Black Bear Rampage 2013 Weekend: Day 1
Hello JSF members and visitors! I’m back safe and sound from my incredible mountain biking holiday. As most of you know, the central part of my vacation was a five day trip to Ducktown, Tennessee. The focus of this trip was the 2013 Black Bear Rampage 40-mile mountain bike race, but we also rode various other trails every single day we were there.
It would be impossible for me to adequately describe the entire trip in a single blog, so I’ve decided to divide the trip into five or six separate blogs. Today’s blog will cover the trip from Florida to Tennessee.
Please note that this week’s blogs and videos contain content and language that some may find objectionable and/or offensive. There’s really no way around that.
Let’s get started…
The motley cast of characters began assembling on Thursday, September 5, 2013 at around 4:00 PM. I, Rob Ern, J.C. Mazza and Mike Simmons would be making the drive together. We took Rob’s spacious and extremely comfortable F-150, with Rob in the driver’s seat for the long trip. Thanks, Rob!
The chemistry of the group was excellent. There was never a dull moment, and the hours passed quickly. This was my first time meeting J.C., and that dude is a friggin’ wild man. He is a drummer (all drummers are slightly crazy), and was also a roadie for The Misfits (among other bands). J.C. told us some of the craziest stories I’ve ever heard in my life. I used to think I was wild in my youth. That was before I met J.C.
The ride up was not entirely smooth sailing. I need to provide a little backstory here…
During last year’s trip Rob and Mike were at the local Piggly Wiggly, and Rob spotted a couple of chili dogs packaged together. He grabbed the package and said with a smirk, “You guys are screwed.” I’m told that he made good on his promise.
Well, turns out Hell hath no fury like a Simmons scorned. Right before we left Mike began laying the groundwork for his revenge by consuming a deadly concoction of foods: boiled eggs, broccoli, cabbage and beer.
Words can not describe the horrors of Mike’s non-stop farting. Seriously, I didn’t even know humans were capable of creating smells that foul… and Mike was proud of his creations. J.C. and I were the innocent bystanders–casualties of a fart war. At one point Rob, chuckling with satisfaction, locked out the windows. All I could do was hold my breath and go to my happy place. It didn’t help that we stopped for Arby’s, and a little later spicy wings and beer at Taco Mac sports bar. Even Rob had to admit that Mike won. In fact, we were all pretty much in agreement that Mike really needs to see a doctor.
We finally arrived at the yurts (see my blog “What is a yurt?“) around 2:00 AM. By the time we unpacked and got settled in, it was probably around 3:00 AM. I am normally in bed by 9:00 PM and up at 5:00 AM, so needless to say I was absolutely exhausted.
Mike and I were in one yurt, and Rob and J.C. took the other. I brought an air mattress to sleep on, and Mike took the bed.
The yurts were amazing: large, very comfortable and air conditioned/heated. Each yurt has electricity, a coffee maker, refrigerator/freezer, microwave, radio, television, a bed and a futon. The yurts don’t have running water, and so it’s a bit of a hike down to the common area and the bathrooms. There are two bathrooms, each with a shower, and there is also an outdoor shower. The hike back up to the yurts is quite a climb, and so I quickly learned to plan my trips up to the yurt with care. The rule was no one went up to the yurts without taking something with them.
If you are planning a Tennessee mountain biking, hiking or white water rafting trip, you absolutely have to check out the Ocoee Yurt Company. The yurts are a perfect balance between creature comforts and nature, and they are located right smack dab in the middle of some of the best hiking, mountain biking and white water rafting in the southeast United States.
Oh, and I have to mention the skies. There is almost no light pollution at the yurts. When we arrived I turned my gaze skyward and was in awe: for the first time in my life I was viewing the Milky Way galaxy edge-on. I’ve seen countless pictures, of course, but nothing comes close to seeing our galaxy in real life. As an amateur astronomer since the early 1990s, this is something I’ve been waiting half my life to see. As I stood under the stars feeling a strange mix of small, humble, tired and excited, I knew this was going to be a very memorable weekend.
Finally in bed, I was exhausted but still wired from the long trip. I closed my eyes, taking in the stillness and quiet of the country night.
Really, Mike? REALLY?
To be continued….