Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sneakin' in one more before the end of the year...

My 60th ride of 2010.

23.1 miles, 2216' climbing, 1:43, 13.3avg, 32max. 26* 7:40AM start / light freezing rain 33* finish

Knowing that the forecast is for rain and otherwise nasty weather for the next few days I decided to get out on the roadbike this morning. I donned every piece of winter gear I have and was on the road right at 7:40AM. My plan was the classic two hour ride. Right away I realized the roads were in much worse shape than I had noticed from the safety of my automobile and had to employ more concentration than I had anticipated. Once I was in Biltmore Forest I was able to ease up the tension a bit but of course, that's right where the climbing begins.
I made it through Biltmore Forest in good time and turned North on the parkway. I was immediately greeted by the first of a series of barricades that I would see while up there.
It was pleasant riding alone on the carless strip of tarmac that is the closed Blue Ridge Parkway. I even popped the NPR piping headphone out of my ear to hear the hum of tires on asphalt, the swish of my windbreaker against itself, and the rhythmic breathing I was creating on my own.
When I crossed the Swannannoa River a golden retriever came out of nowhere and gave chase. What's up with the attack goldens lately? I attacked the hill in front of me and thought about a comment left after my last ride. If he was on my heals when I looked back he was getting a squirt of water. I didn't want to dismount and start chasing a dog again. Anyway, when I looked back he was standing in the middle of the road 100 yards back. Get out of the road Buddy! Go home!
Soon after I reached another barricade just past the Folk Art Center. Well, that was the end of that road for me, the parkway was covered with a LOT more ice and snow than before. I guess they had salted up to that point. Since I was by myself I decided it probably wasn't best to try to descend Town Mountain anyway and turned back. As if to reinforce my decision a gentle rain started just as I got onto US70 at the V.A. I then turned on to US81 and followed the river: past the Mall Wart, the commercial sprawl, on to Meadow, past AB Tech, and back to West Asheville.
That will probably be a wrap on 2010 riding for me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

35 miles of gravel? Not enough!

One type of riding that intrigues me is the all day gravel grinder. if nothing else, because it's all about turning the gears over and over, not having to worry that much about the terrain, but having to definitely watch out just enough that it doesn't classify as a road ride... In my current state of lack of fitness a gravel day was exactly what I needed. Time to ramp up the cardio a bit and not worry about rock gardens. My route for the day: from Bent Creek Gap->5000->1206->to 276 then back. 35.6 miles, 4310' climbing.

I started at 9:15 after dropping baby Zoe off with the neighbors. I'd guess the temps were in the high 20's based on the ice on the road and the fact that my waterbottles were already freezing. I had to stop almost immediately to put on every bit of clothing I had with me. The descent to North Mills River was slow and sketchy because of more ice than I had anticipated. Every place I wanted to be had a quarter inch layer of ice covering it. However, by the time I was at Spencer the ice gave way to frozen gravel and I was able to let it go and hammer all the way to the campground. The temp was steadily falling as I descended into the valley so I started the climb up 1206 feeling freshly frozen to the core and my legs didn't want anything to do with climbing to Yellow Gap. I passed the gate and suddenly had reason to push, two dogs. At first I thought, how cute, let's get a photo of my new friends...

but then the bigger one bit my hand. Then nipped my calf. Not hard but.... enough to make me put it in high gear and stomp. 'Wake up legs it's time to GO!' I looked back and hadn't gained 5 feet on them. I did it again with more resolve. I WAS going to drop these dogs. Was a minute of full force sprint enough? No way. These two had me. If it was a more primitive scene I would have been eaten by the wolves. Luckily for me it's not primitive times. I am a human on a bicycle and I was dealing with golden mixes, not wild animals. When the bigger one bit my hand hard enough to be truly concerned (3rd bite? 1/4 mile?), I stopped. I dropped my bike. I scored a direct hit with the first rock I could pick up and started chasing them back down 1206 screaming and yelling and waving my arms. They decided that, you know, I didn't want to be friends, and went on their merry way down the hill.

more later.

OK, while I have a moment, the photo below may not be the most striking but it recalls a specific moment in time for me. I was at the halfway point and my hands were painfully cold, like, I-can-only-imagine-thumbtacks-being-nailed-into-my-fingertips-as-the-only-thing-more-painful cold. I made the decision then to retrace my steps rather than gain another 1000' or so by returning via the parkway.

Ok, another moment to reflect. Why then, if I have to deal with dogs, freezing fingers, and nearly bonking (more later) do I think this is fun? The droid has the best answer I can give. Somewhere along the way I reached 43.6mph on frozen gravel road under my own power. f'yeah.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Now THAT was a good shakedown ride.

I just got in from the first all pavement loop on the new 'all-road' bike. The pocket droid has some interesting stats: 19.5 miles, 1814' elevation gain, 38.4 mph max speed, 15.5 mph average moving speed. The new bike is settling in nicely. I only had to stop once for an adjustment, the rear brake cable slipped, which made for a pleasant ride.
I was able to concentrate on how the bike handles rather than on the mechanical nuances that come with new builds. How does it handle? Solid. I knew already it can go in a straight line without a fight but what about switchback turns? Well descending Elk Mountain Scenic Highway answered that. It corners very predictably and doesn't drift. I can also push into the corners without it feeling like I'm on the verge of oversteering but again, it doesn't fight. The front wheel doesn't drift or feel like it's about to flop. It goes where I ask it to. Thank you bike. That's very nice of you. Oh, one more thing, disc brakes on a road bike kicks serious ass. It's just like on a mountain bike, the more confidence you have in your ability to slow down directly correlates to how fast you're willing to take that corner. Knowing that the wet and grime that usually messing with rimbrakes is a non-issue... is very confidence inspiring.

Oh, the route: from West Asheville->Clingman->Hilliard->Charlotte->College->Town Mountain->Blue Ridge Parkway->Elk Mountain->Beaverdam->Lakeside(?)->through Woodfin down to the river->Riverside->Craven->Waynesville->back to West Asheville.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Sorry, I just can't get that song out of my head today. Today I also went on the first ride on the new 'road' bike. I started at Riverside park on 191 and had planned on riding Bent Creek Gap road all the way to the parkway then down to the Arboretum but was turned back on 479 right at South Boundary Road by snow and ice.

So I doubled back, turned onto Campground Connector->gravel road and rode that gravel/mud/slush all the way to the pavement at the Arboretum.
So how did she ride? Awesome. The new cockpit will take some getting used to but otherwise: Stable, even in the slush. Quick, as in, I could stand and hammer and, you know, it accelerates. Oh, and first impressions are that it fits me perfectly. I can hardly wait to get it onto the switchbacks on Ox Creek or 276 to see if the stability translates into slow steering. I also can hardly wait for the chance to hammer 1206 from end to end. Then I'll really have a grasp on how this thing handles. For now I give it the post 90 minute less than usual ride two thumbs up.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Flowing like a roller coaster coming down the mountain

Early the morning Scott from Indy,

Sophiedog the Brave,

and I got out, yes, on a Monday, for a great little Pisgah ride. We had planned on the most classic of the classic Pisgah rides, Laurel/Pilot but were turned around just before Turkey Spring Gap by sleet. So, our route: Laurel Mountain from Yellow Gap to the top of the $2000 climb and back.

The pace was relaxed and comfortable, perfect for Scott's 5th day on the bike in Pisgah in a row and for Sophiedog's 1st day in the woods in months. We didn't pussyfoot around the tech sections despite the overall relaxed vibe though, we went for every one full force. It was just that we were able to talk the entire way up the climb so our heartrates were never though the roof.
When we got to the climb past Good Enough Gap we could see the clouds ahead and moments later we were dealing with large raindrops and sleet.

We had been talking rainjackets before the ride and the decision was quickly made, since neither of us were well prepared for rain today, to just head back down the mountain. Sophie would enjoy that more rather than having to run the 5 or so miles back to Yellow Gap on 1206 anyway.
The downhill was a hoot as Laurel Mountain Trail always is, up or down. I've tried again and again to describe how close to a slice of mountainbiking heaven Laurel is in the past so I'm not going to try again now. Let's just say it was a spectacular descent.

Thanks for getting out on a Monday Scott! Thanks for being cool with the malleable ride plan and with me checking my digital communication device 10 times (I was kinda playing hooky, it had to be done). Have a safe drive back to Indy!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yes, I'll take an order of the Medium Nasty please.

Looking Glass Rock from Bennett Gap Trail 27Nov10

Mike B was at my house right at 7:30 this morning and we met up with Scott from Indy on FS477. We were on the bikes at 8:30 headed for 477->Buckhorn Gap->Clawhammer->Black Mountain->Buckwheat Knob->Bennett Gap.
We went up 477 to Buckhorn Gap to start the day. We decided to take a break and hike in to check out Twin Falls and I'm happy we did . It must have been at least 5 years since I was back there. Once we were climbing again Mike broke his chain and had forgotten his toolkit/spare links but no problem, Scott and I had him covered. We took the hike-a-bike up to Clawhammer and then put the hammer down.
Mike B. on Clawhammer

We were at Buckhorn Gap in minutes. I was feeling great and had just broken a sweat as we arrived.

Scott from Indy. The only out-of-towner that knows Pisgah better than the locals.

We took another break there and that was enough rest to do my legs good because I was able to clean the entire climbs up Black Mountain/Buckwheat Knob. Along the way I led out for the downhills and had an exciting unscheduled dismount when I came around a corner absolutely flying to find a large/tall tree branch across the trail. After a loud scream and a fast runout I was mounting the bike again without anything but my feet hitting the ground. Whew!

Mike B on Soapstone Ridge / Rich Mountain

It was an absolutely gorgeous day to be in the woods. Bright blue skies, temps in the 40's, zero humidity, and the recent rains left the trail feeling grippy.

Anyone know what kind of plant this is? Buckwheat Knob

It was hard to make the tire spin or slide out even if you had tried. Anyway, Scott was starting to slowdown once we were on Buckwheat but was at the top moments after Mike and I arrived. Mike led for Buckwheat and even after a rudder through the steep chose perfect lines and we made it to 477 quickly to say the least.

Scott I. on Buckwheat at FS477

Bennett Gap was next and would finish the day for us. Mike and I attempted both the Q-Bert rock and the thread the needle but didn't make either. Mike actually landed on his head after the Q-Bert, which wasn't very confidence inspiring, but I went for it anyway.

Hey look! A photo of me! (oh and I guess I should mention Mike B. and Looking Glass Rock)

After the hike-a-bike after Perry Mike was finally in the downhill groove and it was all I could do to not let him get away from me. We both bunnyhopped all the downed trees, skimmed the surface of the rootballs, and zigged when we should have zigged and zagged when we should have zagged. We made it to the bottom of Bennett/477 with a max speed of just over 20mph but it felt much faster than that. Of note my bike was working splendidly and the descent seemed much easier than a few weeks ago. The fork was working great. The brakes were working great. (even though I did zero maintainence between now and then....) I had no arm-pump, I hopped the logs with ease, never felt totally out of control... Excellent ride guys. Thanks for going early enough to get me home by my curfew!

OT: I received this teaser photo from Walt of my new bike the other day. Sweet. It's at powder now (guess the color!) and I should have it built-up in two weeks or so....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I should have worn orange today...

Remnants of a foggy morning.

There were hunters everywhere at Bent Creek. I got on the Green Machine at about 10:45 this morning at the new parking lot and was greeted by a group of men in orange right away. An interesting crew of cyclists were starting at the same time. Two guys on early nineties nice bikes and three ladies that didn't even know how to shift their gears. What was so interesting about that? They were actually hard to catch after I gave them about a three minute headstart!

Asheville/Woodfin as seen from Bent Creek.

Anyway, I was warmed up and headed to Ingles Field-> Tony Michael's->Green's Lick. I would have never guessed, if you would have asked me back-in-the-day, that there would ever be a gravel road all the way to Betty Heinous.
Fresh logging and new 'development'. The Green Machine at 5 points.

Well, now there just about is. I saw a second group of hunters after the ridge. Anyway, Betty er.. Green Slick was next I had a pinchflat right at the top of but took care of it pretty quickly.

Flat on the downhill.

The descent was fun and fast but not over the top since I was by myself and trying to figure out if my brakes need work or not. I took it easy but was still surprised the climb up Sidehill was upon me already. Up Sidehill was not nearly as tough as I had anticipated. I saw a group of teenage hunters on Little Hickory. I sped through 5 points and onto Ingles Field where I was probably moving a little too fast->Gravel->Wolf Branch->Hardtimes Connector ->pavement finished the ride and I was back at the Jeep in about 90 minutes. Sorry for the quick summary, I've got a squirmy 10 month old in my lap!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Last night I met Mike R. at North Mills River Campground and we were on our bikes well after dark, starting at about 8:30. We were both well prepared and were on the bikes moments after we arrived. The tempo up 1206 was super high for a warm-up but I had zero concerns about it, I was actually pushing the pace and felt great.
We took a breather at the top and I commented that I wish we had taken a look at the time before starting because that may have been one of my faster ascents of 1206. Anyway, Mike took the lead for Laurel Mountain and kept the pace pegged at full-speed-ahead. I was able to hold on until after our next break, at the meeting log. After that Mike was able to just pull away and leave me in the dust. It was all I could do to not let his light slip further and further away into the distance. Oh, it may be a good time to mention the nearly full moon and relatively warm temps. It was a trip being able to see Mike's light moving through the underbrush from around the corner while also being able to see the contours of the hill because of the moonlight. The tall trees cast long straight line shadows through the woods, too. The temps were in the low 50's, perfect for the hammering that we were doing. I caught up with Mike and after an encouraging 'just one more gap' we were setting up for the descent to Big Creek. What a blast that descent was. I wish I had lowered my saddle as Mike had because soon I was laying on my face. I couldn't get far enough back/center of gravity low enough and my front wheel washed out. Before I could even get my arms out I saw the bright flash and was wondering if my nose was broken and using my tongue as a sensor, started checking for all my teeth. Well, all my parts were intact and I restarted the descent with a bit more caution. We took a nice long breather at the bottom of Little Pisgah Ridge

and then hammered, then picked across the creek, then hammered, then kept the feet dry,

then hammered, then step stoned, then hammered all the way to the reservoir. Just before the reservoir I went down again, this time it was more of a stumble than a crash but I was tangled in the bike and four feet below the trail in an instant. Despite the second crash I was still feeling good enough to race Mike back to the Trace Ridge parkinglot. He won that race but it felt like my fastest ascent of that road to date. Mike held the lead for Lower Trace and was able to outright outrun me in the steep chundery stuff at the bottom. To finish the ride we got our feet wet in North Mills River, took Fisherman's back to the vehicles, and were finished in just over three hours. Thanks for coming out Mike! That was a ton 'o fun!

16.3 miles, 2450' climbing, 3 hours out.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Fast moving on the road bike tonight. I just walked in from one of the faster night rides I've been on yet. From West Asheville->BioWheels->Shanna's house->Hillside->Merrimon->Beaverdam->Webb Cove->Town Mountain->College->Hillard->Clingman->back to Westville.

I felt better tonight than on the last few rides. The climb up Webb Cove went by quickly with the few landmarks I know (the 'Whip that mule boy! Whip that Mule! steep pitch, Brook and Ellie's mailbox, the end of the pavement, the split rail fence, the switchbacks, and finally, when the powerline passes overhead, you're there) clicking by. When I got to the parkway I decided to head down town mountain and as if I had a premonition when talking to Shanna, I blew one of the turns and was on the edge and almost ended up in the ditch. The descent flew by as I hung my head low and pushed hard. The city lights gleamed and grew larger as I dropped into town. I took the corner before the interstate full-speed-ahead and caught every green light all the way to Clingman. I texted Erinna on Webb Cove that if I made it home by 9pm I might go see a show tonight. Well, I got in at 8:15. F-L-Y-I-N-G. I feel great. That was awesome. Night road riding in Asheville is awesome.

OK, it's the next morning now. Know what else is awesome? The Hackensaw Boys! I wish I had taken more than a few seconds of video last night:

Hackensaw Boys! from pisgahproductions on Vimeo.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The two hour ride, backwards, at night.

clingman->hilliard->eagle->town mountain->blue ridge parkway->vanderbilt->meadow->amboy->state

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ox Creek Road at night!

What a hoot! I got out last night starting at 7:30 for just under three hours of road riding. I wasn't moving fast but I sure had fun. My route: from West Asheville->Clingman->(quick stop at city/county plaza for a few photos):

Town Mountain->

Blue Ridge Parkway->

Ox Creek->

Reams Creek->Merrimon->Broadway>Riverside->back to West Asheville.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First c-c-c-cold ride of the season

This morning I met up with Scott from Indy for a fun ride through Pisgah. The ICS shuttle was parked on FS477 and the route for the day was not to be the same for the both of us. Scott had unlimited time, I had to be back at the Jeep in 4 or 5 hours. It's great to ride with people that are as laid-back as he is. The ride plan was an unknown as we departed other than Scott wanted to climb Pilot. My route for the day ended up being 477->Buckhorn Gap->Clawhammer->Buckhorn Gap->S.Mills->476->Horsecamp connector (then Scott went onward to a much bigger day and I finished up with) 1206->276->477->Bennett Gap.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

from the PMBAR start/finish->477 to the Horse Stables->Clawhammer->Black Mountain.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sunrise on the Singlespeed

I got out for a quick little ride this A.M. on the singlespeed. Wode wasn't quite able to make it so it was a solo sprint. The Green Machine is feeling fast as hell right now but it needs some love: front wheel bearings, fork overhaul, and rear brake bleed.