Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Swankin’ Leaves

Let me first say that with the introduction of this thread, I now understand what SWANK stands for.

Silly Walker’s Attempting Not to be Killed

If you want to know what trails are being utilized for the Swank, just think about every trail in and around the Fish Hatchery and you know the route. Yes, we will be hitting three of my favorite trails in Pisgah as well; Daniel Ridge, Butter Gap and Cove Creek. We will be “racing” on some pretty technical trails.

I can say with almost 100% certainty that no racer will ride the complete route. If you do, and you want to smite me with all of your wheel maneuvering magic then go right ahead because I bow to you and your godliness on the bike.

While riding around the trails out at Issaqueena last night, I realized that the leaves there are really quite manageable. The trails see a lot of use and I believe that contributes to the ease of the leaves. This is not the case in Pisgah. The leaves become so thick for awhile in Pisgah that you feel as though you are biking through eight inches of British Columbia Powder. All that “powder” is there to hide big rocks and roots that will attempt to bring you face to face with Mother Nature. The other exciting factor the leaves bring to biking is the sound your bike makes when plowing through them. If you can imagine, being inside a steel room with a hundred people ripping, crumpling and shredding newspapers then you can imagine the sound.

With all that being said, I still have some strategies I intend to employ while racing this last attempt of the season. I will provide more thoughts on my race plan later in the week. For now, I am just keeping the legs loose and enjoying this awesome fall weather. I leave you with a picture that was ripped from Eric’s site. Shortly after this picture was taken I lost it on the big boulder right in front of me. Maybe next time!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Good Times and New News

Pictures from the weekend. The party rocked and my good Friend Florence really knows how to throw a house party. Good Job Flo!

We were at another party Friday night but those pictures shall never be revealed on the internet.

Bike News:

The Drunken Monkey will be getting some softer blue pill's soon. I recently made contact with Walt out in Colorado for some new hardware. Here is what Walt says:

Jonathan -
You're one of the few people that actually reads anything on the website before they email me - kudos!
In any case, if you're coming from a bike with an 80mm travel fork, you'll want a 470mm long rigid fork. That's the same length as your Karate Monkey fork. The offset on your KM is 43mm, and the steerer is 1 1/8". Easy cheese, dude. I build forks like that all the time.
Is this fork going to be a disc or v-brake setup?
Finally, you gotta cough up some dough so I can, you know, eat and pay the rent. I take paypal payments (to this email address) or checks sent to:

Waltworks LLC
5435 White Place
Boulder, CO 80303

The total would be $xxx ($xxx fork/$xx ship) and the wait time would be about 1 month.

I can't wait to get my hands on this fork. I will count the moments until it happens. I know that Eric is very pleased with his work. I am sure the same will be true with me.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The New Tuesday

I jumped on the Drunken Monkey last night and headed over to Mellow Mushroom. Sat with Andrew and had some beers before a meeting of the masses began.

Ty our local Park Ranger was giving a quick power point showing how current grant monies were being utilized in the park and how future grants might be entertained.

We all signed up in attendance to show our local support. If you showed up and signed the attendance, you might be in the know for the “New Tuesday.” The park is being opened up to night time activities on Tuesdays. That’s right folks, we now have a local place to ride on Tuesday nights in the winter. If we treat this new rule with respect, it could extend into other nights!

The main concern is that people will abuse the hours. It is only open till 9. So get your butt out of the park by 9 so Ty and his staff can go have beers with you and not throw your butt out of the park.

I am getting ready for the SWANK this weekend by drinking heavily with my old roommate from college. Sounds like a plan!

Should be some good pictures this coming Monday as Kristin and I are dressing up for a costume party tonight. She is going as a Mountain biker (I have no idea where she got that idea) and I am going as a Dancer. Should be interesting. I've got lots of dance moves. The Drunken Monkey has been teaching me some new one's too so look out!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Beast

Pictures aren't working on Blogger again. So if you want to see the pics that Eric took look here.

I am naming the ride we did yesterday after my favorite roller coaster because it was a beast!

Eric, Dave, Ian and I all gathered for a weekday ride in Pisgah. The day was shaping up to be as beautiful as a day can be. The morning air was chilly but not cool as we mounted our steeds headed out for a day in the woods.

Eric had this devilish grin kicking when I pulled up as the last to arrive. He was thinking that a nice four hour warm-up would be a great way to start my idea of a five hour ride. That’s only nine hours so I said “Hell yes that sounds like a good idea.”

Our projected route:

1206 ---> 5018 ---> Horse Cove ---> Squirrel Gap ---> Laurel ---> Bradley Creek ---> 5015 ---> 1206 ---> Pilot Rock ---> Mtns to Sea ---> Parkway ---> Big Creek ---> Reservoir Rd ---> 5000

WOW! Those are big aspirations. . .

I was down for the ride because Eric has extensive knowledge of Pisgah and I was going to see some roads and trails I had never seen before. We started off just chatting about things that bikers chat about in the woods and taking it easy. Once we made it to 5018 Ian and I took off up the climb to warm up a little. Eric was planning on completing this ride even though he had put in 30 miles the day before. So he was letting the legs warm up slowly. I caught up with Ian on the climb just as the road came to a clearing. It looked like a fantastic place for a rest so we chilled out for a minute to let Dave and Eric catch up. The view was fantastic and Eric was quickly explaining what peaks were what. It was good to know that someone else had explained this to him. You would have to be very knowledgeable and a great Topographic map reader to decipher the peaks from each other.

From here we continued on to the top of 5018 to Horse Cove trail. I had never ridden Horse Cove before and was looking forward to it.

Eric led the way down the first decent with me making chase and then Ian and Dave. Eric showed his skills on the rigid single speed smoking me on the downhill. Dave had said that this downhill was technical. He was right. A rock at the top of the downhill kicked my back wheel into the air and I rode my second fantastic nose wheelie of the week. It was almost enough to pitch me over the bars but with a little luck I got the back wheel back on the ground and immediately slipped behind the seat with my butt dragging on the tire. I came to a smooth stop while Ian passed me.

Toward the end of Horse Cove, there was a good technical section where Eric was waiting with his camera. Ian was walking the section and I wasn’t about to let Eric down since he took the time to get the camera out. I slowly passed Ian walking and then saw that my next two moves would be to negotiate some huge boulders. My front wheel slipped out on the first one and that was the end of my attempt.

We came to the Squirrel Gap intersection and Eric led the way again. This trail is fantastic. There were some ups and downs and then eventually it turned into a crazy technical ascent. I lost my rhythm big time on the climb and had trouble finding it again. Finally I caught up to Eric and Ian who were waiting for Dave and me.

I took the lead on the Squirrel descent because I had to have redemption over the ascent that I royally screwed up. I was in the lead with Eric making chase this time. I didn’t want to slow him down because his is like the road runner on technical sections just flying over everything. I was feeling great and really pushing my limits on some real technical drops and root sections. There were a bunch of times where my eyes would quickly scan the ground for the best line and then I was off, completely focused on the task at hand, which was not falling into the abyss.

Eventually we completed squirrel and headed down Laurel toward the wet creek crossings of Bradley. I watched as Eric and Ian tried to negotiate a dry crossing. I knew that we had the long climb of 5015 next and I could use a wash so I just tromped trough the water.

I shed a layer of clothes and we made the climb up 5015. The views up this road are great. The only exciting factor was when I came up on two hunters and one quickly turned his head toward me. However, since they had shotguns, they should have only been shooting at small game. Bow is the only allowable big game weapon at this point.

At the top of 5015 we were back to within 3 miles of the car. Eric talked with a Bow hunter about where he had been and where we had been. They both traded some knowledge of the area since they had different perspectives.

Our warm-up (Thank you Eric) was done. Dave said he was done and headed back toward the car. I don’t blame him.

The rest of us pushed up to Pilot Rock via 1206. We figured Pilot was the quickest route to the top of the Parkway even though we would have to push 95% of the trail. When we arrived to the trailhead Eric said something about calves turning to baseballs. I gave him some electrolytes and reminded him that this was his idea after all. We started the push.

Let me explain that a hike in cycling shoes up a big rock with a bunch of little rocks on top is no walk in the park with your Reef Sandals on. This trail is a steep push for two and a half miles. I heard Eric calling us. He was done. We bid our adieus and now there were two. Ian made some mumbling comments about going down too. I wouldn’t let it happen, I could taste Big Creek and I didn’t need to be doing it alone.

We walked right by some of the best views in the forest. There wasn’t much time or strength to admire it at this point so we just pushed on.

I heard something coming down the trail and then I saw a hiker. He immediately said “Where am I.” I already knew what had happened without knowing the story. We were pretty close to the Pisgah Inn and he was a lost hiker. He asked if the Inn was down the hill. If I hadn’t been so tired I would have bust out laughing. He was going to descend 2000 feet and say to himself “gosh I don’t remember walking up this . . . “

I quickly explained that if he would like to follow us we were headed back to the Inn. I didn’t figure it would be hard for him to keep up since we were already 30+ miles into the ride. I asked him if he had a map. He said “no” as I figured. I said it was a good place to get lost and die of hypothermia since I had noticed icicles forming in the dirt.

Maybe I am wrong here but let’s analyze this. He had walked from the Inn on the Mtns to Sea trail made a right onto Pilot, walked passed the intersection of Thompson Creek and past the intersection of Laurel Connector and he thought he was headed back to his car. Without hesitation I can say that Ian and I saved this man’s life. If we didn’t save his life we definitely saved him from a long night of misery and cold.

We made it to the Inn and refilled our water while basking in the sun and the day’s activities. We headed down the Parkway making for Big Creek. While pedaling through the tunnel we saw a seven foot icicle hanging from the wall.

Now we were on Big Creek and preparing to descend 2000 feet in two miles. I was not fast anymore. I was holding on for the hope that I could drink Eric’s beer that he had left in my cooler. He said it was the price he had to pay for bailing.

We made it down Big Creek with no incidents and I even cleaned some technical sections on the way down. We made it to the bottom crossed all the creek crossings and made our final few miles back to the car.

All in all we traveled approximately 45 miles and a ton of climbing. I am not sure how much but it had to be around 10,000 feet. We popped some beers (Thanks Eric!) and then packed up and headed home.
The Beast!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pisgah, The Beginning

I just got back from a fun filled day at the Biltmore Mansion. I haven't been to the estate before even though I lived within an hour's distance for more than a year. However, today my Sister, Father and Brother In-Law all went to the estate for some fun.

I don't have much time so I won't go into detail at this time. Let's just say that the place is amazing. The grounds and the house are all out of this world.

We did a "rooftop tour" that took us to places that most guests don't see. The balconies and nooks and crannies inside this place are endless. We were able to explore the tops of the house outside and inside.

I never really realized that this is how the Pisgah National Forest got started. The Vanderbilt's were the first people to come up with the idea of planting trees to create a scientific forest. When they were first building the house and the estate it was all barren. The Vanderbilt's virtually created the Cradelery of Pisgah. Back in the day, they owned all the property from the house all the way past Mount Pisgah.

While standing on the back porch of the house we could look West out toward Mt. Pisgah. I thought about the fact that I had biked up there recently. It almost seemed untouchable from the house. Immediately I thought about creating a trail from the house to the top of the mountain. It would be an epic ride for sure.

What really blew my mind is the fact that they still have single track on the estate that can be used by hikers and bikers alike. I didn't get a chance to sample the trails but I will have to make a trip for that at some point.

That is all for now since time is short this evening. Pictures and such to come later.

If you haven't heard, we are meeting for a ride tomorrow. Check the thread out if you want to join.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sleepy Pisgah

While the rest of the world was either sleeping or copping out because of a little rain, four troopers showed up for a battle in the woods. Dave, Mike, Joe and myself all took off hoping to complete the following route:

Fish Hatchery ---> Cove Creek ---> Daniel Ridge ---> Butter Gap ---> Cat Gap

The dismal rain stopped just as we pulled up into the Hatchery. The haunting 5:30am call that I got from Rick warning me of “dousing rains,” didn’t seem as threatening now. I was impressed to see that we had some riders despite the slippery conditions. We made our hellos and started getting things together for the ride. Kristin and my Father were there with me. They were headed to the top of Looking Glass Rock to see what they could see. Yes they are warriors for getting up and having a positive outlook as well.

We said our goodbyes to the hikers and headed up 475B toward Cove Creek. We all were pretty chatty on the first climb and it was over before I even realized I was climbing. This was to be my first Pisgah descent with the rigid fork and I knew that Cove Creek was going to be rough. I was told to go first at the descent, so I made haste and tried to get out in front. The nice big banked turn at the top and off we go.

The descent was slippery considering the conditions but it was a blast. I wasn’t having any problems with the fork at all. Sure I felt like I was in a Maraca during a festival in the middle of Buenos Aires but what did that matter? I was having a blast. No problems negotiating the big rock steps up to the big creek crossing and on down to the Cove Creek campground.

A quick break to let the adrenaline settle, then we headed toward Daniel Ridge. Careful steps were made to cross the tree crossing at the washed out bridge and off we went for a counter-clockwise loop around Daniel. The climb was good and I didn’t have to walk much even on the single. When we arrived at the top of the staircase on Daniel, I heard it talk smack to me. It said “I am too slippery and steep for your wimpy ass Jonathon.” I wasn’t going to have it. I exclaimed that I saw a good line down the staircase and it was mine.

Joe started mumbling something about not having his digital camera to catch me leaving the bike in a fashionable manner. It took me three tries to get the run into the stairs angled the way I wanted it and I was committed. The only apprehension I felt was on the last step. It was a good drop and it had Endo written all over it. I got to the last step and I must have been in the zone because I heard the other three giving me some props. I pulled a 90 degree turn while nose wheeling the corner. I got the back wheel back on the ground and I knew nothing was going to stop me today. That was after all, the first time I had ever attempted to ride those steps.

I hauled down Daniel and every single rock on the trial tried to jump in front of my wheel but I just batted them down into submission. Clean all the way to the old bridge. I haven’t had a shot of adrenaline like that in a long time. Elated I believe, is a good word.

Everyone else made it down and we stopped for our second break. Mike took off at this point headed back for his tent. Joe Dave and I, all headed up toward Butter Gap.

The climb was done before we knew it and we were standing at the intersection of Art Loeb and Butter. Joe and I talked about the fact that this was one of the few places in Pisgah where you can actually say “It’s all down from here.”

We collected ourselves for the descent and off we went. Butter is normally muddy and wet and there are a ton of tricky creek crossings to test your technical skills. It was a blast going down. We made in to the junction of Long Branch and on through the fields to Cat Gap. We were standing right before the rock drop on Cat gap and I explained how this section is bittersweet. It is a ton of fun but also the end of the ride. Boooooooooooo! I was having way too much fun for it to end.

We headed down the rest of Cat Gap and back out to the parking lot. Just as we rolled into the lot, my Dad and Kristin pulled in from there hike. How’s that for timing! Joe said something about us being connected buy the inter-webbing beams of Zen, I just call it excellent planning and no mechanicals! Not even a flat.

Rock on!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Drunken Monkey Takes Little Blue Pills

No actual monkeys were harmed in this test.

What do you do when all of your little suspension components are kaput?

Feed the Drunken Monkey some little blue pills and watch him magically grow a rigid fork. That’s right, last night was my first attempt (in a very long time) to ride my SS with no suspension fork.

I had it in my mind all day that I was going to do this if my suspension fork couldn’t be fixed at the shop. However, I thought that I was going to just do a urban/dirt ride. Once I got the fork on the bike, I heard the call of the woods and decided to go trail riding instead. Wait a tic, let’s go back to the shop visit.

I walk into the shop where I left my suspension fork yesterday and say

“were you able to get some oil in the fork for me?”
Response: “No, we are going to send it off.”
Jonathon: “WHAT? I don’t think so, why can’t you just put oil in it here?”
(I must interject here. Last time I let them “send a fork off,” well let’s just say it was a fiasco)
Response: “Well (insert shop owner’s name), doesn’t want us to do it because we don’t have the manual.”
Jonathon: “Please just give me the fork back and could you shorten this steer tube on my rigid fork and put a star nut in for me?”

Thank the lord he realized my frustration and quickly worked on the rigid fork for me so I could swap it out once I got home. So we can return back to the ride now.

Let me fist say, our trails at Paris ROCK! It has rained and rained and rained this week. I saw a little sunshine yesterday and still there was no standing water or mud puddles on the trails. Incredible!

Driving out to the trails, I told myself just to take it easy and try not to have any “off the bike experiences.” Well, I didn’t have any off the bike experiences and I didn’t take it easy.

I parked at the bottom of the mountain (yes it can really be called a mountain) as usual and proceeded on my normal warm-up route up Sulphur Springs. The steering with the new fork was much quicker and it took me a mile or two to figure that out but once I did it was all gravy. Going up was cool. The bike was lighter, the handling worked out well and I was getting in the groove.

I didn’t have much time so I really had to ponder what trail to do after Sulphur to make my “test” worthwhile. I figured there was no better way to test the fork then to take it down my favorite downhill Brissy Ridge. How bad could it be right?

Let me explain this downhill. It starts off with a little drop and then you have some big root clusters. The trail shoots down into a gully and back up. Then it is just fast with lots of roots and one drop at the end and you’re done. It is relatively short.

How would I describe riding down this with the rigid fork? The only thing that comes to mind I don’t want to type here. It shakes the frickin crap out of you. I had to pause for a second on the downhill to make sure I could still hold onto the bars. I didn’t really check my speed that much and I paid for it.

I took the road back to the top of the mountain and got set for my favorite trail. I flew up the road! How do I know? It was the first time I have sat down and spun all the way up. Normally I have to stand in spots.

Sulphur Springs back down the mountain to my car. This time I stopped and let out some air in the front tire. That made things a little softer and I had a blast like normal coming down.

I did make some observations:

The Surly fork is stiff, super stiff. I would like to try a custom fork and see if the dampening helps any.

I also noticed that the little things make a big difference now. If I rode like this all the time, I would need new grips. It was humid and considering the bars were jumping around like a bunny rabbit trying to get away from a fox, they were hard to hold onto.

All in all, I observed that in most spots I went the same speed. Downhills would have to be slower for safety reasons and the fact that I don’t have Popeye arms.

I could probably cancel my gym membership if I decided to stay this way.

Going up is most definitely faster.

It was a great day in the woods once again.

See you this weekend! We have six people committed so far. . .

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dem Bighum Wheels

We have another Pisgah ride kicking on the forums if anyone is interested. This will not be an epic. Just a nice short four hour jaunt through the woods. Sunday 8:00am at the Fish Hatchery. See you there!

As you know this weekend I went on a ride with seven people through Pisgah. I took my FS 26” wheeled bike. Lately I have been riding my SS 29” bike and I have noticed that even though this bike is a hardtail, I still seem to be pretty quick on the downhills. I had been wondering if the difference was solely in the big wheels or if something else was coming into play. I think I got my answer this weekend.

Eric rides a rigid 29er SS. I found myself behind him this weekend doing what everyone else has been doing to me on the big wheels, making chase. To keep up with him on the downhills I really had to push the pedals hard. This doesn’t make sense considering I have more body mass than him.

So if you have any doubt whether the big wheels keep your momentum flowing better, just ride behind a SS 29’er on the downhill and watch that person float away without pedaling.

My other observation is that the big wheels definitely roll over objects better. You don’t notice this as much going from little to big. However, once you have been on the big wheels and you try the small ones again you will notice that the wheels seem to be bumping up against things more.

I am not advocating big wheels or small ones. I am just giving you my observations. So no crazy 29’er hatin’ spam ok? Good, glad we cleared that up.

Have a SUPER day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nice Rack!

I am just trying to get a few extra hits on the blog today. 8-)

If you can remember that not too long ago, my rack was smashed. Well I picked up the new rocky mounts and installed one them. Pretty easy installation even though they sent me the Lariat instructions for my Noose model rack. I like the simplicity of the rack. So far the only downfall I see/hear is that when I make a turn without a bike in the rack the skewer bangs back and forth. If I was not so lazy, I could just pull the skewer out when I am not using it.

So what's left for the year? My first single speed race is what is left.

I signed up for the SWANK on November 4th. It will be my redemption so that I do not dwell on the SM-75 all winter. The SWANK is a 42 mile race in Pisgah on some really cool trails. So I hear. I am going to ride the SS in a race for the first time. I will be sure to give it my all but I really will be there for a good time and that is all.

I am very distressed about biking technology right now. Let's recount what has happened this year with my two bikes.

The full suspension bike has had the front fork blown out twice and is currently in good health.

The rear shock blew out in the cowbell and I had it refurbished. It only lasted 100 miles this time and it is blown again. It is currently dead.

The frame has cracked twice on me this year so I was moved to an XL that I recently had fitted to myself. The frame has < 100 miles and is currently in good health.

My new wheelset is warped on the CAKE. The front wheel took one semi-hard hit in the cowbell and was ruined. I am still running it though. Ruined is a relative term.

On to the second bike. The steel single speed Karate Monkey. What has gone wrong with this bike? Oh nothing except for my stupid mistake which caused me to lose some oil in the fork.

My conclusion? It should be obvious but I am compoletely distraught at this point. I am thinking that next season I will be riding a geared hard tail 29'er. I will not commit to SS all the time and I will not commit to Fully Rigid. Those conversions will happen when I am an old tough man that can take that kind of abuse.

A friend recently said "It doesn't really matter as long as you are out ripping up the trails." He is exactly right!

My 29'er/26'er observations from the weekend will be my focus tomorrow.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Pisgah Goodness

Friday night I was out with Andrew and we saw some Hip Hop, Break Dancing and Bluegrass. Not all at the same time. It was great fun.

Through the powers of MTBR, we got a ride together for this past Saturday. The plan was to meet at 8:30. I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm at 5:45 and started my day. As I loaded the car up, I noticed that all the stars were out with a Harvest Moon as well. It was chilly but it was going to be an awesome day.

As I drove up 25, the sun started to rise and the lower valleys around the "Cliffs" were all filled with puffy white clouds. It was gorgeous. I arrived at the meeting spot first and quickly there after Jeremy, Jared, Jay and Dave all showed up. Eric and Mike drove up just as we were mounting our steeds. They told us to go ahead and they would catch up. I had no doubt they would.

The five of us rode up to the first intersection and we watched Jeremy make some adjustments to the bike he was riding since it wasn't his. Quickly there after Eric and Mike showed up. They had blazed up the road and got there a lot quicker than I had expected.

We chatted a little about which way to go and started up the road to Bear Branch. A little warmup ride. We bombed down Bear Branch and waited at the sharp right hand turn for everyone to re-group. First flat of the day by Jared, a quick fix and we were off. Back out on 5000 Eric and I started discussing what trails should appease our sick minds for the day. Eric made mention of going up Big Creek and coming down Laurel. Coming down Laurel sounded like a blast. . .

Jeremy and I chatted for a bit as we rode up FS 5000. It was still a bit cold but the sky was blue and the leaves had some good color. We made the turn onto Spencer and headed up up up. The first part of Spencer really gets the heart ticking as the trail really kicks up toward the field. We made it to the top of Spencer and the intersection with Trace and waited for everyone to arrive.

I asked Eric about how we were going to intersect with Big Creek as I had not ridden that trail before. He assured me we would intersect with it down at the bottom of Spencer somehow.

The descending of Spencer begins. Spencer is just steep enough for you to take short breaths and wonder about your abilities as you negotiate the rocks. If it was raining, you would think that Spencer is rocky waterfall. Down through some creeks and then you just have a slight decline with some big water bars and mud holes to negotiate. I found myself behind Eric (who was riding Fully Rigid Single Speed) as we bunny hopped the mud holes. A couple of the holes were fantastically deep. I saw Eric take a big hit on one and almost stop I had to pull up and take a big hit to my back wheel. It was either that or cremate Eric. I think he appreciated the sway to the side even though we were having to much fun to really notice how close of a call it really was. I got another 100 yards down the trail and the eminent happened. I heard POP ssssssssssssssssssss. I had pinch flatted on the big hit. The rest of the guys stayed around to watch me change the tube and we were back on it.

So here we intersected with Big Creek and started a brutal climb. Most people would never even think about going up this trail unless it was by accident or some strange necessity. Such as "oops I dropped my Rolex while descending will you help me go up Big Creek and look for it?" HELL NO!!!

So we were able to ride some of the ascent then we came to the big pitch up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We stopped and took a break for a moment. I didn't ask about the trail because I in no way wanted to know what I was up against. I decided to take the lead and try and pedal up the steep void until my heart would refuse. It refused after about 75 yards. I got off my bike and collected myself as I watched everyone else attempt part of the climb. I can't remember if it was Jeremy or Mike but one of them kept going like an energizer bunny goat climbing the mountain. It was awesome to watch and he got hollers from us all as we pushed our bikes up the slope behind him. What a great day to be in the woods!!

After awhile, I noticed the leaves changed over from wet and alive to dry crackly and fallen. This was waaaaaaaaaaay before we got to the top. Dave, Jay and I were pushing together. Since it was my first time on the trail I tried to ride whatever small patches I could. While mounting my bike for one of these attempts I started to get off balance, this can happen easily while going 0 mph. I looked off to my left where I knew I was going to fall and saw nothing but a steep steep pitch and some minor tree brush. Dave apparently saw this happening and made a grab for my bike. He got the bike but not my 195 lb self. As I took the first flip down the slope I realized that the pitch was even steeper than I thought. I took another flip or two and negotiated my feet underneath me. I started to slide down the slope even with my feet out in front! I dug in my heels and arrested myself. WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO! That was a trip. Dave and Jay were still in shock as I got back to the trail. I grabbed my bike (Thanks Dave!) and started walking again. Since Dave and Jay had not held up any signs with numbers on them I asked them what I got. They said an eight for sure. I say a seven, but you are always most critical to yourself. If I would have seen another do it I would have given them A TEN, A F%@&* TEN!

After a long long while, we made it to the top where the others were laid out in the sun awaiting our arrival. We were rewarded with some awesome views up on the Parkway as we headed to our next trail intersection. We peddled through one of the many tunnels on the parkway and with the wind whipping through it felt as though we had just peddled into the Artic. The temp must have been twenty degrees cooler in the tunnel.

As we waited at the lookout on top of Mt. Pisgah, we saw tons of cars and motorcyclist's enjoying the day in a slightly different manner than us. You always get some looks of astonishment as you pedal up and everyone else is driving. One lady on a motorcycle with her husband said "Wanna trade?" as she mounted the machine with an engine. Simultaneously three of us said "No Way" in stereo. I think she was taken back by this.

We continued on past Pilot Rock and down Laurel. Going down Laurel was a blast and everyone was tired by the end. There was a couple falls but nothing serious and we were at the bottom headed for our cars.

We rode/hiked 30 miles and some sane amount of climbing. One of the better days I have had in Pisgah riding trails in directions better suited for those who just popped out of the Koo Koo's nest.

Nice meeting new riders and I can't wait to do it again. Eric has a write up about the ride on his site as well.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Night Rides

Late post today due to work issues. Yes I actually have to do something other than surf the net all day sometimes. Tragic I know.

Night riding is some of the most exhilarating riding that I get to do. I love being in the woods and I really love being in the woods at night. Well sometimes it is a little freaky if you are by yourself.

So last night Andrew and I car pooled down to Issaqueena for some night riding. We took his newly adopted pup out for a quick two mile spin and then went back to the lot to meet up with more riders.

Issaqueena rocks for night riding. It is just technical enough to keep your mind busy but not so technical that it freaks you out. Night riding is sort of it's own animal. Since you can't really see everything there is a lot more flow involved. You sort of just "feel" the trail and many times I find that I ride better at night because I just react to the bike and the trail rather than trying to anticipate it.

It is sort of like when you were a kid playing flashlight tag. You find yourself running full speed in the dark when all the sudden the ground comes out from underneath you. Your little kiddie legs start moving as fast as possible to negotiate the hill until you realize that you are back on flat ground and still upright. You think to yourself "WOW that was cool, I didn't know I could run that fast." You just reacted to the hill instead of anticipating it and slowing down.

So we had a sweet ride last night and I got another ride in with gears. Man that technology is really great. Don't get me wrong I love the Single Speed but I will not commit my life to SS'ing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Spider Woman in a Nutt Shell

Yesterday I took a half day off work to go get my FS bike fitted a little more properly to myself. Since the only bike shop that I trust these days is in Columbia I took the bike out to Harbison State Park yesterday after the shop visit.

It has been awhile since I have ridden in HSP so I was excited to hit the single track. I rode firebreak --> stewardship ---> Midlands ---> Spiderwoman --> Inner Woman ---> shortcut to Crooked Pine ---> Firebreak back to the car.

Let me explain Spider Woman. This trail is as "remote" as it gets in HSP. This park isn't really that big so by remote I mean it is closest to the river and furthest from the car. It is that type of trail that you always want and don't want to go on. I always make sure to hit it if I am in HSP because it is some of the best Singletrack in South Carolina. (I am sure this would strike an argument up with some)

Yesterday was my first time on a geared mountain bike since the Shenandoah 75. (This is what I am calling it until next year when I ride all 100 miles) I felt really strong on the bike even though I had some free ride tires on a cross country course.

So Spider Woman is split into two loops a big outter loop (SW II) and a little inner loop (SWI A.K.A. Inner Woman).

Here is my interpretation of Spider Woman I and II. The entrance describes the trail as advanced and immediately the trail shoots downhill for about 100 feet. With a couple small turns. Then it shoots you right back up the hill and around a quick corner for some more curvy downhill sections with a couple whoops in there for good measure. The beginning will make you holler out if you haven't been on the trail for awhile. WooooooHoooooo!

Then the trail climbs slightly before peeling off to the right and back downhill again to a tricky rooty turn with a small drop off directly after. The dropoff is followed by a tricky uphill climb around a corner with some baby heads thrown in.

A quick downhill follows with whoops and a hairpin turn to the right. The next bit of Spider Woman is the only relief there is. It flattens out for a few turns and snakes around some trees. Then you come up on the first ditch whoop combined with two steep quick uphills. Once at the top you will again find yourself going downhill on the backside of the hill you just climbed, a quick couple corners and you start climbing the ditch.

This section is just steep enought to make you breathe hard. If you are riding with someone else you will see that the trail sweeps through the ditch at the top and down the other side. A quick uphill after the downhill ditch and back down again with a sharp drop off at the end.

A quick flatter section and then another semi-steep climb followed by a quick up and down and some whoops. A small tree crossing and you come up to Inner Woman.

Inner Woman is an exercise in itself. You go up up up and it is pretty steep the entire time. I have gotten to where I can climb it all in the middle ring but I am huffing like a smoker after four flights of stairs.

Your reward for climbing Inner Woman is fantastic. There are rocks and whoops and banked turns abound. Then you shoot back out onto SW II about twenty feet from where you left off.

This is where your "Man Test" begins. The rock garden is coming up and it is no joke. The trail is littered with baby heads and boulders everywhere. If that's not enough, there are four switch backs to negotiate while you huff it up the hill. Yesterday I cleaned it. Yay me.

At the top of the Rock Garden you swing around a curve and follow some whoops and a narrow ridge ride by the river. Again you have some quick ups and downs and then you start back away from the river on a climb out of SW II.

It is a great trail and all of that happens in about 3.5 miles. It is definitely not a diddle daddle trail. It is one of those trails that you want to eat alive and then spit it out at the end and stomp on it. Yesterday I did that and it had been awhile.

Three rides this week and counting. . .


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fast Bicycles

Last night I discovered that road bikes go really really fast. Yes that's right I was one of those non-exhaust exhuming freaks in tight clothing getting in your way while you try to get wherever it was you were going.

Andrew called me up yesterday afternoon and said it was time to hop on the road bike and ride over Paris Mountain. I wasn't doing anything so I said ok. This is the second spontaneous ride of the week.

Andrew let me borrow his Ritchey since he was riding a new Bianchi that he purchased. We are about the same size so I just hopped on the bike and said "Man this is weird." Itty bitty tires and the thing weighs as much as a Frisbee as far as I am concerned. After a few minutes, I figured out the integrated shifters and had decent control of the bike so we were on our way. We met up with Ty close to the base of the climb up Paris and went climbing. As we started to roll up Paris I tried to shift into granny and realized there was no granny. Ooops I am going to have to pedal a little harder than I thought to get up these pitches.

Those guys are definitely faster than me but it was my first time so give a guy a break. Once we broke the top of the climb, and started our decent down Paris I realized that these bikes can really get moving. That's when I realized that I better back off on the speed because I started to feel out of my comfort level.

I let Andrew pass me so I had somebody to follow on the decent. As I was ripping down this mountain, I looked down at the bike and tried not to think about the fact that this Frisbee weighted thingamajig (FWT) underneath me was the only thing that was keeping me from going into a 40+ mph skid down the pavement.

Well I negotiated all the turns and made it to the bottom unscathed. I was a little squirrelly on one turn that snuck up on me. Other than that I felt I handled it pretty well.

Sitting at the bottom Andrew informed me that many people have crashed on some of those turns. Hey thanks for the heads up. It was fun. I don't know if I want to do that all the time but we had a good time and we cranked out ~25 miles around 15 mph average. Not bad for climbing mountains and being a virgin on the FWT.

Well I have a few people interested in the Pisgah ride this weekend but not many. Hopefully we will see great weather. Speaking of the ride this weekend I am headed to Cola town to get my CAKE all in order. I might be making some adjustments to the Drunken Monkey too we will just have to see.

Apparently Blogger won't allow me to post up any pictures this morning. I don't get it, sometimes it works fine and other times it says it has uploaded the picture and nothing ever shows. So no funny Monster Lobster pictures today. Sorry.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hillbillies Doing Hillbilly Things

So this picture here by Miss Kristin is a demonstration of this past weekend's activities. This is "Hillbilly Golf." A very interesting game that involves libations and golf balls bound together with string. That's my Dad and I taking on Michael and our high school friend Jim Maloney. We got whooped up on. If you are interested the rest of the pictures from the weekend can be found here on Kristin's website. I will post some more pictures and stories later this week.

So for you biking nuts looking for some true pisgah goodness can come ride with whoever shows up on Saturday. I started this thread to keep everyone up to date. There are more responses than I expected already. Sweet people are coming out of the woodworks to ride.

Rick and I got some good single track in last night out at Issaqueena in Clemson. It looks as though there are some students from Clemson that got build rights to one area of the park out there. They are building some "big bike" drop offs and jumps. Hmmmmmmm can't wait to get the FS bike up and running again.

That's all for now.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Slippery Anytime

I will get to the weekend's activities tomorrow once I have some pictures.

Went out for a quick urban/dirt spin on Friday before we headed out to KY. I pumped the Exi Wolf's up to road pressure so I didn't have to worry about tubes and tools.

I was having a really good ride on the inner city single track and really enjoying the wonderful weather lately when I came upon "the bridge." This is no ordinary bridge. It is a metal bridge with no grooves in the slates or rubber at all. This thing has accident written all over it. There are even signs before the bridge that say "No Running or Biking across Bridge, Walking Only!" I have always sort of headed to this advice. I still ride my bike across it and run across it, I just exercise more caution if the conditions are slippery. Well on Friday everything was dry. Well except for the fact that my tires had been through some dew.

So I find myself going across the bridge quite a bit faster than normal. I started to lean into the 45 degree turn just a teeny bit and I felt the wheels start to slide out as though I were riding behind the Zamboni:

I looked at the river below and the miniscule rails that would attempt to arrest my fall into the river and realized this was going to be really bad. Luckily I hadn't leaned to far, I feathered both brakes just enough to make the pads brush the rotors and I felt the bike immediately snap upright back into position. Whew! That will be the closest call I ever have on that bridge.

Monster A.K.A. Mobster Lobster report tomorrow.

Now its time to see how all the "suckas" did in the Worlds.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Monster Lobster

Rode with Nick out at Paris last night. We had a good easy ride. Got all the trails in. Nick is headed to the Worlds this weekend and then has a Chemistry Exam on Tuesday. I got the chills when he said he was headed home to study. YIKES! I haven't studied in a long time. Good luck Nick!

So last weekend was a riding and drinking debauchery. This weekend is all about excess. Kristin and I are driving to good ol' Gilbertsville KY for some Lobster and hard partying. Yes I know it doesn't make sense to drive to KY for Lobster but that is the way it goes. This is the Marina where Michael's family owns a cottage.

So his family throws this huge party on the lake every year around this time. Everything is done in excess. Excessive drinking and eating with hardly any exercise besides tossing the disc and a little swimming.

There is some awesome single track in the area that I normally ride but this trip is for hanging out not riding my bike by myself.

So tomorrow we will be headed swimmingly up the highway. I know you all will be disappointed without a post tomorrow but I am sure Monday's will make up for it.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Team BDE, October Stuff

Yah I stole the camera from Miss Photo and snapped her photo. Whuhahahahahhahaha!

Is this the right map?

That is Team BDE. That's all I have to say about that.

October is upon us and most of the biking community is finishing up their season. Lots of talk about worlds and so on. So why can't I find somebody to ride with? I guess everybody is in alter-ego must train and ride alone mode.

Got wind of another small gathering of folk coming to Pisgah. There are even some native Hoosiers coming down. I might have to convince myself that camping is just getting primed. The leaves are going to have color very soon and how can you pass camping up this time of the year? Plus the seasonal trails will be open soon. Look out for some Epic Pisgah rides coming to your neighborhood soon.

So good luck to all of those that are headed to the worlds this weekend.

What do I have on the docket for the rest of the year? There is a cross country race in Charleston. There is the SWANK in pisgah that sounds cool. A couple twelve hour races are still feasible too. I haven't made any decisions on late season torture yet. I might just have to go hoop it up with the crazies doing the Double Dare. Whatever events are sure to be a blast and involve keg beer are sure to be on the list.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tobacco Free For Ever Eva Eva Eva

Saturday morning Kristin and I got up nice and early for the TFFL (tobacco Free For Life) ride. We got all set up at Dupont and Kristin started in taking volunteer pictures for the event. Here is Andrew and I awaiting the start.

The advanced course was 29 miles this year and it was a hoot. I had limited goals on this ride since it is just that "a ride." I wanted to have fun, not lose a contact and not get a flat. All those things happened to me last year, I was looking to achieve only the first this year.

The route was much better than the previous year. We started out climbing the northern section of Holly Mountain and down Ridgeline to the new Jim Branch section of the park. This trail has recently been re-worked and it is awesome now. After Jim Branch, we started the climb to the middle of the park.

We headed up past High Falls on the Conservation Road and then down by Bridal Veil Falls. At this point, two women in all pink passed me as I was looking around at the feed station. Made the climb out of the falls section and a left onto Shelter Rock trail. We headed up Airstrip and I was happy to pass the point at which I flatted last year. I got to the top of Airstrip and saw the Pink Panther clan pulled over to the side of the trail struggling with a bike. The bike was pink of course and there was some major chain suck going on. It was real bad so I volunteered my services by breaking the chain and slapping it back together. They were very appreciative and nice.

Up and out of Airstrip back on the Conservation Road to the beginning of Reasonover. Had a great time on Reasonover. That trail is always a blast.

Coming up the gravel I saw a guy walking pretty awkward. He said he had the cramps. He must have not had the cramps like I have had this year because he wasn't laying on the ground crying for his momma. I offered him some electrolytes since I was the magic trail person of the day and he asked me a multitude of questions about the pills in his hand. I guess it only fairs to reason since he was taking "drugs" from a stranger. I assured him everything was ok.

Back over Airstrip to Mine Mountain. It took everything I had to make it to the top of that climb without getting off the bike. I was about 18 miles into the ride and that climb is no joke. Down Mine Mtn and a left onto Laurel Ridge. Lots of people pulled over for flats.

Down to the water crossing. I saw that they had a rope set up for the water crossing. Luckily due to a ride I had earlier in the year I now know the trick to theses crossings. Take your shoes off and leave your socks on. This is slickrock and they don't call it that for nothing. The socks act like little velcro combined with the algae. There was a fellow behind me that I told to leave his socks on as I trounced through the water. He didn't listen and I looked back to see him doing the slickrock shuffle.

They had some food here for us so I stopped, chatted and ate. My two Pink Panther friends showed up and as I got back on the bike I heard one of them yell. Your on a Single Speed! She didn't notice that when I was fixing her drivetrain. They yelled "go single speed." Well what I knew is that they were about to catch up because I can't make it up Cedar Rock without walking some.

Halfway up Cedar I found the only other SS'er of the day. Jeff was riding his SS as well. We walked and chatted for a few minutes. He was staying over with us crazies at the Gathering. Imagine that!

Jeff and I were still together at the top of Big Rock and he told me to lead the way. I had a blast going down Big Rock and things were really flying. I don't know if I have ever gone that fast down that trail.

After the Big Rock decent I felt invincible. Well until I was rolling along slowly after a climb and spotted a nice big rock to smash my knee into. It was a rookie mistake. Slowing to much not keeping momentum and all the sudden you are laying there wondering why your knee hurts so bad. I walked it off and finished the ride.

Congrats to those who came out and pushed themselves. I had a great time and I am sure you did too. You can see Kristin's wonderful photography by clicking here. She doesn't have all the pictures up yet since she took over a 1,000 pics. She is working hard so give her some time ok? I mean the pictures are free for heaven's sake.

Thanks to all the volunteers and especially all the hard work put in by Amy!

Great event and awesome Jersies too!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bob Cream

Please take note that their is no apostrophe in the title. Thank you!

So a weekend of Gathering was had. You can see BradO's pictures here.

I got up to the camping/drinking/biking/smart-butt-talkin' area Friday afternoon. Not too many souls around so I just set up camp. BrouSSard came rolling in not too long after me and we did a SS jaunt up to Pressley Gap and down the lower half of Black Mountain to appease the Bike Gods for Friday afternoon. The climb was good and the descent was awesome and fast as usual. The Mtn Bike Gods were pleased with the way we rode and allowed us to partake in cold beverages after the ride.

Kristin showed up to camp later on in the evening and we all just relaxed around the Fire Friday night. Kristin and I had to be up early for the tabacco Free Ride Saturday morning so we kept it pretty low key Friday night.

Saturday morning we got up and headed out for the TFL ride. I will post a ride report about this one tomorrow. We did so much work for this ride, it deserves a post of its own.

Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing and hanging out with all the crazed mountain bikers from all over.

Kristin and I were prepared for camping like we always are. We prepared full course meals and left out no detail. We even had home made ice cream. Kristin recently received a ice cream ball from a co-worker that knows we are camping crazy. The deal with the ball is that you fill up one end with your "cream concoction" and the other end with rock salt and ice.

Once this is done, you do whatever you want with the ball as long as it is in constant motion. We kicked it around the fire for awhile. I ran up a big hill and rolled it down. Kristin and I bowled it back and forth. Then genius struck me. Why not use Bob? Brad had brought this wonderful tool for everyone's use. I put the ball in the back of the trailer and rode around the campground for awhile and voila. Mint chocolate chip ice cream was had by all. Well except for a select few that decided if it didn't involve alcohol there was no need involving one's self.

Here you can see Zach reaping the benefits of our hard efforts.

Sunday morning came and everyone headed out on their own version of good rides. A group of 5 or 6 of us headed over to ride Sycamore --> Thrift --> lower Black. It was a great time and I almost made it up all of Sycamore on the SS. Yes, I impressed myself considering I already had 40+ miles on my legs for the weekend.

It was an awesome weekend with lots of good people and great weather. Thanks to Zach for reserving the campground and everyone else who brought firewood and so on.

Can't wait to do it again.

Moving Time

Wow, big to do's at work. Moved into a new building and now I have no time. I may post about this weekend's activities later today. If not, they will be up for tomorrow.