Before getting settled into the saddle, I was off it, climbing over a downed tree.  Not even a minute after that I was hoisting my bike onto my shoulder and walking mid-thigh deep through still water that was a backed-up feeder stream to North Fork Lake.  Thirty seconds later I used my bike that was sitting in near two feet of water to lean on, hand on the seat and one on the neck, swinging myself over to the other bank.

Womble was testing my patience.

And then the next three hours to Highway 27 were a ride in the park.  Womble rolled up and down, had long stretches of easy-going cruising, added in stream crossings here and there, and threw one punch-in-the-face steep, short, spit-of-a-climb at the near end of the section before Highway 27.

Compared to Syllamo, Womble is…well, I’m not sure there is a comparison.

Follow the White Blazes

Womble is a romp in the woods.  Other than a few tight/narrow sections of trail that put the tire’s edge close to the hillside’s ledge, you can pretty much ride hard and fast, if that’s what you like to do.  After the initial climb up from North Fork, and another climb or two, so it seemed, the trail flew on by in the peripheral vision for the next fifteen miles or more.

Trailside Lookout

When I met up with my riding partner for the weekend, a trail rider-turned-roadie-turned-back-to-“newbie” mtber, he had a big smile on his face, which was not evident the previous day after his Syllamo experience.   He was having a great time riding Womble.

I continued on, climbing what for me was a long zen-induced gradual climb through natural forest beauty.  It was the most deeply satisfying climb I’ve ever had on a mountain bike.  It was not strenuous, simply sloping slowly upward.

Then the punch in the face happened, and I woke from my Zen dream, only to  be given this cup of apologies at the top:

The ride out to 27 was sweet honey on the tongue.  I crossed over the hard road, went to our cabin, made a pbj and ate it, had a banana, and waited for my buddy to arrive.  Not long after, he did.

I then had him shuttle me up to Route 88 to ride the northern section south to 27.  Our road map wasn’t local enough to find the northern terminus, so I missed out on a little over four miles of the entire Womble.   Oh well.

********

If you stay at Highway 27 Fishing Village, a way to cut your shuttle cost, should you need one, is to take an extra set of car keys so that you can drive with Ron in your car down to North Fork Lake and have him drive your car back to Fishing Village.  If you use his vehicle, it’ll cost $45 these days.  Give him your keys and it’ll cost half.  He’ll lock your keys in your car at your cabin or at your campsite in case he’s not around when you get back, but you have the other key in your hydration pack!

Local eats:  Check out the Early Rise Bakery in Mt. Ida for fresh doughnuts and coffee.

independent writer

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