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!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ludicrous Speed

I finally finished a project that has lacked my attention for quite some time. I took my old set of wheels and converted them using some slicks I picked up at the local shop.

This is where it is great to be rolling on a 29’er because I just throw the slicks on with a stout gear 32X15 and I am rolling fast. So I did a little road exploring from my house over the past couple days. I wrote down some cue sheets to help me find my way around my new town but of course I left the sheets lying on my desk at work both days.

Ever since I started riding my bike up to the top of Paris Mountain, I wondered how far I could push the gearing and still make it to the top. On Monday I took off from the house with a goal to pedal the bike to the top of Paris. Even though I forgot my cue sheet it isn’t too hard to find Paris from my house. About ten minutes into the ride I had this view:

Yes that “hump” in the background is Paris and where I will be shortly. Climbing the backside isn’t so bad and I made haste to the top.

After I made it to the King of the Mountain spot, I shot straight back down the same way. I was rewarded with a high speed descent on a mountain with a setting sun calling out to me on the way down.

Yesterday I wrote down another cue sheet to get to Pleasant Ridge State Park off of Highway 11. I again forgot the sheet but somehow remembered all the turns and names of streets to get me to the park. The back country roads are pretty sweet and I was only on Highway 11 for a ½ mile.

Why would I do all of this when I consider myself a dedicated mountain biker? Well, for now I am just route finding to my favorite mountain bike spots. I believe I have a route from my house to Dupont mapped out pretty well and after last night’s experiment to get to highway 11, I think the ride to Dupont should be pretty feasible even with one gear and a semi slicked Drunken Monkey. I will find out soon enough!



Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Season For Bats


Our first official night ride was last night for the Wednesday night Dupont ride. Luckily Dennis hooked me up with a set of lights as I am awaiting some lights from New Zealand, more on that later.

First off, the new news, Mr. Cook put together a little ride report of his own. I guess the suffering that Eric ensued on him in the Double Dare has given him an inspiration to write his feelings of two wheeled adventures down in the sphere that is Blog.

There were only three of us last night and as this is Dennis’ last Wed night ride for awhile, we were chatty. It was a great night. We took the following route:

Fawn Lake loop --> Airstrip --> Laurel Mountain --> Shoals --> Corn Mill Shoals --> Burnt Mountain --> Corn Mill Shoals --> Big Rock --> Cedar Rock (long way down) --> Little River --> Corn Mill Shoals --> Shoals --> Airstrip (out and back) --> Mine Mountain

Good stuff for sure. I was able to compare the night rider HID to the LED that Zach and I purchased last night. There are differences in the light and I won’t be able to give a full report until I actually ride with the new light. I am excited about the LED though.
Yes, apprently people are getting a little sarcastic at the ol pont.

Driving back home down Green River Road is crazy these days. The bats swarm my car and swoop in front of me to catch bugs. Apparently Sonar doesn’t always work 100% for the little suckers as I heard one of them smack the car recently.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Samurai

I wasn’t able to make it to the SORBA ride last night due to bike issues. I did finally see my ace mechanic in Travelers Rest though. You have to love going to a shop and having it fixed right in front of you instead of waiting. Sunrift is now less then 5 miles from my house and they have some good mechanics. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

Last night on NOVA, there was a special on Samurai swords and the apprentices that still make them. If you don’t watch NOVA specials, you should. It was an awesome special and now I want to get master sword smith from Japan to build me a bike. I want all the tubes to be a forgery of high and low carbon steel blades. From now on, when I crash, everybody is getting cut.

The initial steel maker will poke, stoke and prod his huge kiln while pouring iron down onto the burning charcoal for four solid days to make the high quality steel needed for a master blacksmith. Talk about an endurance event, this little Japanese dude was playing with an intense fire for four days straight with no sleep. He can tell if the fire is the right temperature by the look and sound of the fire. I got to tell you, I love making fires but this guy would call my fires laughable.

So as soon as the master fire watcher dude says “it’s ready” they smash the kiln into pieces and pull out the once iron now steel metal from the fire and let it cool. The kiln master said "It is like watching a baby being born." The best pieces are then taken to a blacksmith who will forge the brittle cutting steel with the malleable stronger steel to make a blade. After this is done the sword is passed on to a polisher who uses grinding blocks to finely polish the sword.

After six months of craftsmanship the sword is hopefully complete. Now that I think about it, I guess there are quite a few of you out there that have waited this long for a bike.

Dupont ride tonight!

Fawn Lake @ 5:30

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Snakes On A Trail


I was able to ride my two wheeled dirt chompin machine this weekend. Joe and I got out on Friday at Harbison State Forest for a quick spin through the park. Besides me feeling like crappola there wasn’t too much to write home about, except for the giant Anaconda that was flopping around on the trail.

After our first small loopa, we headed toward Lost Creek. I was finally feeling decent and able to turn the cranks when I heard Joe screaming like a little girl who just dropped her ice cream cone. I looked up and didn’t see any reason to be screaming. That is when I looked down and there right in front of my wheel was some brown snake in the “I am gonna bite your ass S formation” literally flopping up and down on the trail. I used every ounce of my energy that I had left to thrust-bunny-hop my bike over the writhing creature. Thank the lord I didn’t feel any stinging sensations as I flew inches above the beast. After this episode, I was spent.

If you are reading this and you ride Manchester, remember that it is now closed on all days except for Sunday until December 15th.

I met up with some of the Harrell’s entourage on Sunday for a right of passage. Ok actually just a mountain bike ride but right of passage is just wrong, sorry about that.

Nothing to really report besides the fact that Cookie Monster (yes that name is actually on his bike) decided that after all the warnings about wet slippery bridges. He would still try and mutilate himself on a bridge crossing near the Palmetto Trail.

Actually it was on the Palmetto trail, one section in the park that is not closed to bikes and it is really sweet stuff. Not many people know about it, it is on a high ridge with lots of climbing (for the midlands) and just a great trail in general. There is one tricky switchback with a creek crossing right in the middle that stubs people up almost always. After almost shearing his rear de-rayler (I hate spelling that word, that is why I ride a single speed) off, Joe cleaned the ditch switch back. It was impressive.

Great Dirt, Great rides,

Peace

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Over The Top

It seems as though I am finally getting over this sinus cold action that started last week. That is real good because on Tuesday night when Tim, Bill and I all rode Paris, every bump I hit felt like it was jarring my teeth out.

We had a great group show up for Dupont last night; Zach, David George, David Cook, Shane, Dennis and Jeremy. We made quick work of a short loop. You can tell that the days are getting shorter and the “getting in shape” season is behind us. There are still some races to attend and some fitness humps to grind but all in all, we are just out to have a good time in the woods.

What a great time of the year for it too. Right now there are just a few scattered wet leaves on the trails and the recent mild rains have the trails nice and tacky for your tire gripping pleasure.

We knocked out a short loop of:

Fawn Lake Loop --> Scarlet Oak Trail --> Conservation Road --> Reasonover --> Lake Julia Road --> Camp Summit Road --> Airstrip --> Shelter Rock --> Corn Mill Shoals --> Laurel Ridge --> Mine Mountain

When we got done D. George declared that it was “the shortest route we have ever gone on.” I guess it is about time to break out the lights. Another topic of discussion that is not quite illuminating yet.

Apparently Jeremy had a good slippery fall on a fallen tree last night and had to take off as his arm was bothering him. Get well dude, you have to lead a Goat Death March sometime soon.

Another moment to note as always was Airstrip. Zach took off in the lead with me taking the chase spot. Zach looked a little less shake N' bake coming down this time. I think it had something to do with his warm-up routine.

In the world of great news, check out the new conservation efforts at Dupont. I haven’t met either of the two families but they are good folks in my book!

I will be in Columbia this weekend looking for some miles. Hit me up if you want to ride.

When I turn my hat around, it is like flipping a switch to my sinuses.




Peace

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Two Worlds Collide


For the Past Eight years, I have lived in a downtown setting most of the time.

I have so many thoughts but I will keep them to myself today. Instead, all you get is this picture. Thanks Kristin for the photo!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Double Dare 2007

The Double Dare is Eric’s insane double version of the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race. To keep it short, it is basically and all day suffer fest for two days in a row. There are 10 checkpoints each day and 12 hours in which to nab those checkpoints on each day. Luckily Joe and I had decided to keep the “competition level” at an all time low.

This would end up being the smartest decision we had ever made. Earlier in the week I had a serious case of sinus pressure and just generally feeling bad. On Friday, I had the joy of moving and luckily I had an unlucky volunteer. THANKS BRAD!!!!!

I decided to drive up Saturday morning so I could spend a night in my new house before the race. The day was perfect with cool temperatures and bluebird skies.

I still felt like crap and wondered if I was going to have any energy for the first day. Eric told us that we would be “time trialing” to the top of Farlow from White Pines Campground. Then we would “start the race” by receiving our passports with all the ten checkpoints including a mandatory checkpoint.

I felt ok climbing to Farlow even though it is one of the hardest gravel grinders in all of Pisgah. I walked a little and tried to enjoy the views of Looking Glass when I could.

Once we made it to Farlow we looked at the passport and the mandatory checkpoint was up at Ivestor Gap, a place I had never been.

We quickly realized that the fastest route to Ivestor was by hiking the Art Loeb trail to the Parkway. It was a nice long steep walk. It was the kind of walk where you get to know yourself and how much your bike weighs.

I was a little confused as the map showed Ivestor Gap Trail as closed to Bikes. I was hoping this was the right trail and the best way to get to the “Shining Rock Wilderness” because that was the actual checkpoint.

So now we have been on the bike for over three hours and we have gone downhill 0 miles. We rode up the Parkway and up 818 and up Ivestor Gap. Later when I would talk to Eric I would find out that we topped out very close to 6,000 feet at one point on Ivestor. For the East Coast, that is a pretty big elevation number.

Once we made it to Ivestor, I was a wreck. Every rock I would pedal over was like a shock to the brain. I couldn’t muster up a speed over 5mph.

I must have even looked worse than I felt because Broussard was manning the checkpoint and offered me a ride back to the campground. I happily declined and drank a vanilla coke and two beers.

I contemplated and contemplated which way we would go back. Eventually I decided the best route was exactly the way we came.

Ivestor Gap --> 818 --> BRP --> Art Loeb --> Farlow --> Daniel Ridge --> Davidson River --> 475 --> 276 --> 476

That was a big day and we only got two checkpoints, dammmmmmmmmmmmn. I am glad we weren’t “competing.”

Day Number Two:

I heard Eric rolling around the campground ringing the cowbell. It was waaaaaay to early and even though I heard my name, I had to lay there. Eventually I got up and made my way over to the fire. I approach Eric and he gets in my face asking if we are going or not. Reluctantly we went and suited up for the day. We had made a vow “no matter what course the race dictates, we are going on single track.”

Eric informed us that we were to head to Yellow Gap to get our passports. However, since we were late, he gave us passports that were not to be looked at until we got to the gap. So I told Joe the fastest way to the gap was on Forest Service Roads but we had vowed for Single Track. So this was our route to yellow gap:

476 --> Clawhammer --> Maxwell Cove --> Black Mountain --> Turkey Pen --> 66 Jumps --> SMR --> Mullinax --> Laurel Creek --> Bradley Creek --> 5015

Turkey Pen was a blast, Joe tried to count the gaps but got confused along the way. I just plodded on forward as I was feeling much better. I think I had finally hit the apex of my cold. I burped some air out of my back tire and quickly realized I had three dud CO2’s with me. How that happens I don’t know, I borrowed a canister from Joe and got the tire rolling again.

Once we finally made it to Yellow gap I sat down and looked at the passport. The mandatory checkpoint was back close to South Mills River and Mullinax. HA! I figured we were going by checkpoints but it didn’t matter as we were just out for a long single track day. So after we decided to ditch all the checkpoints I came up with the following route to get us home:

1206 --> 476 --> 5018 --> Horse Cove Gap --> Squirrel Gap --> South Mills River --> Buckhorn Gap --> Black Mountain --> Maxwell Cove

Joe had no idea what I had in store and probably would have called a cab off of 1206 had he known.

As I was climbing 1206 headed for 476 I came across a little scene. A motocross rider had careened off of the gravel road and down into the mountain laurel. There was an elderly couple there trying to help him out. I stopped and when I looked at his bike down in the laurel I wondered how we made it out unscathed.

Eventually some more people showed up and with the help of three guys and a little towing we had him back on his way.

Horse Cove and Squirrel were a blast. I felt great and was really feeling the single track. I had never gone from SMR to Buckhorn up to Black Mountain that way before so I made the right turn onto SMR and figured I was going the correct way. Joe started making “take me home ASAP” comments and I started to question my directional ability.

Climbing SMR I came up on two hikers. They asked if I knew the way to the parking lot. Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, which parking lot? They said “Wolf Ford, Ummm I mean Pink Beds, yeah that is it up by the Pink Beds.” I asked if they had a map? Of course they didn’t and they guy told me “I had knee surgery two weeks ago.” My sweet Jesus I thought but all I said was “That is bad. . . “

So I started explaining that they needed to go back the way the came and I pointed up the trail the way I was heading and said “You came from that way right?” They said yes and so I told them the fastest way was to backtrack. Then Joe pulled up and I asked them if they wanted me to alert anyone up ahead for assistance. He said No and I asked if they had water, he said yes so I let it be. However, as we pulled away they started walking down SMR.. . WTF??????

Now I was losing my mind because I didn’t know who was losing their mind. Was I headed in the wrong direction or was that guy and his girlfriend delirious on where the car was, where they were, where they had came from? I started to second guess myself but calmed my nerves down by thinking that if we were truly headed down SMR in the wrong direction we would start crossing the river and the trail would look familiar to me.

Eventually I made it to Buckhorn gap and as I waited for Joe, I wondered what the hikers fate would be.

After the short climb up Buckhorn, I declared to Joe that I wanted to go up Black Mountain since we had come this far. He refused and took off down clawhammer so I made the hike myself. I always forget how many false summits that bad boy has but it is all so worth it. That was one heck of a route! Congrats to all those who went out and soldiered through!

Great format Eric! I hope to come back next year and put in a little more effort in competing!