I had the morning off from work today so I took the opportunity and got out into the woods for a little while. From the first gate on 5000->Spencer->Trace->Wash Creek->Bear Branch->5001->5000. A fun 90 minute tour of the Trace Ridge area.
The warm-up today was similar to the last, my heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest, but after about 20 minutes I was feeling in the groove. The climb went by quickly even with the hard warm up and a few texts coming in (I had to stop and check them, I was kinda playing hooky). At the Spencer/Trace intersection I snapped a quick photo:
and didn't take a real break until after I climbed the little hell hill to the Trace descent. In the first bit of Trace I passed a family and their two dogs but otherwise I didn't see a soul all day. By the time I was at the real Trace Ridge descent I was feeling great and was ready to put the hammer down. Trace is one of the fastest off-road descents that I know of and today I was flying. The trail isn't even in great shape right now but there is something to knowing every foot of a trail, where to brake, where to pedal, where to coast, how hard to pull up, how sharp that next turn is... that allows you to go faster than what's probably safe. When I rocketed into the parking lot I checked the GPS: 34.8 mph was my max speed. Holy crap. Lower Trace to Wash Creek to 5000 was next then I made the decision, based on my wife's recommendation, to climb Bear Branch trail to 5001. Where as I know Trace like the back of my hand, the opposite is true for Bear Branch up. Pisgah is an amazing place. After all these years of riding I cannot recall one ride that included riding up Bear Branch. What a trip. It was a fun climb through a pine stand with a few steep spots to contend with. Not bad! Down 5001 was slick in every corner and the climb back to the gate, and the Jeep, was over in minutes. I wish I had the time to keep moving at that point, I was feeling pretty darn good.