Erinna and I just got in from another ride in Pisgah. This time it was 4 hours even in the woods with a 1/2 hour rest at Courthouse Falls. Here’s the profile for now.
and one photo:
We started across the street from Cove Creek Campground on 475 and went up towards Gloucester Gap. It had been a long time since I had climbed that and it wasn’t as bad as I had remembered. On our way up there was a runner trucking along with a camelcak on. As we passed he put fist fit out for a quick knuckle high-five, that was fun. The crazy bastard then ran up from Gloucester Gap to Farlow Gap right behind us. Well, he would fall back on the ‘flat’ sections and catch us again every time the road really pitched upwards. When we got to the gate before Farlow he was only a few seconds behind us and when he arrived he was in very high spirits and was as impressed that I rode up single-speed as I was that he ran THAT hill at THAT pace. Awesome.
I had to get his photo. If anyone knows this guy tell hime we were really really really impressed.:
After the gate the route turns into rocky old road bed for another mile or so to Farlow Gap. There are a bunch of places where the Art Loeb trail intersects but if you follow the most beaten path there’s no way to get lost. We passed Farlow and continued on the old road bed until it wrapped around Pilot Mountain and we took a right on Kissee Creek Road, a.k.a. Stingging Nettle Road.
Here’s Erinna rolling down the road:
and crossing the creek:
The road was much more overgrown than a couple of months ago when Camye, Sarah and I did this same route and the stingging nettles were Baaaaaaaaaaaaaad this time around. Note to self: Jelly-fish and stingging nettle and poisen ivy effects most people adversely. Just because MY skin isn’t bothered by such pests, doesn’t mean others aren’t greatly affected by it. I made it to the one stop and thought ‘hmm, my arms and legs are a little itchy. I wonder if there was stingging nettle back there?’ Erinna got there screaming ‘F*CK! AAAAHHHHHH!!! My legs are on FIRE!!!! AAAHHHHHH F*CK!’ Well, that sealed the deal, we were headed to the waterfall to wash off.
It was a beautiful day (up to this point) and the conditions were perfect for rinsing off in the pool. Here’s Erinna feeling much less itchy and waving to the camera:
After we spent nearly a half hour down at Courthouse Falls we got rolling again on Summey Cove trail. Summey cruises along, la-tee-da, nice and easy until…. it goes straight up. It was as if the people that planned and built that trail just drew a line from 215 to Courthouse Creek and decided THAT is where the trail is going to be. It goes up up up up over the ridge via a torturous hike-a-bike and back down the other side to 215 just as steeply. No switchbacks, just waterbars. We had noticed that the clouds had been growing ever more dark and grey as we traveled and once we hit 215, the sky opened up. We cruiesed pretty quickly back to Courthouse Creek Rd and turned right onto the old road bed that would take us back to Gloucester Gap. We turned and the rain really started to come down.
Well well well… This single-speeding thing is making me feel kinda like a superhero. At one point today I even wanted a cape. The ride was only 90 minutes but it sure was painful and fun.
Erinna and I were the only ones riding on this beautiful summer day. Well on this ride at least. We started (after battling interstate traffic) at the Pink Beds. We took 276 to 477 to Club Gap. That was not an easy warm-up. I cleaned the steps at the bottom of Club and pushed really hard as far as I could. I got to the first big switchback before having to rest. Erinna took the lead at that point and we marched up the trail, um.. on the bikes all the way to Club Gap, the place. I had to stop a bunch of times to catch my breath, but really wanted to try to clean as much as possible. We had an awesome climb. There were hoots and hollers of encouragement, pain, surrender, and accomplishment. Cleaning any trail after that was nearly impossible. Black is painfully steep in a few spots, painfully tech in a few spots, and more or less painful until the down hill to the shelter. We zoomed past the shelter, I rode the steps to the top of Clawhammer, and we went down Buckhorn towards S. Mills River with very little rest. Buckhorn was tons of fun, easy going downhill wide open gentle grade singltrack all the way to the concrete bridge. Up to the gravel and we hammered all the way to 1206. Once on 1206 we raced a little bit, watched how fast I could spin my cranks if I really really really really really tried on te downhills and just like that, with smiles and fun all the way, we were at 276 and nearly back at the Jeep. After a cold beer and some peanuts we were directly off towards cheap Mexican food.
Erinna and I did a fun little ride yesterday evening at Bent Creek. We started at Hardtimes, went to Homestead to Little Creek to Deerfields to South Boundary Road. We took that to 479, up to Lower sidehill, back down to the campground connector and back through Homestead to Hardtimes.
Erinna and I decided to get out there right after my first single-speed ride the day before. We kept our plans and arrived and were ready to ride by 6pm. The pace was quick right from the get-go partly due to the lack of parts on my bike. Single-speed bikes are fast because you’re either riding… or not. My 29er w/32-23 gearing was again super fun and never too hard. We quickly made our way through the singletrack and onto the gravel. I had only ever been there once before, during the rain ride, so I didn’t expect the road to continue on, or the hill to continue up, for nearly as long as it did. There were a ton of riders out including a father/son couple that looked like beginners but were definately putting effort into the ride. That was cool to see and we gave them words of encouragement as we rode by. We made our way to 479 and they had just graded the road recently. That made the climb up to Lower sidehill a bit harder but we took the opportunity to pick up some flakes of mica for an art project of Erinna’s. Getting to the top was tough on the single-speed but I just grunted a lot and forced my bike up here. As we started the descent I realized another reason I like the SS. Erinna was right there for he entire descent! How cool is that?!? Rather than shifting into the big ring and totally rocking it out, I had one gear and just used gravity to pull me down the hill. Because of that she got to witness me doing a log crossing and we both saw an absolutely HUGE Owl? Hawk? BIG BIRD fly ahead of us, about 20 feet in the air, down the trail with us for at least 5 seconds. That was soooooo cool. We saw it together, too, it wasn’t a mountain-bikers equivalent to a fish tale, we both saw it.
We made our way to the bottom and over to the campground connector very quickly. We decided to redo Homestead backwards to Hardtimes. On our way back to the Jeep who did we run into? The BioWheels group! Again! Damn I need to remember those guys head out on Thursday nights. The new group ride looks like a lot of fun, not the merciless race-pace hammer-head who’s-got-the-biggest-dick ride that I went on a number of months ago. Maybe I’ll join the new BioRide next week! Maybe so, Maybe not.
Got a few photos too… Here’s Erinna at the top of Deerfield Loop:
and again at the same spot:
and another shot of the equipment we use. Three vehicles, one made by Jeep, two made by WaltWorks.
Yesterday after work Mike Rischitelli and I rode the Classic Laurel Mountain loop from the campground.
It was my first ever single-speed ride and hot damn did I have a good time. Last weekend my drivetrain decided it had seen its’ last mile and replacing it is going to cost a bit of coin. I decided to gather the drivetrain from the cheapest sources possible and because of that I won’t see the parts for about a month. Can I go a month without riding my mountain bike? No. Does Erinna have an extra bike in the basement with all the parts I need to go Single-Speed for the month? Yes. So here it is, the latest incarnation of Mr. Sparkle, Silver the 3rd, my bike, whatever I decide to call it today:
So, I’m running a 29er with a 32×23. That was a fine first timer gear for me. Mike and I met up at Mr. Pete’s at 4pm. We didn’t dilly-dally around and went right to the trailhead. We decided to do the classic Laurel loop from the bottom. We decided to start at the bottom so I could feel out the lack of equipment that I was bringing along. We hammered all the way to the top whick, I soon found out, is the only option when single-speeding. We turned onto Laurel Mountain after the 3 mile climb to Yellow Gap. Fireroad was one thing, but singletrack was a new beast with the singlespeed, all together. I cranked down hard and flew through the first section. I made it to the first creek crossing and had my first taste of doubt. I usually click down into granny when crossing there but I didn’t have that choice. I pushed into it pretty hard and came out the backside with only one dab. Not bad! It was a very very hazy day with humidity at 200% and temps in the low 80’s. It looked like it was going to rain all day and the trail looked like it had been rained on hard all the night before. Laurel was as slick as I have ever seen it. My equipment choice was turning out to be just fine though. If I wanted to ride, which is what I was there to do, I had to pedal. To pedal I had to turn over that big ass gear. To turn the gear I pushed hard, rested often, and tried my best to spin whenever possible. That there is a recipe for moving along quite fast. We made it to the meeting log, the rock overhang, the switchback, and the $2000 climb in what felt like record time.
I took a few photos along the way. Here is Mike setting up for a tech section of Laurel Mountain Trail:
and at the Larel Mountain / Pilot Rock Connector:
It was a slick and slimy day on the trail. Perfect! says this little guy:
I found out an important lesson regarding Shimano cranks: Always use the top-cap bearing pre-load thingie. Twice while cranking along, putting maximum torque down on the cranks, this happened:
I had to let off a little bit at the top because I was worried about killing my cranks. We turned onto the connector and I pedaled what I could (which ended up being most of it, despite my cranks) and then on to Pilot Rock. Mike’s stomach was bothering him (damn IOBE meatballs) and wasn’t on his ‘A-game’ so he let me go out front. Actually, Mike was having a ‘jinxed’ day. He had stomach issues…. and a flat…. and got stung by wasps…. and wrecked… twice. Well everyone has those days every-once-in-a-while and it was his day. I, however, was feeling great. The whole single-speed thing was making me see spots, sweat like mad, and ride like a madman. Here’s a good madman shot:
I was wondering what the lack of gears would do on a big descent like Pilot Rock and I soon found out. We railed down Pilot, hammering the straight aways, carving the switchbacks, lifting over rocks and small gaps, doing everything we could to smash our way down the mountain. My hands were going pretty numb by the time we got to the lower overlook so we stopped there. I almost cleaned every switchback on the way down with the exception of one dab. Mike cleaned it all. He got in front after the overlook and took off. He must have entered the HumVee section (Now HumVee Creek) a bit too fast because when I arrived he was still wiping himself off after body-checking a boulder. Ouch! He walked that off and then got a flat. Doh! I didn’t hear him yell out ‘FLAT’ so I didn’t stop until the bottom. At the bottom there was a naked dude hanging out in the creek! I decided it would be best to wait at the road, not at the creek, for Mike. He had a world record fast tube change and was there in minutes. We had all fireroad to go after thatwhich went by pretty fast. All in all, a super fun, painfull ride. My first view of the world with my new single-speed eyes. Let’s just see if the gears get put back on in a month or not.
Mike Brown and I set out today to do an expedition size ride today but alas, our attempts were foiled. We started at my house in West Asheville, took Haywood Rd. to 191 and rode all the way to the Arboretum. We went into the woods there and followed the gravel to Bent Creek. We did Homestead->Little Creek->Explorer->Sleepy Gap->??->??->ummm… Mike will have to comment on the route. Anyway, we were going to ride up lower sidehill->479->5000->Trace-> well, then all the way to Davidson River but it didn’t work out that way. I woke up at 5:30 to a torential downpour. We got started about 45 miutes later than expected in rain that had lightened up a bit from ‘downpour’. We took the road to Bent Creek and got on singletrack where my machine immediately began to malfunction. A slight ‘cllllickity click’ when mixed with rain, mud, not much lube, and 1 year on the chain soon turned into full fledge chain-suck in the middle and little ring anytime I applied torque to the drivetrain. How annoying is that? Very. I checked for the obvious, siezed chain-link, burred rings, excessive mud, all that. Nothing showed itself as the obvious cause except the fact that my chain wiggles from side to side, my pullies look like amputees, and my cogs look like shark fins. Well, that’ll stop a ride. I tried to keep a smooth cadence but that didn’t really help so I decided it was time to bail. Mike decided to continue on with a Bent Creek epic, not to head to Davidson, and I limped on home. If I changed into anything other than the big ring I would chainsuck every third revolution of the cranks, even on the road so, I stood up alot and made it home pretty quick!
3 hours, milage and elevation yet unknown, all in the rain.
Well, I just got in from a fast fast fast ride at Bent Creek. In 55 minutes I did 479-> Lower Sidehill->Campground Connector->Pine Tree->Explorer Loop->479. I’m finally learning my way around that place! I stated out going far too fast for a warm-up. I passed a rider that wanted to talk while riding up 479. I talked with him for a minute and decided I wanted to go at a faster pace and switched into a bigger gear with a ’see ya later’. I pushed pretty good for a little ways, got a bit out of breath and looked behind me after about five minutes and he was still there! Well, a hundred feet back but, closer than I expected! I really put some effort in then. I clicked down, stood up, and hammmmmmmmmered up the hill. After the steep spot I waited for 10 seconds for him to come around the corner (about a hundred yards down the hill) but he did not. I continued on lower sidehill for the first time since it’s been Woodied. He did a great job rerouting the trail and making it sustainable in the long run. I was having fun at this point and took out the camera and messed around with the video feature. The first couple vids I shot while riding one handed, the others I took by putting the camera in my camelbak sternum strap. I’ll post them here…………………………
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6paMjqh1myQ Here a suicidal squirrel almost jumps into my front wheel (just before I drop the camera at 32 seconds into the video, watch close!) No, I didn’t wreck. It just looks that way…
Here’s a video preview from the camera for those with no time to upload:
Anyway, the redone Lower Sidehill is a blast. Super fast and lots of fun. The roots and rocks and all that made it a technical trail before will come back soon enough. After the bottom theres a turn here and a turn there, a little gravel and a little trail and then the campground connector. Smooth sailing through all that, Left onto Pinetree, Right onto Explorer Loop and who do I run into? The BioWheels group! Hey guys! I continued on to the end of Explorer Loop and thunder and lightning started to crack in the not so distance. Down the gravel side road and back to 479, Then I really hammered, again, to beat the rain. I made it back to the Jeep in less than an hour! Hell Yeah! I figured 1:15, at least, for that nice after-work-ride route.
Bill Fehr, Ian, and I just got back from a big ‘ole day in Pisgah. In total it was about 30 miles with about 6000 feet of climbing. We started at Yellow Gap, rode to 276 on 1206, took 276 to 477 then up Club Gap. Club to Black to the shelter. Buckhorn Gap trail was next, on to Wolf Ford and up Squirrel. Squirrel all the way to Laurel Creek, Laurel to Bradley, Bradley, Bradley to 5015 and back to Yellow Gap. 5 hours 15 minutes.
Here’s Bill as we make our way to Buckhorn Gap Shelter from Club Gap:
and Ian and Bill at the shelter. I love these guys!
Mike Brown, Wode, and I did a quick night ride Friday night. We started at the BRP, went down 5000 to Spencer, Spencer to Trace, down to Wash Creek, 5000 back to the top.
Here’s a photo of Mike Brown and Wode at the Spencer / Trace intersection:
We got a later than expected start because of a few factors, namely that I didn’t feel so good and Mike’s lights were being troublesome. We finally got on the bikes at 9:20pm. We cruised down 5000 through the warm damp August air. I felt much much better as soon as we got rolling and I got my heartrate up. We turned onto Spencer Gap trail and followed that on up. That trail is always a bunch of fun. It’s pretty steep right out of the box but mellows again (once many riders have been beaten down) about a mile later. The real steep stuff is over right after you clear the nasty nasty rooty section. I don’t think anyone cleaned it that night. The trail then continues up at a much easier grade and if you’re feeling good and pushing the middle ring, it’s over in no time. Spencer intersects Trace Ridge trail where we took a left. Trace continues up at that point for a few hundred yards or so. Once you get past that though, the fun is about to start. I love Trace Ridge. Trace is one of the fastest mountain bike descents I’ve found ever. Anywhere. I’m talking about sustaining 25 mph, on 18 inch wide trail, for 10-15 minutes. Fast. Soooooooo long. Mike Brown was really moving that night, too. I hung right on his back wheel, tailgating even. There were so many cool moments in that 10-15 minutes that I couldn’t possibly describe tham all. There was one moment though that I’ll try… Mike was about 20 feet up and absolutely flying. He would hit little lips and soar through the air. He would come into rocky sections a little too hot and demand his machine to do his bidding. He tore over the lip jump even though a tree was obscuring the view of the landing. It was an awesome run. I had this feeling while following that was like… I was directly connected to him like a train. He would react… I would react. He jumped…. I jumped. If he would have ran off the trail and over a clif, I probably would have followed. It was mindless, clear, ‘in the now’ riding. No thinking, only doing. Man and machine, connected as one. No reservations, no limits, no fear… no thoughts…Is that the feeling one gets from meditation? Once the descent was over I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. A calm euphoria came over me as we waited for Wode in the parking lot. It was so good that I’m really having a hard time putting the feeling into words. My feet finally floated back down to earth once we started the climb back up to the car. 4 miles of gravel road climbing later we were there. During the ride I got one flat, we stopped and checked out a big frog, and took a breather once or twice and we still knocked it out in 2 hours. Yeah!