Mike R. and I got out for another excellent ride today. Starting at Coontree picnic area->276->475->Cat Gap->Long Branch->5095->475->5046->Daniel Ridge->225->475B->276->477->Bennett Gap->Coontree Loop->to the Jeep.
The day started with pavement and the idea that we would head up Cove Creek trail. Somewhere along the way I thought ‘why not head up Long Branch and find our way to 225 some other way?’. Mike is un-phased by spontaneity and just like that we were headed up the slimy muddy logwaterbarcovered climb towards Long Branch. The pavement was a great warm-up and we both tried our best to clean as much as we could. I tried the rockdrop a couple of times but decided to stay away from the high point, it was still early. The climb up long branch was full of spinning tires in two inch deep muck and climbs that were harder than I had remembered. We took a quick breather at 5095 then descended (mostly) to 475. The trails were in nasty shape today and highspeed technical descending was probably not a good idea. We did, however, get highspeed riding in today. That gravel road was the first great descent of the day. Not tech but FAST and when moving FAST in slippery conditions…. old gated doubletrack was tech enough. Next we turned at the Daniel Ridge parking lot and started to climb another old gravel road. We passed by both Daniel Ridge trailheads, climbed past the redblaze connector, and were again surprised by the steep, unrelenting climbs. We turned on upper Daniel right after the waterfall:
(I did remember that climb was coming) and took the connector upupup to 225.
It was the first time in memory that I had taken 225 headed to 475B. In the wet and slimy conditions the descent was superfast, superfun, and supersketchy. I plowed my front wheel at a 45* through one turn…. without turning a bit. The resulting mark was easily 25′ long. After 225 we climbed 475B past CaseCamp then descended to 276. Another plan change at that point, I was feeling fatigued and asked Mike what he thought of just 477 to Bennett rather than 477->Club->Buckwheat->Bennett. He was cool with it so the climbing resumed after another quick breather at 477. When we got to Bennett there was a family of like, 25 people…. kids to grandmas having a weekend after Christmas campout. That was decidedly odd, even on this beautiful 60* threatening clouds and bright blue skies day…. but after a couple of hello’s we were climbing the false-climb up and over Bennett.
We took it easy but I still knocked out the Qbert rock.
The thread the needle was still daunting after the last time I was there so…. I walked that one. The final descent wasn’t the fastest either but was as fun as ever. I hopped the logs, wheelie dropped from here to there again and again, and with big smiles we turned onto Coontree without a break. Coontree is tech, steep, and fast fast fast all the way back to the Jeep. Well, there are a few creek crossings to walk towards the bottom:
Great ride on a beautiful early winter day. Completely new loop for the both of us.
Turkey Pen: warm, dry, and sunny? on Christmas Eve?
Turkey Pen is always cold, wet, and cloudy. Today was no exception. Mike R. and I got in a great 2.5 hour ride: S. Mills River->Cantrell Creek->Squirrel Gap->Mullinax->S.Mills River back to the vehicles. Erinna and Sophiedog came along also and ran out and back on Turkey Pen to Black Mountain. We started at the same time, and as Erinna had predicted, finished at the same time. It was one of those magical Pisgah timing experiences!
Just under 12 miles, Just over 1600′ of climbing.
Compare that to my badass wife’s day:
That’s right. Over 4500′ of climbing (2900′ more than us) in just about the same number of miles….. on foot. Here’s Mike keeping his feet dry on Cantrell:
C’mon man…. all the cool kids are doing it….
Squirrel Rhodo tunnel:
Mike on Squirrel:
We show up from one direction, she shows up from the other. Amazing.
Erinna ran the entire Art Loeb trail today. Here’s a photo of one of the many big views she had:
and one more shot… last weekend was the Warren Haynes Xmas Jam. Erinna and I worked late into the early morning three nights in a row. We saw a ton of great music and ran into more friends than we ever expected.
I got out for a fun frozen ride today with a group of great people. Ian ‘the pony’ L., Wode, Mike B, Jody F., Wes M., and I got started around 10:30 in sub-freezing temps at N. Mills River Campground. The route for the day: 1206->Laurel Mountain to Turkey Spring Gap….. then we retraced our steps all the way back to the vehicles. It was Ian’s first mountainbike ride in months so the pace was super slow…. but mission accomplished: a fun group went out on a super cold day and had a great time.