiful area and there are some waterfalls that need exploring but, the bike always seems to prevail with consumption of my time.
We grunted up 215, with the quiet and friendly Harley riders, kind people from Rosman and finally hit Pinhook gap.
My intention was to stay mostly on gravel and made the poor assumption that all the roads on the Nat. Geo. map to the West of 215 were gravel. Oh well. You know what happens with assumptions?
We found the creek where beverages were stashed the prior night. The drop from 215 was crazy fast but fun.
Enjoyed our refreshments then went on to Balsam Lake. What an unbelievably beautiful spot.
There is a small lake and a big lodge that is rent-able. Worth the drive or/ride.
We meandered through the back roads of the Nantahala Forest and wound up on 281.
Our route took us south down 281 to a R on a road that i thought was a loop on the west side of 281. Down to a dead end we went. This road ended at a lake and there were several homes overlooking the water. One of the residents informed us of an old trail under a bridge back up to 281.
What do you know? An incorrect Nat. Geo. map? No way! We climbed back up from the lake, under said bridge then up to 281 again.
A few more miles down then a right into Panther Town. It was here that my traveling companions said "syanora" and initiated an immediate equal response from my ego. I kept on route despite the extra hour or so we spent trying to complete the circle from the lake.
We said our goodbyes and off into the dense forest of Panther Town I went. There was one sign. No, i'm incorrect--there was half of a sign. Evidently someone thought that the top of the trail marker needed to be shotgunned off into oblivion. I double checked my location by passing the trail head until the road i was on T'd into another road. Sure enough, the shotgunned trail marker marked the trail i wanted.
The Nat. Geo. map seemed mighty fine with it's nice red and blue lines, topo marks, trail names, identifying features and such but if they aren't replicated on the actual trail, then your basically screwed. I had my compass. Used it a few times but there were so many cross trails and unidentifiable trails that i just went with instinct.
My instinct was correct. I missed my turn. Eventually I ran up on some young fellow (relative to my age) and asked him if he could tell me where we were on my map. He said "no". Then I asked him if he knew the name of the road he came in on. Again, he said "no". I asked him if he knew where he was and he said "not really". A prime example of stupid fricking 20year olds.
What an idiot.
About 20 minutes later, he passed me in his jeep, that he drove to the trail head. How in the hell did he get a license.
I finally came to a signed street and realized I was waaaaaaaay West of my destination. Instead of risking dark in Panther Town, I opted for the straight shot.....64 west.
The remainder of the story is pedal, pray, pedal, pray.
64 from Saphire to the Wendy's in Brevard is not a suggested route. Now who's more stupid, me or the idiot in the jeep? Wait, don't answer that.
Some of my soon to be relatives drive subarus so I scoped out each and every subaru driver until, finally, at mile 86 my ride was over. Subaru spelled backward spells out u r a bus. When you have 20 miles on 64, the brain tends to wander.
Props to the relatives to be.
Of course the phone calls to ZB and DK were not received because they were patiently awaiting my arrival at the fish hatchery, where there is no phone reception.
good day on the bike.