Erinna and I joined a huge crew,10 total, this morning for a ride with a butt-crack of dawn rally-time. We started at *cough* 6:30 AM at the Old Fort Picnic Area. Our route: Up the pavement past the church, Up Heartbreak to Star Gap down to Jared Creek (Grassy Road of Death) Up the 9 mile climb that is Curtis Creek Rd, Up Down and Up again the five miles of Parkway to the goat trail up to Heartbreaker, then down down down down down down down Heartbreak Ridge back to the pavement and back to the Jeep (and 6 other vehicles). About 37 miles in about 7 hours with three pretty good mechanicals, a couple wrecks, a couple flats….
A few photos until I can get a better description down
Steven (errr…?) at the Star Gap/Grassy Road of Death intersection:
Curtis Creek at the bottom, where it looks all nice and innocent…
behind that bright smile I’m bonking pretty freakin bad. Thanks for thehelp getting me up the mountain, Erinna!
Oh, and speaking of… Nice equipment is soooo nice. Here’s a shot of my current front-end setup (I9, WB, XTR):
Aaaaahhhhhh! I need a new camera already! This would have been sweet if the flower was in focus. Or the rider, that would be cool too…. but come on camera! One or the other! Not neither!
Great (big) ride.
The weekend before this ride Erinna and I hiked up to Shining Rock from the Big East Fork parking lot on 276. It took almost 3 hours going up and just a little over 2 hours to get back down. We had nearly 30 pounds of gear on our backs for the hike up but after consuming all of our consumables the packs weighed significantly less on the way back down.
The view from here:
The storm that finally reached us around 11PM:
Floyd, bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning:
Erinna and I met up with Mike and Jamie R. this afternoon for one of the most fun rides I’ve been on in a while. Our route for the day: From the PMBAR start/finish->276->477->Clawhammer->Maxwell->Black Mountain->Thrift Cove->Grassy Road->Sycamore Cove. 13+ miles, 2ish hours. Fun Fun FUN!
I’ll try to post more later… but here’s a shot from the old homestead site on Maxwell:
Our ride started a little after 5pm on a beautiful, sunny, warm but not hot, final day of Spring 2007. The route started with a short pavement section then a couple of miles of flat gravel road. We turned onto Clawhammer though and the road was no longer resembling ‘flat’ at all. I gave a hard effort up the first bit, where it’s really steep, but was caught by Mike in no time. We kept the pace pretty high and made it to the Maxwell intersection quickly. The girls arrived only moments later (way to push it!) and we took a nice relaxing breather. Maxwell was next. That road was rutted out worse than I had ever seen and Mike told me that during PMBAR the road was so saturated with water that it looked like a river was flowing down it. Mike held the pace very high for the entire climb up Maxwell. There was even one point where I just gave up and stopped chasing for a minute or two. Way to go Mike! You don’t seem ‘out of shape’ to me! Anyway, we regrouped at Pressley Gap then turned right onto Black Mountain trail. Mike took off again and with his geared enhanced bike he was able to climb climb climb up through the stee stuff and almost cleaned the trail all the way to the peak. Once again we regrouped and Mike let me lead out for the first real descent of the day. I was feeling great and was hauling some serious ass. I was right on the edge of control a few times being anly inches away from a high speed death. Mike was hanging on to my pace and followed every line and move until one big tree that was down across the trail. I saw a line a little to the left, off the trail, and bunnyhopped the tree. I got a ‘whoop’ and ‘brave move’ shout-out from Mike for that one. More high speed descending through the tech stuff then even higher speed descending followed for the smoother section. I railed across the creek crossing with wreckless abandon and luckily didn’t pinch-flat. Another big move happened at the slimy-rooty-rocky drop thing right near Thrift Cove. I had lost track of where exactly we were on the trail and hopped down the set of shallow steps preceding it, scrubbed off *a little* speed, and found myself dropping in faster than since I got rid of my old Ellsworth Joker. Mike followed right behind me and big eyes and big smiles were the order of the moment. One more super high speed descent later we were at Thrift Cove and waiting for the girls to regroup. Thift Cove is also known as ‘the hotwheels track’ because it’s super smooth, super fast, wide, with sweeping turns, berms, and straight aways that let you get going 30mph easily. Mike led that descent until he had to pull over to let his brain catch up with his body. I took the lead then and moments later we ere at the Grassy Road intersection. We waited for a few moment and jsut about the time we were starting to worry Erinna and Jamie showed up with a scary story: Erinna was hauling, catching air over the swooping turn mound things and heard a rattle rattle rattle… as an experienced mountain biker she knew to stop and check things out and sure enough something was awefully wrong… her front wheel quick release had come undone. Only the lawyer tabs were holding her front wheel onto the fork. Yikes! I sure am glad my sweetie still has all her teeth! Next was grassy road, which went by fairly quick. We were waiting to regroup at Sycamore when some guy, not the girls, came rolling up and said ‘Yup, those two pretty girls turned into one ugly guy!’ We were still chuckling when Erinna and Jamie did arrive. Sycamore was next and after a short and annoying climb we started the final descent of the day. Nice and tech, fast as hell, and beautiful as all get out is how I would describe that section of trail. At one point there were so many rhodo and laurel flowers littering the trail that my front wheel was creating a rooster-tail of flower petals. If only I could have captured that sight with the camera. I got a front flat smashing through another creek crossing and pulled off another huge move just before the end of the trail (I must have been in the air for 10-15 feet) and stopped just before 276 for the final regroup of the day.
Here’s Mike Jamie and Erinna right then:
A slow spin on pavement back to the cars made for a great cool-down and when we made it to the trucks Mike had a six pack on ice for the four of us to share. Way to think ahead Mike!
Erinna and I went on a memorable ride this evening. We started at 7:30 at Rice Pennacle and tried to follow a route that she has planned to run tomorrow morning. After a few wrong turns (my bad) we ended up at the new parking lot (not where we expected) so we headed up Ledford Branch then Sidehill Road. Up to Ingels Field Gap then up to 5 points. Little Hickory Top was next and we took that all the way to the bottom of Green Slick. UP Greens Lick to the top then down Tony Michaels, Down Ingels Field, and down the other way, not back towards Ledford. We got to the gravel road and wanted to wrap up the ride and head back to rice pinnacle but we took another wrong turn… or two.. ended up in a field that I’ve never seen before, found what we thought was the right fireroad, but after a mile or so ended up in the neighborhood. We asked directions from a guy that obviously had never given directions before and after a few miles through the neighborhood, and out on the highway, we were back on course and headed back towards Bent Creek Recreation Area, and the Jeep. Fun, yet frustrating, hard, yet slow paced, ride. A little over two hours on the bikes.
A few photos:
Erinna on Sidehill Road:
and on Little Hickory Top, the scene of rescent logging activity:
a teeny tiny ringneck snake, maybe 4-6 inches long:
Nightfall at the bottom of Green Slick:
and one more, Erinna and her superbrightlight:
Oh, I tried out the Princeton Tec 2 bulb LED light tonight and it worked GREAT. It’s not nearly as bright as Erinna’s HID but it did performed very well. It’s a ton brighter than my old 10 watt Halogen unit it replaces.
Erinna and I just got in from a fast yet fun paced ride….
We met up with Mike B, Ian L. and Wode at 8AM and were on the bikes a little after 9. We started at the Kitsuma trailhead and the first hill of the day was up through Ridgecrest.
Here’s a group shot at the start:
Up through the maze of paved roads to the ballfields where we picked up Rattlesnake.
Mike B heading into Rattlesnake:
Wode still peddlin’ the steep stuff:
Rattlesnake is a very tough climb and Ian provided much comic relief. He was at the back and I hung with him for some moral support. I’m not sure if he was joking or not… He kept mumblin’ something about ’stroking out’ during the insanely(at times) steep climb. I have to say, I was happy to be bringing up the rear, everyone else had started at a fast fast pace. We got to the ridge in good time and Ian decided it was time to rest… or die from a stroke…
Next was another hard effort then we were up at the Old Toll Road. This was Wode’s first ride on Heartbreaker and it was a beautiful day for it. Crystal clear blue skies, warm in the shade and darn right hot when there was no canopy overhead. There was just enough breeze to keep the humidty low and to knock thousands of flower petals onto the ground. Every time we passed under a rhodo or laurel, it looked like we had stumbled upon some backwoods wedding ceremony. Just beautiful. Here’s a shot of a pink laurel…
Once we were up on the Old Toll Road I was finally feeling warmed up and Mike B and I took the lead for a while. I railed the only real descent on the Toll Rd and I knew that after that we had miles of climbing until the trail pointed down again. Old Toll Road was one *the way* to drive up to Mount Mitchell (the highest peak East of the Mississippi) so it never gets all that steep. It does, however, go on forever as moving through the mountains at a max 7% grade can go. We had a lot of elevation to gain at that grade, it takes miles and miles to do it.
Here’s a shot of Erinna proving that big wheels+small stature= the ability to go anywhere:
We took a break at the overlook 2/3 of the way up Old Toll. In an attempt to bribe Wode and Ian to come along at the early hour that we set off at I made everyone sandwiches… Turkey, Tempeh, Mushrooms, and Spinach on Wheat Anyone? The payoff was having these guys along on a great ride. Here’s a shot of our destination, Heartbreak Ridge, from the Old Toll overlook… It’s the one that goes from the top left to the bottom right of the picture, second ridge back:
O.K., O.K., jumping the gun a little, but heres a shot of Old Toll from Heartbreaker. Again, second ridge back:
Well, that’s all for now. I gotta get somthin’ to eat. Poor sweet Erinna, after our 5+ hour ride she had to go to work slingin’ noodles until midnight….
Oh, here’s something else, a quick video of Ian rocking the Heartbreak downhill. As always, the camera doesn’t do the terrain justice. Think: steeper than it looks… more tech than it looks… Three cheers to Ian!
Spencer->Spencer->Middle Fork->Fletcher with TeamDicky
Rich came up from C’lotte last night and we met up with Wode and Ian out on the town. That, along with the first rain in weeks, made for a slow pace today and we didn’t go nearly as far as originally planned. Oh well, good times were had by all. Here’s a shot of Rich on Spencer:
We started at about 10:30 near the Trace Ridge parking lot on FS5000. We must have dodged a few rainstorms because on the way up even the road was hard to get traction on, it was easy to just make the back wheel spin out. We made quick work of 5000 and made the turn onto Spencer with no hesitation. Spencer starts with a steep gravely doubletrack for a few hundred yards and with Rich right behind me, talking, laughing, and just following my wheel, I got my heartrate up into the lower 500’s. When it came time to attack the steep slimy singletrack through the field, I had nothin’. We walked up past the nasty rooty section then started to hammer though. Quick recovery! Anyway, the weather was warm and s t i c k y. I had to take off my glasses because I couldn’t get them to stop fogging up. I hadn’t come to a stop, I just had them in one hand, and I wasn’t paying close attention to the trail. I rolled over a 2″ tall 45* root and got the smackdown that not paying attention will most certainly bring. I tweeked my knee pretty good trying to save it but was otherwise just fine. It was quick and painful, but luckily I wasn’t going very fast. We continued on and Rich got hung up on a rooty lift/steep thing and I decided to try to race a little and was happy to have held him off for a whopping two or three minutes. The climb to Trace was over in no time and we made our route decision there. As slick and nasty as the woods were we decided to head down the slower-tech-way rather than the lightning-fast-not-so- tech-way considering slower crashes are usually less threatening than high speed crashes. I took the lead heading down Spencer and was having a great descent. Up near the top in the most tech of sections I pulled a huge move out of my ass, manueling through two drops in a row without letting the front wheel touch the ground. I had a great descent, railing the turns, hopping logs, hanging in there right at the very edge… We hit neverendingroad next. The road was filled with wildflowers that looked like daiseys. We took it down a notch and enjoyed the easy spin that is neverendingroad. Along the way Rich found this guy who summed up the way I was feeling: Slow and Happy:
Next was Middle fork, some of the prettiest trail around. It doesn’t have much elevation change but what it lack in hills it surely makes up with tech moves and pretty trail. We putzed along at a good pace then took the turn over to Fletcher Creek. Up the short-but-annoying climb and down the crazy-fast ‘Bobcat downhill’ to the reservoir road. Up the road for a mile or so to the parking lot and we made the decision to check the time at the Jeep before doing another loop. We had been out for about 2.5 hours and decided that we had had enough and other responsibilites should be addressed, not ignored, so we headed home.
Great ride, shorter and slower than expected but hey, we were out later and umm… full of adult beverages than expected the night before. We felt lucky to be out there at all. Thanks for coming up Rich! Good Luck at the Hell-Ride and BC Bike Race!