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.