Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Tuesday Night Dinner Club is a special thing.

The Tuesday Night Dinner Club is a special thing. Even before the ride started Clint said something to the effect of, 'This ride is going to be awesome. I can tell'. He was correct.
notice the hitch mounted grill.
Mike B and I arrived right on time (meaning 15 min. late) and were not close to the last ones there. The cast of characters for this evening: Clint S., Mike R., Than W., Jody F., Chad M., Trent B., Mike B., and myself.
Plans were made then quickly changed. I made a suggestion, repeated it, repeated it again, and then we were headed UP Trace.

Mike B., Chad, Clint, and I were out front. By the top it was just Chad and I. That became a theme of the evening as I was feeling ON the bike and climbing like mad.
Than led out the Spencer descent but Jody and I overtook him at the first flattish spot in the descent. What came next was otherworldly. I could see the lines and my bike took every one of them. Every thread the needle, rootball, rutted out drop seemed like nothing at all. Jody and I stopped twice to consider holding up for the others, decided against it, and I still got my second best time on the descent (according to Strava).
Next was the never ending road to Fletcher.

Mike B was up front for that one. The best part of that descent for me was having the trail be totally enveloped by overgrowth and as Mike B put it, using muscle memory to navigate, and not much else.
After the regroup at Middle Fork I was feeling on fire and took the lead for the climb with Chad (on a SS) next in line. I levitated up the trail. It felt like I was floating. 100% pedaling with 0% perceived effort. I could hear Chad behind me and I kept clicking down the cassette and couldn't drop him. Of course with a pace like that we were easily a few minutes ahead of the group at the top.

Chad took the lead for the next steep section and I tried my hardest to keep him but I couldn't do it. He pulled away slowly and steadily.
Mike B and I were out front for the descent to the creek and again, I was ON the bike. Super flowy, Super fast, Super fun. I even considered the gap for .0001 second because its. just. so. perfectly. placed... but no, not this night.
I floated down the lower tech section, didn't even notice the turn, and was at the creek with Mike B on my tail the entire way.

After a regroup the pace remained high along the creek and emboldened by the floating feelings tried to gap a 6' corduroy with great failure. I lipped off the first log and my front wheel squarely hit the last. In an instant I was over the bars and flying through the air. I hit the ground rolling and was unscathed. It was possibly the loudest crash I've had though as the suspension bottomed out, rebounded and tossed me. I immediately noticed a salamander where I landed and took it's picture.

Then Clint broke, then fixed his chain...
Up the gravel was fast and uneventful until Clint took off like he was racing. Jody responded then I followed. Jody fell off the sprint and I stuck to Clint's wheel. He stood and sprinted a second time and I realized he WAS racing so... I held his wheel... then took it. I was actually big ringing up Reservoir Rd and burning the last matches I had. I got to the lot first and heard Jody say to Clint 'Well YOU started it!'.
The final trail of the night was New Lower Trace. There has been no more work done since the first time I was there so the end was as much about bushwacking as it was mountain biking.
A quick dip in the river
and 100 yards later we were at the vehicles and the Dinner part of the Tuesday Night Dinner Club commenced. For the first time that I know of there was a theme: Mexican night. Clint (on the spot) made the second best guacamole I've ever tasted (Erinna still holds 1st place, Clint),

Than had the beef browning, Mike R set up the margarita bar, and a whole spread of toppings were ready in moments. TACOS AT MIDNIGHT!!!!
Yeah,  The Tuesday Night Dinner Club is a special thing.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

That's what I get for following Dennis F*n' Helton

Ride plans were being formulated on Friday and Dennis gave me a call. The conversation ended with the unfortunate fact that Mike B, Jody F, and I were planning on the same exact route, just two or more hours earlier. Well, rain held us up and just as we were ready to leave the Turkey Pen parking lot Dennis H., Marvin 'Now a resident of Australia' M., Ed M., Adam W., and Jay C. were arriving.
Mike, Jody, and I went ahead knowing the other crew's pace was going to be very high. We kept a respectable pace of our own though and the landmarks quickly clicked by. I was feeling great despite lingering dehydration from a very hard week at work at at the house and the fact that the temps were hovering around 90* with 100% humidity. We stopped to fiddle with my saddle adjustment (long story) and were caught by the other crew at Laurel Gap.
After an extended breather was the descent to Cantrell Creek and Adam led out followed by Dennis, Jody, and then myself. That was probably one of the fastest descents to Cantrell and Dennis' drivetrain took the brunt of a mistimed log hop along the way. We regrouped at Cantrell then in the same order made very quick work of the super tech section between Cantrell and Horse Cove

We took another long break there as Dennis worked on his bike and Jody decided it was time to turn around so he wouldn't miss his curfew.

Then we cranked towards Wolf Ford and I had a spectacular crash. I'm not sure exactly what happened but my bike was suddenly not underneath me and I was flying through the air towards a huge mature tree. I could feel myself accelerating as I dropped off the trail and there was nothing I could do to avoid the impact so both hands out front to try to save my teeth and neck from the immovable object. I arrested most of my forward motion, tweaked my elbow and crashed into the underbrush. Mike rode by 'He's moving! He's OK' or something like that. I pulled myself up to the trail and said 'That's what I get for following Dennis Fucking Helton.' and Jay laughed out loud: 'I've said that to myself way too many times'.

Mike flatted just before the final push and I held back as we were planning on Turkey after Squirrel and the others were doing an out and back on Squirrel. We passed them on their way back.

and then took another long break, this time at Wolf Ford. We ate, took a breather, refilled water, etc.
Then with the resolve to not race each other we headed up the wheelchair ramp to Buckhorn Gap. I pushed myself a little too hard on that section, and probably every inch of trail when we were with the other crew, and by the time we hit Buckhorn I was starting to feel cooked.

Mike's mechanical issues were not complete for the day. Once we were cranking up the steeps on Black he broke his chain. It took a little while to fix and when we were back on the bikes I realized I was in trouble and had zero gas left in the tank. Mike was able to walk away from me on the hike-a-bikes.
Food wasn't appealing either. I was feeling lightheaded and weak. Yes, a good old fashioned bonk was on it's way. We stopped at the overlook and I tried to get some food down and just continue to enjoy the day. We took the left onto Turkey Pen and I had to be cautious. I could tell I was loosing concentration and breaking strength in my hands. The descents were still a blast and along the way I mentioned 'THIS is why we took the long route'
Squirrel is undeniably fun but Turkey Pen is a step above because of the descents. Sooooo fast. Soooooo steep.... but the climbs were killing me. I was hardly able to stay on the bike. My legs stated to cramp so we decided to take the bail out and walk down Wagon Road to South Mills
That was the second best decision of the day (the best being going for the big loop). Once we were on South Mills my legs came back a little and I was hardly uncomfortable. If we had stayed on Turkey Pen I doubt I would have been able to walk today.

Thanks for getting out and attempting the big ride, Mike. Dennis, It was awesome to actually ride with you. Jody, I trust following your downhill line more than anyone else right now. Adam, I knew you were fast downhill but faster than Dennis fast? I had no idea. Marvin, Great to see you! I'll ship your PMBAR jersey to Aus for you. Ed, Jay, I don't know that I've ever ridden with either of you. It was a pleasure.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The hottest road in Pisgah, a bear, and a rattlesnake in the Jeep.

 276->477->Clawhammer->Black. 12 miles, 2543' climbing, 1:44 moving time, 2:20 total time out.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013


I felt like a fast zombie last night. After a full day of work and three hours in the dentist's chair the day before my mind was rather quiet but my legs and lungs were feeling great. The route: From about a 1/2 mile down 5000 from Bent Creek Gap->5000->Blue Ridge Parkway->276->1206->5000.
I ate nothing. I drank 100 oz of water before 1206. I listened to some new Phish in one ear until it got dark. I felt like I had power to spare. I stopped twice for more than a few minutes, at the Funneltop overlook and at the bottom of Pilot. I refilled my camelbak at the second stop without a filter. I managed a personal record descending 1206 from Yellow Gap to the Fisherman's Bridge. It was an excellent evening to be on the bike.