Sunday, July 19, 2009

Usually I'd start at the beginning.....

but today I have to start at the end:

On the way down Black Mountain trail from Club Gap to the shelter Ben P. got in a freak accident and broke his ankle? leg? If he's lucky it'll just be a really bad sprain.... but everyone doubts it. (UPDATE: his tibia is broken just above the ankle) His foot was set back from his shin by almost an inch, he almost passed-out from the pain, Mike and Ian had to carry him out, and as you can see the rescue squad opened the gate at the bottom of Clawhammer road and came and got him. Mountain biking can be dangerous. Especially when you obtain speeds like Ben does, or that I do for that matter.

Today's ride: From Black Mountain trailhead->276->475->5095->Long Branch->475->5003->140A->Farlow Gap->Daniel Ridge->225 Connector->225->475B->276->477->Club Gap->Black Mountain->Ben's accident->Clawhammer->276.

46.2 miles, 8440' climbing. Pisgah Rangin'!

Mike B. was at my house at 830am and we were in the Jeep to meet Ben P., Kris K., and Ian B. at Black Mountain trailhead by 900. We started with pavement to the Fish Hatchery and Mike led out with a nice easy pace the entire way. Davidson River was our first singletrack and my first view of what I'd see again and again today, the bio-train leaving the station. We regrouped at 475 then again at 5095. We took our first break at Long Branch, just less than an hour into the ride.

I once again dropped into fifth place in line and granny gear for the climb up Long Branch. I was a bit behind the fast guys on the climb so I didn't even catch them on the descent in the middle. Kris had something interesting to say about that that I won't repeat here. After Long Branch was the quick climb to Gloucester Gap than onto 5003. Mike held back with me for that roller-coaster mostly buff doubletrack climb to 140A. We took our next break there, almost an hour had once again passed.
The bio-train took off after the break and I didn't see them again until Farlow Gap. The climb up 140A was frustrating for me until I decided I didn't care about how fast those guys were going and I turned up the music in one ear. I realized 'I've got a bike, a water filter, food, ipod, and my own vehicle at the start/finish. I'm allllll goooooood.'
Battles, Phish, Pretty Lights, Pink Floyd, Medeski Martin and Wood.... the Ipizzle chose perfect random outer-space music for me as I spaced out and let the time and miles and elevation gain pass. I ran out of water about 20 minutes from the top (without a water source to be found)and by the time I got to Farlow I was about ten minutes behind the fast moving pack, parched, and in great spirits.

Ben took the lead for the Farlow descent with me on his tail. I have not followed such a clean line down the steep in a very long time. Ben and I cleaned EVERYTHING all the way to the first creek crossing. Awesome. I led out for the off-camber bench-cut steep part of Farlow and the pace was high all the way to the waterfall. We walked down to below the falls and took our next long break there. It was 3.5 hours into the ride at this point and my legs were getting rather fatigued. After the climb through the campsite I experienced some of the best descending I've been a part of in a while. I was number four in a train of five downhilling in Pisgah. The sight was incredible, watching the lead react to the trail then the next react then the next then I'd react then I'd hear the bike behind me lip off the jump, rail through the roots, whatever we were all reacting to. We finished Farlow and took Daniel to the 225 connector. Then 225 to 475B to 276.

The climb up 475B had me wondering if I was going to be able to finish the ride or if I needed to bail back to the Jeep. 276 to 477 to Club Gap was tough as my inner thighs were screaming and felt ready to cramp. We took another break after the new section of Club and I watched as my calves wiggled and squirmed like there were worms living in them.... uhh ohh.... but surprisingly after an emergen-c and a gel I was on the bike and climbing to the gap. I let everyone know I was in for the whole ride and we continued on Black towards the shelter. Ben's accident came as we were just starting the second descent. The crash itself wasn't very dramatic, he didn't fly off the edge or spin through the air, he just came to an abrupt stop and was laying on the ground. 'Aaaahhhh!!!! It's broke' were the words I heard and were the signal that the riding portion of the day was done.

It was a scary situation. Kris and I shuttled the bikes out as Mike and Ian carried Ben down from about a half mile above the shelter. My crackberry got a signal and before we started we called 911. It took both Mike and Ian 35 minutes to get Ben to the shelter and for Brevard Rescue to get to Buckhorn Gap via Clawhammer road. They drove a 6 wheeler to the shelter for the extraction then put him in the back of a pickup for the ride to the ambulance at the horse stables.

All things considered, we're lucky that the day didn't turn out much differently.