Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rain, a Black Bear, MUNIs, and a Dead Deer

After going out with a rowdy crew for a night on the town to celebrate Ian L.'s impending wedding I woke up this morning with a funny taste in my mouth (juniper?) and loaded up for a ride with Dicky and Bill Nye. We originally were headed to Yellow Gap but the call was made to stay out of the clouds and hit up a couple of hours at Bent Creek. The route: from the new parking lot->gravel->Ingles Field conn.->Ingles Field->Tony Michaels->GreenSlick->Sidehill->Little Hickory->Ingles Field->???->Hardtimes conn.->Homestead->Deerfield. I took a wrong turn and we ended up at the campground so I decided then and there that I was done for the day.

It's been raining in Asheville almost non-stop for two weeks now. Last week the French Broad River broke it's banks. Well, the rain had let off for two days, then was on all afternoon/night Friday, let off for about 10 hours, and resumed moments after we arrived at Bent Creek.

The order of the day went like this: Dicky and Bill Nye would take off on the climbs and after a few minutes I'd catch back onto Bill Nye's wheel. We'd arrive at the top where Dicky was waiting and I'd take the lead for the descent then would wait for Dicky, then Bill Nye to arrive at the bottom

There were a few interesting sights today, as indicated by the title of this post. First I saw my first bear in a number of years. It was awesome. As I rounded a corner I saw what I first thought was a big black poodle take off down the trail. I quickly realized I was following an adolescent black bear and I maintained a 50' buffer and followed it for a good 5 count before it ambled off the side of the trail.

There were also 20+ unicyclists scattered all over Bent Creek and a dead deer on the trail that I'll talk more about later.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bent Creek ~ fixed gear ~ in the rain

When I got home from work today my brand new 22t Tomicog was waiting in the mailbox so of course I slapped it on the wheel and took off for Bent Creek to try it out. The easier gear is much appreciated and I was ON the bike for almost the entire ride. I still don't really know my way around BC so I unintentionally picked a rather tame route but... when the thunderstorms hit I was having enough fun dodging puddles, I didn't need super tech. Homestead->Deerfield->Gravel->Sleepy->(lft)Explorer->Explorer Alt->Explorer->Gravel->Campground Connector. Just about an hour out.

Tomicog bolted to the disc brake mount / Endless cog lockringed on the drive side. Just in case.

The green machine at Lake Powhattan
In the rain at Deerfield
Hey! It's Kathy T.!

Oh, and just before I left I was talking to a guy in the parkinglot and a flock? pack? pride? of unicyclists went by. Sweet.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

cruisin' 'bout 45 for a minute there....

Road/gravel ride. From West Asheville->191->Bent Creek Gap Rd->BRP->191->Hominy Creek->State.
26.75 miles, 3880' climbing (mostly gravel), Just under two hours of faaaast movin'.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Laurel / Pilot in 2:20.... solo, rigid, and fixed.

Today's ride was exceptionally difficult: Laurel Mountain to Pilot Rock, starting from Yellow Gap. Not the toughest route under most circumstances but today I decided to try it fixed gear 34x19. I was off the bike more than usual going up and down but still made it back to the Jeep in just only 20 minutes slower than what I consider a fast pace, on any bike, for myself.

It was a beautiful late summer day. Highs in the 70's, low humidity, a cool breeze... Here's the view from Pilot Rock:

I was having more trouble today with the actual gear size than the non-coasting bit. I'm used to SS'n a 25 in the back. 19 is makes any uphill feel STEEP. I was wondering if I could just drill out an endless and bolt it on back there. Anyone know if this can be done?

When I got home I felt like I had been on a 6+ hour ride. The descent down Pilot beat me up. I felt like a novice... Rocky switchbacks are difficult when you can't coast.
Here's a very quick vid I shot while descending 1206 towards Bradley Creek. About 1 millisecond after I started shooting I realized the camera is in the wrong hand....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fixed Gear Mountain Biking in Pisgah

Today's ride: Trace Ridge solo and fixed starting at 6:30pm. I was back at the Jeep at 7:55. 85 minutes for Spencer->Trace is pretty good for me on any bike. Tonight's lesson? There IS a rear brake... and it is very effective. Oh, I did have one crash, while climbing Spencer I took a dive off the trail. I need to remember: concentrate. quiet the mind. don't space out. use the virtual coasterbrake. pedal harder....

2nd fixed ride ever

Fall is in the air and trees:
There were a few moments during the ride that made me whoop and yell and laugh out loud. One was when I full on powerslidskid towards and barely missed that damned tree in the lefty at the bottom of trace. The line between in and out of control on the fixed is razor thin.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oh, I get it now.... It doesn't coast... ever!

I just got in from the Friday night Richmond Hill ride and this time I changed things up a bit. Maybe it was seeing Little E three or four years ago rocking a fixed Nishiki Alien down Trace. Maybe it was watching Rich rock Farlow/Daniel fixed a year or so after that. Maybe it was Jeremy's recent post bringing my attention to the fact that 'e' is still riding fixed and is as fast as ever... but no matter, I dialed up Rich the other day and asked to borrow a tomicog and tonight I tried the dark elixer for myself. No rear brake. No coasting. No suspension. My first ever fixed gear ride. On road or off. Without waxing poetic about being one with the machine and all that I'll just mention a few lessons I learned this evening:
1. *light incense* *ring bells* *meditate* no, seriously, you and the machine are directly attached. AS ONE...
2. 34x19 is F-A-S-T FAST!
3. If you can keep it all under control.
4. If you come into a twisty turny rooty mess way too fast: Don't cram on the front brakes. You'll highside. (Ask me how I figured that one out)
5. Try Try Try and Try again. I figured out the one and only rocky downhill switchback at Richmond Hill and nailed it 4 out of 7 times.
6. On rocky downhill switchbacks: breath deep. concentrate. DON'T put your butt behind your saddle or your nuts will be sucked into that space inbetween the seatstays and the rear tire. DO remain seated and crouch down.

OK, that's it. Fixed riding is challenging. Next up: Trace Ridge. Let's add some real speed into the mix.

Here's the fixed green Waltworks at the bridge over the South French Broad River, headed up to the Richmond Hill trails:

and at the rock switchback:

and one more. On the way home I found a gaggle of 50-100 gooses hanging out near the bike lane. Smokey Towtrucks, Railroad tracks, Fast traffic, and wildlife. River Road.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

anywhere from easy going to f'ing rediculous...

S.Mills->Mullinax->Squirrel->S.Mills->BuckhornGap->BlackMtn.->TurkeyPen w/DjD

Thanks to everyone for the trailwork. Squirrel and Black are in AMAZING shape right now.

I was having a great climbing day today. The climb to Buckhorn Gap went by quickly, I cleaned more of the switchbacks up to Clawhammer Mountain than in a long while, and I was on my bike for all of Turkey Pen except for those two dreaded mountains. No, I don't have a powermeter or a training regiment or anything of the sort to tell me definitely that I was going faster or staying on my bike longer on the climbs, but I was just having a blast and enjoying the slow uphill battle that gears bring back to the ride experience. I was cleaning everything man!

Hey! It's John and Leanne!

Hey! It's the Youngblood's crew!
Holy shit! It's Scott from Indy!!!

Richmond Hill

Last night Mike B. and I went out for the Friday night Richmond Hill ride.... but it ended up just being the two of us. We rode the pavement to BioWheels then over to Richmond Hill. Mike didn't have a real light with him and the sun was going down quickly so we skipped the school trails and a couple of turns later were headed up the big paved hill to the parking lot. I'm not sure for how long or how many times we looped around and around in the woods out there but it was dark enough to fire-up my lights for the last 15 minutes or so of trail. Richmond Hill is a ton of fun. Tight, Twisty, did I mention fun?, and fast. Once all the trailnames are established, and signs are in place, it'll be a perfect city park trail network.

I feel like I'm getting a sneak-peek at Asheville's next big beginners/after-workers place to ride. In a few years, when the greenway and a few other additions are in place, you won't be able to say Asheville's infrastructure isn't cycling friendly. Next: figuring out how to make the non-cycling public more cycling friendly....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

a mountainbiker's roadride

I just got in from another intense feeling roadbike ride. This time around it was more gravel road than pavement. The multibeast performed flawlessly. doyouwannaknowwhatsalotoffun? descending 1206 to NMRC in the 53 bigring on 25 skinnies. That's what's a lot of fun.

From Bent Creek Gap->Blue Ridge Parkway->NC276->FS1206->FS5000.

Just under 33 miles, 5500' climbing, 15 miles pavement, 18 miles gravel, 2:40 time out. F Yeah!

There were a number of moments when I thought 'The roadbike is the best tool for this job':
1. Climbing the parkway from Bent Creek Gap to Wagon Road Gap.
2. Descending NC276.
3. The flatish sections of FS1206 to Bradley Creek.
4. Any time the gravel roads were going up.

and.... there were two moments when I thought 'am I crazy?':

1. Descending to Bradley. It felt like I was holding an aluminum baseball bat and it was being hit by 10,000 hammers in some sort of demonic-anti-rhythm.
2. Descending 1206 at God knows how fast and I hit a long stretch of brake stutter bumps around a corner. My vision blurred out, my front wheel was floating from side to side and it felt like I was on ice in an out of control sled. Yeah.