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!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great description of the Pilot Mtn. road climb there Tomato.... Great ride, too... Let's do it again soon. Maybe I'll be able to hang for an entire 6 hour ride one of these days!