Mike R. and I got out for another excellent ride today. Starting at Coontree picnic area->276->475->Cat Gap->Long Branch->5095->475->5046->Daniel Ridge->225->475B->276->477->Bennett Gap->Coontree Loop->to the Jeep.
The day started with pavement and the idea that we would head up Cove Creek trail. Somewhere along the way I thought ‘why not head up Long Branch and find our way to 225 some other way?’. Mike is un-phased by spontaneity and just like that we were headed up the slimy muddy logwaterbarcovered climb towards Long Branch. The pavement was a great warm-up and we both tried our best to clean as much as we could. I tried the rockdrop a couple of times but decided to stay away from the high point, it was still early. The climb up long branch was full of spinning tires in two inch deep muck and climbs that were harder than I had remembered. We took a quick breather at 5095 then descended (mostly) to 475. The trails were in nasty shape today and highspeed technical descending was probably not a good idea. We did, however, get highspeed riding in today. That gravel road was the first great descent of the day. Not tech but FAST and when moving FAST in slippery conditions…. old gated doubletrack was tech enough. Next we turned at the Daniel Ridge parking lot and started to climb another old gravel road. We passed by both Daniel Ridge trailheads, climbed past the redblaze connector, and were again surprised by the steep, unrelenting climbs. We turned on upper Daniel right after the waterfall:
(I did remember that climb was coming) and took the connector upupup to 225.
It was the first time in memory that I had taken 225 headed to 475B. In the wet and slimy conditions the descent was superfast, superfun, and supersketchy. I plowed my front wheel at a 45* through one turn…. without turning a bit. The resulting mark was easily 25′ long. After 225 we climbed 475B past CaseCamp then descended to 276. Another plan change at that point, I was feeling fatigued and asked Mike what he thought of just 477 to Bennett rather than 477->Club->Buckwheat->Bennett. He was cool with it so the climbing resumed after another quick breather at 477. When we got to Bennett there was a family of like, 25 people…. kids to grandmas having a weekend after Christmas campout. That was decidedly odd, even on this beautiful 60* threatening clouds and bright blue skies day…. but after a couple of hello’s we were climbing the false-climb up and over Bennett.
We took it easy but I still knocked out the Qbert rock.
The thread the needle was still daunting after the last time I was there so…. I walked that one. The final descent wasn’t the fastest either but was as fun as ever. I hopped the logs, wheelie dropped from here to there again and again, and with big smiles we turned onto Coontree without a break. Coontree is tech, steep, and fast fast fast all the way back to the Jeep. Well, there are a few creek crossings to walk towards the bottom:
Great ride on a beautiful early winter day. Completely new loop for the both of us.
Turkey Pen: warm, dry, and sunny? on Christmas Eve?
Turkey Pen is always cold, wet, and cloudy. Today was no exception. Mike R. and I got in a great 2.5 hour ride: S. Mills River->Cantrell Creek->Squirrel Gap->Mullinax->S.Mills River back to the vehicles. Erinna and Sophiedog came along also and ran out and back on Turkey Pen to Black Mountain. We started at the same time, and as Erinna had predicted, finished at the same time. It was one of those magical Pisgah timing experiences!
Just under 12 miles, Just over 1600′ of climbing.
Compare that to my badass wife’s day:
That’s right. Over 4500′ of climbing (2900′ more than us) in just about the same number of miles….. on foot. Here’s Mike keeping his feet dry on Cantrell:
C’mon man…. all the cool kids are doing it….
Squirrel Rhodo tunnel:
Mike on Squirrel:
We show up from one direction, she shows up from the other. Amazing.
Erinna ran the entire Art Loeb trail today. Here’s a photo of one of the many big views she had:
and one more shot… last weekend was the Warren Haynes Xmas Jam. Erinna and I worked late into the early morning three nights in a row. We saw a ton of great music and ran into more friends than we ever expected.
I got out for a fun frozen ride today with a group of great people. Ian ‘the pony’ L., Wode, Mike B, Jody F., Wes M., and I got started around 10:30 in sub-freezing temps at N. Mills River Campground. The route for the day: 1206->Laurel Mountain to Turkey Spring Gap….. then we retraced our steps all the way back to the vehicles. It was Ian’s first mountainbike ride in months so the pace was super slow…. but mission accomplished: a fun group went out on a super cold day and had a great time.
Mike B., Maximilian the dog, Sophiedog, and I just got in from an excellent late fall ride. The weather was cool, even cold at times, drizzly, and grey. High morale is needed to head out on a day like today and Mike and I, plus the dogs, were not lacking at all in high morale. Great ride with the pups on an otherwise dreary day.
with Dennis K and Drew H. 17 miles, 2350′ climbing. Just over 3 hours in the woods with three guys, two flats, and one unscheduled dismount.
I woke up early and decided to head out around noon. The problem? I hadn’t arranged any riding partners. I sent out an email to about 15 folks and got one ‘yes’, Drew. I didn’t have Dennis’ address but after a few PM’s and a phone call, Dennis was aboard, as well.
We started at the Horse Stables and up Clawhammer. Dennis took off like a batoutahell with Drew following behind. Pfftt… I wasn’t up for that…. I hung back until I rounded a corner to find Drew waiting. ‘Dennis is fast as shit’ he said. Yes…. Yes Drew…. he is. Drew dropped me a couple more times but I kept the throttle as maxed out as I could. We regrouped at Buckhorn Gap where Dennis was waiting, already breaking out the 1st of two Yuenglings…..
Just before we left (on Buckhorn Gap trail headed to S. Mills River) we had an interesting interaction with a fellow trail user…. A hunter came rolling down Black Mountian on a mountainbike. Deer rifle on his back, no helmet, and not at all skeerd. He sat down next to us, lit a smoke, and started to lament the fact that the ky-otes were killin all the baby deer…. makin’ it so he couldn’t kill the adult deer…. hmmm…. I asked if he’d shoot coyote if he saw them… he said ‘it’d ruin the hunt for t’day… but yeah…. so I kin hunt whi’tail next year’. Anyway, we hammered down Buckhorn Gap trail to S. Mills River to FS476. Dennis must have been in his big ring the whole time because Drew and I were NOT catching up. I decided to stop, after Drew said that would be a great photo…., to take a shot of S. Mills River at the concrete bridge:
We found Dennis talking with another hunter at the Pink Beds and we took a nice long breather there. I hadn’t been on the Pink Beds trail in quite some time….
Dennis ‘Big D.’ D., Sophiedog, and I got out for a great ride today: Slate Rock/Pilot Cove counter-clockwise starting at Bradley Creek. Other than Spencer/Trace this was D.’s first real Pisgah ride.
We met at Mr. Pete’s at 11AM and carpooled the rest of the way. When we started at Bradley the temp was hovering right around freezing and we both bundled up with about every piece of gear we had. Pilot Cove starts out innocently enough with just a slight upward grade. Perfect for getting warmed up. I went back and tried just about every tech move on the climb until I cleaned it and we kept moving forward without a break. The fern field took longer to get to than expected and the climb got much steeper than I had remembered after that point. Dennis was doing amazingly well, his fitness far exceeds his skill level at this point, smashing through the corduroy, root gardens, and razor edge benchcut. We made it to the two turns and headed out to Slate Rock next. The trail cuts across the ridge then descends through switchbacks before the big view at the rock. When we got there Dennis said ‘Well, this makes it all worth it.’. The view was spectacular today. We took a nice long breather there and talked about the history of the land we were awestruck by, some work stuff, how great a dog Sophie is, and God knows what else before heading down into the valley. The trail is in great shape, despite the ball-bearingesque leaves everywhere, and when D arrived at the bottom he was amazed (so was I actually) that he was able to clean the whole descent. ‘I may be slow, but I do it all’ he said. Well the decision was made to head back to the Jeep at that point rather than climb back up and around. That was fine with me, I have a biggin’ planned for Sunday…. Great ride Dennis. Thanks for getting out there!
As promised, here are a bunch of photos from this ride:
It was freakin’ cold out! Winter is almost here.
Dennis took a plunge over the edge!
Dennis rockin’ the switchbacks headed to Slate Rock:
Here’s Sophie and I at Slate Rock. Sophie is such a good dog….
and finally, another shot of Dennis. This time near the bottom after Slate:
Finally got on my feet this morning for a quick run. Erinna, Sophiedog, and I did the normal neighborhood run: Made our way over to Beverly Ave-> Riverview->through the park->Amboy->State->Hanover->home. Everyone was feeling out of shape and Erinna was, shall we say, a bit wobbly…. Sophie was on a constant squirrel hunt, and I was keeping the pace niiiiiice and sssssslllllllooooooowwwwww…. Great run despite all that.
consumer electronics?!?!? are you looking for a challenge?!?!?!
Consumer-grade electronic gadgets are no match for me in Pisgah….Let’s see if I can inventory it all…. before today: 3 cameras and a phone… and now a gps and another phone have bit the dust. Luckily the kid at Circuit City replaced my phone this time for free and the gps was on loan from somewhere that a little ole gps unit won’t be missed. The ride today: The Big Nasty+North Slope. The players: The one and only Otto, I9Keith, Adam W., Si E., Mike B., and me.
We started at the PMBAR start/finish and climbed lower Black Mountain. I was chilly before the start but the climb took care of that quickly. After a quick regroup at the gap jump I was by myself struggling to warm-up. I turned at Thrift then turned at the steep up, started to wonder if I was going to be alone all day, and got to first big top where everyone was waiting. After hardly a downhill we were climbing on Black again after Pressley Gap. Keith and I were in the back trading places for the next hike-a-bike and I started to feel warmed-up and ready to go once we hit Turkey Pen. A little descent to start then some of the best tech downhill in Pisgah was next. HUGE sweeping downhill switchbacks with ZERO room for error. I was really feeling it and railed into the freestyle move.. one dab.. then wahat was next? The skateboard drop. I looked, went back, then hit it. This was the first time I’d tried that move since I was on a 5×5 26″er… and it felt great! So much so that I went back and did it again. RAD!!! Next was an up then the downhil to Buckhorn Gap. I tried every switchback and almost got them all. On to Black past the shelter… I had been dropping my chain (in 1×9 config) so I took out a link thinking it would tighten things up, but it only really took away my granny gear… anyway, I made it to the top of that hill and squeexed my way forward to behind Otto. He smashed his way into the descent, floating from here to there with ease, with me in tow. Pfffffffft…. pinch flat. I took care of that and was off the bike for the climb to the descent to Club. I got in line again behind Otto and pushed hard. His wheels would come off the ground and I waould follow… trying my best to keep my wheels ON the ground. A few scares later and we high fived at Club Whew! That was fun!!!! regroup then the climb to Buckwheat Knob. We fell into our paces, Keith and I in the back, everyone else doing their thing until the next badass descent of the day, down to FS477. I took the worst line possible and the new Smoke Bike ate it up. Down the rock steps, through the perpendicular root garden, over the log of death…. and then W I D E open to 477. The big smiles started to wane as Adam was still not there and the word got out that he ate it hard. When he arrived there was missing skin and a wild look in his eyes. Sweet let’s go! Up the false climb (no, really it is a climb) and on to Bennett. This is what I remember…. fast fast fast… Q-bert rock? Easy. rail rail rail…. deep breath… thread the needle is next…. Otto is movin’….. Avoid hole to Oblivion….. Whooop! Crack!!! everything was still. Sure as shit I’m glad I was wearing a helmet. Nausia… Dizzyness… Mike B talking through a tube… ‘let me take your helmet….’ and after about 30 seconds my world came back together. I didn’t see stars, I didn’t see the white flash, I didn’t blackout…. but boy howdy was that a bell ringer. I walked carefully down then we climbed to the top of the next knob. I let Mike out in front and was witness to the coolest backwoods highspeed log drop move that I’ve seen in a long time by Otto. Mike was moving fast enough and after a regroup at Coontree we continued towards 477. Mike had themost drawn-out unsceduled dismount I’ve seen in ages and then the Big Nasty was done. I9 Jake and crew were just starting a ride and we saw some poachers on Pressley…. but I had no mind for confrontation so I let it go… Next was 477-276-North Slope and all that is really notabl about that was 1. It was only my thrid time ever on the trail 2. I was done. Big ride. 18.5 miles, 4.5 hours.
Starting at Bent Creek Gap->5000->Spencer Gap->Trace Ridge->Wash Creek->5000 with Mike B. and Dennis ‘Big D.’ D.
Just over 11 miles with 1700′ of climbing
As I’ve mentioned before, Dennis is just getting started in mountainbiking but has taken to it like a fish to water. I knew before we started that it was time for him to step it up a notch from Bent Creek riding. What’s one notch higher than Bent Creek? Why, Trace Ridge of course. We started at Bent Creek Gap and descended 5000.
Right turn onto Spencer Gap to start the trail portion of our day. Mike put it into overdrive and I followed. We knocked out the steep climb through the field without a dab (I was thrilled tha I made it with the 1×9) but I was seeing spots and joked about ’stroking-out’ (where the hell is The Pony these days?!?!?) and Dennis was there moments later. Spencer is always a fun climb to Trace Ridge and today was no exception.
We were taking a quick breather at the Ridge when a group of kids came ripping down the trail. The decision was made to pack up and get ahead of them because the last thing we needed was ‘goats in the road’, trail fodder, or…. a bunch of slow guys in front for what was next, the fastest trail descent in Pisgah. more later…
Extraordinary: 1 a: going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary <extraordinary powers>b: exceptional to a very marked extent <extraordinary beauty>
Erinna and I went on a ride that fits both definitions above of extraordinary. The route and the time of day were not usual, regular, or customary and the overall experience was exceptional. We started at about 3PM on the first day of non-daylight-saving-time at Yellow Gap. The route: 1206->476->5018->Horse Cove Gap->Squirrel Gap->Laurel Creek->5015 back to Yellow Gap. 20 miles, 2800′ of climbing.
The ride started in beautiful Fall weather, in the low 60’s, low humidity, and bright blue skies. The warm-up was tough as I had not been on my bike in a week and have been recovering from a cold. The ride to Pilot Rock took longer than expected but we were rewarded with the presence or the KOP when we passed. We bowed our heads in respect to the King and took the left onto 476 moments later. We continued with no break onto 5018 and I started to find my groove on that climb. We took a breather at the overlook which is my landmark for knowing the climb is oh, 2/3-3/4 done…
… but when we finally made it to the end of that never-ending-road-of-grassy-gravely-death we just continued onto Horse Cove without a break. The sun was going down quickly and we only had one good light between us. I figured that if we made it to 5015 before dark everything would be fine…. or we would be safe at least. It’s amazing what a little anxiety can do for a ride. When the anxiety is in regards to making it out in time it puts a nice fire under my ass, and Erinna’s too. It wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever done Squirrel but it sure ranks up there. No breaks. If I got ahead of Erinna she was always there within a minute. She did excellent, especially considering how little time she’s spent on the bike lately. The woods were absolutely stunning in their beauty. The trees and understory were vivid yellow, red, and orange. Very little green is left out there but the colors have not yet started to fade.We moved quickly but the sun set even faster.
By the time we turned onto Laurel Creek it was pretty dark and the tech upper half was rather sketchy. At the bottom of the switchbacks we stopped for maybe three minutes and installed the commuter light on Erinna’s bike and pressed forward. I took off ahead for the bottom of Laurel Creek, my catlike night vision was in full-effect, and made it almost all the way to the bottom before my sinces came too, or, my since of sight was gone… and rode to the creek crossing with Erinna. After almost falling in to the creek the decision was made to just get our feet wet and push forward. When we made it to Bradley Fields it was pitch-black dark out but our final task of the day lay ahead, the second never-ending-grassy-gravel-road-of death of the day. We took a long break at the bottom then set a 50 minute pace up the road. Along the way I was just ahead of Erinna so my shadow was riding ahead of me the entire way. I saw so many creature-eyes in the woods wondering who the hell we thought we were… and my eyes kept playing tricks on me as Erinna’s light danced back and forth across the road behind me….. right about the time we were both wondering if, this time, we really had found some ‘groundhog day’ loop where the road really was never going to end…. we were done. Beautiful evening to be in the woods… oh, and great company out there, too.