I just got in from another great day in the woods. The list of players: Ian L., Mike B., Matt J., Ian B., Wode, myself, and Sophie and Maringo the dogs. The route for the day: Laurel/Pilot/NoName/Slate/1206 from Yellow Gap.
We got to Yellow Gap sometime around noon and got a nice slow start. Ian B and I, as the singlespeeders, led out the group on Laurel Mountain trail. Mike got up front pretty quick and took off with Ian B, we didn’t see much of them after that until the meeting log. The trail was in perfect condition, dry enough to not be slimy, but wet enough for maximum traction. The dogs were doing great and everyone was moving along at a fun, not backbreaking, pace. Here’s a shot I took of Sophie with Johnson, then Ian L., following close behind:
Matt was killing all the tech sections, as usual. This man has singletrack skills. Give him a steep up, a here-to-there, or the gnarliest downhill switchback and he will show you how to ride it. Here he is at the rock-lift/rooty-death thing:
a video of him at the Crack Rock:
and going for the high line move where the high line is only really visable if you’re going DOWN the trail:
Ian L. had some mechanical problems with his fork but luckily there were two professional bike mechanics on the scene:
Laurel Mountain has got to be one of the very best trails out there. It was a perfect day to be on the trail, too. High around 80 degrees, zero humidity, light winds, and still no leaves on the trees so views were abundant. Mike had a good time.:
Maringo had a good time:
and… I think…. Ian had a good time. Great to see you out there Ian!!!
Once we finished the 6 miles of singletrack climbing of Laurel we made our way to the connector and on to Pilot Rock. Matt led out, I followed him, Mike was next then Ian B, Ian L and Wode. We kept that order for most of the way down. I had my first good crash in a while negotiating one of the steep switchbacks. I landed with a solid thud, ‘OOmph!’ and a cloud of dust. My hip will probably be sporting a good bruise tomorrow. I was good and shaken, and nearly crashed again on the very next switchback. I took a couple deep breaths and tried my hardest and nearly held Johnson all the way into the HumVee section. I was feeling GREAT about my downhillin’ and actually got a few compliments (thank you, thank you very much).
Here’s a shot of Sophie and I at the top of Pilot.:
and here’s a quick video at the Pilot Rock overlook. It was a very early spring, beautiful day:
Sophie, by the way, did EXCELLENT. she is one faaaaaaaasst puppy. Mike was telling me that she just wants to ride behind me and she was doing a great job hanging on to Johnson and my pace. Mike did go down hard once making sure he didn’t run Sophie down though…. I guess I need to teach her to GET OUT OF THE WAY! Ian B. went back and cleaned the HumVee section for the first time and Wode had an over-the-bars experience that left him dazed and confused but everyone was ready for the no-name connector to Slate. We took Slate down to 1206 and stopped at the first swimming hole we could find for the dogs, and the people to cool off before the gravel road miles back to the cars. The climb back to the cars was as hard as ever but the mood was bright and lively at the finish. Great ride with great people. If every ride could be like this, every ride would be freakin’ fantastic. Thanks for coming out everybody!
Erinna and I just got in from a fun and fast paced loop around Spencer / Trace. We parked at t he gate at Spencer so our day started with a warm-up on singletrack. We hit the steep climb pretty quickly and I was feeling good . I cleaned all the way to the nasty rooty section where a tree was down. Thank goodness! My heart was about to explode. The climb the rest of the way up Spencer was fun as always. There are some pretty steep ups but the trail more or less climbs at a easy rolling sort of way all the way to Trace. I was able to get a few photos of Erinna along the way.
Here’s my beautiful wife-to-be, enjoying the warm early spring afternoon:
Here she is negotiating a little creek crossing on Spencer:
More Spencer goodness:
and finally, some new camera fun at the Spencer / Trace intersection:
Erinna and I were both feeling GREAT on the climb. We both cleaned just about everything, including the off camber rootballs and little steep ups. After the Trace intersection there’s still another climb left and we didn’t rest at all, we just attacked it. I pushed really really really hard and got to the top and could hardly cath my breath. Erinna got there moments later and next on the agenda… the Trace Ridge downhill. Screamin’ fast, not so tech, ass haulin’ 2000′ in 2 miles downhillin’ was next. We both continued to feel great and I gapped every little here to there I could find and giggled out loud more than once because of how far out there I was letting it all hang… I tried to not touch my brakes unless I really needed to and ya know what happens if you do that? The trail becomes a blur, rocks and roots and turns come at you so fast, time stands still, thoughts vanish, there’s just a rush of air, images, and feelings, then, you’re in the parking lot at the bottom.
Erinna got there once again only moments after me and wearing a huge smile. We decided to head right back up to the Jeep and wee kept the pace high but comfortable. We chatted the whole way up, well, until te road got steep after the first gate, and the gravel was over in about 15 minutes. Total time out: 1:10. Total value of the experience: One miiiiillion dollars.
Fish Hatchery Area w/ Mike B, Kassi, Amber, and Kristy
Mike and I carpooled out to the Fish Hatchery today and started with going up, then right back down, Butter Gap trail. We timed it perfectly because when we got back to the parking lot the girls had just arrived. Once they were suited up we hit Cove Creek then Daniel Ridge. It was a beautiful day, highs in the upper 50’s and clear. I forgot my camera so all I’ve got is a profile and ride description (to follow soon)
Erinna and I went on a fun paced road ride today. We left from our home in West Asheville and cruised over to Biltmore Forest. We climbed straight up to the parkway and discussed possible loops through there. Our goal was for a larger ride than a few neighborhood loops though. We made it to the parkway in good time and started the climb up to Town Mountain Road. Erinna has been in school full time AND working full time so the pace wasn’t super fast, it was all about having a good time on the bike. The descent down town mountain was fast and fun, as always, and as we descended into downtown Asheville, looking at the skyline, with the mountains in the distance, I was thinking: Thank You God for letting me land here, in this place, at this time…
Erinna coming down Town Mountain Road:
Whoaoaoaoaoaooooo! Camera Fun (edit: turn down the volume first!):
Mike B, Ben P, and I went on a killer ride today. We knocked out the classic Big Creek loop in about 4.5 hours and with a pretty serious mechanical.
Yes, we hiked from Little Bald Mountain all the way to the Pisgah Inn…
We got started at NMRC at just before 11AM. Perfect start time for a Saturday. The pace up to Yellow Gap wasn’t super fast, but quick, none-the-less. We made it to Yellow Gap in 27 minutes and when we got there no-one had been killing themselves. I even mentioned that a few years ago a 27 minute pace would have made me hyperventilate, need a few moments to stretch, and need to eat a gel, but not today. Next was the climb up Laurel Mountain. Mike B was setting the pace but Ben had the skills to clean a surprising number of the tech sections.
Here’s a shot of Ben making a pass, standing and hammering through the rocks:
We took a break at the meeting log but didn’t rest again until Pilot Rock trail. I felt pretty good and the pace was ‘Spirited’. I was even able to keep within a few yards of Ben for most of the climb… well, until the steep stuff after Johnson Gap. After that the guys were having to wait for me at the gaps but would continue on as soon as I got there. We knocked out Laurel in good time, just under two hours from NMRC to the connector. Here’s Ben and Mike arriving at Turkey Spring Gap:
Left on the connector, Right on Pilot and hike-a-bike all the way to the parkway boundary where… the hike-a-bike continued all the way to the Pisgah Inn. Mike did try to ride a bit of Pilot Rock but ended up getting gnomed and crashed pretty hard. What the hell happened? Musta’ been a gnome… In the process he tore off his rear der. hanger…. damn! It took a little while to fix but after 20 minutes or so of tinkering he was able to continue on in single speed mode. There were a few great views along the way to the Pisgah Inn. Here’s Asheville from the very top of Pilot:
We stopped by the Pisgah Inn employee housing and I refilled my camelbak. I forgot to mention that about 20 minutes into climbing Laurel the hose popped off my water bladder. My drinking water ended up all over my back and not in my pack at all! Oh well, luckily we were prepared for such an emergency, I was carrying a water filter. An employee let us use their sink though, and that was much easier than filtering water from the creek. Next was the parkway to Little Pisgah Ridge:
Along the way there are spectacular views of Mount Pisgah and of the ridge Laurel Mountain trail climbs:
After the parkway was the walk in on Little Pisgah Ridge to the Big Creek trailsign. That is a beautiful place to be. Not because of any great views or anything like that, but because what is next has got to be some of the finest mountain biking on the planet. Big Creek is that good folks. It has a downhill that drops 1800′ in less than two miles. Holy Crap. If you can handle it, Big Creek can be the fastest backwoods experience you’ve ever had. Mike, Ben and I were all feeling the groove and seriously hauled ass down the hill. Ben led out first, followed by Mike, then me. Mike got a little squirley and let me around so I set my sights on Ben. It took quite a bit of effort but a caught him and as he messed up one of the HUGE sweeping switchbacks I made a pass. I was really having a good time on the downhill, the White Bros. fork is awesome. I was scaring myself pretty good at this point, rocketing into rocky sections with no regard for personal safety and the death grip I had on the bars was finally getting to my hands. Along with that Ben was right back on my tail so I let both him an Mike around for the final bit of descending to the creek running section of Big Creek Trail. We checked up for just a moment then continued on. The rest of Big Creek is relatively flat but slightly down hill. The trail crosses the creek a bunch of times and since the water was high, we got our feet wet. Burrrrrrrrr! I was hoping for dry feet but oh well, the downhill was worth it.
Here’s Ben and Mike crossing the big log on Big Creek trail:
The trail ends at the Hendersonville Reservoir and I figured it was a good time to take a photo…