Sunday, February 27, 2011

road ridin' with my sweetie

Erinna and I (!) just walked in from an excellent day on the road bikes. Droid stats: 26.2 miles, 2955', 12 mph average, 42.3 mph max, 2:10 moving time. The neighbors took Zoe for the time it took for us to knock out from West Asheville->Clingman->Coxe->Haywood->

Charlotte->Macon->Old Toll->
Bent Tree->Town Mountain->Blue Ridge Parkway->

Elk Mountain Scenic Hwy->

Beaverdam->Merrimon->WTWeaver->Riverside->Craven->Waynesville. Highlights: One that stands above the rest, Erinna and I were riding together. Thanks for getting out there sweetie. I love you!

Friday, February 25, 2011

City gravel/pavement loop

I got out last night for a fun mix of pavement and gravel. Starting at 8PM from West Asheville->Clingman->Hilliard->brief stop at city/county plaza->Charlotte->Macon->Sunset->Patton Mountain->Town Mountain->Webb Cove->Beaverdam->Merrimon->WT Weaver->Riverside->Craven->Waynesville.
The ride started in temps in the low 50's and with a slow pace. It had been nearly a week since I had done anything to get my heartrate up so a warm-up pace was definitely necessary. Once I had taken a few photos at the plaza, however, I was ready to turn the pedals over. Up Macon to Sunset was next, a route I'm not very familiar with, and I was surprised at how quickly the road felt like a rural lane and how quickly I was gaining elevation. The city lights below were gorgeous. The closest to West Asheville gravel (that I know about) was next, Patton Mountain, and with music blasting in one ear I was thrilled when I looked up and was already at the water tower at the top.
I had both Amoeba lights blazing and started to hammer up the second half of Town Mountain to Bull Gap and Webb Cove Road. I took a quick breather at the top then continued to hammer down the 2nd closest gravel road to West Asheville (that I know about) but almost immediately had to stop because my bike mounted light came loose from it's velcro attachment and suddenly I had 900 lumens staring me in the face. I couldn't see a thing so an emergency stop was absolutely necessary. Luckily I had some duct tape with me to reattach the lamp. Why did I have duct tape with me on a road ride? Don't ask. As I was descending I thought about the old book of half truths where he mentioned climbing 5000 to Soencer/Trace. He said something like, just before the top you'll start to wonder if the descent is worth this hellish climb, believe me, it is. Well, the same can be said about any climb to Webb Cove. Webb Cove is worth it. Hairpin turns, washboard surface, smooth as glass gravel straight aways, the Droid says I got going 40.2 mph at some point during the ride, that must have been where.
Once on Beaverdam and headed back into carland I had a very skeeered driver tailgate me for almost a mile. She wouldn't pass no matter how many times I waved her around. I had to actually get off the pavement and ride in the shoulder before she would go around. I swear, I know she was just trying to be safe... but in reality she just didn't know how to pass a cyclist and she made the situation much more dangerous than need be. Why don't they teach how to pass cyclists in driver's ed.? Anyway, she got around and I took Merrimon to UNCA down to the river and my legs felt great. I had all the power I could ask for, every time I asked. Past Richmond Hill, past the cattle market, and up Waynesville went by like a flash. I pulled in to the house just before 10pm. 1:56 total time out. 1:44 moving. Not bad!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Crosseyed and (not) Painless

Ok, I'll cut to the exciting bit right away this time. This morning I climbed Trace Ridge and had planned on descending Spencer to the never-ending-road then to further points unknown. Well that didn't happen. On the descent to Spencer Gap I went down h-a-r-d. I saw the first little here-to-there jump and hit it, then immediately another followed. When I landed the second time I was lined up directly for a log that was laying parallel to the trail and I speared it with my front wheel. I highsided at highspeed, had just enough time to think 'oh shit', flipped over, and landed on the back of my head first then the small of my back off the side of the trail. It took me a moment to sit up and start assessing the damage. I took my helmet off and checked, yes, it was very broken. Uuugh and that my lower back was jacked.... and... uugh... is my molar chipped? I then stood up and noticed things didn't really look right, like, my depth perception was off, and thought to text Erinna. 'I just broke my helmet, I think I'm ok.' In retrospect I should have waited until I could be a little more definitive about the Ok or not Ok part.... Anyway, I took a photo from where I landed

then started moving forward to the gap. Right as I got there Capt. Morgan, Tim H., and Russell ? had just arrived. I told Jason what had happened and he offered an escort out of the woods, but I declined. My vision was funky but I could make it out. He accepted the relief of responsibility but would look to make sure my vehicle was gone when they made it to the campground. I could tell he was concerned.Thanks for looking out Jason. I then descended Spencer vvvvveeeerrrrryyyyy carefully and then 5000 back to the Jeep. When I got there Scott from Indy was just about to start what was supposed to be the second leg of the ride but you know, I wasn't game, it was time to hit the road. I called Erinna as soon as I was in range to let her know I had made it out.
I didn't think much about the head hit again (since my vision seemed to go binocular again after a while) until I went to drop off my bike at ProBikes to buy a new helmet and to get the front wheel trued back up. I told Jamie the story. 'How long were you out?' He asked. 'No, I didn't even see a white flash like usual' I told him. 'Did you see a black flash?' I thought about it and had to admit, 'yes'. 'HA! You don't even know how long you were out then!' Oh shit.
The rest of the day was spent with my beautiful family and being thankful for them, my health, and my good since to wear a helmet every time I ride a bike.

Late edit: I didn't mention earlier that I also lost my keys on this ride. I had held onto the same keyset for 12 years or so until then. How do I know? My keys have had this Thomson keyfob:
that the Pony gave me while we were both still living in Charlotte. No matter how many different keys have rotated through (4 front doors, 3 cars, 2 significant others, and 1 job) this fob has hung on. Well, somewhere after the crash I lost them. I posted on the NC forum, on a long shot, that I had lost my keys and for folks to keep an eye out. Well, tallpaul actually found them while he was out riding today (Why else would I have a picture of my keys?). How cool is that?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heartbreak Ridge at night and in the snow!

Scott from Indy arrived at my house in the ICS Shuttle right at the scheduled time yesterday, at 1:30PM. We were quickly packed up and headed North for a day of Rattlesnake->Old Toll->Heartbreak Ridge. What a fantastic day in the woods it became. The parking lot at Kitsuma was packed to the gills and folks were complaining about how awful of shape that trail is in right now. Well that seals that, no prelude lap today. As we got started the weather was perfect: High 30's/Low 40's without a cloud in the sky.
The climb up through Ridgecrest and Rattlesnake went by quickly and I felt good about my efforts as I cleaned all of Rattlesnake. We took a quick detour to the peak
that Mike B had shown me just a week prior then pushed on towards Old Toll. We ran into a surly cast of characters:
at the intersection and after a quick breather we were all headed up the road. Well it took about 2.5 seconds and Scott and I were riding by ourselves again.
Old Toll Road is so much fun. The tread is constantly changing from smooth doubletrack to hell pave' to downright riding on all rock and back around again.
There are also tremendous views of the distant mountains looming to the right for the entire climb.

There are also dreadlocked hikers with dogs, hardcore runners, and occasionally another cyclist or two. Scott and I had different tempos for the climb so we yo-yo'd the entire way to the top. One item of note, there was much more snow up there than either of us had anticipated. Every time the trail went to the North side of the mountain we were riding on solid ice with a fresh coat of one inch of powder on top of it.

As we climbed the ice and snow got thicker and thicker and the temperature kept dropping. By the time we made it to the trailers I had become a bit concerned. The sun was just about to set and I already had on every bit of clothing I had with me.... and I was still cold.... and we had a high speed descent ahead of us. It was time to get down off that hill ASAP.
The stretch of trail between the trailers and the field hightened that since of concern as we were suddenly postholing through 5-8" of ice topped snow, slowly pushing our bikes just below the highest peak East of the Mississippi as the sun set and the temps dropped. I guess I was visibly cold at the field because Scott offered the only piece of extra clothing he had along to me. I gladly accepted the balaclava before we started the reason for climbing the 11 miles to that point, the Heartbreak Ridge descent.
more later.

We started the Heartbreak descent with caution for a couple of reasons. First Scott was expecting to pull his helmet light out of his bag at the top but what he found when he opened it up was his bar light. 'Dammit! I need to see on this trail' was his first reaction. Then, just after the right turn I nearly lost it. 'WooHoo! Just put your leg out if y'r goin down!' Scott yelled forward. OK, just because the Icycle was going on right then and folks else where were being heros, the same should not apply to two guys descending Heartbreak in the snow at night. We cautiosly picked our way down without any super-high-speeds or big moves, just smile inducing flowy descending all the way down. The temps were rising as we descended, too. That made me more comfortable, to say the least. Despite our cautions we both hit the deck once during the descent. Scott went down harder than I had ever witnessed. After the second climb his bars clipped a tree and the resulting crash I heard above the iPod that was blasting Black Keys in one ear. I stopped, looked back, and saw Scott laying flat on his stomach. 'Are you OK?' No answer. I dropped the bike and started towards him when he got up holding his wrist. A few moments later we were rolling again, he was fine. Then, at the very very bottom just before the camp I came into the final turn too hot. I lost it on the rootball and highsided. Luckily I had reduced my speed to almost zero just before it happened, and I was also OK.
The climb up Mill Creek Rd was no more tough than usual and we kept together until the big switchback. We regrouped at the pavement and were back at the ICS Shuttle moments later. Great ride Scott. Thanks for getting out there late in the day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dear God, Thank you...

for allowing me to bring the bike back under control and guiding me through that turn and not over that cliff.

Town Mountain->BRP->Elk Mountain Highway->Merrimon->WTWeaver->Riverside->Waynesville.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The hardest 9 mile ride in town

Rainbow->Old Toll->Rattlesnake->Royal Gorge->Adventure to the Helipad-> Old Toll->Rainbow.

Untitled from pisgahproductions on Vimeo.

Mike B. and I got out today for a fun and hard ride outside of Montreat. Droid stats: 8.95 miles, 2875' climbing, 2:10 moving time, 23.9 mph max. This time I'll mention the grades too: -24.7% min (!!!), +12.7% max. Not bad.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

28 degrees, windy, and pitch black dark.

I just walked in (11:00PM) from a great ride with Mike R. Our route: Classic Trace starting from the gate. The warmup was absolutely painful and it took everything I had to keep Mike within 100' or so. He motored through the steep field, I floundered. He rolled the new log hops, I fumbled. I tried my best to get on my game though and by the time we reached Trace I saw steam coming from my helmet, I was no longer seeing stars, I was warmed up and ready. We took a very quick and cold break at the top then after agreeing that tonight was not the night for heros, we cranked into the downhill. I;ve got to mention here my new light setup. The amoeba lights by Jay B. rock. I was able to hold Mike's wheel at night for the first time in a long long while. We hit the 22 mph mark on the way down so, I guess we didn't go for hero status but we didn't slouch either. After the 'whoops' and 'yeeeahs' and 'great run mannnn!s' were done Mike snuck in a great little bit of extra trail with brand spankin' new blazes. Two climbs and three descents later we were on 5000 and headed back up the mountain towards the parkway. We both were feeling warm and fast at that point so we stood and hammered, then sat and talked, stood and hammered, sat and talked some more, and were back at the vehicles in 1:19 total time out. 1:02 moving. 22.25 max, 6.7 average. Great ride Mike. Thanks for coming out.