S'quatch was jumpy and hesitant on the climb up Bear Creek, pausing at every rock or root rather than smashing ahead like usual.
"I can't shake this sense of foreboding man, I'm all nervous for some reason".
I chalked his apprehensions up to a lack of mountain time, and too many swirly figure eight road bike miles in front of the house. "Come on, you know the golden rule-hesitation is devastation-just keep pedaling", I tell him.
At the top of the pass we enjoy the view, tin roof chicken shacks shining down in the valley, lush green creases folding into the hills below us. I bomb the downhill, my mind empty, nothing but the twitch of brake fingers and the swaying of hips over saddle, all the way down.
Sasquatch took it a bit more easy.
On the trail we ran into a couple guys who mentioned that it looked like a road biker had a bad accident on Highhway 52. Paramedics were on the scene, but they saw the mangled bike.
In search of swimming holes we stopped by the Cartecay Bike Shop in East Ellijay to get some local guidance. I tell Mike, the owner, about the rider being hit on 52. He says, "I wonder if it was the Doc and them".
On our way back to camp, we stop at the country store near the scene of the accident, (earlier when we drove through, there were cops everywhere). A woman in the store verifies that the man is dead, her husband was one of his riding companions. She has little else to say. The small menagerie of farmers, country dandies, and out of town cyclists go silent. He was a 51 year old Doctor from Dalton, GA. - "The Doc" apparently.
S'quatch's sense of foreboding is validated.
We spend the rest of the afternoon in pockets of cold creek water, way up the mountain, where it is hard to succomb to a bad vibe.
That night as we are sitting in camp, thunder begins to roll heavy and low above us. Then lightning begins to crack, like really, really close. The wind, which has been blowing ever stronger for 20 minutes, goes calm, then begins sucking in the other direction-the final warning before the bottom falls out of the sky. We spend the next 10 hours isolated in our own tent worlds.
The next day- Dauset Trails near Jackson , GA. S'quatch goes down hard on the trail, ringing his bell even though he is wearing his helmet. "There you go, your sense of foreboding has been validated for sure now, you can shake it off and get on with things". He dusts himself off and we roll again, through the swoopiest trail ever, pure bliss.
Then back to the blistering heat of I-75 and the road for home.
About 5 miles north of our exit to State road 33 I am horrifed as I watch in the rearview mirror. S'quatch's truck is skipping sideways like the wheels have siezed. He is in the middle lane and a purple Peterbilt Rig looks like it is about to swallow him up. S'quatch's little red truck makes a dive for the side of the road and as he is locking his brakes, I am pulling off, locking mine. An RV is giving him an angry honk, and cars are peeling by him like he is a rock in the river.
A couple hundred yards apart, I'm out of my truck and running. He is out of the car, unhurt, but freaked out. Jesus Christ, what is it with this trip?
His left rear tire separated and split, sending the truck jumping like a mule with a burr under its saddle. He swears he didn't steer to the emergency lane, he just ended up there by good S'quatchian luck.
We get off the interstate, change the tire, and appreciate the sun slowly melting over fields of soy and cotton until we get home.
I feel like we never talk anymore-