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!


jpelton said...

Truely one of the best days I have had on a bike in a long time. Weather, leaves, trail, and fellowship were all right on.
See you next time.

Sir Belt Buckle said...

Man, sounds like a blast. Sorry I couldn't go. I'll have a write up on my site about the Virginia ride in a bit. Several broken bones (including a broken/dislocated hip) but no one died...

kje said...

An excellent day! Couldn't have asked for better scenery.

Sorry to those who couldn't make it, but you know what they say. . . you snooze you loose.

allan said...

Man, I hate having to work Sundays. Any chance of a ride next Monday or Tuesday?