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.


David George said...

Eric's graphic showed 8000 feet of climbing. My calves still feel every foot of it.

Awesome ride.


Casserole70 said...

Nice write up. Nick the stick, myself I and some other fine folks were up that way Sunday and got in some good trails. What a beautiful weekend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for getting this ride together. Thanks also for being crazy enough to say 'Yes' to that route. One of the tough ones, for sure.