Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First group ride since October!

Last night I got out for an excellent ride. I met up with Mike R. and Eric C. at the bridge at North Mills River Campground at 6:30pm. Our plan: Fisherman's->North Mills->Yellow Gap trail->5051->1206->Yellow Gap where we would meet up with the ANDC and continue with the most classic of Pisgah rides, Laurel->Pilot.

Our prologue loop was tons of fun for me because Eric and Mike were whooped from a huge day in Pisgah just days before. I could warm-up the way I like to: Slow at first, short sprints to get the heartrate up, and frequent stops to catch my breath. Jody and Ben passed us while climbing 1206 and I told them we'd be there in a half hour. Well, about 25 minutes later we arrived at Yellow Gap, right as everyone else (Jody F., Ben W., Than ?, and Clint ?)was just ready to go.
The pace up Laurel was much higher than I expected but the breathers were frequent. Everyone took their turn (even me!) in the lead pulling the group but generally Jody and Ben were out front, Mike, Eric, Than, and I traded places again and again, and Clint was off the back. LAurel was in great shape. The soil was dry but every water source was flowing like back-in-the-day, before the droughts. This made for fast going when we were going but the stops were frequent and long.
It was a beautiful night to be in the woods with temps in the 60's and a strong warmish wind. The skies were clear and stars were visible in the millions. Perfect for the tempo of the ride: Hammer to every gap. Stop at every gap to regroup. Not the best way to keep the flow going but a great way to enjoy a splendid evening.
The $2000 climb was notable this evening because of the pace. My calves were on FIRE just trying to not get runover by Ben W.
The descent down Pilot Rock will be marked as one of the finest in recent memory. More about that after the break. Wait Wait... I've got to mention Jody's spectacular crash in the HumVee section. Again, more after the break.... It's just that.... that crash was spectacular! Another late edit: I just remembered a conversation from last night. Mike, Jody, and I were waiting up on the downhill and I mentioned it was Erinna's and my anniversary tomorrow. Jody then told me he had just had his 13th anniversary. 'Know what the best part of the 13th anniversary is?' 'No Jody, what' 'It's the lace anniversary...'

Yes, that orange ball is the rising moon.

OK, last edit: The downhill was one to remember. It was spectacular. It was incredible. It was the type of descent that brought me to Asheville in the first place. No one was particularly looking to take the lead from the top so I took my turn off the top of the hill. I led out the group as fast as I could and had sooooo much fun. The switchbacks were coming with ease and I felt 'ON' like I've not felt in a while. Mike and Jody were in the chase and Ben was next when we arrived at the upper overlook. We had seen glimpses of the moon on our way down but we were now able to see the full panorama view. An orange ball rising, orange city lights, white riding lights flashing on the side of the mountain... Anyway, after the breather Mike took the lead and I had to let Jody by before we hit the HumVee. My forearms were getting rather fatigued. Mike took off like a bat out of hell as I followed Jody. The wreck he had moments later was unbelievably awesome since he didn't get hurt. It was like he hit a landmine. Bike flipping off in one direction, Jody flipping through the air..... .... ... .. . Two thoughts I had during the .75 seconds that it took for the wreck to occur: 1. 'Isn't that bike made of aluminum?' 2. As soon as he hit 'Cheezy Rice was that hit chin that just made that smack noise?' (that what I thought I had seen). Luckily bike and chin made it unscathed. I took up second place again after that all the way to 1206. Mike, by the way, was flying at this point. I couldn't hold him.
At 1206 we had a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG wait for the rest of the rest to show up then the hammer was down for the descent to Bradley Creek. 20 minutes of climbing after that we were at Yellow Gap and minutes later Mike Eric, and I were at NMRC. Awesome ride guys. Thanks for getting out there.