I got out today for about two hours on the bike at Bent Creek. I started at the new parking lot and headed up to Boyd Branch Rd->Sidehill?->Ingles Field Gap->N. Boundary-> to Green Slick->Sidehill->Little Hickory Top->Ingles->??->all the way down down down to Hardtimes connector->Hartimes->pavement->back to the new lot.
quick breather on Sidehill:
I started with a quick mechanical issue since I just reinstalled the Brooks Swift saddle, it wasn’t in the right position. I then had a great climb and only dropped into the little ring for the steeeeeeep part of Ingles Field. I was amazed at how quickly I got to Green’s Lick so I must have been feeling good. It was a hot, busy day at Bent Creek. There were riders and hikers around just about every corner. Oh, on the way up Ingles I was almost runover by a dude on a rigid 29er. I saw him, called out ‘rider-uuuuup….’ and he went into an awesome emergency skid/tailslide and buzzed by me with a smile and a nearly incomprehensable ‘thnxmn’. That made me smile.
It was a hot day and the plants were suffering along with the rest of us. I found this flower soon after the Sidehill break. Too bad the focus is off… Anyone out there know of a DURABLE point-and-shoot with EXCELLENT macro capabilities?
Anyway, at Green Slick there was a whole crew lining up so I didn’t rest, I took 2nd place behind their leader. They were having trouble with the topmost filter thing so I decided it was a good idea to get ahead. I passed the 1st guy as soon as he realized I wasn;t in his group but he held on and he had a great run of the top. When I flew into the triple filter I lost him though. I stopped at the little up and he came flying up with a smile and told me I was rockin’ it…. sweeeet. He had never seen a Waltworks before so I showed him some of the finer points before heading down the next 2/3 of the downhill BMX track that we have now…..
Erinna and I got out this evening for a fun little road ride. From W.Asheville->Beverly->Riverview->Riverside->turn at the water plant->up to Merrimon->Griffing->Patton Mtn Road (gravel road in the city)->Town Mtn Rd.->MLK->Charlotte St->Asheland->McDowell->Amboy->State->Hanover. Under two hours at an easy pace.
It’s Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time…..
Thanks Jody, I had that song stuck in my head all day because of you….
Jody F. and I got out today and did Heartbreaker via Curtis Creek today. We carpooled from the Swannanoa exit to the geyser and got started at a few minutes after 10AM. We were rockin’ today! We did the whole ride in just over 6 hours! Actually, over 6 is FAR too long for this ride… I bonked pretty hard once we hit the parkway.
The ride started after two others didn’t show up with the climb up to Star Gap. We were giving the switchbacks up our all and the intersection came pretty quickly. Jody had never done the Star Gap/Grassy Road of Death/ Curtis Creek loop so I was happy to let him lead out on that killer descent to the grassy road. New trail in Pisgah is becoming a rare thing; I figured he’d have a blast. He did, we rocked it out. The turn onto grassy road was followed by the rollers then the big climbing rollers, and then the big climbing started…… then the big descent to Curtis Creek. I must have pushed a little too hard on those few (4-6?) miles because when I hit the bottom I had vivid memories of Teamdicky and The Wonderboy riding away from me from that same spot.
Jody fiddlin’ with his brakes on Grassy Road:
Jody was on a SS and feeling good so he was out front immediately. Aaawwww hell…. Here we go….Curtis Creek turns from pavement to gravel then the pitch heads upward in a severe fashion. I was in granny gear nearly right away and visions of walking the upcoming 5 miles on the parkway were dancing through my head. The road has finally been completely repaired from the Hurricanes of 2004 and that made the going easier than before. Not that they are say… easy…. just… easier than before. The new bridges are taller also, so getting up onto them requires negotiating a longer, steeper pitch now. Jody was waiting at the bridges and I showed him the incredible damage that was done by the seemingly innocent trickle of a creek that was under this new massive bridge. Anyway, as I had warned Jody, the road then gets even steeper once again and it was everything I had to keep my heart rate down, my temp under control (It MUST have been approaching 90*), to drink, eat, soft pedal…. Then we hit the gravel road switchbacks and I took my jersey off. Of course, right away a thunderstorm decided to pop-up and the jersey was back on as soon as the cold rain hit my bare skin. Notice I’m going on and on about this climb. Well, there’s a reason why…. It goes on forever and ever. When you finally see the parkway…… It’s like, still 3 more miles of horrific climbing to get there. uuuugh.
When we got to the parkway I was cooked. Two miles of mind numbing, calf cramping, hell climbing then two miles of blissful road descending then another mile of climbing passed then we turned at Heartbreak Ridge. We stopped there before the hike-a-bike and took a niiiiiice looooooong breather. The rest did me good, the hike was over quick and the descent down heartbreak was all that separated us from the vehicle. Oh yeah, it rained on us from the top of Curtis Creek almost all the way to Heartbreaker.
Heartbreak Ridge was slick and slimy. Jody took lead and I had a great time following him. Having just two people out there was a blast. Don’t get me wrong, big groups are fun too… but when two are it, there’s no checking up. We were cautious but moving fast. Trying tech moves but not riding over our heads.
Well, almost… here’s Jody after letting his front wheel slip off the side of the trail:
The second climb was over before I knew it and as we were stopped by a hiker (who was looking for an ‘at risk youth’ who ran off down Star Gap hours before…. dumbass) I was surprised we were there already. switchbackswitchbackswitchback….. and we were at the campthen gravel, cross the tracks, gravel, pavement and back at the car/miniminivan thing just over 6 hours after we started. Thank the lord because I was D-O-N-E.
Thanks for waiting for me and having such a great attitude Jody. I hope your wife isn’t too mad that I kept you out for so long! Oh and great riding as always.
Oh, check back later for videos. Right now I going to eat a big meal, drink a beer, say Hi to my sweetie, get ready for work tomorrow, watch Le Tour on Le Tee Vee, and….. well…. actually check back tomorrow for videos….
Erinna and I just got in from a little over two hours out on the bikes. We started at 2:15 at the Campground Connector in Bent Creek. Rain had passed through earlier in the day and had given way to temps in the 80’s, sunshine, and the threat that the rain wasn’t quite over. We climbed Bent Creek road all the way to the parkway to start. Erinna kept the pace high and we got to the parkway SOAKED with sweat. It was muggy and warm and that climb is a tough way to warm-up. We hit the parkway and rode through the three tunnels and past the two overlooks and turned at the top of Trace Ridge. Remember kiddies, always walk you bike within parkway boundaries….mmmmkay? When we reached the Spencer intersection the threat of rain was replaced with huge thunder boomers off in the not so distance. We contemplated heading down Spencer but forged onward to the top of the little hell climb where Trace really starts to descend. Erinna noticed something was wrong with the front end of her bike but couldn’t figure out what…. so I rode to the top. I also figured out what was wrong…. she had a slow leak in the front tire. As I changed the tube out the storm caught up to us. The thunder boomed and Erinna asked ‘are you scared?’ I said ‘No, not really, I want to get off this peak though’ She replied ‘well, I am…..’ I finished as quickly as possible then we retraced our steps and headed down Spencer towards FS5000. What was suddenly upon us was more than a thunderstorm. It was a sign of the apocalypse. It was pea/marble size hail, lightning/thunder with simultaneous flash/concussions, raindrops the size of golf balls, and suddenly Spencer Gap trail became Spencer Gap creek. The water was flowing so fast that our actual speed was hard to judge. The trail looked like it was made of chocolate milk and moving faster than we were.
Here’s a shot of Erinna at the field on Spencer Gap:
I was laughing out loud repeating adjectives: Amazing. Unreal. Unbelievable. REDICULOUS! The trail was a flowing body of water, 6 inches deep. I was also thinking to myself: I’m freezing cold. This storm has GOT to pass. Thank God the wind is low… I don’t need to dodge a falling tree right now.
The storm did pass just as we hit 5000. Erinna once again held the pace high and in what felt like no time at all we were back at the BRP. As it goes when the forecast is ‘30% scattered thunderstorms’ here the sun was out and as we started our descent back into Bent Creek we were actually watching steam rise from the roadbed. We took the left onto Lower Sidehill trail and after a little climb were descending on singletrack. It looked like that side of the ridge had hardly gotten rain at all.
Erinna haulin’ ass at the bottom of Lower Sidehill. Big wheels rollin’!
We beat the rain back to the Jeep, got loaded up and got out of there so Erinna could get back to her studies. We did meet an interesting crew at the end. One girl had crashed hard on Green’s Lick but she was unharmed and in her morale was high. Her beau limped her bike out for her though… it didn’t fare as well… the front wheel was… not so round….
Memorable ride for sure. 2.5 hours out. Thanks for taking a study break Sweetie!!!
Today was great. I got out and did Laurel/Pilot from Yellow Gap with a fun crew:
Ian ‘the pony’ L.:
and Cody S.:
I had never ridden with Callum or Cody before. Actually, Cody and I hadn’t even met until Ian pulled up in his big-ass-truck around noon-thirty today. We drove up to Yellow Gap and were on the trail pretty quick. Everyone but me hit the trail like bats out of hell but after about ten minutes Ian and I were riding together. I passed and kept the pace solid but not over the top (read: I didn’t chase Callum and Cody) and Ian held my wheel… dispite his huffing and puffing. Even though the tempo started high everyone, including me, was out just to be out in the woods and have fun. Long breaks and laughs were abundant. … So were high cadences, big efforts, and the usual git-it-git-it-git’s…. and yeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!’s….. and WHOOOOO GOOD JOB MAN!!!’s. Just like a couple of days ago Laurel’s landmarks passed by quickly. This time around I made more of an effort to clean the lower super-tech and am happy to report a little practice makes for excellent results. I cleaned just about every ridable obstacle *cough*exceptthesupereasyfirstcreek*cough*. I left the chain in the middle ring more than I probably should have, too…. but I was feeling good. Callum and Cody were climbing like madmen all day. Cody wasn’t even clipped in. After a quick breather at the gap we took the Pilot connector and for the first time in forever I cleaned it! Callum was right there with me and moments after we hit Pilot Cody and Ian arrived. The descent down Pilot started with me following Callum and Cody but I passed Cody at the first safe place. Callum was lipping off of any little thing he could and we both took the switchbacks like we were on rails. We regrouped at both overlooks and at the no-name trail to the inner-loop. Cody took a hard spill and jacked his wrist, Ian’s quads were locking-up, and a HUGE thunderstorm was overhead so the decision was made at the intersection to head down rather than up-over-and-around the Slate/Pilot loop. The trail was slick and soupy in moments but we were at the road and headed back to the big-ass-truck before it got too bad. Callum and Cody rocketed away on the final climb and Ian and I chilled, knowing that no-matter-what…. we were only going to be only five minutes behind…. and he had the keys.
A few videos from the Pilot Rock descent, following Callum:
hmmmm… photobucket wasn’t cooperating earlier so here’s the same vid on youtube. It was dark out because of the impending thunderstorm so the original vid isn’t the best…. but boy o boy does youtube’s compression suck!
I made it out today for an excellent ride: From N. Mills River Campground->FS1206->Laurel Mountain->Gnome trail->Blue Ridge Parkway->Big Creek->Reservoir Road->Lower Trace->Fisherman’s Trail back to the Jeep. 19.5 miles, 3500′ of climbing, 3:55 out.
The view from the parkway:
I started at 1:20 and was pleased that the initial climb to Yellow Gap took only 35 minutes. I’m feeling out of shape but none-the-less 35 minutes is only 5 off my target for that climb. I took a quick breather at the gap but continued the climb up Laurel after just a moment. Climbing Laurel is like having a conversation with an old friend. You know where it’s going and about how much energy you’ll expend but they always surprise you with something new, witty, or just plain easy to laugh at. The landmarks clicked by and before long I was resting at the meeting log. I had tunes in my ear the entire day and after that rest I put on an early 90’s phish concert. That really got my blood pumping and I stood and hammered for the next few gaps. It’s amazing what singing out-loud can do for the spirit… not that I was in low spirits to begin with, it’s just that I was really having fun at that point. The $2000 climb was next and I took another breather at Turkey Spring Gap. I decided there to take the gnome trail to the parkway rather than the normal Pilot connector->Pilot route and I’m glad I did. It has been about a year since I’ve been back there…. in Gnome land…. The trail gets crazy tech, moss blankets rocks like hot fudge on a sundae, plants grow out of rocks…. TREES grow out of rocks, the penalty for falling is at least a 10′ drop at all times….. and there are crazy holes in the ground, No, gaps between whatever the ground is made up of… that could house….. all sorts of creatures. Anyway, I hit the parkway and in a matter of moments turned to head down Big Creek. That trail drops over 2000′ in less than 2 miles. Yes, it kicks ass. I was feeling great, I nailed all the switchbacks, negotiated the off camber rooty messes, stopped before running into downed trees, it was a good run. The one problem I had was that my rear brake decided to stop working about 3/4 of the way down. That made the last bit… shall we say… not so easy. At the bottom I waited for my brake to cool before heading down the riverside portion of Big Creek. That section of trail is similar to S. Mills River trail…. courduroy, soup pits, river crossings, baby heads, all mixed in with smoooooooooth straight aways. A brief stop at the dam for a photo, the final climb, then the decent down lower Trace followed.
The river was running so low today that I finally got my feet wet crossing the river there then I was at the Jeep 100 yards later. What a beautiful day to be in the woods, what beautiful woods to be in on this day.