Yesterday Erinna and I joined a H U G E group for the mountaingoatepics pre-new years ride up at Wilson’s Creek. Mike B. and Jonathan rounded out our carload of people and bikes for the road-trip. We met up with the rest of the riders below the dirt-mounds off 181 and then shuttled up a number of miles of pavement to the start of the ride. After some research I’ve come up with the list of players: From South Cackalacky: Jonathan (extrmtao). From the Charlotte area: Josh the Wonderboy, Rich (Teamdicky), Dave (SurlyDave), Sam (Spoke), Rob C., Jerry (Enoch), Craig (Mr. Roach), Jack C., and Chris P. From the Asheville area: Jeremy (mountaingoatepics), Scott (Mr. Zippy), Mike Brown, Erinna, and myself. Rich and Josh had gotten there early enough to get a head start and use the least amount of gas possible, they rode on up rather than shuttling. Here’s Jonathan before the group got started:
We had a good little warm-up on gravel road and I got a flat! How could I have gotten a flat on gravel road???? My rimstrip had shifted rendering my tube useless. Yes, this was a sign of things to come:
Our first trail of the day was No-Name. That trail was insane. It was more like bike sking than anything else. No warning came from those in the know, We just dropped off the face of the mountain. I was riding behind Rich, trying to keep my back wheel rolling rather than skidding, and I was giggling out loud. Awesome descent. Unsustainable, but awesome.
Here’s a shot from during the first big downhill. Go Sam!
We crossed a fire-road and continued on double track for a while that climbed and climbed and climbed. There were a number of creek crossings to deal with also. Erinna knew exactly where we were at this point and let me know to not worry about trying to keep our feet dry, scenes like this were ahead:
We eventually crossed the highway and dropped the Greentown Plunge. It had been a long time since I had beed there but did remember that there are huge jumps, huge berms, and huge potential for trouble all the way down to the creek. During one tech manuver over a slick rock -outcropping I went down pretty hard. My front wheel didn’t go where I wanted it to and was suddenly going in the wrong direction all together. My frame took the brunt of the fall and is now sporting a dent in the top-tube. Ouch!
Here’s a shot of me haulin’ downhill taken by Jonathan:
While crossing the creek down at the bottom of Greentown Dave decided to take a swim. Actually, the water was running so swift, the creek decided for him Here he is in suprisingly good spirits after going under:
Next was a long slow climb on double track up to our next trail, Raiders Camp.
Here’s Erinna and Jeremy climbing climbing climbing:
Here’s Erinna crossing a creek/waterfall along the way It was slick!:
Here’s another angle of that place. One wrong step and you could be sliding to your death!
Here’s a part of the group, at rest, waiting for the stragglers at the top of the climb:
and a photo of all the 29ers that we had out there. Incredible!
Lenz, Zion, WW, Salsa, GF, Niner, WW, Soma, Surly
Once we regouped we headed into Raider’s. Man that was a blast! Rocky, technical riding to say the least. The descent went on and on and my hands were already starting to feel fatigued. I would lead out with the first three or four on the downhills but had to move over to let folks by and to shake out my hands. Half way down Raider’s we made a turn to go to a waterfall overlook. I took the old rutted out line (that was super steep) and smashed my singleator on a stump or rock or something that stopped me dead in my tracks. I didn’t notice anything wrong at the time and continued out to the overlook… which was simply amazing:
It’s hard to get an idea of how huge this waterfall is or how high we were above it. See the dark blob at the top of the photo to the right of the fall? That’s a photographer type person. So, little black blob= 6′. How’s that for a scale?
We after a lot of ooooh’s and aaaaaah’s we backtracked to Raider’s and continued the downhill. Along the way I realized that the hit had damaged my singleator. Mike B had a mechanical issue also so we stuck together until we regrouped with everyone else. The rest of raiders was not nearly as steep as the top but was still fun fun fun. Our next scheduled stop was the Wilson’s Creek Trading Post but I had one unscheduled dismount along the way. I was trying a little tech move/creek crossing thing and again my front wheel slipped out. I fell off into the abyss with every limb and digit at full-extention. I landed on my feet and was relatively unharmed. My elbow hurt from the over-extention and my forearm took a big hit, but after a few moments I was O.k.
We stopped at the country store and everyone drank soda and ate little-pies. I had my eyes on the Vienna Sausages but resisted. Don’t laugh! I came sooo close to getting a can of those little squishy meatsticks.
Rich and Josh decided they had had enough at this point and went back to the cars. The rest of the group had a 3 mile climb ahead.
The group was starting to get rather splintered at this point and we had a long break at the top of the gravel road. A group of riders met up with us coming up from the otherside. It was the Hick Hucksters, a group of local-yokels on big bikes and wearing body armor. Sinkhole trail was next and they were ready for anything it could throw at them. Here they are just before the last big descent of the day:
Near the bottom of that incredible descent is a… umm… Sinkhole. Actually, it’s a remnant of an attempt to mine Uranium in the area and is a 6 foot wide, 25 foot deep, hole right in the middle of the trail. On the way down I somehow broke my chain! Jeremy hung back while I tried to get it fixed. I did fix the chain (once while it wasn’t even installed on the bike (doh!) but I had a more serious problem, the hit my singleator took had made it more or less useless. The spring wasn’t holding and so my chain tensioner… couldn’t tension my chain. Crap. Well, I put my chain in my camelbak and took off down the final bit of descending of the day. After the sinkhole the trail was seriously steep. Erinna, Jeremy, and I were the last ones in the group and we were starting to run out of light. Jeremy held back as I alternately pushed my bike like a scooter, or a kickbike, or just rode it down the hill. While crossing one tech section I had my final crash of the day and ended up wrist deep in muck and with a black and blue lump on my thigh. Crap! Riding without a chain is hard. I never realized it before! The final final final bit of decending was worth mentioning. The trail became 12″ wide benchcut with very serious consiquences for mistakes. If you were to fall off that trail you wouldn’t stop tumbing for hundreds of feet down to the creek below. I glanced over the edge once and was quickly reminded that you WILL go where you’re looking, and to never look where you don’t want to go… The trail then popped out onto a grassy road and 100 yards of kick-biking later, we were back at the cars. Great ride. 30+ miles, 6 hours 45 minutes. My bike has never looked so rough after a ride. Dented toptube, Bent Derailler hanger, Chainless:
Thanks for coming out everybody! Thanks for leading Jeremy!
Erinna and I went met up with a bunch of folks this morning for a 2.5 hour ride starting at the Horse Stables. We got there moments before being officially late and were ready to go pretty quick. The start up Clawhammer wasn’t easy, especially since we’ve both been off our bikes. The group stopped at Maxwell and we took a quick breather readily. The next 3 miles up Clawhammer went by fairly fast. Erinna stopped to take off a layer while the group continued on and Jonathan and I took a moment to catch up and wait for Erinna to catch up. We made it to Buckhorn Gap more or less as a group.
Clay, Joe, Jody,Jonathan, Clealan, Scott (arriving from he other direction), Erinna, and Dennis
Just as we got there a guy came rolling up Buckhorn trail. He said hello and ‘Is this the group that started at the stables?’ Umm, yeah, it was the the guy from the mtbr forum that was going to try to meet us after starting in North Mills River! He started at 10 o’clock, we started at 10 o’clock, that was the only plan. He started miles and miles away from where we started. How cool is that? Here’s Jonathan and Scott right then:
We decided to head on up to the shelter from there. It was occupied so we continued on to the next gap. The climb past the shelter was tough. Again, I felt the lack of time on the bike lately. Anyway, Everyone was grouped together, there wasn’t anyone waiting ahead or anyone lagging behind, so I was fine. Here’s Jonathan and Jody:
I did try hard and did clean a couple of the steep ups, but the group was all about having fun, not racing. Here’s a shot of Joe heading up to the first desent of the day:
O.k, thats all for now except for a few more photos…
Quick Rest at one on the knobs:
Scott from Indy:
4 of 9 riders were on 29ers:
Get it Clay! Clay Faine setting up for some of the hard stuff on Bennett:
Starting at the Fish Hatchery->475B->Cove Creek->red blaze connector->5046->Daniel Ridge-> up! Farlow Gap->140A->5031 (Kissee Creek Rd)->140 (Courthouse Falls Rd)->5003->471 (Cathy’s Creek Rd)->471D->Butter Gap->Long Branch back to the Fish Hatchery.
26.2 miles, 7595 feet of climbing.
Mike Brown and I had an excellent ride yesterday. We started at the Fish Hatchery and 475B. The pace was pretty swift from the start and it took a little while for me to get warmed-up and to catch my breath. The turn to 225 came very quickly, much quicker than during the Swank, at least. Our goal for the day was to eventually climb Farlow so we could have taken 225 to the connector to Daniel but we decided against that and descended Cove Creek (Paint Shaker) back towards the Jeep. Down at the group camp we took the connector trail over to 5046. It’s not on the map and it doesn’t have a sign but it’s blazed red so I figure it’s an O.k. connector. Anyway, that was longer than I remembered and the first real singletrack ascent of the day. We popped out onto 5046 and took our first break of the day. It was sunny and warming quickly. I was overdressed in medium weight tights and 100wt. fleece. Roll the tights into knickers and push up the sleeves ’cause some serious climbing was next. Up Up Up, past this pretty waterfall:
and holy smokes we were at the intersection with Daniel! Up Up Up Daniel to the second killer singletrack descent of the day. The top of Daniel is pretty tech. Mike and I both were running the Nevegals F&R for the first time so we were really pushing hard throught the techs. Roots? Rocks? Off-Camber? Corderoy? Rockyrootyoffcambercorderoy? Yes, the Nevegal ate it all alive. We made our way to the bottom of Farlow and missed the connector to 225. We just wanted to scope it and figure-out if it’s blazed, signed, legal?… I’ll have to give my Forest Service guy a call. Anyway, up Farlow was next. No-one has ever suggested going up Farlow for any good reason to me ever. So why were we there? Dicky has planted some evil seeds in my mind…. that’s all. Farlow is about 4 miles long and is a freeriders dream trail (going down). The first two miles were filled with *killer* singletrack climbing, switchbacks galore, huge obsticles, and spectacular creek and waterfall crossings.
Here’s one of the waterfalls:
After about two miles of rolling singletrack we hit what we were calling ‘The Wall’. Not a metaphysiological barrier, we’re talkin about a MOUNTAIN. We hike-a-biked for a solid hour? after the last creek crossing.
Mike B hike-a-bike up Farlow:
but, as it goes when you just let time pass and you continue to move through space, Time and Space pass… and we made it to Farlow:
We had a few choices there and had planned on finalizing the route at that point based on how we were feeling and what time it was. We were feeling great and it was still early enough so we headed down 140A and took the right onto Kissee Creek Rd. Kissee was another place that the Nevegal just showed itself to be an awesome tire. I’m so happy to finally have some real knobs! We s e r i o u s l y hauled ass down Kissee to Courthouse Falls Rd. Down down down the gravel to the left at the mounds and up up up 5003. Mike was starting to show some signs of fatigue and I took the cue to slow it down a little, too. I’ve been back in that neck-o-the-woods a bit lately so I knew the landmarks and they rather quickly clicked on by. It took very little time to get to the 140A intersection but the next hill got me, my fatigue point was only 10 minutes behind Mike’s. We passed an elderly hiking couple right as we passed over the top of the last climb. The man said something to the effect of ‘It’s all down hill from here’. Well Yes Sir! We got a little mojo back and started really turning the pedals and just like that, we were at Glouscester Gap.
Butter was our final trail of the day. We ascended Cathy’s Creek, dropped down the backside, wondered if we had passed the turn, found the turn, and took a break. Next was the climb up the old gravel road to Butter Gap. We had sat for just long enough for a chill to come over us at the break but the climb to Butter was just hard enough that I was nice and warm at the top. Here’s Mike at the top of 471D:
The final descent of the day was before us. Butter is sooooooo much fun. Tech moves, smooth and fast sections, tech moves, creek crossings, and tech moves. The bottom is super fast and has a cool perpetual S turn feel. The final final bit of trail was Long Branch back to the Jeep. Long Branch is classic Pisgah. Steep rooty slopes, fast flast running next to a river, rocks, roots, mud, slime, climbing, descending…. everything you could ask for in a two mile stretch! We passed a guy on a vintage Ibis right at the end. Nearly 6 hours in the woods and we saw 3 people all day. That’s pretty cool.
Great ride. Maybe I’ll call this one the West Side Nasty.