Title quote from Ian B. Ian ‘the pony’ L. and I have been trying to get out on a ride together for the past week and today we were finally able to make it happen. Ian L., Mike B., Maximum Capacity the dog, and I met up with Ian B. at Rice Pinnacle around noon today. We started by climbing North Boundary to 5 points and continued up to Green’s Lick. Mike and Ian B kept a fast middle ring spin going and Ian L and I chilled in the back, a minute or two behind. The climb to 5 points was HOT HOT muggy and HOT. The climb to 5 points took forever but the climb to Green Slick was over in a matter of moments, or so it seemed. Mike and I watched as one Ian leapt ahead and one Ian fell behind and we chatted about who knows what until we got to the turn. I followed Ian B. down Green’s Lick and the following three videos are what followed:
Bad ass muthafunkin riding there folks. Thanks to Woody K. for the initial and then Ben B. for the rework we have one of the fastest, jump-filled, any skill level, death defying, grin bearing, whoop and holler producing 6 or 7 minutes of mountain biking that I know of anywhere around.
Anyway, next was the goat trail up to Sidehill. Goat was surprisingly tough and had Ian L and I walking while Mike and Ian B motored away. Sidehill was logged about a year ago but seems to be rejuvenating quickly. The trailbed is wider than before the logging and the only tech is at the creek crossings but otherwise if you didn’t know it had been different in the past, you wouldn’t know tractors and trucks and chainsaws had been there and that all the oil spills and cigarette butts that go along with logging are now just inches below the surface…
Ian feelin’ the burn….
Mike B asked to go ahead on the descent from 5 points on Ingles Field since he was feeling confident on his moustache bared, 26″ wheeled, road geared, V braked, rigid fork machine. I felt it was a perfect opportunity to break-out the video camera again:
Ian B led the final descent back to Rice Pinnacle and I learned something: Ian has gotten fast since the last time I rode with him. It took everything I had left to hold him on that descent.
When we hit the gravel we ran into Lela and her cousin. It was a perfect day to be in the woods and those two were out taking advantage of it, too.
Finally, we stopped by the grocery store on the way home and who came barreling into the parking lot like a circus? The Enduro de Ocho guys. It was like a party on wheels. I predict that if no-one gets arrested this year, well…. next year will be huge.
Do you know what’s great? Granny Gear on Pilot Mountain Road. You know what else? 100mm of front travel on Farlow Gap. The route today: Classic Farlow Gap. Solo:
It was a beautiful early Summer day. Temps in the 70’s, bright bright blue skies with thunderheads everywhere. There was even a constant cool breeze to keep spirits high during the hell climb which is Pilot Mountain Road. Since I was by myself I took along the ipod and kept it down low. I could just barely hear my music over the crunch of gravel under my tires. I was pumped and singing outloud. I felt that I must be out of shape because I dropped it into granny right after the turn at Gloucester Gap. The thing is I peddled all the way to the top for the first time in… a long time. I had to stop once where the road gets seriously steep but pushed on all the way past the gate and to the Farlow Gap trailhead. The climb took me just over an hour from Daniel Ridge to Farlow. I turned on the camera at the top and had a great first run. As always, and especially so with this vid, think MUCH MUCH steeper and MUCH MUCH faster than it looks. Oh, on this one, the drops and rocks are also MUCH MUCH larger than they appear on vid:
I was feeling great and after making it down the most heinous section of the trail in Pisgah was ready to try just about anything…. Well…. except for the log crossing that tossed me onto my head a couple of months back. I rolled up on it and said ‘No Way!’ even though the stuff I had just cleaned was 10 times harder than that little obstacle. Farlow has one little hike-a-bike after the first creek then he descending starts again. After some typical Pisgah descending the trail intersects with Daniel Ridge trail A quick right down the steps and another killer descent was ahead.
I made it to the bottom unscathed and surprised to find substantial new construction down at the river. The forest service has replaced the bridge knocked out in the 04 hurricanes with a steel monster truss bridge! Sweet! I don’t think that thing is going anywhere. Erinna and I got out later in the evening and met all the crazies running the Enduro De Ocho race/event/ reason to get capital D Drunk and play on bikes down at the track. They had the Zoom Bus and BMX bikes out there after dark. After a bit of contemplation we decided to get out of there before we saw blood…. or blue flashing lights…..
Today I went out for the rarest of rides…. Monday…. Solo….. Turkey Pen….Geared…. AND suspended! and had an excellent time. My route: 66 jumps->S Mills->Mullinax->Squirrel Gap->S. Mills->all the way back to 66 jumps. 16.4 miles, 3400′ of climbing, 3.5 hours. The ride in one word: Technical. Anyway, the gears made me very happy, to say it simply. I had more fun climbing today than I have in a long long time. I took pride in my technical climbing abilities and put them to the test. I tried everything and cleaned just about all of it. The descents were worth mentioning, too. Being able to put it into the big ring and hammer on singletrack is something I had forgotten all about. I felt like the whole forest was at my fingertips… or within my pedalstrokes…. In short, I had a f**king GREAT day on the bike today.
Something crazy happened on the interstate on the way home. A thunderstorm had just passed through and a bridge was flooded. Traffic was coming to a sudden stop and a dumptruck, two or three vehicles ahead of me, while decelerating from 50 mph lost control. The multiple tons of steel spun 270* before sliding off the interstate and slamming into the embankment. As I passed I was able to see the driver dialing a cellphone…. I figure he was OK…. I called 911 anyway….
So, a few more facts about the ride. The climb to Squirrel was a great warm-up and I held it in the granny gear for most of the time. I stopped at the crest at Laurel for a breather and more or less decided there to go for all of squirrel and not drop Cantrell. A stopped again at Cantrell to make sure that’s what I wanted to do and hammered hammered hammered all the way past Horse and on to the far end of Squirrel. The section of Squirrel from Cantrell to Wolf Ford is some of the very best singletrack anywhere. Super tough roots and rocks everywhere, a technical riders dreamscape. It’s seriously a place where if you’re not on your A game, you’re walking. Another quick breather at the Wolf Ford bridge and I was headed down S. Mills.
Handmade the old way mitered with hack saws and files, before Walt got all fancy… and it’s still going strong:
S. Mills trail crosses the river 11 times along it’s route and only two crossings have bridges. Not the best place to find yourself in say, February, but late June? Perfect. The water was low making the crossings even more tolerable. I had forgotten just how tough the first 6 river crossings worth of trail is on S. Mills is. There isn’t much elevation gain or loss but you’re on your toes the entire time. The trail runs over old corduroy, tributary mudholes, babyheads, river crossings, and more downed trees than I could have ever expected. I started to feel my energy wane around the Cantrell Creek lodge ruins so I took my final break there. The trail mellows considerably after that point and I was big-ringing along, knowing the Jeep was now relatively close. I closed the loop by passing by Mullinax and rocketed up 66 jumps, and after stretching my legs out on the final (only) sprint….feeling great. I made it back to the Jeep with a total time out of just over 3.5 hours. Not fast, but good enough for me.
Another shot of the Waltworks, this time at the Cantrell Creek Lodge ruins:
what’s up with blog.com cutting all my photos at 480????
Oh one more thing, I haven’t mentioned in some time how grateful I am that life has brought me to Asheville. These trails are only 30 minutes away from my house. I dreamt of this type of living for a number of years… Now I’m living it. That’s so bad ass I cannot really put the feelings into words.
I built the geared bike up, went to Bent Creek, rode greens lick to sidehill to hardtimes connector and didn’t dismount once. The mojo was in full force. It’s good to have you back mojo.
*late edit* I went to the Bonnaroo Music and arts Festival last weekend and had a blast. My camp was about 1.5- 2 miles away from the stages so I figure that’s a work out worth mentioning. 4 days, 4-5 3+ mile round trips per day…. That’s a good number of miles of walking! Here are a few photos. Ghostland Observatory:
Sunrise after you know who:
The art of Such ‘n Such. Yes, that’s a giant zippo lighter:
I started my vacation this morning with a ride around Bent Creek. The route was my usual Green’s Lick loop, about an hour on the bike. The weather has been scorching hot for the last week. The heat, plus work, and a general since of laziness has kept me off the bike for a bit too long. The climb to 5 points had me off the bike a couple of times. Anyway, National Trails Day was this past weekend and Ben B. had organized it so 120+ volunteers showed up to do work on Green Slick. The trail was great before but now it is downright baaaaaaad-aaaaaaaasssssssssssssssss. It flows much better, the berms are in the right places, and the new rocky/rock armor sections are technical and top-notch. We had significant rains yesterday so it was a bit mushy in places but for a trail that had that many man hours of work done just last week, it rode GREAT. I took it easy on the descent because of the unknown changes ahead (my first ride on the reworked trail), it was SLICK and muddy in places, and I’m headed off to Bonnaroo tomorrow morning…. the last thing I need is an injury from a crash. I did have my camera with me and got these few shots.
Flowers and sunshine and mist on the climb to Green’s Lick
Erinna and I got out yesterday in the middle of the afternoon for a longish neighborhood run. Hanover->State->Haywood->Beverly->Riverview->Dog Park->Carrier Park (around the Mountains Sports Fest)->State->Hanover. 5 1/4 miles, 400′ climbing
Even though it was only around 80 degrees it felt like 110. This run hurt. I was sweaty immediately and the warm-up loop past Pro-Bikes was almost enough for me. Luckily my sweetie can kick my ass in running so she was ahead, striding along with as much effort as on a nice walk through the park on a breezy spring day….. well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but not much. Anyway, I just struggled along and broke through it and even started feeling good about half way through. Summer running is much harder and sweatier than I had realized. The chaffing I experienced after this one drove me straight to Dick’s. I went ahead and bought my first piece of running gear.