Mike and Kassi B. and I rode from West Asheville to Bent Creek today. The route once we got into the woods: Through the Arboretum–>Hard Times road–>South Ridge road –> Sleepy Gap–>Explorer–>??? gravel–>FS479–>Lower Sidehill–>??? gravel–>Sidehill–>Little Hickory Top–>Ingels Field–>???->Hard Times Connector->Hard Times road back to the Arboretum
Mike B. haulin’ ass on NC191:
Here’s the map of the route at Bent Creek:
oops! It looks like I forgot to turn the GPS back on after a couple of stops.. click to make big.
Mike and Kassi:
And a shot of Kassi as we made our way through the Arboretum, back to NC191, and on to Westville:
Oh man I nearly forgot. We ran into this guy near the end of the ride. Things to note: Early 90’s Pro Flex, no shirt / tiny shorts, bright-white shoes, skateboard helmet… and having a f’ing great time. (please feel free to add to the list).:
I might as well add these photos to this photo post… They are from my last time out, the trailwork ride, but I just got them off the camera. The view from FS5018. It was a beautiful day to be in the woods. You can see Black and Clawhammer mountains and Looking Glass rock in the background: (click to make big)
Fuzzy Flowers on 5018
and Mike R on is first ride out after the great crash of ‘08. Great to have you back Mike.:
I got a fun ride in on Saturday. Mike B was at my house at a little after 8AM and we picked up Mike R at his place just before 9. Our plan for the day: Start at Bradley Creek trail on 1206, head to S. Mills River Rd, to 5018, to Horse Cove, to Squirrel. We met up with 10 other folks at the big mudhole inbetween Horse and Cantrell and did a ton of work to clear it out. Here are a few before/after shots courtesy of Mark A.:
This was Mike R’s first ride since his horrific crash at the beginning of the summer and it was great to have him back out in the woods. He relied on his considerable base to get to the top and was only a moment or two behind when Mike B and I got there. He decided to play it safe and walk down Horse to Squirrel and offered up his 5×5 squishy for me to try out for the descent. I took him up on it and had a great fast run. I realized along the way that by no means do I need a full suspension ride… it’s sooooooo fast that it’s dangerous. Anyway, I hopped back on the rigid SS for the ride out to the mudhole and had a great time hopping logs and cleaning just about everything. We were the first to arrive at the site and started by collecting rocks for the armoring that was to come. When the others did get there the plan of attack was presented and everyone went right to work. Well, 5+ hours later that stretch of trail had been completely transformed into something beautiful, sustainable trail. The mudhole was self perpetuating because of two odd things we found in the muck…. spring heads! Yes, water was coming directly out of the rock and was being held in place by logs, mud, muck, decomposing organic matter of all sorts. We cleaned them out and now water flows freely over the rock and down the hill. We also created a rock water bar and three sections of rock armoring that should stick around for a decade or two…. now that’s good work! We wrapped it up around 4PM and started the return journey to the Jeep. The climb back up Horse really got my heartrate up as I was following geared Mike B and didn’t want to get off the SS. Up to the truck where Mark A had stashed a few budweisers for the work crew (mmmmmm….. bud has never tasted sooooo gooooood) and moments after Mike R was done with his we were flying down 5018. I got a bit out of control on 1206, having not been on the rigid in a loooong time I had forgotten how to steer through the sweeping turns (more back brake then front! Don’t push the front wheel into the corners!) and we were back to the Jeep quickly. Mike R was again only moments behind but this time his face had a huge smile plastered across it and we was excited that his legs were going to be tired for the first time in months. It was a great day to be in the woods, too. Absolutely beautiful with a chilly start and a warm sunny day to follow. Blue skies, mild breeze, rain a few days before…. beautiful. Thanks for arranging the work day Mark!
Today I got out for an interesting ride. Laurel-> Pilot from Yellow Gap. Erinna started about 10-15 minutes before me, on foot, and I didn’t catch her until almost the meeting log. At one point I though, had she been abducted by aliens? no, she’s just a badass, even after months of downtime. The warm-up was as hard as ever and I had to stp and adjust my shifters, the thumbies don’t play nice with the strokers but that was no excuse, she covered ground quickly on foot. I took a quick breather at the meeting log but Erinna (oh, and Sophie) continued on with hardly a break. I caught them again about 5-10 minutes after I started and pushed a great pace through the gaps. At the switchback I was wondering if I could break the 2 hour mark again, and figured not. I knew Erinna wasn’t far behind but continued on and pushed the pace. When I got to the $2K climb I was singing out-loud and having a great time of it when lo-and-behold, Erinna was right there. Yes, in the time it took me to get to Turkey Pen Gap on bike, Erinna did it on foot. We stayed together to the top of the Pilot/Laurel Connector and we bid adieu with me saying, ‘I’ll meet you in the car somewhere on the gravel road…’ as was the plan. I railed Pilot. I was pulling freestylesque swichback turns. I went full-force into the straight aways. I took a quick look at the overlook, but hardly slowed. I cleaned the Hum-Vee section with relative ease, …. then… during the next series of strights I was hauling, feeling out the new brakes and the adjusted fork pressure and my front end slipped off the trail. In an instant I was sliding on my left forearm like it was a bulldozer, my right arm drug across rocks and roots, and faster than it started, the crash was done. I first thought I may have broken my hand (not true), then I saw the blood on my OTHER forearm… oooh my hip hurts…. yup, that’s quick for that big of a raspberry… then I thought…. time to get out of the woods and back to the vehicle. I was up immediately and (much more cautiously) headed towards 1206. A left then bigring down the fireroad. By the time I passed Bradley Creek my arm was covered in blood and I passed some motorcyclists their conversation stopped and they just watched as I passed. How ya doin’? one said…. I let out a grunt but that was about it. I had the climb from Bradley to Yellow ahead and I wondered if I could pull it off in less than 20 minutes as the timer said 1:41. I wanted to beat 2:00. I cranked it out, downshifted and stood when I could, and rocked it out in 12 minutes. Back to the car in 1:53. I then hopped in and picked up Erinna who was already about a mile or so down 1206 towards the finish when I reached her. Fast fast fast go of Laurel ->Pilot. Erinna ran it in an amazing pace, too.
A couple of hours ago I got in from another great ride, this time with Mike B and Maximum Overdrive the dog. We started at the Daniel Ridge parking lot->475->5095->Long Branch->475->5003->140A->Farlow Gap->Daniel Ridge back to the car. Just under 16 miles in 3:10 ride time.
As the warmup was underway I wondered if I was going to be able to hang with Mike for the whole ride. See, he just did the Shanandoah 100, toured the Colorado trail, and generally has clocked many more miles than me this summer. I decided early on to keep my own pace because if anything, Mike wouldn’t get upset about hanging out in the woods, with his dog, waiting for a friend. By the time we reached Gloucester Gap I was feeling pretty good and we kept a good moving pace to 140A. We stopped for our first real breather along the way and I was surprised when we arrived at the gate (which was open) that we were there already. Right onto 140A for the first time ever for me. I’ve descended it a dozen times, I’ve gone to Courthouse Falls and up Kissee Creek, but this was a first for me…. and it was tough. 140A is old roadbed doubletrack wide but covered in rocks the entire way. Pilot Mountain looms to the right until you can actually see Farlow Gap in the distance. Mike had an Oh Sh!t moment thinking we had missed the turn (taken the turn?) but quickly we passed the lefty and were on our way to Farlow. Mike got a good 5+ minutes ahead of me there. After a nice long break at the gap Mike took the lead into the descent. We both got stuck in the nasty rock field but cleaned just about every steep chute we could get our wheels in. We stopped at the first waterfall and went to the bottom to check it out (It’s great to stop and smell the roses).
Then it was the up down up down, across creeks, and railing through 12″ wide benchcut on the way to Daniel Ridge. Daniel went by superfast except for one memorable incident: Mike took a digger that sent him over the edge and down 20+’ into the ravine. He stopped sliding down the bank, hopped up, and was better than OK, he had just had the best thrill of the day. Yes, he was totally unharmed. Moments later we were at the gravel 1.5 track and across the new bridge. Great ride Mike. Thanks for not completely kicking my ass!
Well… I got in a little while ago from a great little big ride. I wouldn’t call it an epic by Mr. mountaingoatepics standards but… it was a ride that I would not take beginners on. Squirrel Gap to South Mills River to Black Mountain to Turkey Pen Gap starting at Turkey Pen parking lot. 20.8 miles of pure singletrack, 7250′ of climbing, 4:24 ride time + about 30 minutes of sitting still. 4.7 mph average and the GPS says 3250 calories burned. Yeah, Squirrel to Turkey isn’t easy.
I started a little after 12 at the Turkey Pen parking lot and hit the doubletrack down to the river. Across the bridge then a left onto S. Mills River trail. It was a tough warm-up and the right onto Mullinax took a while to get to. I found my groove heading up Mullinax to where Squirrel intersects at Pea Gap, though.
What was this odd wet stuff falling from the sky? RAIN!!! Glorious, glorious rain followed me from Pea, past the lefty to avoid Laurel Creek trail, and all the way to the peak. The trail started clicking by quickly with tunes in my right ear. I was groooovin’ and just like that, likity-fu*ckin-split there was Cantrell…. then a bit of rain jacket on-rain jacket off later I was at Horse Cove…. the last of the short ride bail-outs… I had it in me…. on To the end of Squirrel. I found that place along the way where time slips by unnoticed. I was shocked to find myself at the Wolf Ford and crossing the S. Mills River bridge at the other end… already.
Was I just spacing out or I was I hauling ass through slime covered rocks and roots and not paying attention to the passing of time? It was like a long drive really. I was by myself, I was going to Buckhorn next, the radio was on… never mind the threat of bodily harm that looms as every yard passed under my tires. never mind the gnomes that were out to get me, never mind the climbs, the fallen trees, the rock gardens….. I was, however, pleased to hit the ummm… mindless? eroded sandy doubletrack that was next. Much easier and I started imagining first timers out there. Poor bastards. Lefty onto Buckhorn proper and I took the headphones out for the climb to Black Mountain trail. The silver Waltworks was running flawlessly and long before I expected it I was at the gap, crossed Clawhammer and without a break continued on Black Mountain trail.
The insides of my legs didn’t like the off the bike climbing up the switchbacks so I slowed the pace until I reached Turkey Pen gap trail. Usually the section of Black to Turkey is notable for the only real views of the ride but today the view was nothing but a white fog. No view to be had today. I took a breather at the Turkey Pen trailhead but not a long one.
The rain resumed so I thought some good thoughts and attacked the first big descent. I thought about Erinna, I thought about how lucky I was to be out there, I thought about how I was probably about as far out there as it gets in the Pisgah district and grannied up the next climb, no time for the fatique to set in… the rest of Turkey was more of the same: Move fast, be safe, don’t cramp. Right towards the end I directed a couple of lost hikers back towards their car ,they took a photo for me,
then it was maybe 10 more minutes of descending back to the Jeep. Great solo ride to celebrate the end of a great summer.