Sunday, August 30, 2009

and now for something completely different:

Last night I got out for an intense evening/night road ride. 44 miles, 4300' climbing, 3:20 on the bike. I know that might not sound fast but I'll tell you but I felt like I was hauling ass. It was my first road ride since Alex @ ProBikes brazed a new dropout into the fork so.... it had been over a year since I've been on the road? My route: From West Asheville->Riverside->Monticello->Hamburg Mountain->Reems Creek->Ox Creek->BRP->Biltmore Forest->Meadow->Amboy->State. I was on the bike at 6PM on the dot with lights front and rear, no camelbak, and no real plan. The ultimate route ended up being one of my favorite rides, one I had even done when I lived in Charlotte, but backwards. Long Plunge backwards at night? Sounds like a great idea to me.

click to make BIG:
yes, Ox Creek is a steep climb 2 mile climb.

The first 22 miles took me two hours, the second took one hour twenty. The sunset was spectacular with unbelievably vivid orange and pink clouds exploding in the sky. Once I was on the parkway for the descent into Asheville the skies opened up and a heavy rain and darkness accompanied the entire second half of the ride. I stopped twice: In Weaverville for a snickers and water refill and at the entrance to BF for a gel. Oh, and there was another rider out there that I passed on the climb but then he held my wheel down the parkway descent. Great descending out-after-dark-in-the-rain-rider-dude.

Here's a shot of my long neglected mid/late '90's Torelli cyclocross/road bike. Made in Italy, lugged steel, brooks saddle and bar tape (no gloves? no problem.), xtr canti brakes, 9sp 105/Ultegra mix, Velocity/dt Rev./Ultegra wheels, Switchback 1 light...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Slow in Low....

I got out this afternoon with Wode for a couple hours of Bent Creek.
From the new parking lot->up to Boyd Branch Rd->Ingles Field connector->Ingles Field->Tony Michaels->Greens Lick->Sidehill->Little Hickory->Ingles Field->Hardtimes connector->Homestead->Deerfield->Pinetree->Campground->back to the Jeep

Wode arrived at my house at about 11am and we were on the bikes right about noon at Bent Creek. I had gone out and watched one of my favorite local bands the night before so the late start and slow pace were exactly what the dr ordered. Wode took the lead all the way to five points. I took over from there though and pulled Wode up to Greens Lick. I had changed my bike cockpit configuration the night before so the high speed descent was rather interesting. My stem was far too short so the bike was under me in a weird way and by the time we made it to the bottom Wode had not lost sight of me the entire way and I wondered if it was time to head home.... Well, without conversation regarding such we went right into Sidehill to Hickory to five points. I was also trying out the Cane Creek ST Thudbuster for the first time ever so seated climbing was different also. By the end of the ride the thud had disappeared under me, a very good sign. There was a ton of traffic on the trails so descending to Rice Pinnacle was slower than usual but the last thing I wanted was a head on collision with another trail user. We took Hardtimes connector over to the other side and continued riding for a few more miles. Once we were over at the continue-on-Pinetree-or-head-over-to-Explorer intersection Wode called it, he was done, so we heade back to the parking lot.
Thanks for getting out there Wode! That was exactly the ride I was looking for.

oh, it was also an electronics-free ride today. No camera, No ipod, no GPS... well, I did have my phone on me and actually took a call. It was Rich saying no mountains for the CLT crew on Sunday. Poop.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yellow, Then Orange, THEN Pink, and Finally, Red.

Heartbreaker! Heartbreaker! Heartbreaker!

I got out today for Heartbreak Ridge with Mike R., Eric C., and Jared C. We went the now classic route of: From Kitsuma trailhead-> Ridgecrest->Rattlesnake->Old Toll-> Heartbreak Ridge->Mills Creek->back to the Kitsuma trailhead.

Mike R. @ the top of Old Toll:

The view 2/3 of the way up Old Toll. Which Ridge over there are we riding down again?Lichen?
Flowers at the tp of Old Toll:
Ooooh! Damage discovered.... Must have been from last week's 'Off the Trail' incident

After the nearly unwatchable Wilsons vids from the other week I decided to try out a new camera mount, this time: on the helmet. The results were great but I didn't get any real good shots because the camera was pointed a little too downward.... Next time....

Heartbreak Ridge from pisgahproductions on Vimeo.

I got a flurry of text messages on Saturday evening: 'Ride Plan?' 'Woods tomorrow?' 'Riding Sunday?' and the plan was made to hit Heartbreak Ridge with a rally time of 8:30 at the Kitsuma trailhead. Dennis 'Race Nazi' H. was even going to make it! I was about 10 minutes late but with Dennis on my bumper all the way down I40 and we were headed towards Ridgecrest just a few minutes after I parked the Jeep. It's always fun riding with new people and this time around that was Jared C. He's done PMBAR at least once so his name and face were familure. The pace was high for the warm-up through Ridgecrest and on to Rattlesnake, except for hitting the tetter-totter in the ballfields we didn't stop AT ALL until Dennis made the surprise announcement that he had to go home. He'd explain later he said. We joked that he had left porn in the dvd and continued after a quick break at the first intersection. Jared had not done Heartbreaker before so I explained the rest of the climb: It won't get as steep as that going up for the rest of the day. We'll hit a road intersection in about a mile then it the trail/road will mellow again in steepness but.... that's not to say what happens after that will be easy. Oh, and right then I discovered a huge hole in my shorts. Great. Unless I can borrow someone's baggies I'm either going back or y'all have to see my ass all day....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Covered with chocolate sprinkles

Mike B., Mike R., Eric C., Snowpeadog, and me. Four guys. Two first names. Plus a dog.
From Bradley Creek trailhead->1206->Pilot Cove->Slate Rock->up to->NoName->Pilot Rock->1206->SMills->5018->Horse->Squirrel->Laurel Creek->Bradley Creek

mushroom MUSHROOM!

Mike B. at Slate Rock not making funny faces:
After my faceplant I was covered in chocolate sprinkles:

Pisgah Ranger 2.0 off the trail...
Eric C., off the trail....

Mike R., after returning from off the trail
Can you spot the off the trail damage to Mike R's bike?

and one final photo, of praying mantis that seemed to have hawk-like vision. I probably took 10 photos of this creature as it hopped from on my bike and off, to here and there, back and forth... It seemed curious.... but cautious. How big are these thing's brains?

Here's a quick semi-panorama of the video view from 2/3 of the way up 5018. Looking towards Looking Glass and Black & Clawhammer Mountains

Mike B., and I rallied at my house just after 7am to meet Mike R. and Eric C. at NMRC at 8am yesterday. Well, there was a bit of miscommunication about the starting point so we didn't get going until almost 9 at the Bradley Creek trailhead. Pilot Cove was first and before we reached the end of Slate Rock all four of us had gotten a bit more familiar with the dirt. We took a long rest at the Slate Rock then did something a little different at the bottom, we headed back up the other way and over to no-name/pilot to keep Sophie off the gravel as much as possible. That climb was much tougher than I had expected but at a little over two hours ride time we were at the bottom of Pilot. Gravel road right, gravel road left, gravel road left and we were climbing 5018. I had visions of rattlesnakes dancing in my head and Metallica singing 'creeping death' in my one ipod'd ear. We took a quick break at the 2/3 point then charged onward to Horse Cove. We took a lunch break there and noticed Sophie was acting like she was bonking. We pressed onward to Squirrel and that's when I realized she was in some sort of real trouble. Too hot? Not enough food? I don't know, let's get to Cantrell so she can cool off in the water. It was slow going and when we got there I noticed the pads on both of her front feet were torn to shreds. Awww poor girl, sorry, there's not much we can do for you but slow the pace…. We took another extended break at Cantrell for Sophie's sake then as promised, slowed the pace even further for the rest of the day. I would wait for her ever couple hundred yards, would watch her trot up with a big smile and wagging nubbin of a not-tail, then would continue forward, which made for very slow going, but it was all we could do for her. Galloping was not an option anymore. We eventually made it to the bottom of Laurel Creek where the high speed portion of our day was done. The easy-going climb back up Bradley went by quickly as Sophie enjoyed the constant (12 total) river crossings. We were back to the vehicles in a bit over 5 hours. A slow overall pace for the day, no one seemed to mind. Once we were back at the vehicles Mike and I had to get out of there rather quickly because I needed to get to work. A rainstorm hit just as we were saying our 'great ride' and 'see ya next time' s. Timing couldn't have been better.

It's funny, we had bad mechanicals, bad crashes, an injured dog, and I fought off leg cramps at one point but the ride was still spectacular. How do you explain that to a non-mountainbiker? That's a hard one. Say: 5 hours in the woods with fun people and a great dog can bring about unexpected things but the experience is worth every sore muscle, every broken bike part, every rushed exit. Thanks for getting out there guys! What a great day.

Richmond Hill Dusk Ride

I got out yesterday evening for a fun ride with great people on new trails. I honestly didn't expect the ride to be quite as long as it was. It's official though, Richmond Hill is super-fun and is going to be a huge asset to the cycling community in Asheville once it's complete. Thanks need to go out to Mike Brown for heading the project and the entire SORBA crew for making it happen. THANKS!!!
Mike B. and I rode from West Asheville on pavement to downtown and met up with Eric K., Ian B., and Mike from FBB at BioWheels just after 7pm. We hit the streets with speed and made our way over to the school trail first then up the climb to Richmond Hill. The RH trails are excellent. The terrain is similar to just upstream at Biltmore but with a touch more elevation change. The trail tread is completely different though. Mike and crew have hand built about 5 miles of trail that connect up with old roadbed here and there. Right now it's an unsigned mess/maze but that'll change soon enough, too. FBB Mike was a little off the back for most of the ride but no one was frustrated by that, no one had a race mindset. The sun set quickly as we were navigating the tight twistly rocky rooty singletrack within riding distance from my home. We bailed out without even hitting all the trails out there and hit the pavement back to our starting points. The rest of the guys went back to downtown and I got back to the house on the West side just after 9pm. What a great way to spend a Friday evening.