Monday, January 31, 2011

Oooph! That's gonna hurt.

and yes, now it certainly does. Yesterday afternoon I got out for a little dose of Pisgah. Sophiedog the Brave and I arrived at the Turkey Pen parking lot at 4:45 with the plan of an out-and-back on Squirrel. I was hoping to catch sunset at the furthest out point so I had lights along. Just after the bridge on South Mills River I knew the ride was going to be interesting since there was a sheet of ice making it nearly impossible to even make it even to South Mills. I knew then that the ride was going to filled with ice or mud every foot of the way. Up Mullinax was a great warm-up despite the thick mud I had to slowly churn through.

I turned onto Squirrel with the intention of scoping out the trail redo but immediately found that I had to concentrate of every dip, turn, climb, or trail obstacle along the way. The trail work was hardly noticable but what I did see was that I probably shouldn't have been out there. The trail still needs to recover from the snow. There was either a ribbon of ice or two inch deep mud covering the majority of the trail. It was slow going and the landmarks took forever to reach. I wasn't feeling very motivated but decided that at a minimum I was going to Cantrell Creek. Well, to my surprise after Laurel Gap the trail was in much better shape and I was happy with the choice to soldier on. The trail work became more apparent and I wholeheartedly approve. Good work guys.
When I arrived at Cantrell

the sun had set and it was time to light up and turn around. With hardly a break Sophie and I were headed the way we came but within a minute my light turned off. Wha? Click Click.... nothing. Well, I had put both batteries I had with me on the charger at the same time and both batteries blinked their happy green light saying 'yeah! I'm charged' so when the main battery died a moment after it turned on, I panicked. Will the second battery do the same thing? How much time do I have on full burn with that tiny battery anyway? I quickly decided that retracing my steps was not going to be a good idea and that I needed to get off the hill IMMEDIATELY so I turned around and before even trying the backup battery I was descending Cantrell Creek. At the first creek crossing

I could no longer see so after a quick prayer I turned the small light on with the small battery. I was shocked at how bright that little thing seemed deep in the woods. I needed to get out of there though so with a new since of a fire under my ass I put the pedals down and hammered down that rocky, wet, down tree covered, deep DEEP in the heart of Pisgah trail. I knew that if I made it to South Mills I was home free, that I'd hardly even need a light once I was down there. Well, I made it off the hill (and across the 5 wide creek crossings) without another light issue and after a quick photo of the lodge I was rolling back towards the Jeep.

It took me a minute to start to smile and think about what I had just done, Cantrell Creek is a blast, even when in a panic mode. It was no longer a time to panic though, it was a time to reflect. As I was making my way back on South Mills I caught a glimpse of what I first thought was a huge rising orange moon. No, what is that?? Someone had a HUGE campfire roaring up on the hill where I don't know of there even being a trail. I was looking up the hill at the fire to my right, not paying attention when suddenly it felt like I had been kicked in the leg by a horse and I was laying flat on my chest with my bike on top of me. Moving at no faster than 5mph I had run directly into a cut off branch of a downed tree and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I got up and thought about the folks up the hill camping and what they must have just seen. A single light moving steadily along and then an audible OOOMPH! and the light stopped. Anyway, I quickly got up and started to hammer. Sophie was game and I just wanted to get out of there before the pain really set it.

I ended the ride by climbing the singletrack rather than 66 jumps and was headed home2 hours and 32 minutes after I started. I texted Erinna to let her know I was out of the woods and that ended up being a great idea on my part, she had a delicious dinner ready and waiting the moment I got in. Awesome. Thanks for pushing me out the door Erinna. I needed an adventure like that. I needed that ride. Droid Stats: 11.29 miles, 2933' climbing, 2:02 moving time, 2:32 total time, 5.5 mph average moving speed, 16mph max. (hmmm... interesting, when I load the gpx file into Topo I get different stats. 10.9 miles, 1680' climbing. I wonder which is more accurate.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1 hour

Downtown Asheville from Bent Creek

Zoe decided last night was the night to stay up all night and scream so at 6:15 this morning I called Mike B. and canceled the morning's 7AM rally plan. The day was then spent trying to keep Zoe awake so maybe she'll sleep tonight. Erinna let me off the hook for going to another one year old's birthday party so... I hit the trails for the first time in over a month. From the new parking lot at Bent Creek->gravel road->old sidehill now gravel road->
Ingles Field connector-> Ingles Field. The plan was to do the classic Betty Heinous loop but from the viewpoint of 5 points Tony Micheal's was covered in snow and ice.... and Little Hickory was not. So, Little Hickory->past the old Left Technical->Left onto the doubletrack whatever that's called->Left onto the gravel road-> climb past Ingles Field connector->back down the gravel to the new parking lot. I didn't have the Droid collecting data but I was out for less time than it took to listen to the current band crush's album all the way through. That was a fun and fast ride. I felt like I was on top of the gear from the first pedal to last.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A road ride with Mike B.? No way!

Yes indeed, I just got in from a road ride with Mike B. The weather in Asheville has been anything but conducive to riding bikes in the woods for the last few weeks and it finally got to our resident trail steward. Mike belled me up yesterday talking about a bit of pavement. The route was interesting enough for me because I had read about the alternate ride back from the Ox Creek plunge but had never done it. A new road loop? Sounds great.
Well, in the end, the pace was excellent. The route was excellent.... and yes, the company was excellent (something that I've not been looking for in my rides lately).
(even with MB on a 26" mustached fat tire bike)
and as road biking can be, there were some interesting highlights: 1. On river road a pickup truck was coming towards us, started flashing it's headlights and honking it's horn, slowed down, and the driver looked right in my eyes and yelled 'FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUUUUU'. Ah yes, turn the other cheek, smile, move on. He's in a big ass truck and probably has a gun.
chicken hill, west asheville.

2. Using my new bell to say hello to every other rider that we saw on river road. Most were not expecting such a cheery greeting. BTW we must have seen 25 other road riders out today. We even saw a perfect specimen pair of 2010/11 hipsters: vintage 10 speeds, skinny pants, no helmets or gloves, hoodies and aviator glasses.... out on a road ride. 3. We saw a huge hawk land on it's perch atop a cliff next to the old women's prison. Mike was talking about the Richmond Hill trails that we could see off to our left and I had to stop him and say, dude, look at that thing to the right....

the French Broad River was also to our left
4. There was a german shepard hunting small creatures under the snow on the return trip. It was standing perfectly still except for it's head, moving back and forth with eyes fixated on the snow. The rodent was likely going to die.
mike b. on that return trip
5. As we approached the new pub at the turn where MB and I met and parted ways Mike asked 'Can I buy you a beer?'. Hmm... A beer next to the river after 23 miles of fast moving and only 2 miles of easy riding to get back to my house? Sure. Sounds great.
Great ride Mike. The Droid says: 25.1 miles, 1337' , 1:27, 15.9 mph average (!!!), 45.1 mph max (!!!)

Monday, January 3, 2011

36.5 miles, 3630' climbing

From West Asheville->Clingman->Hilliard->Charlotte->Kinberly->Beaverdam->Webb Cove->

Blue Ridge Parkway->

Ox Creek->Reems Creek->Hamburg Mountain->Weaver Blvd.->Monticello->


Craven->Waynesville->back to West Asheville.

That was a pretty good first ride of the year. I felt a lot stronger than the past few times out so I'd venture to guess that the drinking more water and doing minimal stretching new year's resolutions are having a positive effect!