As some might remember, my last attempt at a relatively long day on my mountain bike didn’t go exactly as I had hoped. But eager to regain my reputation (even if just to myself), I was excited when Patrick mentioned planning a trip to Bull and Jake.
When our planning began, we were set to do a 2-day-intro-to-bikepacking trip that would consist of splitting up a 65 mile loop over two days. After various injuries and general anxieties talked us out of that plan, we settled on the 25 mile loop that would start and end at our campsite.
The hour and a half drive to the North Georgia mountains is always one of my favorites, but this time it had a slight nervousness tied to it. Although I was excited about learning from Coldwater’s mistakes, I was also terrified of having another crash-and-burn day.
Long story short, Bull and Jake was the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike ever!
We started from the Jake parking lot, which meant that the ~6 mile climb up Bull Mountain was the first thing to tackle.
Despite my GPS tracking each mile, I still wasn’t quite sure when we’d start the terrible ascent. I’m really good at just blindly following the trail leader (usually Patrick) and not asking a whole lot of questions. Pat laughed at me when I finally asked when the climbing started. We had somehow gotten 75% of the way up the mountain without me really noticing. Awesome!
That was my first major confident booster of the day. The second one came once we reached the top and the descent began.
The descent down Bull is basically just a “hold on to what ya got” adventure. With very few technical areas, there’s endless opportunity to keep gathering speed on the way down the mountain. The hop from singletrack to some rutted out fire roads makes it all the more fun!
Once I reached the bottom and caught back up with Patrick, I was ready for anything!
The rest of the day was, naturally, a bit more challenging. I made the mistake of looking at the elevation map, seeing Bull, and dismissing all of the other much smaller ascents. Turns out, what they lack in overall height, they make up for in steepness. Jake Mountain is filled with several short climbs and descents. Before you have a chance to catch your breath from the last downhill, you’re back to climbing.
Going the direction we went, the ride ends with a quick creek crossing. Apparently, the water can oftentimes be thigh high. We got lucky with calve deep water during our visit and, being February, that was good enough for me.
Three miles, a couple of hike a bikes, and audible sighs later, we were back at the car. I was stoked to have had completed my first IMBA epic and even more stoked to still be in good spirits.