Friday, December 28, 2007

Finesse

This is not something I possess out on the trail whilst riding my bike. I often bang my way down a trail as though I am a four year old banging on the flippers of a pinball machine. This has lead to the untimely death of most of my frames.

I often jinx myself but it normally isn’t on the same day. Since things have been relatively slow at work I typed out the “Reflection” post yesterday and I said:

It has been over 15 months now that I have been solely riding a rigid single speed bike in the mountains and I haven’t died or broken the bike yet.

Well yesterday after I took Shade out for a dog loop. David George and I started a loop when a ½ mile into the ride I said “Man that noise coming from my headset is awful, it sounds like a broken frame.” After another ½ mile I felt the frame sag and there she went, down for the count. The down tube broke in half very close to the steer tube but not on the welds.

I called my boy in blue and I will have the new Husker Blue Karate Monkey in my hands in no time at all. I have become indifferent to breaking frames. In all reality, every bike that is ridden hard enough for long enough will fail at some point. In Pisgah, this timeline is shortened exponentially.

So look for some hiking reports in the near future as it will be a week or more before the bike is built and ready.

Here is my current busted list:

4 Sugar 292 Gary Fisher 29’ers
1 Cake Gary Fisher
1 Karate Monkey – Steel

Late Edit:

Since I posted this and sent an email, I have had three offers for bikes to borrow. My friends are fantastic!! However, I will take non of them up on the offer. I am just not into borrowing bikes. More because I am picky than anything else but thank to all of you who offered help!! I really do appreciate it.

Peace

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reflection

It is that time of the year when everything seems to reflect. It doesn’t really matter what direction you reflect, just as long as you do so. Often times we are spending time with the family, friends and loved ones. I separate those three for obvious reasons but hopefully they are all encompassing 8-) Unless your having an “Uncle Earl’s” Christmas.

So in keeping with this and the biking theme I will reflect and prospect in this post. It has been over 15 months now that I have been solely riding a rigid single speed bike in the mountains and I haven’t died or broken the bike yet. I broke one rigid fork from my sweat but that is bound to happen with me as I don’t carry a proper sweat rag. That’s what we simpletons call it anyway.

Last year at this time I was telling myself that I would only ride the single speed until the summer. Well 2007 is almost over and I haven’t used a shifter the entire year. As I looked through January 2007’s posts I can still remember the New Year’s pre-ride to Wilson’s. That was a great day. I had never been there and a big group of us romped it hard in the woods. That was definitely one of my favorites. You just can’t beat the mountains in the winter, summer, spring or fall.

Checking out February makes me sad as I won’t be skiing this year but I will have TMHTE to fill my head with visions of cold, pain and suffering. I will be attending the Icycle again this year and I am looking forward to it! That was one of the best parties all year last year. Some of our good friends won’t be attending but we will keep them in our cogs.

As I look at March I realize that the Wednesday night Dupont rides have almost been going on for a year now. That has been a HUGE success and I now I can officially call those riders my friends. It takes a good group of semi-talented, nut-job, psychopathic, bunch of crazies to want to continue that ride. I hope it lasts for years to come.

Ahhhhhhhhh April, the gathering. . . I remember being on a ride where I fell so hard on Horse Cove that I had the ghost look for the rest of the day. Just as I thought the day might never end Broussard went hopping through the woods screaming BEER BEER. It was unbelievable as he spotted two 24 oz Highland Oatmeal Porter’s in the woods. We drank one and then D-Kuntz rode down Bennett Gap with one in his bottle cage. Is there anything more that needs to be said about April? I think not. Well actually April was the month of the Pisgah contact stealer. I lost three contacts on rides that month.

Early May was PMBAR, the greatest mountain bike race on earth. It was the second year for Team Trippin’ on Lactic Acid and we had a great time. We will be looking forward to it again this year.

June always consists of National Trails day and to keep with the theme of prospecting, I think we need to get on the ball with UpState SORBA and either join another group or organize our own trails day. We worked on Wolf Branch in Bent Creek last year and that was the last time I was in Bent Creek. June also brought on my second solo 12 hour race of my lengthy career. The good ole HotBell, ooops I mean Cowbell. I dedicated the race to my late Grandfather and tried my best. Ultimately I was 13/44. Some day I am going to hit the 100 mile mark in 12 hours. . . Maybe I should try a flatter course on a day with temps below 100 degrees.

Its getting hot now as I reflect on July. I really am not a good hot weather rider. I sweat slightly more than the average rider so fluid and electrolyte consumption is my number one goal at this point in the season. July also brought our second big work day of the year at Dupont. This was when we rock armored Big Rock. July also brought the NORAMM tradition along with our initial push to create an UpState SORBA chapter.

August was momentous for multiple reasons. Our chapter of SORBA was accepted at the BOD meeting and we officially became a chapter! We introduced a lot of new people to mountain biking through our advertising of an advocacy group and I think it has changed their lives for the better. That’s something to be proud of. August is emotional in my mind as well because I had the best race of my life to date at the Fool’s Gold. I was able to unveil my X-treme tomato logo, attack of the kilter hornets started in Pisgah and we had another couple trail work days.

September was huge on a personal level as I struggled to find a house and succeeded. This year was a great one on the personal level for me as well. I struggled through some of life’s decisions and came out on top, which was tough at times. In September, I moved into a new house, rode the Old Toll road for the first time and I took my second longest road bike ride. I missed my goal to complete the SM-100 but I can deal. . .

October was the double dare after moving into my house while I was sick as a dog. The double dare ended up being insane even though we didn’t “complete” the race. October also brought our happy little Pup Shade into our lives. It has only been a little over two months but man I love the guy. A better dog couldn’t have fallen out of the sky.

November was just another one in the books. One of the funniest stories on the blog this year is in November entitled “Have you laughed at me lately?” as I describe some house training incidents. Good birthday mojo with rides and Pops helping with much needed chores on the house.

As I look back through the posts I have made in 2007, I realize how much I love this little online diary I have created for myself. I try to keep it light and entertaining for the most part. This is more for me than anyone else anyway. It is great to go back and read all the adventures I have had over the past year. Now is always a good time to say where I am headed in 2008 but I am not really concerned with things like that as always. If there is anything that 2007 has taught me it is that life changes and you must change and adapt along with it. I hope everyone is ready for 2008’s changes, I am sure it is bound to be a great year!

Peace

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Story of Tomato

I wasn’t going to write until after Christmas but I have had such good rides lately I thought I would share a story .

While we were adopting Shade from the center, a stray dog was brought in by a lady that worked at the center. The dog was very afraid and had obviously suffered some serious abuse in his life. The lady asked if I would mind going in the holding room to console him and name him, I obliged. As I walked into the room, I heard Kristin laughing.

He was very scared and after a few minutes of me sitting on the floor, he ventured a smell of my arm. We greeted each other and his gentle frightened nature pulled so hard at my soul that I forgot my mission.

When I walked out of the room Kristin said “Guess what they named him?” I said “What?” Kristin proceeded to tell me that they named the dog “Tomato” right as I walked into the room with him.

Tomato is still at the adoption center in Columbia and my thoughts go out to him on this day.

Tuesday night I needed something different, something fresh. I loaded the car up with shade and my bike, drove downtown and let Shade wander in the dog park. Well, Shade really doesn’t like the dog park so after a few minutes I leashed him up and ran him beside the bike up and down the paths at Cleveland Park.

Then Andrew, Chuck and I all went out for an urban assault. It was fantastic, we hit some steps, I tried to screw up some stone wall rides and we just generally bs’d around town.

Last night was the weekly edition of the Wednesday night ride at Dupont. Dennis, Jeremy and I went pretty hard and pretty big for a cold December night. If you haven’t ridden the newly re-routed Ridgeline, go hit it. If you are disappointed, please don’t ever read this Blog again. The ride stats are pretty impressive considering the Goat bonked and Dennis hit the ground pretty hard. We were hauling up and down.

So that’s it folks until after Christmas. Everyone travel safe and if you are down for “The Most Horrible Thing Ever, Training ride # 2” show up at the Black Mountain Trailhead on December 29th 8:00am. Plan to ride into the wee hours of the evening.

Peace

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The F Factor Part Two

Sunday morning was planned to be “The Most Horrible Thing Ever” training phase number one. That would explain why I was driving in the dark to meet Dennis, Eric and Mike by 7:00am at the Fish Hatchery.

Mike needed to be back to ride with his other half by 10:30 so Eric and Mike made the executive decision to do a Farlow lap, however my idea of a start was still utilized. We started straight up the single track on Cat Gap -> Long Branch -> 475 -> Pilot Mountain Road -> Hiking Art Loeb (for a quick rain stop in a shelter) -> Farlow -> Daniel -> 475 -> Davidson River.

I was pleasantly surprised how much we could ride up Cat Gap and for the first time ever I had fresh legs going up Long Branch so it seemed like a snap. Past the forest road on Long Branch the climbing gets tough and then there is a short downhill. This was the best part of the day for me. I had Mike in front of me and Eric behind me with Dennis pulling the lead on the downhill. I was able to keep a really fast speed and stayed right in behind Mike and getting a “nice ride” from Eric after I pulled out of some sketchy moves.

The weather had been forecasted to reach 60 in mid December so Dennis and I had both left copious amounts of clothing in the car. 3000 feet later in elevation with a little rain left us feeling pretty stupid about our choice and at the top of Farlow Mike directed us to a shelter so we could take in some rest out of the rain.

The climb up to Farlow brings the “F-factor” to an all time high. It is not a normal climb even by Pisgah standards. You climb hard, lung busting, wishing for more gears (even if you have gears), wanting the top, and cussing the switchbacks that turns into more miles of climbing right before your eyes. Add in some cold rain and you have some “epic” conditions on your hands. I have to admit, at one point, I had the thought “why are we climbing this road in the rain when all we are going to do is hike down this trail…” Hike down the trail you ask? Well, if you have ever experienced Farlow you know why I say this. It is a treacherous trail when it is a dry summer day with no leaves.

After our brief break, and a chat with some hikers from Greenville that were packing up and headed to their car, we were headed down the beast. The “F-factor” was in full force. I let everyone go in front and then casually made my way down the top of Farlow. I had to walk a steep section before the rock wall but then I was motivated to ride the wall after I watched Eric expertly bash his way through the waterfall of rocks. I got on the bike, pulled a two second track stand in the wet rocks and then bounced my way down to where Eric stood. This was the first time I had ever ridden that much of the rock wall. Sometimes it just helps to watch.

Eric was feeling good and cleaned some more sections that the rest of us walked. After some of the more treacherous sections were behind us I found myself in behind Dennis with Eric and Mike eating the trail up behind me. We were all railing and hitting moves that were probably beyond the conditions when the “F-factor” switched over to “your *&^%$ factor.

I was flying along and really watching what I was doing when I saw Dennis pull up his front wheel up and huck a long section of rooty rockiness. I pulled the same move as I have done before and thought in the air “I wonder what is under those leaves.” I tried to stay as light as possible but just could not hold onto it. I was catapulted into the air and before I even knew it, the bike was no longer under me. I hit the ground pretty hard but continued a fireman’s roll and started to come up with a huge smile when my bike caught up to me and smacked me good in the knees. Luckily I got my arms up in time. Mike and Eric later called it an “Explosion.” I imagined it more like a fancy snow skiing yard sale.

I really don’t feel like I was pushing beyond my limits. I still felt great on the bike when I got back on. I just think I hit something that caused me to lose control.

In conjunction, I believe everyone went down at one point. I saw Mike go down twice and they both looked like pain. I took it easy down Daniel and then we headed back to the Hatchery. We made it back down from Farlow before noon.

Eric bid us adieu and Mike, Cassie, the dog Max, myself and Dennis all went back up for some more fun. Back up Davidson River Trail -> 475 -> Gravel road to the middle of Long Branch -> Long Branch -> 475 -> Butter Gap -> Cat Gap

The rest of the ride was tiring for me but coming down Butter and Cat Gaps were as wonderful as always and I kept the rubber side down.

Thanks for a great ride everybody!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The F Factor

It is 8:30am on Sunday, raining and I am pedaling up Pilot Mountain Road headed to the top of Farlow. Just a few minutes ago the rain was only like heavy dew but now it seems as though Mother Nature is out to get us while we plow up one of the hardest climbs in Pisgah. Eric is somewhere behind me while Dennis and Mike pedal in front of me. I just stand up and crank. . .

Saturday morning Kristin and I had some breakfast and headed out to the Greenville Christmas Cross. I don’t think you have to celebrate Christmas to race but I could be wrong. The scene was small but not painfully so.

I greeted those I knew and then watched the masters take off for their race. The course was awesome and set up really well. Not hard to follow unless you’re an idiot like me. There were even a couple tricky spots that could put you on your butt if you stopped paying attention.

The barriers were much higher than I expected and there would be no bunny hopping these beasts. I had never even practice jumped a barrier before so what the hell let’s go race cross. After the masters, we were allowed a course warm-up where I almost killed Seth the race organizer and Land Rover Coach. Whooops!

After I realizing that I am about as graceful as a giraffe trying to limbo jumping the barriers, I was ready to race. As soon as I saw which way the course started I knew I was in a heap of trouble. I wasn’t the only person on a mountain bike but I was the only person with one gear. So when we heard “go” I just watched everyone big ring it away from me. Coming to the first hill I had pulled my way into sixth place about 20 yards behind Mr. Buffington who was racing his first cross race as well.

I can’t remember everything that went on but I felt like crap the first couple laps and just tried to hold my position as I was having a hard time closing the gap up to Ed. At some point a fellow Bo who I had not previously met passed me on the steep run up about ¾ of the way through the course. We were doing five laps and I believe we were on lap two or three.

I thought Bo was going to leave me for good but I pedaled hard on the first climb and held his wheel all the way to the steep run up again. I realized on lap four that I could not let that happen on the last lap or I would lose a place. After the flat section on the final lap, I put the pedal down hard and tried to go by Bo as fast as I could. I pulled a pretty good gap and just prayed that I could hold it in the run up. I held the lead throughout the lap and finished 6th. That was awesome and I really enjoyed it! Thanks for making it a race Bo!!

As to why I would be climbing Farlow 19 hours later, well that will have to wait for another story time.


Thanks to everyone who came out and cheered me on!! All the yelling sure is motivating. I hope we get the chance to do this again in G-vegas.

Photo credits go to Brado, thanks!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Baby Cross

Its the busy season again and last night I had to cancel on the Dupont ride. Stinks, but it is the way of life right?

First I would like to say CONGRATS to my best friends back at home Shana and Michael for giving birth to Wyatt (man I hope that is spelled right) yesterday morning!!! Soon I will be making the trip back home for Christmas and I will get to meet the little tike, I can’t wait.

Ok so back to business here. I figured that since I didn’t make the normal night ride last night I would go try and see if any of the Cross freaks were out and about. I rolled up at dusk and found Mark loading up his gear. As soon as he saw me, he put his Camel Bak back on to show me the course, thanks Mark.

The course is going to be much better than I ever thought. I have never been to a cross race but it seems kind of long. The west side Aquatic center has a lot of land and a lot of steeeeeep hills. The course runs sideways along the hills to create some pretty sketchy off camber downhills. If it were raining, it would be awesome for spectators. However it looks like those ideal conditions will have to wait for next time.

If you don’t want to race, you should still come out and spectate. I hear cross is a great spectator sport as you will see a lot of carnage and action without having to run around like a normal mountain bike race. Plus the pain in people’s faces should be worth the trip.

I think it will suit a mountain bike just fine. I am going to stick a 32X19 on the bike and just pedal as hard as I can. If I can’t make it up a hill I am going to get off and hoof it. There are some flats and I don't want to be spinnign my ass off watching everyone take off without me. We will see how many gearie crossers I can beat! I have not raced since Fool's Gold. . .

See you all on Saturday.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Second Home

Most of my riding time has been spent at Dupont lately. It is just the best option for me right now as it is close to my house. Saturday we had a good group of Andrew, Pisgah Pro, Chuck and myself. Jamie was out and about on the ride but he told us he was out for a short loop.

Kristin was out on a hike with Shade so that meant I had a time schedule to keep. I am not very good at keeping time schedules lately. Our ultimate route:

Fawn Lake, Reasonover, Lake Julia, Camp Summit Road, Airstrip, Mine Mountain, Laurel Ridge, Corn Mill Shoals, Burnt Mountain, Nooks, Burnt Mountain, Corn Mill Shoals, Longside, Rock Quarry Road, Buckhorn Creek Road, Cannon Creek Trail (out and back) Buckhorn Creek Road, Buck Ridge Road, Micajah, Wilkie, Corn Mill Shoals, Shoals, Laurel Ridge, Airstrip, Fawn Lake

About halfway through the ride Eric asks me “What route have we gone so far?” After I rattled off the first five intersections he said “Ok, you are going to have to email that to me.” Just because I like tooting my own kazoo, I never had to look at a map.

It was another great day in the woods and we got to ride the newly re-routed Burnt Mountain. This trail is one of the most highly regarded in all of Dupont.

It is always a treat having people who don’t know where they are going ride along with you in Dupont. The intersections come by so fast that if you keep things moving most people won’t have a clue where they are after a few turns even though you are only a few miles into the ride.

I always seem to forget how much there is to play on at Dupont too. I always recognize it more when I am riding with somebody on my tail. Here is a list of the technical features we passed on Saturday:

Log ride on Reasonover
Log Step up on Reasonover
Bridge steps on Reasonover
Cruised right by the big tree at the intersection of Mine Mountain and Laurel Ridge
I noticed another obscure log ride on Laurel that I have yet to ride.
Two Rock steps on Laurel Ridge
Rock Huck on Corn Mill Shoals (didn’t hit this one either)
Wall Ride on Corn Mill shoals, Nailed it!
Creek crossing both ways!
Rock Huck on Burnt Mountain (too high for me)

There are probably some that I missed as well. If you make it a point to master these moves, it will improve your riding.

Most of the ride on Saturday was typical with big smiles and some out of breath moments. Andrew was hammering it up the climbs and Eric was flying on the rocky downhills. Andrew had a “confession of the big wheels” coming down the top of Micajah. It is always great to see another soul enjoy the 29’er lifestyle. You are definitely “out of the norm” if you ride 26 inches in our group. Not that there is anything wrong with 3 less inches. . .

Burnt Mountain and Nooks trails have recently been re-routed. Nooks is nothing but a flowing lollipop loop now. Burnt has changed flavors quite a bit but it is better than ever. The first downhill leading to the climb now has a bunch of optional table tops and doubles that just plain rock. Eric and I both exclained that it was the first time we had “cleaned” a jump like that in a long time, they are set up absolutely perfect. There were also some wall rides and banks that were added. Right before the initial climb there is another banked corner that is not finished yet but when it is, it will be a strong kick to the beginning of the climb.

The climb is now extended and rolling instead of rutted. The downhill starts in the same spot but extends out to the riders left and weaves around some awesome rock formations. Just when you think it is ending the new section sends you soaring back toward the triple huck water bar, water bar, rock drop. Eric went flying off the hucks as I negotiated them as step downs. The bottom section after that is all the same.

After everyone exclaimed their excitement about Burnt we headed all the way up to Rich Mountain Road for some true single track. I knew no one knew where we were when we were standing there. When I told them all it was the furthest point from the car and we were headed back now. . . It was great.

Sunday’s ride was painful as I had not recovered well from Saturday at all. We had a big group and a big time. Ridgeline now goes on forever and is a fantastic downhill with a sweet skinny log ride and plenty of alternate lines.

Peace

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Catch Me If You Can

In the woods by my house, Shade and I play a game. I walk him down the street and into the woods; he already knows the area so well that he can lead me down the trail in the middle of the dark.

When we get to a big rock outcropping where the terrain is steep, I make him sit and then take his leash off. He bounds around on the rocks running close by me so I can shoo him away. He now knows the game so well that he will take off and run around while I try and catch him. He loves the game and afterwards I always make sure he walks up to me so I can put his leash back on so he knows the game is over.

There is a creek crossing on Corn Mill Shoals in Dupont that haunts my thoughts. In the summer it is a welcomed site to have to slip your shoes off and walk in your socks across the creek. In the winter, the creek becomes a cool seductress that will punish you for falling in.

If you have ever been to Dupont, you know the creek I am speaking of. It is where the Little River crosses Corn Mill Shoals and the crossing is insanely slippery. Imagine riding your bike across an ice hockey rink that has been freshly zambonied. Now imagine riding your bike across that ice with water rushing on top of it, yah it is like that. Alan taught me a while back that if you leave your socks on and walk across your feet stick to the algae covered rocks. It is a local secret that serves me well in the summer. . .

Last night I was riding with Shade on the leash at Paris when he did the Peter (from Family Guy) move. You know the one where he covers his butt with his hand and makes the ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh sound. It hits him so abruptly that he has to stop no matter what. After I feel my arm tug backward I look down and notice I have the leash and collar in my hand while Shade is copping a squat in the woods.

After he finishes his business he gave me the “Catch me if you can” look. Ohhhhh Crap. I tried to tell him that we weren’t playing but he wasn’t having it. Eventually I had him trapped by a large creek and I thought for sure I had him when he took a leaping bound into the water. He literally went in over his head and came out of the water vibrant and full of life still wanting to work on his escapism game.

The first time I ever went to Dupont I never hesitated and got halfway across the creek before my bike and I went for a nice little swim. I have fallen in the creek since then but it has always been walking.

Now on our Wednesday night rides, Beefcake masterfully negotiates the crossing. He hits it with a slow roll that leaves me cringing just watching. On Saturday we had 30 some miles under our belt when we rolled up on the creek. I grabbed a tree knowing Cake-masta-beef was right behind me so I could watch his line. His line scared me as bad as the first scene in Cliffhanger, Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

However he made it, I sat there on my bike, holding the tree watching Dennis and Zach untie their shoes while Cook sat victoriously on the other side. I had no excuse as my camera was not with me so I slowly came up with my own line and twinkle toed my bike across the creek thinking quiet thoughts the entire way.

I was victorious, in catching Shade and crossing the creek.

Peace

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cross?

Not dressing, cross racing. Some folks in GreenVegas are holding a cross race. I have never tried racing cross before but I figure it will be like most races. It will hurt. So I plan to go and hurt.

I am thinking the Nevegals might be overkill for a grass course with little to no mud and a couple barriers so I will probably throw on some sort of cross'ier tire and hope for the best.

Some of us are going to be throwing down a practice this Friday @ 5:30. So anybody got any tips on how to win my first cross race on a Single Speed mountain bike?

Here are the deatails for the race, we are meeting at the same venue for practice this Friday:


Additional Races: If a racer is eligible to race more
than one race and wishes to do so the entry fee for
the second race is $10. The entry fee for the first
race is the amount of the more expensive race if
applicable.

Note: Racers may participate with a one-day
license available on site ($10) or with a current
USCF or NORBA annual license ($60). Annual
licenses may be purchased online at www.
usacycling.org or onsite. Registration closes 15
minutes before the start of each race. Warm up
will be permitted on the course only between
events at the official’s discretion and only after
waiver has been signed. Race is held rain or shine.
Helmets must be worn at all times while riding bike.
MOUNTAIN BIKES ARE PERMITTED, BUT BAR
END MUST BE REMOVED. The promoter reserves
the right to combine categories and or prizes due
to attendance. Categories races under 5 racers will
be combined. All U18 riders with a CX1,CX2 license
must race the CX1,CX2 race. All U23 riders with a
CX3 license must race CX3.

Directions: Westside Aquatic Center address is
2700 West Blue Ridge Drive (253), Greenville, SC.
PLEASE GOOGLE MAP THIS ADDRESS. From GA:
Head North on 1-85, take exit 44 for US-25 North,
Turn left at US-25 / White Horse Road (go 5.1 miles),
Turn right on West Blue Ridge Drive, West Side
Aquatic is on your left. From NC (Asheville): Take
1-26 South, take exit 54 to merge into US-25, take
US-25 into Downtown Greenville (US-25 Turns into
White Horse Road), Turn left at West Blue Ridge
Drive (253), West Side Aquatic is on your left.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Laundry List

A big thanks goes out to my Dad this week as he helped me kill almost every project I needed to get done at the house before winter. Experience goes a long way. There is no reason for a gym membership when you are working on your house. Here is a quick list of items that were conquered:

Smashed concrete walkway, replaced with pea gravel and large natural stone.
Re-hung and replaced all the crawl space insulation.
Dug holes for fireplace jacks, poured concrete, installation of jacks.
Bolted back deck to the house along with adding support connectors.
Cut down a few trees and chopped them up including a very large hardwood.
Re-caulked the floors in the house.
Put up the Christmas tree and lights outside. Not like the Griswold’s.
Raked most leaves away from the house until the rake broke.
Installed new counter top lighting in the kitchen. (Work in progress)

Yup, we did all that including throwing a Thanksgiving bash at the house in-between all of this handiwork.

During all of this, I was still able to get some good rides in. I rode by myself at Paris on Tuesday getting in a strong loop. I felt awful in the beginning and really warmed up nicely. It was nice to get out before the masses.

Wednesday night was a huge success. I met Broussard early and he, Harley, Shade and I all went for a pre-loop around Reasonover. I am so proud of Shade as he ran the entire loop of Reasonover more than doubling his previous trail distance. That’s two successful trail rides following Harley. So now I have to see if I can get him to run with just me and the bike. When we first hit the trail last week he took off so fast I couldn’t keep up. He burned the first switchback headed down to the creek and had to smell his way back to the trail. I think he is going to be a great short distance trail runner. I am trying to break him in real slow but he is gaining strength quickly.

The ride after the dog lap was fantastic. We had a great group and as always a great ride. I was able to keep the rubber side down except for a little slide out following The Goat around Reasonover. It was one of those soft slip outs where you don’t even feel the impact. The tires just couldn’t hold.

Saturday was my birthday and we had the usual crowd show up along with one new face. It ended up being a great ride with lots of energy in the beginning and nothing but tired smiles in the end. That was to be expected after close to 40 miles in the hills. The route was a long one:

Fawn Lake Loop, Airstrip, Laurel Ridge, Corn Mill Shoals, Barn Trail, Shelter Rock, Conservation Road, Lake Julia Road, Reasonover, Turkey Gap, Poplar Hill, Turkey Gap, Pinnacle Mountain Road, Johanna Road, Briery Fork, Grassy Road (out and back to Johanna) Grassy Creek Falls, Wintergreen, Tarklin Branch Road, Sky Valley, Shoal Creek Trail, Rifle Trail, Guion Trail, Hickory Mountain Road, Ridgeline, Hooker Creek Trail, White Pine Trail, Buck Forest Road, Jim Branch, Lake Imagine Road, Hilltop Loop, Lake Imaging Road, Buck Forest, Staton Road, Sheep Mountain, Pine Tree, Longside, Corn Mill Shoals, Shoals, Laurel Ridge, Mine Mountain

Thanks to everyone who came out and an extra thanks to Zach for supplying us with some hot soup post ride.

There won’t be any pictures here for awhile as my camera took a big hit and is going to be headed back to Canon for a hopeful fix.

Peace

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nothing much going on this week besides house projects. I don’t have time to write up a ride report from Saturday but it was a great ride with Valerie, Clay, Pisgah (just no productions. . .), Dennis and Scott from Indy. We went all the way up Laurel Mountain and back down Big Creek.

Wednesday evening ride is still going off this week. Meet at Fawn lake @ 5:30.

Saturday the 24th ride details:

Meet at Fawn lake @ 8:30am.
We will go as far as our legs will take us. Plan for all day. There are water stops along the way but you will need to carry all the food you need.

Hope to see everyone there, no more posts on the BLOG until next Monday.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weekend Rides

Meeting at 9:00 tomorrow at North Mills River.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hitting The Deck

After Saturday, Sunday and Monday’s rides I wanted to go out to Paris and take it easy last night. Then a powerful group of Steve, Rick, Tim and Ken showed up. I lived to my expectations for awhile on the ride and avoided all the precarious log bridges, just “taking it easy.”

Biking is rooted in BMX. Everyone I know that has ever ridden BMX growing up are the best downhillers and technical riders I have ever met. Ken is one of those riders. He knows the bike inside and out, to say he is “fast” just doesn’t do him justice. The smooth lines (He is riding a rigid ON ONE) and quick turns combined with a fleeting disposition to wheelie the bike at any moment he feels so inclined amazes me at every section of the trail.

Coming back down Mountain Creek trail at Paris is a treat. It is super fast and flowing. When you turn into the banks and weave through the trees you just know the trail was designed for you at that particular moment.

So Ken and I are flying down Mountain Creek with Ken in the lead and me pulling the caboose as we had left the rest of the riders to their own demise at the top of the mountain. I am not riding out of my ability but I am watching the lines Ken is pulling to see if there are any lines that I have missed where I might be able to pick up some speed.

I am having these thoughts when I realize I am on an outside line on a corner when I normally pull the inside. I am speeding along at a descent clip when I look down and see a long flat boulder three feet in front of me. Its edge juts up about 4 inches from the ground. Knowing I will be a toasted croissant if I don’t pull up, I commit and bunny hop the entire rock. I have had lots of commitments in my life and this is not one I am proud of as I am flying through the air, I spot where I am going to land and my front wheel is headed straight for a round boulder about the size of a large human head.

At that moment, I am ejected from the bike in a fast arc over the bars and directly onto more dirt embedded boulders. I hit hard on my left side. Hip, head, shoulder, knee and foot all check the earth at the same time on rock. I hit hard enough to get that “blinding shock of white light” come into my eyes. After lying there a few moments, I believe I won’t fall down if I try to get up. I am ok, the bike has a severely bent front wheel but all is good.

This folks is how you “Hit The Deck.”

Peace

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Extra Miles

Dennis and I went and did something real stupid. We went and registered for “The Most Horrible Thing Ever.” You may have your own idea of what is horrible and PMBAR honcho Eric has his. I think his is going to blow us away.

In Eric’s own words, this is what the race will be:

Teams of two riders race to reach up to 30 checkpoints in a 36 hour time period. Start at Midnight Friday night (with a time trial to the passports) and race until noon Sunday. In February. Team with the most checkpoints wins. Start/Finish at White Pines, no mandatory down time,come and go as you please, LONG mandatory gear list, We will have a light charging station.

So did you get that? Thirty-Six hours in Pisgah in February. Sounds just like the ski vacation I took last year about this time right? Ok, maybe not. It doesn’t matter because Dennis Kuntz and I are making up “Team Safety First.”

So last night I threw the road slicks on the Monkey and pedaled up to Paris and back. About two miles from my house is a quick little downhill that had me spun out on the 32 X 15. (I would guess I was right over 30 mph) I hear some barking and look to my right, what do I see but the fastest sprinting dog in Travelers Rest. This dog was FLYING! He out ran me in the grass and then he was satisfied. You can tell this good boy has been trained by thousands of F150’s flying at 45 mph down the 30 mph road. He is fast, doesn’t want to bite you, he just wants to race.

Other than that, there is really nothing to note. Except that when cars cut you off right in front of a red light that you are pulling up to, it is fun to turn my LED’s to “Retina Burn” level and shine the light right at the driver till the light turns green. So my suggestion to you, don’t cut me off and try to nudge me out of the lane if I have a high powered retina burner on my head.

Peace

Monday, November 12, 2007

Seasonal Goddess

I was ready for a brisk morning on Saturday but it ended up being pretty mild. It was a beautiful drive through Flat Rock as the trees seemed to be peaking in North Carolina this weekend. It was nice to take the long way and stare at the vast amounts of forests that exist around the border of North and South Carolina. If I haven’t said it lately, I LOVE FALL!

We had an excellent group of me, Sam, Eric, Jody and Dennis show up for a semi-long ride. Our ultimate route would be:

Grassy Roads --> Sycamore Cove --> North Slope --> 276 --> 477 --> Bennett --> 477 --> ClawHammer --> Maxwell Cove --> Black Mounatin

The warm-up up Grassy Roads was nice and we stopped just before the second turn to Sycamore for a quick air up of some tires and then we were off. I took the lead up the steep section of Sycamore with Jody breathing right behind me. As soon as the trail started shooting down, I was grooving pretty good, Sycamore is such a great ride. After the little steep step down, Dennis jumped up and took the lead. I took off after him and I had my first ear to ear smile kicking as we both carved our way to the bottom.

Next up was North Slope for the first time this year!! What a great little trail! When we got to the top I told Eric that he looked like he wanted to go fast. He said “I don’t know the trail.” I responded with “You don’t have too.” Well, if he didn’t know the trail, no one would have ever known it. I fell in behind Eric and we pounded our way down the trail as fast as our bikes would take us. The small natural berms on North Slope keep you on the trail and you can carry all of your speed into and back out of the corners. We were having such a great time and flying that we both burned the turn down the steps and went riding into the woods laughing. I noted that if we would have hit the steps at that speed it would be quite the bronco ride.

After North Slope Jody and Eric debated whether they had time for the proposed route up Clawhammer. Yes they did, no they didn’t, yes they did. . . Eventually they didn’t so we climbed up 477. This was the first time I had ever climbed 477 and it was a good burner.

Once we got to the top of Bennett, I knew my leading skills were done. However, Eric wanted me to go first. I took the lead knowing I would have to let Eric by soon. The first little tech stair drop I had to bail and both Eric and Dennis cleaned it.

On down to the Devil’s Stair case and Eric nailed it. The rest of us humbly walked. Once down Bennett, Jody and Eric bid us adieu and Dennis, Sam and I continued to finish the loop up Maxwell to Black.

Great day in the woods!







Friday, November 09, 2007

Saturday 11/10/2007 Ride

Come one come all:

Saturday

Black Mountain trailhead PMBAR start.

8:30am

Seasonal trail route around 4 - 5 hours.

peace

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Peak Color --> Leaf Season

As I drove to Fawn Lake last night, I could see all of the color of the season attacking my senses. It is a beautiful time around Dupont. As long as none of those leaves see a spark from any fire sources.

It is that time of the year where the color is giving way to a blanket of leaves on the trail. Now as your tires roll down the trail it sounds as though an entire classroom of children are tearing up their homework and the sound reverberates throughout so you can only hear your own thoughts as your cautiously hunt for the trail. I have ridden the Reasonover for a good while now and I still lost the trail a couple times last night. The darkness and fresh leave coverage means that only the most skilled trail spotter can find their way on the trail at 15 mph.

That is why you have to enjoy the fall, sure the temperatures were cold last night and our group reflected that thought as David George, Clay and I were the only riders to brave the elemental cold night air for the first time this year. Luckily I had brought plenty more clothes than I ever thought I would have needed as I needed every thread I had brought.

Even with the elements and an unconventional route, it was a great ride with a ride time of 2 hours and 15 minutes. Somewhere around 2,000 feet of climbing is what persists when you climb all of Johanna road. I told you the route was unconventional. At one point Clay said “So we are pretty far from the cars now huh?”

Our passion for the outdoors, camaraderie and cycling is high as we didn’t see a soul in the parking lot or on the trails. It makes for a great day because this has become one popular park in the last few years and to have it all to ourselves is a gem.

Without their permission I would like to say that some of our crew has been having a lot of success lately in local racing. Rick has been turning up the notches on his training and got fourth at the TreeShaker. Nice work Rick. BrouSSard took the big “W” at the 24 hours of Clear Springs this past weekend. He sent me a detailed race report that I would like to share with you today:

Peace

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Eating My Lunch

Paris has the black magic voodoo on me lately. The last three rides out there have resulted in three flats and one fall.

Now that the time has changed again and Tuesday night is our only extended night of the season at Paris, the hordes are massing.

We had a bunch of people show up for a ride, we tried to tie a couple groups together and then mechanicals and lost ways founds us all separated but riding together if you know what I mean.

For the first section down Turtle and up Mountain Creek, I tried to hang with Jim Cunningham and his group. They are a road crew and whoever was wearing that Land Rover kit was flying. I did my best to keep up and lit my one and only match flying up Mountain Creek, I was through.

The rest of the evening was spent changing tires, failing lights, seats and catching back up with people.

Shade and I took a hike afterwards and I took the time to snap this photo and a high exposure with no flash but using my night riding light. It did end up blurry but that is what happens when you up the exposure and don't use a tripod. OH well.

Peace

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Recongnition

I was not going to post anything today since I didn’t have anything related to Mountain Biking to write about. Then I was reading the Greenville Journal at lunch and ran across an article about my old neighbor (this is a neighbor that I never wrote about before, not the one that likes to cause chaos).

I met Roby Giovine and his wife when I first lived at my apartment in downtown Greenville. Roby works for Hincappie sportswear as the lead designer. He and his wife Holly competed in many local Triathlons and I would always look for their names in the local results as they normally kicked butt. I had not noticed their names recently.

Well apparently Roby is now a photojournalist for South Carolina’s division of the National Guard. Roby has been corresponding since August and is keeping a website documenting his life as a soldier.

Nice work and come home safe Roby!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Have You Laughed At Me Lately?

Its six O’clock Sunday morning and my alarm is going off in the living room on my cell phone. Kristin and I had been out watching the South Carolina game late Saturday night. I am groggy and I can’t see in the darkness as I walk down the hallway headed to turn that beast of a machine off so I can go back to bed. Then as I turn on the light I feel the squish of warm poo between my toes. Shade has taken a healthy dump on my rug, so now I am walking toes up in the air, heel down as to not spread the mess and headed for the phone. As I pick up the phone and turn the alarm off, I look over to see Shade pissing all over my rug right in front of me. Ahhhhhhh beautiful day.

Kristin and I headed out to Paris Mountain State Park later in the morning. I headed up to find the small group working on the trails as Kristin was walking the dog. I was flying down the new trail about to meet up with the trail crew when I had an unusual fall. I haven’t fallen much lately on the bike and I was just cruising the corners when the new trail fell right out from under my tires. Incredibly my bike went to the left side of a tree as I did a “Pete Rose” headed for home plate on the right side of the tree.

Working out at Paris is tough. The grade is super steep and we don’t have a machine to help anymore. I was shamed by the SORBA group as I didn’t have much time to work.

That’s it, not much biking this weekend. Everyone will be happy to note that the dog and I were much happier this morning as he waited to do his business outside.

Peace

Thursday, November 01, 2007

HALLOWEEN!!

Somehow the spirits deemed me to have the day off yesterday. I knew something unfamiliar was going on when I walked outside to see that some spirit had been stacking wood. It had to be a spirit, surely no human could stack wood like this.

After some time spent around the house, some magical being with large wings swept me away and carried me to a mystical land filled with colors, demons and UFO’s.





Some of the beings were whisking their way through the woods, it was quite frightening.


The beings were manifesting into many shapes.
I have heard of security officers warning about the power lines. . . now I know why.



Paranormal, I think so. . .


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pre-Halloween ride, Halloween ride

Tonight at Paris! Beverages and Pizza at Barley's afterwards!!

Tomorrow's Wednesday night ride @ Dupont will be a special one!! You won't want to miss it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Full Moon Weekend

I was up and at em’ on Saturday morning headed to Paris for some trail work. When I got there I saw no trail crew so I went inside the main building and come to find out there was no trail day. They had cancelled it due to lack of response. Crap, where in the email did it ask for a response? Oh well, the trail work is on for next weekend.

The rest of the weekend was all about Halloween and being in the woods. On Sunday, I met David George, Z. BrouSSard and we had a surprise guest Blair as he just showed up to Fawn Lake at the same time as us.

Zach is the fast one in our group, I often enquire on how he has become such a skinny racer boy. This week he gave me lesson number 4,682, eat a proper breakfast:

After our breakfast, we headed out for a unconventional route of:

Reasonover, Turkey Gap, Holly Mountain (counter clockwise), Pinnacle Mountain, Johanna Road, Grassy Meadows, Johanna Road, Twin Oaks, Briery Fork, Johanna Road, Buck Forest Road, Sheep Mounatin, Pine Tree Trail, Longside, Corn Mill Shoals, Shoals, Laurel Ridge, Mine Mountain

An interesting site as we rolled up Reasonover, you might have to click to see it but we saw two pack Llamas being escorted through the woods. We didn’t ask but I think they were headed to Siberia.

The leaves are just beginning to become a nuisance. By nuisance, I mean that you have to start riding loose to make sure you don’t get your lunch eaten by a hidden rock. Johanna was rockier than ever as the recent rains have changed the trail and all previous lines are awash.

I took this route particularly so that we could hit Twin Oaks in the downward facing direction. It was good fun too. The climb back up Sheep Mountain almost tore my legs off which led to a bit of walking coming up Longside.

Here are the ride profiles thanks to David George:









Friday, October 26, 2007

Fast At Night

If you want to be just as fast at night as you ride during the day, it takes good lights. Zach turned me onto Night Lightning and after extensive research, I found that their lights are the biggest bang for your buck in the LED world right now. That is unless you are handy and can build your own.

Last night Zach came over to help me properly solder my battery to the light. I probably would have just twisted the wires and put some electric tape over them so it was nice to get it done properly.

After quick work of that, we headed over to try out the new light at Paris. It was dusk as we started out and I went ahead and turned the light on full blast as it has three settings currently. It can be set up with two levels of brightness or three. I set it up with three for extra playing around.

The only downside to this light is the head mounting mechanism. I think the problem is that it really isn’t a mechanism at all. It is a simple Velcro and sticky tape set up. So last night I just zip tied the base to the helmet to get a feel of where it needed to be. Somehow I got pretty close on the first try.

So you can talk about lumens and output watts and a thousand other techy things when it comes to lights but I am more into real life tests. If a light is good, I shouldn’t be slowing down at night.

After we made quick work of Mountain Creek to the top of Paris, we went down Brissy and Pippsissewaw to the lake. Going down I felt good, the light was steady and I hardly slowed down at all. We hit the techy section of Sulphur after coming back up the backside and I felt very confident.

The three LED’s throw out a great swatch of light on the ground and I am extremely pleased with this light after one go around. The battery is so light I don’t know what to do. It is about as heavy as a half full water bottle and it can be ran in the pack or in a jersey pocket easily. It is hard to see here but I took this picture at the first parking lot at Paris. The trees are about 20 yards from me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What To Do?


I hardly know what to do with myself. It has rained the past few days and it is supposed to rain for a few more. We hadn’t seen the rain in so long I almost forgot what it looked like. Maybe, just maybe this rain will help keep the fall colors for a few extra days.

There could be no Wednesday night ride with all of this supernatural stuff falling from the sky so yesterday at work I pondered what to do. I could be like a “normal” person and go home and watch a movie while it is raining but my mind and body craves more than that.

So I rounded up the new pup Shade and took off for Jones Gap State Park in our “Go Colbert” state of South Carolina. I can still count the number of times I have hiked in the park on one hand but I had a particular loop in mind when setting out. (This is where Shade decided to try and hide to scare me.)
Kristin and I did the loop back last winter/fall and it is a kick in the butt. You start out on Pinnacle Pass trail climbing and climbing. The type of hiking that requires the park to put up plastic coated metal wire hand holds in technical spots where a slip could be costly.

Shade obviously has not spent a lot of time in the great outdoors. He took the high line on the first technical section and realized pretty quickly that wet rocks are very slippery.

We started our hike around 5:45 with the hope of making it out of the park before it closed at 9:00. I knew we would have to hustle.

After a relentless 45 minutes of straight up hiking, we made it to the lookout. This is a sweet place in the park as you can see everything down the valley and waaaaaaaaaay down there somewhere you can see where we started. I had to be very careful here as Shade does not understand what a precarious ledge is and he wants to get all the way to the edge so he can sniff every animal in the valley.

The only part of the hike that worried me slightly was finding our connector trail in the dark. If I missed it, it would mean that we would be hiking to Caesar’s Head and that would be bad for a Wednesday night.

Luckily the signs light up great with my camping led and we had no problems finding the connector. As we were trotting our way back down the valley on Rim of the Gap Trail, we spooked an owl perched on a low branch by the trail. Luckily I had Shade on a leash at this point because he has some amazing reflexes when he sees something he wants. He wanted the Owl really bad.

We made it back to the car by 8:30 and luckily the ranger had left the exiting gate open for me. There is nothing like a spooky 3 hour night hike in a remote park to scare up the Halloween spirit in you. We will be back soon.




Peace

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rambo Gear

If you couldn’t tell by Monday’s post, Kristin and I adopted a new friend from Pets Inc. in Columbia. They are a non-profit that helps with cats and dogs. Everyone there is super-friendly and willing to help. They are very over-crowded with dogs at the moment.

“Shade” was an easy choice with his mild manners and ability to shun off other dogs that bark at him. He is not much of a barker unless he sees someone he doesn’t like. He supposedly is a Dutch Shepherd, but he doesn’t seem to fit the description too well yet. Besides the fact that I think he can smell the Earth’s core cooling with that nose of his.

So an update on some rides as of late. Saturday found Toby and I at Lynch’s woods. The trails are in great shape due to some hard work put in by somebody. . . Clint is that you? There was a huge tree that was cut and moved.

Toby showed up with some sort of Rambo gear on for Lynch’s. I thought for sure I would see his knee pop off and fly into the woods but he kept on churning the pedals over and over.

Sunday we headed out to Manchester for some hiking with Shade and once again Toby and I were rummaging the trails that make up part of the Sumter National Forest.

Last time I was out at Manchester a certain mechanic from a certain shop decided to take a trip off of a little skinny bridge down into a ditch. Therefore we have deemed this Cookie’s Ravine as the said mechanic’s nickname is Cookie Monster.

So we stopped and took a long look at Cookie’s ravine up on the Palmetto Trail wondering how it might have sounded as CM”s fate plunged him off his two wheeled machine into the ditch.

Last night Rick and I met up for a spin at Paris Mountain. The ride was good, Rick is turning into a monster on the bike and I have no idea how to keep up with him. Coming up the backside of the mountain inside the park Rick said “We aren’t going to speed up this are we?” I said “No” and then he proceeded to blow me out of the water on the way up. I was giving it everything I had and no dice.

Rick keeps a plastic banana strapped to the back of his camel bak. As he rode by some walkers I was still close enough to hear a little girl yell “He has a banana!” Then as I rode by I said my hellos and the little girl said in a very disappointed voice “He doesn’t have a banana.”

I think I see a pattern . . .

Peace

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dookie For Dennis

Wednesday is currently my favorite night of the week. As I was hovering over the trail that is Reasonover last night, I realized that I sometimes take these trails for granted. I am so lucky to be able to ride on the trails that I love during the week.

(Photo courtesy of Cook)

David Cook, Zach BrouSSard, Clay Idon’tevenknowyourlastnameClay and David George all convened for the Wednesday night ride.

We took an unconventional route of:

Reasonover --> Lake Julia --> Conservation Road --> Shelter Rock --> Corn Mill shoals out and back to Bridal Veil Falls --> Corn Mill Shoals up the steep and down by the stream --> Shoals --> Laurel Ridge --> Mine Mountain to the top turn around and come back down --> Airstrip --> Shelter Rock --> Lake Julia Road --> Reasonover

There is so much to be said about just riding around the Fawn Lake area as fast as our legs would take us and just trying to stay on single track the entire time.

I wasn’t sure how my light was going to work out as I have problems with the bar mount. Well Zach promptly took care of things for me. I am just a total nincompoop when it comes to things like that. Thanks Zach!

As we were climbing Reasonover, I stopped to check out a black snake that was about 4 feet long. After the snake was tired of us all gawking over it, it slithered back into a hole in the ground. I could here the sound of some BBC British accent commenting as the snake went into solace.

Somehow I found myself in the lead going up Reasonover and coming down was more fun than ever. I love it when I have people eating up my back wheel on that trail as it forces me to the edge of control.

According to David George’s GPS we did 15 miles and 2000 feet of climbing. Everyone was climbing like a champ last night. David George A.K.A Professional Up-Hiller normally doesn’t like to showcase his skills but last night was an exception. Going up Mine Mountain he was killing it, he left it all out there, nice work.

As we were flying back down Mine, the dark had just crept up on us and we were all burning our lights. As I came around one corner, I saw a bat swoop in front of my light and it immediately slowed down to where I was going to pass it. I had to do a quick shoulder dip as to avoid vampire rabies.

Headed back up Reasonover I found myself second in line climbing behind Beefcake. I pushed as hard as I could after he forced a little gap on me and caught back up. He heard me back there, turned it up a notch and I was toasted wheat bread. I had to let Zach go by as I knew I was slowing him down and now I had left it all out there too.

Awesome night!