Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On the wind and underwater....

 Yes, it's easy to figure out what I've been listening to while riding lately. Today's ride: Mike B was at my house at 8:15ish and we were at Yellow Gap at 9:15ish. There we met Scott from Indy and Jeff from Birmingham. Our route: 5015->Laurel Creek->Squirrel Gap->South Mills River->479->1206 back to Yellow Gap.

View 2011-12-28 09:54 in a larger map

Monday, December 26, 2011

The trick was to surrender to the flow.

Two. Yes, two great rides were had today. Last night Evan (my brother-in-law) and I made plans to ride at some arbitrary time after 12:00. I decided, after looking at the, that today was the best day to ride this week and got out for a ride before the ride. My choice: Young's Ridge->Lookout Point a.k.a. Kitsuma.

View 2011-12-26 11:32 in a larger map
View 2011-12-26 11:32 in a larger map

Evan called just as I was headed up the switchbacks. The call came in about a half hour earlier than expected so it really put a fire under my ass and I did a hot lap in just over 1:10. I cleaned all the way to the top, noticed the new signs for the first time, cleaned the 2nd switchbacks, and hauled ass all the way to the bottom. On my way back up the pavement I was pleasantly surprised by how many  hikers were moseying up and down. I was back at the Jeep in great time and immediately was headed back to pick up Evan for today's ride part 2.

After 15 minutes of trying on riding clothes, switching pedals, and a quick stop at ProBikes for a loaner helmet we were on our way. The route: 5000->BRP->Trace->Spencer->5000. More later.

View 2011-12-26 14:32 in a larger map

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pisgah Productions is proud to announce:

The Pisgah 100K Mountain Bike Race. 
On May 19, 2012 (permit pending) racers will have the opportunity to compete on the very best trails Pisgah has to offer. This race was conceived by the late Jeff Papenfus with my guidance in the areas of permits, route selection, etc.  We have decided to run the race, in his honor, with all proceeds going to his widow. This race is going to kick ass. There will be CASH prizes, arrows to follow, stocked support stations, and a big meal at the end. Everything you have come to expect in a world-class set-course MTB race.
Entry will be $120 per racer. Registration opens the day we get the permit from the U.S. Forest Service.

 In other news, it must be the slow season at my real job, I actually got out for three hours of Pisgah this morning. Zoe was at childcare until 11:30 (and that was a strict curfew) so I started at the first gate on 5000, a great place to start because of the different loops that are possible out there.

I started with 5000->Spencer and once I shed all the unneeded layers I was rolling pretty good. I had to walk the steep pitch but I was OK with that. With my mind on the Pisgah 100 I rolled right through the gap and was headed down the other side of Spencer. I wasn't really 'feeling it' and I got a little paranoid about being by myself on a weekday on a seldom traveled trail and took it easy all the way to NER.

 Mike B had told me about a great ride he had done the other day so I tried to follow that route but made a navigational error along the way. I had just been thinking how beautiful the trail was when I suddenly realized I hadn't gone the right way at all. I decided to really mix things up a bit at that point by climbing Big Creek to Big Ridge to Upper Middle Fork.

I had no idea how long it would take and with the strict curfew I had to keep the pace high. I was surprised by how quickly I was on Middle Fork->NER though. I looked at the Droid for the time and it was dead so I didn't really know how long it had taken to get there. Turn on Fletcher? The short-but-annoying climb, plus the Res Rd. climb would be after. I decided to stay on the Never Ending Road and it lived up to it's name.

It took what felt like forever  to get back to the Trace parking lot and the climb to 5000. When I got to 5000 I was ready for it and hammered the last few miles back to the Jeep. When I got there it was 11:00 on the dot. It takes 30 minutes to get from the first gate on 5000 to Zoe care so.... perfect. Total time out: 2:50. All other stats? unknown.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beautiful Mountains and Curvaceus Ridgelines

5 minute write up: Today I got out to Bent Creek for just under two hours of trails. I started at the new parking lot then up the gravel and then up to Sidehill. I took a quick break and a photo then continued up to 5 points. I cleaned all the way to the top on the 1x6 which felt good. Next was Tony Michaels to Green Slick. I took a quick breather there then this guy showed up:
Bert from Saint Louis. He told me about his adventure trips and when I donned my Pisgah wool jersey he asked 'When you say Pisgah, where exactly do you mean?' We talked about the trails for a moment before hitting Greenslick. I was just able to drop him on the descent but he was at every checkup within SECONDS. It was a great run to the bottom and Bert was all smiles when we got there. The driod says I got going 24mph, it had to be on that trail. Next was Sidehill to Hickory Top. I took off ahead but was caught quick. We pressed on to 5 points in great time then descended Ingles Field etc. all the way to Rice Pinnacle. Bert led out that descent and hit the waterbar jumps at the bottom like a pro.  He also was taken by the spectacular sights along the way (hence the title of this post) and I gave him directions to Squirrel Gap before I had to take off. 11.9 miles, 3118' gain, 1:46 total time, 24.1 max, 8.0 avg moving. Great to meet you Bert.

View 2011-12-10 10:00 in a larger map

Late edit: and of course, later that evening was the Warren Haynes XMas Jam... The show didn't end until 3AM!!!


Last night a little after 6PM I was on the allroad bike and heading for Patton Mountain Road. Erinna had given me very good directions on how to get there (for some reason I had not learned) and I was also taking her advise: 'Take your time, have fun, be careful' and I was just putzing up the mountain. Well, that changed about half way up. I got the text I was half waiting for. Erinna and I suddenly had passes to get into the Warren Haynes X-Mas PreJam at the Orange Peel. I decided to continue with my original route idea though and made my way up to Town Mountain, up to the parkway, then down Webb Cove. The best part of the ride was that I did not stop once from the top of Town Mountain all the way back to West Asheville. I got every green light on Merrimon, WT Weaver, and Broadway. I big ringed up the river road and even up Waynesville Hill. The Droid died about half way through the ride so I don't have stats. I was out for just under two hours. Then we were on our way to the Peel where we caught Los Lobos, Gov't Mule, and Phil and Friends. Sweet!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


9AM on Saturday morning came early for me and I sent out a text to Mike R. 'Running 10 minutes late' I said. A minute later the reply came back 'No Rush'. Excellent. That was going to be the theme of the day. I arrived at Yellow Gap at 10 after in frigid conditions to a fun crew assembling: Mike R., New Guy Chris, Eric C., and Jared C. We were on our way by 9:30 but as soon as we hit the woods we took our first break, we were all overdressed, the temps were rising quickly.
 Mike C and Eric C. took the lead for the climb with me following. There WAS a bit of a time constraint on us though, no rush was not quite true, so we didn't regroup again until the meeting log. Jared was the last to the log and had pretty much decided by then that he was only going for the first leg (Laurel->Pilot) of the ride. After the meeting log I could hardly hold sight of Mike and Eric and for a great part of the time it felt like I was riding by myself, or with ghosts. We regrouped and took an extended break just before the steeps though and I was able to hold on after that.

The group arrived at the Pilot connector together so we just continued on to Pilot for the next break. By this time I was really missing my granny gear (I was on the 1x6 Green Machine) and watched as Mike and eric both almost cleaned all the way to the next intersection. Great climbing fellas. Just as we were finishing our first lunch break Mike P. arrived on the scene. I had facebooked with Katie M about the ride and Mike picked up the chatter and decided to hop onto our ride. He had started at the bottom at 9AM and caught us at Pilot. I warned him that the pace may be a bit slow for his liking but if you know Mike then you know his answer: 'That's allright, I'm just looking to have some fun'.
As we lined up for the downhill something strange happened. Mike R did NOT take the lead position, He ceded his normal place in line to New Guy Chris! OK NGC, let's see whatcha got! Well, what he's got is downhill skills. Following Mike R following NGC was a hoot. We were absolutely FLYING down that mountain. We slowed at the triple switchback but didn't stop until the big overlook down below. It was a spectacular run.

We regrouped (holy hell Mike P was next in line on a full rigid!), took a few photos of the view, then railed to the bottom. Eric C had gone ahead to get photos from the Hum-Vee section and caught me floundering through it but that was probably my only 'Off' line of the day. I was feeling pretty good at that point. Three switchbacks and a few long straights later we were filtering water out of the creek at the bottom.

We bid adieu to Jared there. He took 1206 back to Yellow Gap, we went the other direction: 1206->Horse Camp->5018. I was surprised to find that none of the group had been on Horse Camp as it's a great little singletrack that cuts off probably a mile of gravel road but now they know. Mike P. (as the only singlespeeder) hopped out front for the 5018 climb. It didn't take long before I was trying my best to hold on and he was my rabbit for the entire climb. We stopped for a regroup at the overlook but otherwise pressed on in great time to the top.

 Mike P. was just soft peddling, too. He would look back, smile, then come up with conversation that was just him talking and me grunting. Thanks for the Yes or No questions Mike! My head would have exploded if I had to form a sentence.
New Guy Chris was starting to really feel the miles at the top of 5018 so we took an extended break there. Mike R. and I explained that what was next though was one of the very best ribbons of singletrack in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE and spirits remained high.

Squirrel Gap did not disappoint. I was in the lead position from Horse to Cantrell and the Green Machine was riding like a dream. It STILL is my favorite bike at the moment. Mike led out after Cantrell with the pledge of 'no dabs til the gap' and we tried our best. Two dabs later (and a total time warp for me as Phish was noodling away in my right ear and I followed every line Mike R took) we arrived at the gap. After a quick regroup and a few Hell Yeah!s we were headed to Laurel Creek. When we stopped briefly at Pounding Jill NGC looked like he had just had an epiphany, had seen baby Jesus, and maybe dropped some acid. 'Wow! That is the best singletrack I've ever been on!'
Yes Chris, Yes. Yes it is.
Mike was first down Laurel Creek, I was second, NGC was third. Even though Chris was starting to bonk good it was impossible to shake him. Did I mention his downhilling skills? Well we regrouped for the final time at 5015 and the guys were settling in for another extended break.
Chris asked about the time and was floored when he heard 3PM. Talk about a time warp, when pressed he said yeah, I figured it was about Noon or so. Well, I had a 4PMish curfew so it was time for me to get going. I wasn't looking forward to climbing out of there by myself so was happy to see Mike P cranking along about 10 seconds behind. I told him that my legs were shot and if he wanted to just get out of there I understood, there was no reason to wait for me. After a moment of consideration he said 'No, It's more fun to ride WITH people... and I'm just out to have fun'. Spectacular. 5015 was then very similar to the 5018 climb. Mike talking, me grunting. He was my rabbit to chase and even with me dead legs we were at 1206 in just over 30 minutes, one of my fastest climbs out.
Thanks for the great ride everybody. Perfect company, perfect trails, perfect day to be in the woods.