The ride today had all the elements of a great day, no matter what you’re doing… Great friends, Great weather, Great scenery, Hard work, Hard play, Laughs, Applause, Cussing, Sweating, and when it was all said and done, a since of accomplishment. We had completed…. Something many folks aren’t able to do. Ian ‘The Pony’ L., Ian B., Mike B., Wes, and I rode some of the very best trails in Pisgah today… The Big Nasty…. From the PMBAR start/finish->Black Mountain alllllllll the way up and around to Club Gap->Buckwhat Knob->Bennett Gap->477->276
Holy crap did I just get in from a great great great ride. I took my time this morning, missed all the planned rides and decided to head out to Laurel Mountain around noon. I decided to start at Yellow Gap. When I got there Matt F. and Brad K. had just arrived aand were almost ready to do Laurel/Squirrel so I asked if I could tag along for the Laurel/Pilot section. What was I thinking?!?!?!? Oh yeah, Mr. Totally Out of Shape wants to hop on with the winners of the Double Dare, 2nd at PMBAR…. Well, I took up the third spot in line and went for it. The pace started out way over my head, and mellowed to just incredibly fast. I hammmmmmered and did my best to keep within 10-20 feet of Matt’s wheel, or Brad’s wheel, whoever in their rotation was in second. We passed a small group of fast guys and ent for every tech section on lower Laurel. They caught up to us while Brad was trying a tech spot again and then we rolled like a freight train of five all the way to the gap. I told Matt I needed a break there so we stopped and took a breather. The two others rolled on. After only five minutes we hopped back on and started the steep stuff. Just when I was thinking DAMN! we are freakin’ movin! Where are those other two? We ran up on their back wheels and passed. We each tried the overhang rock twice (Brad got it) and soon after we ran up on another group. We passed them and hammered into the final few gaps. I was feeling great and in great spirits… I was actually hanging on with these guys! It was a busy day on Laurel and as we hit the false $2000 climb we passed a third group. Not wanting to faulter at this stage of the game I really tried hard to keep up. We got to the real hike-a-bike and Brad definately didn’t want to faulter… I’ve never seen anyone clean that much of THAT climb…. he is a freaking MONSTER. We got to the top and I thanked the guys for dragging me up the hill.
13.5 miles / 2990′ climbing
We took the two lefts and were ready one of my favorite descents, Pilot Rock. Matt took the lead, I followed, and Brad took up third. I had never ridden with either of these guys before so as we started I wondered if Matt was going to pull away and Brad was going to run me over…. or what. Matt flew into the switchbacks at the top and once we hit the straightaways he hit mach 3 at least. I held his wheel though and that made me rather pleased with myself. Brad had dropped back a little but as soon as Matt and I arrived at the overlook he was there. We took a breather and I ate an Emergen-C and a gel. Right about the time we were scoping out the line off the rock / back onto the trail the big group we passed at the hike-a-bike came ripping through. It was a showcase of badass full suspension rigs and all but one of them cleaned the double switchback. We waited a minute for them all to get a good head start down Pilot and when we got moving again it was Brad in the lead, then me, then Matt. Brad had just been holding back on the upper section, I guess, because once we got moving we hit dangerous speeds. He not only was hauling, he was showing great technical skills, as well. He hucked off the slab rock and rocketed into the Hum-Vee section and smashed his way through. I slowed wayyyyyy down and picked my way through carefully. That section can eat man and bike alike…. I made it through clean, too. Matt was there moments later and didn’t quite make it through but…. he didn’t get eaten. One, Two, Three more switchbacks, the last straights, an over the bridge and Pilot was done. At this point I said goodbye and headed back to the Jeep, they went on to do S.Mills->Squirrel->LaurelCreek->5015. Freakin’ Studs. I started to think that I was looking at a personal best time for the Laurel/Pilot loop so I put it in overdrive for the gravel road back. The climb back up from Bradley Creek to Yellow Gap went on fooooooorrrrrreeeeeeevvvvvveeeeerrrrrr but… I still made it back to the Jeep in a total time of 2:15. My best time ever was 2:30 from the bottom, so, not my fastest ever, but a damn good effort none-the-less. A great day in the woods, too.
From W. Asheville->Biltmore Forest->Blue Ridge Parkway->Town Mountain Road->Downtown->Clingman back to W Asheville.
28.5 miles, 3830′ climbing.
I decided to head out around 2PM. I called Erinna so someone would know where I was going to be and she knew exactly what I meant when I said ‘The Two Hour Ride’. Right from the get-go I was feeling pretty good so by the time I got to Biltmore Forest I was ready to hammer. That stretch is always longer than expected but I still felt like I made good tim through there. It was a beautiful Fall day, temps in the 60’s, strong breezes, a cloudless sky, and leaves *almost* at their peak color. Next was the Blue Ridge Parkway headed North. Everytime I stood up on the bike it made a click click click sound but I put in (what felt like) a heavy duty pace all the way to Rt70. After crossing the Swannanoa River I knew waht was next…. I mean come on….. rivers aren’t at the TOP of mountains, now are they? By the time I got to the overlook I felt like my heart was going to leap out of my chest and run away screaming He’s Crazy! He’s Crazy! So about 100 yards later I took a break. A few deep breaths and a drink of water later my heartrate was back down into the lower 200’s so I peddled off up up up to Craven’s Gap. Once you’ve done a route a few times (and you don’t use a computer) you find landmarks that let you know how close you are… or how far you are…. from the top. I sure was happy to see the ‘beware of sudden icing’ sign because a little more up, then a nice relaxing down later, I was at the gap. upupupupupup one more time and then the fun had begun …. downhill all the way back to downtown Asheville. I had one car pass me up at the top but other than that I had the downhill lane all to myself. I pushed HARD at the bottom and came flying into the final big swoopy turn so fast….. the bike was leaned over so far…. oh…man…. I passed the road of death (where drivers can’t see you swooping through that turn at 45mph)…. and looked up and saw the downtown skyline, with the mountains behind, still traveling at 30+, and thought to myself…. I’m so thankful to be here…. and to able to do this. A quick jaunt through downtown was next, followed by one more climb from the French Broad River back up to W. Asheville, and I was done. Oh, and time from start to finish? 1:55
The Pisgah MTB Adventure (the race Erinna and I thought up and produce) was voted one of the best cycling events in WNC by the readers of the Mountain XPress!!!!! How cool is that?!?! Thanks everybody!
It’s now Sunday afternoon and Erinna and I just got in from an excellent weekend in the woods. Mike Brown and I arrived in the forest around 9AM Saturday looking to go on the scheduled ride with all the fools camped out at White Pines, but luckily we didn’t have any rush on…. the 9AM ride didn’t get going until 10 til 11. A freakin huge group started up Clawhammer and at Buckhorn Gap 12 of us split off of the ummmm 50? rider ride for the LOOOOOOONG loop. The crew out for the biggin’: Beefcake, Tomato, Broussard, Teamdicky, SingletrackPig, Valorie, Mike B., Dennis K., Brain N., David G., Steve and Eric from Michigan, and myself. The route for the day: 477->Clawhammer->Black->Turkey Pen->S Mills. Val, David, Rich, Mike, Steve, Eric, and I broke off from the rest at this point and continued on Mullinax->Squirrel->S.Mills->Buckhorn->???->Avery Creek->477 back to the camp.
34.6 Miles 10,000 feet of climbing. (!!!)
Erinna had her own great ride yesterday. She had to work until the afternoon so she rode from Asheville to White Pines…
47.5 miles 9600′ climbing dayuuuuuuum! After a LATE night she even got up and went riding with Mike and Kassi for Clawhammer->Maxwell->Black with Sophie and Max. Way to go Sweetie!
Plus, with weekends like this the opportunities for great photos come up. My nomination for photo of the year goes to Brado for this one: