Friday, November 14, 2008

Edge of Chaos

Its wonderful how those words “Edge of Chaos” and the picture Broussard snapped of me this past weekend go together so well.

This past Wednesday, after railing Reasonover in the dark with Dennis hot on my tail the entire time he said “Wow, we were on the edge of chaos.”

I understood what he meant because we were definitely pushing our limits flying around the leaf strewn corners of Reasonover. There were a few turns where I could feel the tires sliding around the corner but they would eventually find their grip and send me in the right direction, sweet mountain biking bliss in the dark of night on a cool fall evening.

Dennis and I split from the rest of the group and made the relentless climb up the steep side of Cedar Rock. Dennis and I both slipped up at the same time even though he was 20 yards ahead of me, then we continued to rock out the rest of the super steep climb.

It was other-worldly when I had a chance to catch my breath and look around at all the moss on the slick rock. With my headlamp reflecting off of the moss and my heartbeat rising to peak, I was in total bliss.

Going fast is finally starting to feel good again.

A big thanks goes out to Zach for the picture and I swear I will share mine at some point. . .

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Don't Let The Man Hold YOU DOWN!!

Lately, I have been trying my best to keep balance.

By doing this:

And This:

Not necessarily in that order. Thanks to "Al." and Brad for the pictures.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

TMHTE Training Day # 2

I am slack, I still have to link in the pictures, it will happen someday.

Day 2:

I awoke and had to pee so bad it got me out of the warm bag. I laid back down and gathered my riding clothes and shoved them to the bottom of my bag. Once they were warm I suited up and started talking smack to Joe. He said there was NO WAY I could get him to come out of the tent. Ultimately I had to pull the “Son” card on him and he would later tell me he couldn’t believe I said “Logan wouldn’t be proud of his dad if he stayed in bed instead of finishing the race.” It was harsh but it had to be done.

I was terrified to change my front tube in the cold but the thought of pumping it up all day wasn’t exciting either. So I got out of the bag, turned on my stove, drank PBR and heated up ravioli and mac N Cheese together. It was a breakfast of champions and during the cooking and drinking I was able to swap the tube.

We made it to the start 6:15 AM on time and avoided my greatest fear, getting yelled at for being late two years in a row.

The second day started with the climb we all foresaw, Pilot Mountain Hell ooops I mean road. We took our sweet time with team Smoke Bikes, Beth and Ian at the Fish Hatchery as we all cussed Erinna for telling us the bathrooms were open even though we all knew better.

After chatting for a bit, we started the easy climb that would take us to Gloucester. Our ultimate route for day two would be as follows:

White Pines -> 477 -> 276 -> 475 -> Pilot Mountain Road -> Art Loeb -> BRP -> Black Basalm Road -> Ivestor Gap (mandatory checkpoint 1) -> BRP -> **HIKE Seinerd Ridge -> 225 -> Daniel Ridge (checkpoint 2) -> 475 -> Davidson River Trail -> 276 -> Coontree -> Bennett Gap (Checkpoint 3) -> 477 -> Finish

Once I made it to Gloucester, there were a bunch of teams there hanging out. I chatted with Cook for a long time while we feasted on goldfish Cook had brought. Eventually my new partner Nancy showed up at the gap. Cook offered him some goldfish, he took some and ate them dropping some on the ground. Cook and I immediately started picking the dropped fish off of the ground and ate them. There is no wasting in DD.

Cook, Nancy and I all took off up Pilot Mountain Road. Cook and I chatted for a good 1/3 of the climb until I eventually decided to stop and relieve myself. There was no reason to push things as Nancy was not having a good day.

At the top of Pilot Mountain Road I had time to drink a beer, eat some brownies, watch Cook and Cissy take off, chatted up GatorBack and generally just got cold waiting for Nancy. I told Erinna NOT to tell Nancy where we were headed as I knew that’s when the breakdown would start.

Apparently Joe decided to show up for a minute because once he was there he immediately asked “Where is the mandatory.” I told him Ivestor would be a lavish land to see on such a fine day and luckily Nancy stayed away for awhile.

Heading toward Art Loeb and Farlow I saw team Smoke coming toward me and I thought to myself “They are fast!” When I said “What are you doing.” They replied “What are you doing?” I said “headed to Art Loeb. . . “ Luckily I am not the only one who loses my navigational mind whilst Pisgah Productioning.

We hiked Art Loeb, flip flopping back and forth with Team Smoke. I was jealous of their lightweight rigs as we hiked. Here is what awaited us at the top:

We quickly made our way to Ivestor and saw Mike Brown manning the checkpoint. I had seen the Beer Fairy again at Black Basalm so I was now in Heaven. Joe again shotgunned one beer and I hit the other two following it up with my Highlands Whit I hijacked at Black Basalm while staring at the map.

All of the sudden, out of nowhere Nancy came running out of Shining Rock wilderness and pushed Joe off of the world. CRRRAAAPPP, now I had to deal with Nancy’s bitching again. Nancy wanted to go from Ivestor down BRP to 276 and ride the pavement all the way back to camp. WHAT we climbed all that way to ride the pavement back? I couldn’t let her talk to me like that so I worked up a compromise that would nab us two checkpoints on the way back with minimal climbing.

We hiked down Seinerd Ridge (luckily I had hiked up it earlier in the year or there would be virtually no way of finding the trail head as there is no sign) and hit 225. I had forgotten how much climbing there is on 225 to get to Daniel but it was totally worth it as it spit us out right at the top of the singletrack and we finally got to ride some trail.

After nabbing our second checkpoint, Nancy’s fury almost overwhelmed me. I didn’t have to physically harm her but I did have to say “Shut the fuck up and ride your bike” at one point. Luckily I was so far ahead of her going up Coontree I didn’t have to listen to the moaning. Our third checkpoint in the bag we were the third team to come in for the day. We finished with a respectable 11 checkpoints and we can now call ourselves Double Dare finishers.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TMHTE Training Day # 1 & 2 A.K.A Double Dare

Thoughts of the 2008 Double Dare are pinging around in my head and making smile even though the pain is still very real.

I have a lot of love for Pisgah Production events. There is no doubt in my mind that these are and will be some of the best Mountain Biking events in the world or at least my version of the world.

I would like to explicitly thank Jack, Carlos (hoped I spelled that right), Eric, Erinna, Mike Brown, Janet (I hope I got her name right too it was a long weekend), BradO (too bad you couldn’t be there brother) and any other volunteer I have missed, YOU GUYS and GALS KICK ASS!!

I have tried many formats of writing race reports but I always fall back to chronological. It just makes the most sense as I am not an accomplished enough writer to handle flash forwards or backs. I label each section in case my gibberish gets the best of you.

Ever since being sick and moving houses the day before DD 2007, I wanted revenge on this race and Eric for yelling at me for missing the start time on Sunday 2007. I would NOT let this happen again.

Pre-race Gibberish

Rigid Single Speed or Geared bike with a fork was the question of this race for me. Ultimately I had to go with the Geared bike as I had trained on it and I wasn’t sure if my newly healed wrist would withstand the rigors of rigid.

Nuts seemed to be a theme for this race and fall. I have a Aluminum carport at my Cabin in Travelers Rest and some relentless Oak trees that throw down nuts so hard it sounds like M80’s firing off. I thought this would keep Joe awake all night as he decided to take shelter in our house Friday night but he said he had slept great which was good as I woke every hour or so to the nutcrackers.

I am getting much better at pre-preparing for races and I was comfortable at the start. We were told a time trial to the Gauging Station was in order and immediately new our route. I figured there was a faster way but I HATE riding my bike around trails in Pisgah.

Race Day # 1:

12:09 PM was our start time out of the gate leaving from White Pines North by the Horse Stables.

Our ultimate route for the day would be:

477 -> ClawHammer -> Buckhorn -> S. Mills River (North) -> Pink Beds (checkpoint 1) -> 276 -> BRP -> **HIKE MT. Pisgah Trail (out and back, checkpoint 2) -> BRP -> Pisgah lodge connector trail -> Pilot Rock -> Laurel Mountain Connector (checkpoint 3) -> Laurel Mountain -> 1206 -> Yellow Gap (Checkpoint 4) -> 5015 -> Bradley Creek (Mandatory Checkpoint 5 + ½ checkpoint) -> Laurel Creek -> Squirrel Gap (North) -> Cantrell (Checkpoint 6) -> S. Mills River (Checkpoint 7) -> Buckhorn -> Clawhammer -> 477 -> Finish time 12:08 (< 1 minute to spare) final checkpoint count 7 ½

I have a hard time getting into a “time trial” four minutes into a 24 hour race. So we took our sweet time ascending Clawhammer. I was really taking all the views in and just generally stoked to be riding our bikes in such an awesome place and time.

Riding down Buckhorn and the northern section of S. Mills River was a real treat. It is one of the few places in Pisgah where you ride next to the river instead of through it. I had told Joe there was no way I was bypassing that section of trail for pavement. He was happy to agree.

At the Gauging station we received our passport of where all 10 checkpoints would be for the day. Even though I know my way around Pisgah, I am always overwhelmed by the decisions that need to be made so quickly and I am always terrified I am going to break some rule and DNF my team.

With this in mind I saw a couple groups (who I trust) head off toward Pink Beds and I realized it would be silly to skip that checkpoint since it was only a few miles away. We ran with it and took off down the trail. That Section of Pink Beds is super fun and it is always nice to hit some single track that isn’t straight up or down.

We bagged our first checkpoint and then I stared at the map. I really thought about going back toward 477 but when I saw Dicky and Morgan head that way I knew I didn’t want them slowing us down on the way back so we took Pink Beds the rest of the way to 276.

My original plan was to hit 1206 and hike straight up Pilot to bag the first checkpoint but then I was swayed when Cook and Cissy took off up 276 all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We followed them and I hit my low point of the day trying to keep pace up 276. I hadn’t prepared mentally for the million and one cars combined with the steep grade. It took its toll on my and I had to stop and stretch my back multiple times. It would have been many more had it not been for my Epic Designs bag that everyone ooohed and ahhhed over all weekend. Yeah that bag kicks ass just like the race.

When we reached the intersection of 276 and the parkway I couldn’t believe how cold it was. It was bright, sunny windy and cold.

I lost it mentally for awhile once we got to the Pisgah Inn, I thought we would hike in, nab the Laurel Checkpoint and go head toward Trace Ridge. Well once we started hiking I got it in my head that I was breaking a rule. So I had Joe and I turn around and we hunt and pecked to find the Mt. Pisgah trailhead for a minute. I was completely frustrated with myself because I knew I was fine with the original plan but my mind was doing flip flops.

We found the Mt. Pisgah trailhead and made the short hike up and back. We saw a bunch of other teams including solo Ohio Rob so I chatted him up and he eased my mind about how we were allowed to hike from the BRP to access trails just not internal trails. Crap, he was right and it straightened my head out, thanks Rob! I was so glad we chose to hike when we got to the firetower. The clouds had moved in but there were still rays of sunshine poking through in the valleys. It was stunning, to say the least.

We decided it was too cold to stay on the parkway so we made our way back to the Pilot Laurel connector to nab the third checkpoint of the day. I was excited that we would get to descend Laurel Mountain. What a treat!! The trail was in superb shape and I was feeling strong cleaning most everything while flying through the halls of yellow that nature provided. I would stop every now and then to wait for Joe and pump my front tube back up as I had a slow leak but didn’t want to chance changing it as long as I could pump it and leave it for an hour or so.

We finally started meeting up with teams that were headed in the opposite direction and I was so glad they were headed to the windy parkway instead of us. When we met up with Jut and Bruce we had to sit and have a pow wow and discuss life. We decided life was good and parted ways with larger than life smiles hooting about how we would see each other soon.

Stopping only for a moment at yellow gap (Checkpoint 4) we strapped on our lights for the screaming descent down 5015 to our mandatory checkpoint and special test. Jack asked me if I wanted to shoot a BB gun or shotgun beer. I said “Is that really a question?” and he said he had to ask. Joe shot-gunned one of the mandatory beers while I shot two and then drank another while staring at the map. Jack said that there was no penalty for drinking extra beer, sheeeeeeeew. Now we had 5 ½ checkpoints (1/2 for shot-gunning beer).

I had three more checkpoints on the brain but wasn’t sure how to nab them. So we headed for the Squirrel Gap checkpoint first. Riding Squirrel in the dark with a good beer buzz was awesome and I was feeling really strong.

We nabbed the topside of Cantrell and descended Cantrell to get the bottom checkpoint. Once there I told Joe about the horrors of S. Mills River to Buckhorn and offered an alternate route but it included climbing so Joe insisted on S. Mills River. If you have ever ridden this beast you know, if you haven’t you don’t and until you do you won’t. I just kept whispering to myself to not let it get to me. The harder you pedal the faster you bounce over all of those rocks.

I was at the intersection of S. Mills and Squirrel waiting for Joe so I pumped my front tire again and was staring at the map plotting our 8th checkpoint when Joe rolled up and said “It’s 11:00 we have to hurry.” We had exactly one hour nine minutes to make it from there to White Pines. No 8th checkpoint for us and we would be lucky not to “DNF.”

I hammered way too hard up the end of S. Mills River and waited for Joe just before the turn to Buckhorn. I let him go in front of me so I could encourage him to move along as he looked a little pale. I started giving all the motivational speeches I could after 11 hours on the bike. I said “think about the beer, we don’t want to DNF, we MUST finish, just pedal a little harder” when all of the sudden halfway up Buckhorn I hit the WALL HARD. I lost my beer buzz and it felt as though I were dying. I got off my bike and stood there wondering if I would pass out when I realized I was REALLY HUNGRY. I pulled out my cliff bloks and shoved four of them in my mouth, got on the bike pedaled and chewed simultaneously. Then my stomach GROWLED, so I got off the bike, grabbed the last six bloks I had and shoved them in my cheeks, got back on the bike and repeated the chewing pedaling process. I found some strength left in my legs and rolled up to Clawhammer with Joe telling me we had 15 minutes left. SHIIIIIITTTTTTTT.

KILLING IT in the big ring down Clawhammer drifting the gravel corners praying to mother nature that the wind hadn’t changed circumstances since the morning I had fleeting thoughts about what would happen if we didn’t make the checkpoint, WE WOULD SLEEP IN!!

Down at the bottom we kept it in the big ring, stood up and pedaled with all of our might down 477. We heard cheers when we reached the campground but couldn’t find a way through all of the cars. I was about to climb over a hood when I saw a small opening. I couldn’t feel my hands or feet so I threw down my bike and immediately lay close enough to the fire to catch myself on fire. It was a proud moment as we had arrived at 12:08.

Beth immediately offered some chili and beer, I obliged. Then Jody offered a beer, I obliged. I warmed and then ran to my tent to change into dry clothes. I saw my sleeping bag and loathed for her love. Out like a light.

Day 2, pictures and report will come tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Life is on high gear right now. Unlike the past hot months where I didn’t write because I was in a pathetic slump of not riding from the wrist being hurt, I am riding now, riding often and smiling every bit of the way.

There have been so many highlights on my rides as of late I don’t know where to start. So here is my random thought pattern of cool things that I have participated in over the past few weeks.

Kristin and I navigated four miles of the French Broad River from Hot Springs NC to Murray Branch. I didn’t bring the helmets because I got advice that this “Was a nice peaceful section of the river.” In retrospect, helmets are good in all situations. We made the trip with only one portage around a drop about 300 yards from our put in at camp. There were many other butt scoots and tricky maneuvers due to water levels being so low but what a great adventure for a Saturday morning. The weather was indescribable and I thought for sure the leaves were changing colors in front of my eyes. I set up the shuttle with a quick trip in the car and an even quicker five mile ride back along River road. There is nothing like using the bike to shuttle yourself down the river.

Kristin had a Hot Springs soak set up for us in the evening, it was superb and that’s all that needs to be said about that.

Shade always adds a little excitement into the mix and decided to go on a Blue Heron hunting expedition. Somehow Shad thought he could catch this bird even though it was 100 yards out in the middle of the river. With his leash still attatched he took off bounding through the river until the Heron took off and he was being whisked away down the current as I ran down the shore calling wildly for him. I wouldn’t have been so nervous had his leash not been attached. All was good as Shade is a quick swimmer and I think he learned a lesson about fast moving water. Buddy watched from the sidelines.

It just so happened that Jeff would be in Hot Springs so we both decided to bring bikes even though we had heard from the masses that the biking was minuscule. I got a rough estimate that the trails in TN would be better for us and took off with that knowledge alone. Jeff brought the single so we opted out of the four mile flat that I had ridden for the shuttle the day before and parked at Murray Branch for the following loop:

River Road -> Paint Rock Road -> Paint Rock Mountain Trail -> Chimney Rock Trail -> ???? -> Paint Rock Mountain Trail -> ???? Paint Rock road -> River Road

Limited on time and knowledge I had low expectations for this ride. I figured we would get some sweating in and maybe see a trail. However, we were still in Pisgah National Forest and she has yet to let me down. The climb was great, a good enough grade to make me sweat and just when we thought we were at the top, we were halfway, sweet!!

The trail turned into an immediate ridgeline with full views of the valley below. It continued that way until we hit Chimney and had a killer descent to the wrong side of the River. . . Uh ohhh, what time did you tell your wife again? Cus I think we have some climbing to do. . .

Climbing Paint Mountain from the backside was an incredible grade that kept me on my toes in the granny gear. I did my best to ride every piece of this beast but had to walk some of the steeper switchbacks. This is obviously horse country but most everyone we met was friendly and the Horse guys always know the trails well. I talked to one fellow that said “You could ride for days around here.” I now believe him and I will listen to the voices inside my own head before I let someone tell me there are no trails in a particular town.

We also witnessed a strange event. A couple on horses met us and passed when the second dog trailing along decided Jeff and I were much too dangerous to pass. The man would yell back in a southern drawl Mac, CumOnnnn Maaaaaaaccccc. This would entice the dog to rear forward but when he got close to me he would growl and then run back down the trail away from his owner. Eventually this guy realized the dog was not coming no matter how forcefully he yelled the dog’s name. So he got off the horse and sort of soft kicked the dog by us. Good times in the woods.

Double Dare coming this weekend, sweet I love Double D. . . what were we talking about?


Monday, September 22, 2008

Pisgah SingleTrack

I am finding it hard to put into words how I feel on the bike these days. Every chance I get to spend in the woods, I relish.

Clay and I met on Saturday for a slightly ambitious ride, I would hesitate to call it epic. However, it was another attempt to gather enough fitness for the beast known as Double Dare coming up in less than four weeks.

Driving up to the mountains in the morning is always a treat. Even though it was sunny in Travelers Rest when I left, the mountains were shrouded in beautiful white puffy clouds that seemed to be forming from the valleys up. By the time I made it to Black Mountain, it was sunny and the fog had lifted.

I had the downhill party to try and make it to while Clay wanted to sleep in so I knew the ride would be a little hasty if we wanted gain any significant mileage.

Our ultimate route would be:

Black Mountian -> Turkey Pen -> Vineyard Gap -> Riverside -> ???? -> Squirrel Gap, S. Mills River -> Buckhorn -> Clawhammer -> 477 -> 276

This was the first time I had ascended Black utilizing the black magic of gears. I have to admit that it was kind of nice seeing Clay walk (singlespeed) while I soft pedaled my granny gear in places I would normally walk the singlespeed. I can’t say I was any faster than normal, I just rode more.

Right before the junction of Maxwell Cove, Clay let me lead the short downhill when I heard something scurry off into the woods. It was a black bear of course, Clay saw it and I still have not seen a black bear in Pisgah, damn I need to stay on my toes more.

We made pretty quick work of Black and before I knew it we were standing at one of the greatest trails in the land, Turkey Pen. Before Saturday, I think I had only ridden Turkey Pen one other time in a non-race setting.

Turkey Pen is majestic. It lures you into sweet singletrack bliss during its quick descents only to spit you out at the bottom like a jet fueled rocket along the few flat spots that quickly turn into sharp uphill grunts. Some of these grunts I was able to conquer in the granny and others I was happy to get off and huff up to the top.

From there Clay and I had a short debate about how much time Vineyard Gap would add to our ride. However, it was an easy decision to make so early in the ride, we were hitting Vineyard gap and it would be my first time so maybe a nickname is in order, virgin gap.

I can’t believe I have given this trail the cold shoulder every time I had gone by. The first part of the trail is just like Turkey Pen. Some hard grunts followed by quick downs. However, the last downhill that takes your from the top of the gap all the way back down to the river was incredible. Dennis (who lives 1.5 miles from the trail) had said before “There are a bunch of water bars at the end that are fun.” I really had no idea what I was getting into and when I came around the first corner at full bore I knew I was in over my head. However instead of kissing the ground I was able to hold on just long enough so I could pull my speed back to a reasonable level. Then the one-thousand and one steeply chutted water bars began. I don’t remember a trail with this many quick drops. I was charged at the bottom.

From there we took a long look at the map as this part of the forest still escapes me. I can’t visualize all the nooks and cranny’s like I can in other areas. Talking Clay out of a full tour of S. Mills River was high on my priority list as I was secretly lusting to ride Squirrel. Clay mentioned that I probably hadn’t ridden the bottom of Squirrel before and he was right. Even though I was off my game slightly on this trail I still enjoyed it thoroughly and soon we made it to the PAS work Party. Both Clay and I felt bad for riding by the party knowing full well we should be helping but sometimes you just have to ride! They were doing a good job of turning a mud hole into a rideable section and we stopped and chatted for a second before we continued on with our agenda. Thanks for the work guys and gal!!!

The ride could have been 100% singletrack if we had chosen to march up and over Black on the way back down but we were short on time so we ended up 90%/10% with a fast cruise back down and the small amount of pavement on 276. It was a beautiful day with 0 mechanicals.

Sunday was spent at Paris Mountain, I volunteered for 11 hours course marshalling spectators and riders. I had a primo volunteer job as I ushered spectators up and down the trail during practice runs and got to see some fantastic crashes. This event was a HUGE success and it was a good day to be an UpState SORBA member.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Conversation

Last night after our brief SORBA meeting I went back out for a quick loop to help burn some of the excess calories I have gained over the past two non-riding months.

As I was coming back down toward the main parking lot I encountered two trail runners about a half mile apart. I didn’t have my bell on the new bike so I loudly clicked my brakes as I approached them hoping not to scare them as I know how it can be when your heart is pounding in your chest.

I was able to get around the first guy with little trouble on either end. When I approached the second runner, the trail was tighter so I was hanging back until I had enough room to pass when he just stopped and got off the trail. That wasn’t how I wanted the pass to go down but I took it.

As I was loading my car up, the first runner came up and he was parked one car away from me. I felt I owed him an apology so I said “Sorry about making you stop, I was just waiting for a better place to pass.” He said “Its ok it just took me out of my rhythm.”

We proceeded to have a lengthy conversation as I had admitted to trail running and he admitted that many of his friends ride mountain bikes. I asked him how his experiences with bikers have been lately and he said “I think my friend is going to shoot the next biker he sees.” That pretty much summed things up for me so I went on a political apology of sorts about how we are trying to educate all bikers blah blah blah.

Well this guy was very receptive and I think he was genuinely glad to meet someone who showed compassion for all users of trails. He also discussed the fact that the top of Sulphur Springs (the downhill course) is being destroyed by bikers. I was able to reverse his thinking and made him realize it was mostly the design of the trail and water flow that caused all the damage. I made sure he realized that UpState SORBA were the ones working on the trails and he said “Now I love that new Kanuga trail.” I made sure he knew that we played a pivotal part in helping that trail get built. Ok, probably not pivotal but I have to push for good community somehow and we did help.

He also mentioned that he had seen some people “really moving fast” on the upper section and I explained about the race and how we had emphasized that during normal park hours everyone should still respect users and stay within control.

I am excited to see a race at Paris, I really hope that we can help educate all users about how multiple trail use should be utilized but it is such a large job. If you read this, please remember to do your best to help out.


Monday, September 15, 2008

An Eye Opener

After almost two months without a true Mountain bike ride, I had zero expectations going into this weekend. Would it be possible to actually “ride myself into fitness” as the great Palmetto Solo had once typed?

After close to 60 miles of pure gravel and singletrack this weekend, I can almost say this is true.

Let it be known that it has been approximately two years since I have had any sort of suspension on my bike. Currently I have the blue Monkey set up with a triple stack (gears) and an 80mm Reba. In all honesty, I feel as though I have converted to a downhill bike and I feel sorry for that little fork. I imagine her life will be short but I will do my best to prolong it.

Saturday was a day to test myself, the wrist and my new Mountain Machine to the fullest. A good route had been planned by Cook and I jumped on for part of the ride. Ascending the trails was not awful but I am not in shape, yet. My first real test in descending had me grinning ear to ear and I as soon as I made the first switchback, I realized that it all came back to me just as though I were riding a bike. . . wait a second.

There was a point in the past, where I thought that my descending was not affected by a rigid fork, I was either completely wrong or in total denial. On Saturday, I was able to blast through anything the trail threw at me and with no wrist pain whatsoever (I am currently wearing a brace while I ride)!! GAME ON!

I must admit that some of the more precarious tree fells had me apprehensive. Pisgah is starting to get wet and slimy again as it should be and the thought of catching myself with the bad wrist has led to many walks across those slippery suckers.

Sunday was to be a long day in the woods of Dupont. A couple not so far away out-of-towners came up and we set out with a good crew for an all day adventure. I was just hoping my legs could take me the approximate 40 miles that I had planned for the day.

Our first loop had a couple highlights including a descent of Burnt Mountain and Big Rock that left the group smiling. It makes me smile every time I ride the big rock garden on Burnt Mountain.

The second half of the day included some super fast rolling terrain along with one rocky descent that left me with my first flat on the new bike. After my second slowest tube change ever, we were off and by the end of the day I was running on empty and luckily I had a friend in the back of the pack with me for motivation.

I was in denial during my absence off of the bike. I denied the fact that I wanted to go fast through the woods. I denied everything I loved about mountain biking. It all came back in a gigantic surge of emotion this weekend. It came back as though I had drunk a gallon of OJ in the ninth hour of hallucinogenic binge into the unknown depths of the psyche. I did as any good hippie would do; I just sat back and let the surge take me over.


Thursday, September 11, 2008



There might be some real posts coming soon.

Sunday 9:00am @ Fawn Lake for a longish ride in Dupont.

Oh yeah, CF has a blog, I will never let you live it down either big boy 8-)

Can I get ready in time for Double Dare? Probably not, but it will make for some interesting stories.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Trail Running Helmet?

**All pictures are from the NORAMM Damascus trip**

What Have I Been Doing? I have been attempting to improve my fitness through alternate means. I had hoped that I would be able to ride at this point as it has almost been four weeks since I hurt my wrist. However, along with some stupid moves, the healing process has been slow and I want to make certain that I am able to ride during my favorite season which is right around the corner.

Last week, I was able to get out on Tuesday after the Vegas trip and try the Overlook Loop at Jone’s Gap State Park. I honestly don’t know all of the exact statistics but I do know that this loop gains 1,200 feet in the first two miles of trail. Then it levels out with some more moderate climbing and once past the overlook it is mostly downhill for the remaining 1.2 miles. So I am guessing that this run is ~5 miles with 1,500 feet of climbing. I made it a personal goal to be able to finish this loop in less an hour and a half by the end of September.

Last Tuesday I felt like utter poop the entire loop with temps being high and a HARD weekend of partying under my belt. I was able to pound out the loop in an hour forty-three minutes.

Yesterday I felt real good, the temps were lower than I ever thought they would be for August and I killed the loop. My split time to the overlook was 9 minutes faster than the previous week and I was running much more rather than fast hiking. I completed the loop in one hour twenty-eight minutes crushing my goal more than two and a half weeks early. I am a little nervous about making any loftier goals as speed becomes exponentially harder to gain on this trail due to its steepness and I have been rolling my ankles trying to run to fast. I will just press on without a goal in mind hoping to run the much steeper ups as I gain more fitness.

I did receive the EPIC Design bag in the mail but I have yet to fit it to the bike as I have a hard time looking at bikes during my hiatus. I will report on the bag soon though as I know my fan base is just dying to know.

I posted some of my older stuff on Ebay as you can see in my new gadgets to the right. If all goes well, the revenues from these sales will be put toward good use. Who knows what I have up my sleeves but its not going to be the same old Undead Drunken Monkey. . . If anyone is dying to own a brand spankin’ new 20” Karate Monkey frame, I have one, I am just not committed to selling that fine piece of steal on Ebay just yet. This is my spare, so don’t go worrying that I am selling all of my bikes. Hit me up if you are local or a good blogger friend, we could possibly work out a deal. This bike has not been out of the box and comes with a fork.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Endurance Training

Last Thursday - Friday I stayed up for 30 hours with many hours of dancing involved.

This week I have gotten 10 miles of trail running in on 100+ days of heat.

I did the overlook loop at Jones Gap in one hour forty-three minutes. It will be difficult but I plan to have this down to an hour and a half by the end of the month.

Last night I met Brad for our version of Dirty Thursday, the downhill at Paris will be sweet. I wasn't able to do much so I left Brad to his own demise and ran with the dogs for a short fast loop.

Late edit **I almost forgot, my Epic Bag is paid for and shipped. I received this email from Eric yesterday:

I tried a new way of doing the internal straps that you requested. I used side release buckles instead of just velcro straps. If they are too long you can just cut them down.Its hard making bags for 20" karate monkeys, I always want to keep them for myself!

I had asked him to make some modifications for my particular needs. Nothing beats custom.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Backpacking Jones Gap


**This is a not too exciting story that I am recounting for my own personal benefit more than for anyone’s entertainment. It was a struggle, a lesson in backpacking and now I have three full pages written**

For my second and third days of vacation, I had decided to do an aggressive two day hike through Jones Gap and Caesar Head State Parks. I packed my pack pretty heavy as I wanted this hike to be another one of those “training days” for the pain and suffering coming up in the Fall. I had even thought about lugging a full bottle of wine around with me for the haul but declined at the last minute for a flask of Bullets Bourbon.

My partner for the trip was Buddy as the temps would again be pushing 100+ with a humidity that was unsurpassable. It seems lately, that no matter what I do, I reek of my own stupidity. Here I was dehydrated from the day before but for some unholy reason I thought I could make it the 12 miles to Caesars’ Head with only four liters of water.

I wanted an early start but I hadn’t registered my overnight stay so I knew I needed to talk with the rangers before taking off. When I arrived ~9:45am on Tuesday morning I realized I had made another mistake. The Jones Gap office didn’t open up until 11:00 so I used my cell to call the Caesars’ office and was able to make a reservation over the phone. She told me that there was no camping on my route but that if I made a “slight” detour on “Natural Land Trust Trail” I would find my campsite D1. We were off.

My planned route for the day was to hike the entire 10 miles of Pinnacle Pass trail to Natural Land Trust where I would shore up for the evening and then go on the search for water.

With the first mile and a quarter of Pinnacle Pass behind me I was already at the stunning overlook and we took our time to take the view in. I was already dripping head to toe with sweat from the heat and humidity. My shorts were so soaked that as I sat there taking in the view, there were little streams of sweat water running off the rocks. Hiking in cotton shorts is bad and I knew that but being a moron, I did it anyway.

The next four miles on the Pinnacle Pass trail had some highlights as one rock outcropping reminded me of the slick rock 360 that is in Dupont at the top of Big Rock and Cedar Mountain. However, those first five and a quarter miles on the Pinnacle Pass trail were the hardest I have ever encountered. Besides a small flat section for a mile in the middle, the trail was either going straight up or down. With a 35 – 40 lb pack on it made for some tough going and I had drank all of my four liters of water in these first five miles. I thought I had iodine tablets in my first aid but I was wrong. Can you see a recurring theme here?

I knew that at the five mile mark I could hike a mile back down Oil Camp Creek Road and fetch/steal water from a house so I took that route. I took Buddy with me as an accomplice and found two vacation homes. The first had the water turned off and I wanted to cry, however at the second house there was a hose with cold water, OH THE BLISS. I drank one full bottle and then filled up with four more. That would make five liters drank with four more in the pack. I figured I was fine until I crossed paths with the Caesars’ visitor center.

A thunderstorm reared its ugly head and after leashing Buddy to make sure he wasn’t spooked by the storm we took off for the five miles of Pinnacle Pass that I had never been on with seven miles of hiking behind us. The walk to 276 was wonderful as the rain continued the entire way up, I was finally cooling off even though I knew my shorts were chaffing my inner thighs beyond belief with all the rain and no way to dry them. I had not brought a change of shorts.

Once I had made it to 276, it was 4:00pm and I sent a text to Kristin letting her know we were a mile from camp and we were safe. After I sent the text we made the push to Natural Land Trust. When I hit the intersection where Pinnacle Pass ends and Natural Land Trust begins, I realized I didn’t know which direction my campground was. My conversation had been to hasty earlier in the day. I didn’t have a map but it wouldn’t have done any good anyway as the campgrounds are not listed on the maps. To my great relief, I put the pack down and hiked up and down the trail until I realized I really had no clue. I found a ridge where my phone barely worked and I was able to get “down” directions from Adam at the ranger station.

This is where I deviated from my plan greatly, I had thought I was going to be within a couple miles of the Caesars head visitor’s center so I could re-supply with water before hiking down the 5 miles of Rim of the Gap in the morning. However, to find my campsite I had to hike all the way down into the valley on the opposite side of Jones Gap.

Once I had made it to camp, I was chaffed bad and wasted tired. I had planned for 10 miles and ended up logging 16 for the day. Buddy was a little tired after the effort and when I told him we were spending the night outside, this is what he had to say:

The evening went very well, I hung out in my underwear drying clothes and generally just hanging out. I hung a bear bag after our feast of dog food and Chef BoyRD meat filled ravioli’s even remembering to put my fork in the bear bag. The evening stayed balmy all throughout the night and since Buddy has frontline all over him, I picked ticks off of me all night as they would jump off of him onto me. Did I mention I only had two small tea candles and no flashlight?

Early morning came about and I was packed early but I had drank my 12th liter of water throughout the night which meant I only had one left to make it to some potable water source. **A quick note, Buddy was fine thoughout all of this water suffrage because the streams were a plenty and I would normally be willing to drink but I wasn’t about to catch a case of dysentery before heading to Vegas the next day. I did end up taking a few swigs from an upper mountain stream and I probably would have been fine with more but I wasn’t testing my luck**

So it was with these thoughts in my head that I decided to head further down Natural Land Trust, I wasn’t sure which way it took me but I figured it had to be better than the steep section that brought me to the campsite the night before.

As Buddy bounded happily down the trail, I had thoughts of cold water and soda. I came to the first intersection and immediately knew where I was. It was the intersection of Natural Land Trust and the Dismal Trail. From here I had another choice, hike up the Dismal trail which I know is extremely steep or head toward Raven’s cliff falls which is extremely steep. I figured that if I was going to suffer, I might as well have a waterfall to look at as I pass out. When I got to the cable crossing and the sign that informs hikers that they are .9 miles from the top of the falls, I knew exactly where I was again.

You see, a few years ago when my dad visited, we hiked this loop from the Raven’s Cliff parking area and as we headed up this section of trail, my Dad with no pack on his back said this to me half way up while standing on the steep trail “I think my little heart is going to pop out of my chest.”

What choice did I have? I started the slog as Buddy would bound up the slope and stop at an obstacle while he watched me suffer to keep up.

Eventually we made it to the bridge and I breakfasted with a handful of dry fruit while buddy laid there refusing to eat his own dog food. I knew the worst part of the trail was behind me so I drank most of the water I had and left and filled with creek water for emergencies. I still had three and a half miles to the parking lot and another two up 276 to get to the visitor’s center.

Let me say that this 5 miles was hard, mind numbingly hard with no water. I was chaffed so bad from the day before that I had to walk like a defunct Rap Star with my hand on my crotch to alleviate the rubbing my shorts were causing. Later I realized that if I rolled my shorts up over the chaffing it alleviated it altogether even though I looked like I was wearing a cargo diaper.

Once I made it to the visitor’s center, every part of me wanted to con someone into giving me a ride down but I was so focused on cold drink I walked in and bought a 20oz Pepsi (they didn’t have coke), 20 oz Gatorade, filled my four bottles with water then went back outside to slurp in total ecstasy. After twenty minutes of drinking and watching distraught tourists look at me like I was the swamp thing, I decided I could push on. I took the two connector trails that ultimately led me to Jones Gap Trail and stumbled onward with my cargo diaper in full effect. As I hiked next to the Middle Saluda, all I could dream about was the hotel pool I would be visiting on the morrow.

I had planned for 15 miles over two days using 8 liters of water. I ended up with 26 miles circumnavigating both parks and drinking 17 liters of water plus the Pepsi and Gatorade. During the trip I ate one sandwich, two handfuls of dried fruit and a can of ravioli.

I had wanted to tear myself down before the Vegas trip and boy did I do a good job.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I Just Want to Bang On Me Drum All Day Long ...


I don’t have much to say about NORAMM besides the fact that Dennis and I got in 25 miles at a blistering pace due to the fact that most of it was on the VA Creeper trail. We did include some single track that was very Pisgahesque with lots of blowdown from the Hurricane.

I have been on a hiatus due to the fact that I have been on Vacation. I hardly ever post while on vacation, in fact, just ask Brad because I totally ignored his SORBA requests while on vacation, it is just the way I operate, nothing personal.

The first half of my vacation was filled with a personal plot to kill myself through dehydration unbeknown to myself.

My first report is entitled “SOLO SLOG.”

I knew even though it would hinder my healing process, I wanted to get a big ‘gravel grinder’ ride in after Damascus. So last Monday I suited the Undead Karate Monkey back up with a mountain gear 34X22 and my big fatty tires.

Even on the drive up to Pisgah I wasn’t sure yet how I was going to tackle the day. I had no dogs with me as the temps were pushing 90+ even in the high elevations. I only had one destination in mind, the graveyard fields.

My ultimate route:

477 -> Clawhammer -> ???? -> Avery Creek -> Club Gap -> 477 -> 276 -> 475B -> 225A -> Seined Ridge (Hiking only) -> BRP -> 215 -> Old Indian Camp -> 475 -> 276 -> 477

I ended up parking in-between white pines north and south with a good route in mind. I was hoping to do something I had always thought about but had never ventured doing. I was suited up and on the bike by 11:00am.

The over-geared climb up Clawhammer combined with the prior weekend’s festivities had me thinking I might die on the initial steep pitches past Maxwell Cove. I knew once I worked the toxins out of my body I would be ok, or so I thought. I took the old road bed that parallels Black Mountain over to Avery Creek trail so that I would avoid the jarring on Black Mountain itself. I stopped multiple times to work my way through the thickets of blackberry bushes praying I didn’t get a flat with only one tube in my pack. This overgrown monster was quickly replaced with a hike-a-bike up Avery. It was much further than I remembered but last time I hit this connector was in the opposite direction.

I took a careful small descent down Club Gap as I was trying to avoid a shocking blow to the wrist. I was successful and this would be my only single track decent of the day as I was trying to avoid them altogether.
After climbing 475B and 225A, I hit a section of the forest that I had never been in before. The gravel road had been extended as the FS is logging up on Seinerd Ridge and much of the area is in disarray. I eventually found the hiking trail and made the obvious up headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail was super steep and my hiking/pushing speed was just nearing absolute zero when I finally saw the parkway. I was almost out of the water as I was only carrying 3 liters so that was priority.

I took a left heading up further. Once I made it to the graveyard fields I started spying people around their cars. I saw a young couple who were packing their car up for the day and they had a huge jug of water, I couldn’t resist. The young man said “How long you going for?” I said “A long time.” I had actually now been climbing for approximately 4 and ½ hours with only two descents that lasted less than two minutes a piece.

He told me to turn downhill after giving me four liters of water. I thanked him and pushed on toward 215. After climbing another ½ hour to 215, I was finally ready to head downhill. I had never been that high on 215 before and what a treat! The entire five hours of ascending was descended in 12 minutes. With the views at the top I had a very roller coaster endorphin high kicking and I had to remind myself to watch the road.

It was a slow slog back to the car and I was whipped which set me up perfectly for my next day of vacation. . .

Thursday, July 24, 2008

La Alp De OOOOEEEzzzzzzzzz

This is not my picture (the other one further down is) just in case PETA is anywhere around. This is a picture from a camera that I found lying in the middle of the road last night on my way to Barley’s to watch the Tour De France and drink some hoppy beverages.

Yup, that’s right found this camera lying in the middle of the road on the yellow lines. Last night was crazy fun and I am paying for it today. Victory was the sponsor and wow did we ever win. Kristin and I brought home four coozies, a t-shirt and another jersey!! She won the Hop Devil Jersey which is very fitting I might add.

Thanks so much to Josh at Barley’s for putting these nights on! They are super fun except for when I wake up in the morning.

My trail running is coming to form. In the past year I have taken to Jone’s Gap State Park if you haven’t noticed. There is one loop that I will call my favorite for now and it involves looping together three trails. I call it the "Overlook Loop."

Kristin and I found this loop and overlook by accident last year as the overlook is not indicated on the map anywhere. The trails involved are Jone’s gap trail followed by Rim of the Gap -> “6 and 20” connector trail -> Pinnacle Pass (overlook) and this loops you back to Rim of the Gap and Jones gap trail.

It is extremely rare that I will see anyone on this loop even on the weekends. When Kristin and I hiked this loop the first time it took us about 4 hours. Last Fall I took Shade and we power hiked the loop in 2 ½ hours.

This past Tuesday I was determined to try some new trail running shoes I bought and best my time on this loop. I took Buddy with me as Shade is having trouble with the heat these days. I had it in my mind that we were going to really smoke the loop but I know running the entire loop is impossible.

Rim of the Gap starts off steep and turns into super steep. Cable assisted hiking kind of steep. I was powering up the climb pretty good when I got to a section that is hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I knew it wouldn’t last long but my heart was pounding. Once this section was through and we made it to the connector trail I knew we could push the pace as the trail flattens out for a mile. I ran the flat sections with Buddy right behind me and power hiked the ups. I could hear Buddy looming behind me on the ups “heh heh heh heh.”

I had the cell phone with me so I could see what our split time to the overlook was and we made it up to the overlook in one hour ten minutes. I knew that was pretty fast so we chilled and drank our water as all the streams for the dogs to drink in on the way up have dried due to the severe drought the southeast is in. Buddy lopped up a full bottle of water in a matter of minutes as did I and we were on our way down.

Two sections of super steep down and then it is a pretty easy fast run as long as you watch your step. When I heard the water of the Saluda at the bottom I knew I was going swimming with Buddy. We plunged into the river and lay in the streams. We barely beat two hours and I was really happy with this time considering the heat index was over 100 Fahrenheit.

I consider this loop to be one of the best training methods I have for the Double Dare this Fall while I am off the mountain bike. I think that an hour and a half for the loop is feasible and under an hour would be BEASTLEY!! We will see how the progression goes.
Happy ORAMM or NORAMM, whichever you decide.

Monday, July 21, 2008


This will be the first annual NORAMM (Not Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell) ride. The first thing you may ask yourself is why all the hate? Well quite simply I am just protesting because I am slow and I will leave it at that. There are many reasons to love or hate this ride as I have completed it twice but I will let you decide for yourself whether you are to love or hate this race.

I started this ride last year as a protest against what is probably the biggest endurance race in the Southeast. I can’t really hate on it too much because this race introduced me into the sport that I now love with all my slow twitch muscle fibers.

This year’s NORAMM event will most likely be celebrated without me as we are headed to Damascus VA. My wrist is not yet fully functional and therefore I will celebrate with a greenway’s ride on the Cross Check that ZB has so delightfully loaned me. Please God don’t let me break a loaner bike! I must say that this bike has me intrigued. To be able to ride to Dupont from the house and then have enough versatility to ride the trails and back home has me extremely interested.

I made my first contacts with Eric and this will begin a new age of biking for me. I am starting to get extremely interested in bike touring as a way of life on the weekends. I envision myself riding from the house and through Dupont’s trail system to ultimately spit out on the North end so that I can continue on to Pisgah for a camp. This would set me up for another big day in Pisgah on Saturday followed by the trek back southward on Sunday. More thoughts on this as I wrap my mind around such possibilities and as always I must say I am very lucky to live where I do.

This weekend was a mild one as the wrist is healing but in no way even close to 100%. Friday was a good day as I powered the Undead Drunken Monkey up to Paris at close to max capacity. It felt good to ride hard up to the top and then cruise back down.

On Saturday, I was having mixed feelings on what I was going to do. I decided a short hike with the dogs was in store and what a great choice. I took a long look at the Jone’s Gap Trail map and realized there are only a couple small sections of trail that I have yet to hit in the park. The upper section of Pinnacle Pass has peaked my interests but it is 10 miles one way so it will take some coordination to hit that one. (Think bike locked to a tree for me to pull this one off)

I also noted a small trail that I had never hit before in the easternmost section of the park that has a falls at the end. I decided this would fit the bill for the day.

As I hiked up the trail I noticed a small dog rounding a corner and thought to myself “I have seen this dog before.” Low and behold it was the same hikers I saw last weekend on my hike in Jone’s Gap. I had been worried about these two ever since I left them on Pinnacle Pass the week before. I told them it was a delight to see them again and I asked how the rest of their day had gone last week. They explained that they were very tired and had missed the first connector trail but they found the second and made it out of the park fine.

This is now my favorite falls in the park. It has some amazing beauty and you can see Paris Mountain and downtown Greenville from the upper section. I also saw this beautiful home from the top, somebody as they say in the south “has the lord on their side.” By “lord” do they mean tons of money? What a crappy house!

Sunday I did not ride 35 miles on the road. However, I will say that Traveler’s Rest has some pretty neat roads even on a 100 degree day. If you find yourself traveling down 276 and see the “BBQ” sign just past River Falls Road, you must stop!!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Where Are All The Roadies?

Yesterday was going to be a mild day off the bike until I realized that Barley’s was having their Terrapin night for Le Tour. WEeeelll gooooolleeee, I guess a ride to downtown is in store.

It seems every time I go to get on my bike these days I am in a quandary. I can’t find this or that, where is my pump, do my tires really need air, where the hell is my CO2 head?

Yeah that’s right I took off from the house with no legit way to change a tube. We all need to tempt fate every now and then anyway right?

So after all of this hub-bub that was causing my quandaries, I packed my messenger errr uhhhh camel bak with some necessities such as, shirt, sandals, cargo shorts, bike lock, CO2 (I thought maybe I could peirce the bottle with my teeth . . .) and other sundry items.

I really need an Epic Design bag. I want to start testing one in the rigors of Pisgah when I get my wrist health back as I see this being the new way of carrying gear for masochistic races.

After all of this, I was on my way downtown via Paris Mountain so I could win the Terrapin Hincapie Jersey. It is only fitting that the person who rides to the party from the furthest destination wins the jersey right?

My legs were already sore from the weekend’s activities but the spinning felt good. When I started the ascent up Paris, I knew I was going to have to try my hardest to best the King of the Mountain at the top with the 34X15. It hurt but I didn’t walk.

From there it was an easy cruise into town where some high school chicks had a good laugh at the skinny white boy changing like superman in front of Barley’s with no phone booth. Where have all the phone booths gone?

Thanks to Andrew Meeker we actually have some bike racks in front of Barley’s now. If we could get them to move the cancer stick de-igniter station somewhere else other than right in-between bike rack that would be sweet.

A fine crew of worthy Tour De France watchers stayed around till the end of the late showing and I won the Terrapin Jersey!!! HELLS TO THE YEAAAHHHH. That’s right, I won a big turtle Jersey, fitting huh?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sometimes All It Takes is A Cracked Wrist

When I first moved into my Cabin out in Travelers Rest I was interested in finding a nice route from the house to Dupont. Well after one venture north of highway 11, I never went back and remained a state away from my goal.

As I cannot ride a mountain bike right now I have hooked the Undead Drunken Monkey up with some road slicks and a stout 34 X 15 (not so stout by roadie standards.)

This past Friday I ventured up into North Carolina on the newly converted all terrain Monkey to understand how long it would take me to navigate to Dupont from the house. It was the first time I had ever seen the Watershed and it was hot but quite nice. After that quick jaunt along with some coordination with David George I figured I could best this beast in less than three hours.

First off let me state this FACT before I re-count what was but not necessarily is. Road Riding is in no way comparable to mountain biking.

Now after my jaunt on Friday I knew I needed some adjustments to the Monkey. I put my round grips back on and wrapped them with bar tape for added comfort on my wrist. I also threw on some bar ends for enhanced climbing capabilities.

I was to meet David George at his house at 8:00 so we could make the trail workday at Airstrip by 9:30. So I was up and out the door by 6:00am Saturday morning. I had made it across Highway 11 and 25 before the sun cast its rays on me. The climb up the watershed never got as steep as I had expected and I was able to ride all the way to Bob’s Creek without walking. I made it to DG’s house on Bob’s Creek in a little less than two hours and we made the ride to Dupont pretty quickly. Mission accomplished.

The workday was great because I didn’t have to do much with the wrist being slightly de-commissioned. Thanks to everyone who came out Airstrip is going to be more fun than ever. We need lots of tires on the new tread so go ride it!!

Sunday was one of the best days I have had in the woods in a long time. I took the dogs out to a busy Jone’s Gap State Park. Busy meaning that there were more than twenty cars in the parking lot. However, I know Jone’s Gap pretty well and I knew that most people would be on one of two trails. That is the great thing about this park because most trails are WAY above most visitors heads as this park connects Caesar’s Head Park which is a couple thousand feet higher!

I had it in my head that we were going to walk the long route around Rim of The Gap almost to Caesar’s Head and back down Jone’s Gap Trail. This is a long ambitious hike that I have only attempted and completed once this past winter.

The beginning of the hike had me remembering the Tequila and beers from Saturday night but I pushed on with the dogs and me panting hard. It was beyond humid and I prayed the skies would open up and give us some relief.

We passed the first connector trail (bailout) and I had it in my head that we were really going the distance but I knew that the John Sloan connector was still looming up ahead if we needed to bail out. As we came up on and passed John Sloan I was ready to go the distance but 40 yards further Shade realized that we were still walking away from the car (yes he really knows the park that well) and laid down on the trail. I tried coaxing him but he was only going in one direction, down.

I realized that he was probably quite warm and the cool rain that was hitting us didn’t help him much so I reluctantly turned around to head down to the connector. Shade jumped right up at this proposition and was happy to lead us going down the connector.

I ran into the only other hikers all day when I hit Pinnacle Mountain trail. I was quite surprised to see anyone and I had already turned all of my social skills off and was focused on the woods when I was greeted:

Random Hiker: “Hey there, how’s it going?”
Me “Oh hey, oh you have a dog too.” (I was immediately holding Buddy back as he is over-ambitious with greeting new dogs)
RH: “How far is it to the connector trail?”
Me: “It is very close.”
RH: “You came in the other direction. Are you headed back to Jone’s Gap?”
Me “Umm yeah.”
RH: “So the quickest way back is to walk to the connector and then down?”
Me “Yeah, well I am going to get going”
RH: “So how long to the connector?”
Me as I walk away “Less than five minutes.”

Buddy was yanking on the leash trying to get at this fellow’s dog as he believe all dogs should be his chew toy and playmate so I didn’t take the time that I probably should have to answer this fellow’s questions.

As I hiked further down I came upon his wife and she looked pissed and later as I hiked I wondered if they might have needed water or food or more consultation on where to go. I always assume that people know what they are getting themselves into and as I walked even further away from them I realized they were coming up on the only un-signed turn that I know of in the park. There are still blazes and an obvious trail intersection but not an informative map like most intersections in Jone’s Gap. If they missed this turn, they would find themselves on Pinnacle Mountain that ends waaaaay up 276 and looks extremely steep according to the topo lines. I have yet to hike Pinnacle Mountain to its completion in Caesar’s head. I hope these two made it out of the park ok.

It was a pleasant hike to the overlook on Pinnacle Mountain as the rain and clouds stayed around with no thunder or lightening to speak of. I tethered the boys up at the precarious overlook and we all ate, drank, rested and napped. It was so enjoyable I could have stayed all day long. I had my compass so I busied myself with studying the terrain and guessing where the major features of the park were such as Hospital Rock, Rainbow Falls and where the trails meandered amongst the trees. All the while, clouds would blow over bringing light rain and then they would shoot across the valley headed into North Carolina. This combined with the bird’s of prey that were hovering over us and in the valley made for a majestic view.

I will update this post with some pictures from the overlook soon.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It’s Always Something Stupid

It all started on Saturday night when I was trying to clean my pistons on the front brake. I had completed the process for the back brake which involves removing the pads, squenching the levers until the piston pops out of the caliper enough to remove dirt and grime from the piston itself.

I was sqeezing the front lever when the piston completely popped out of the front caliper spilling all of my priceless mineral oil on my shed’s floor. I had some spare oil around but only enough to bleed the brake, not enough to fill the hose.

Sunday I took the bike over to Sunrift for a quick fix while I awaited more oil to arrive. Monday my bike is fixed and I head over to pick it up. Tad tells me that I need to test ride the bike as the front brake pad’s might be contaminated. He tells me this while we are standing in their shed. So I hop on the bike and start riding it out of the shed when I realized there were steps leading out of the shed. No problem I thought, I am wearing dress shoes on time pedals and no helmet. My front wheel rolls down the stairs fine but when it hits the gravel in the parking lot the wheel just sticks and over the bars I fly.

My face was heading toward the gravel at a frightening pace so I threw my arms out to arrest my fall.

I head home realizing that I am not going to be able to ride as my wrist is tweaked so I go for a run. After hearing some clicks come out of the hurt wrist I scheduled an appointment with my orthopedic.

Now after my appointment yesterday I realize I will be running for four weeks at least. I have a small crack in one of the outside bones in my wrist. No cast or setting is required but I have a small brace on. It is minor for the most part but don’t look for any mountain bike reports any time soon.

I am hoping that the NORAMM will still go on in Damascus. . .


Thursday, July 03, 2008

The OuchO Continues

Well some trail advocacy was had last night as a few of us showed up to help flag the new re-route on the bottom of Airstrip.

Another trail that I will have some ownership on sweet, Clay and I took a route that included Big Rock last night. This is where we can see the fruit of our labor from last year as this trail is sweeeeeet right now. I stopped on the descent so I could capture Clay’s image and just barely had the camera out in time. It is an art form ya know.

Apparently I just don’t want to let go of this weekend. Dennis gave me a CD of pictures from this weekend and a few of the Bunny Hop images are stellar so I included them here for your pleasure. Can you tell these guys were getting high?

I also don’t want to let go of my injuries from this weekend as I had a stupid crash last night. I was by myself headed down Reasonover when I decided I would kick the bike up and jump. When I pulled the front end up I pulled waaaay to hard and pulled the bike right out from underneath me. After a quick, dismount, oh shit I better fireman roll before I hit that tree move I wallowed in my own pain on the ground and realized nothing was broken so I pedaled to the car. I hit the hurt finger again and now it throbs every four seconds instead of every eight. Lets me know I am a alive and trust me with days like these lately, I am.

Happy Independence Day!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Enduro De Oucho (Part Two)

All that typing, picture loading and what not and I didn’t even get past day 1 of the Enduro.

After all the excitement at Industry Nine was over, we had our first chance to clean up and head out to Asheville Pizza and Brewery. I was itching to strap my beer cap on as I hadn’t gotten into things yet being the DD.

We made it downtown to our great location hippie infested crack house of a hotel and took some showers. Since I was sober, I dove into the shower first and got out so I could continue my celebration of not touching an ignition for the rest of the day and night.

Zach and I were shooting the shit after his shower in the hotel room while Dennis was in the shower. Remember from yesterday’s report that Dennis had already had a spectacular bunny hop induced crash and now he was slowly working his way toward birthday annihilation.

Anyway we were going over the day’s activities when we heard from the shower floor “dun dun dun dun dun, boom boom boom boom boom” the banging progressively sounded more ferocious and ended with a not so comical crash followed by some sundry items hitting the shower floor.

Zach and I immediately looked at each other with surprise, fear, dread, hilarity when it hit us that he could have killed himself in the shower. There had been zero noises in the shower for what seemed like hours but was more likely seconds when Zach walked over to the door, cracked it slightly and said “Dennis, I ain’t trying to be gay or nothing but are you alright?” After a few moments Dennis laughs and says “yeah” I couldn’t stop laughing about this one.

Next event (Various debauchery including La Zoom Bus):

Once we got Dennis up on his feet and out of the shower, we took off by bike down the road looking for AP&B. Dennis claimed he knew the way and as we pedaled I asked various folks for directions. Dennis flatted after pounding his wheels against multiple curbs and said “I can walk from here.” I think some guardian angel flatted those tires for him.

We made it to AP&B, I locked my bike on the bike rack and found Chris and his SO in the bar so I was relieved to know we were at the correct place even though no one else was there in the bar. We ended up ordering a couple pizzas and beers when I decided I better find the rest of the crew. I walked outside looked around and couldn’t see Biowheels. I knew that the restaurant was supposed to be close so I walked back in and quizzed Chris about this. That’s when he got this confused look on his face and said “oops we could be at the wrong AP&B.” A quick phone call made us realize our mistake, I had not known there were two of these restaurants. We were literally ½ block away from the correct restaurant while we were at the hotel but now we were about 4 miles away.

Luckily Chris was able to load Dennis (with a flat still) and Zach up in his car while I raced over to the other AP&B. I was covering all kinds of extra miles in the Enduro!!


We made it with plenty of time to spare and after I swallowed four pieces of pizza in whole form we were on the bus headed only god knows where.


There was some sort of bike derby that I totally missed out on. I think it was the only event I missed all weekend. We had stopped at a local park and unbeknown to me, we were very close to Mr. and Mrs. Pisgah Pro’s house because I eventually found them, mouths gaped wide open looking at us as though the local State Pen had just let loose a bunch of serial killers. That brought me back to reality for ¼ of a nanosecond.

My team in dodge-ball was ready. We chanted the five “D’s” of dodgeball over and over but apparently there is a difference between knowing what you are doing and actually executing.

All I can recall about our game (this was ~midnight) was that in the first 1/8 of a second I tried to catch a hurled ball and instead judo ring fingered that ball and I was out. I didn’t feel it at the time but apparently trying to catch balls in the midnight blackness is no good as my finger was purple the next morning.

The night went on, I partied so hard my flip flop popped and I walked home barefoot sometime around 2:00 am from Jack of the Wood.

Bent Creek Cross Country Race:

Miraculously we all survived the night and we didn’t wake up owing bond. I remember Zach saying “We have to go.” I wanted to kill him for saying that.

After a quick stop for breakfast we drove to the park, where the gates were closed and no one was around. We knew we were in the right spot so I called JUT and Beth only to hear their voicemails when a small (small meaning a child) gatekeeper came and unlocked the gates for us.

Next thing I knew I was suffering behind Beth on some connector trails to Bent Creek. We stopped for a re-group on the gravel beast that takes you to Green’s Lick. There were some words of encouragement offered and we were off on a race to the top and down where bonus points would be awarded for clearing the big hip jump at the bottom of Green’s Lick.

It was everything I had to push the 34X22 to the top of the climb without getting off the bike. Shear will and determination got me there and I was slow going down. After getting banged around for awhile I stopped and let some air out of my front tire so I could at least nab the bonus points for the jump. I cleaned the jump and then the best part of the day began, sessioning the jump.

Wow did we see a couple big jumps and one gnarly fall. The kind of fall that makes you re-think your place in life but luckily no one was hurt. I had one squirrelly landing but otherwise jumped pretty well considering my ring finger on my right hand was purple and throbbing.

Pump Track:

The last pump track we went to was damn impressive. This weekend was the first time I had ridden a pump track and I learned a lot. Mostly I learned how to take my seat out of the seat post and fall really hard in steeply banked corners. However, after some coaching from the local pump track masters, I did finally pump up the hill without pedaling.

We had some awesome riders in the group and they were flying around this track. I am sure that this is one of the hardest workouts I have ever had on a bike. It doesn’t help when you eat it in a berm twice. If you haven’t seen it, I was caught on video stirring up the dirt in a comical way(the video is all the way at the bottom). I always encourage laughter following my own pain.

Chopper Race and Awards:

Jut has possession of an awesome chopper bike that his Father built. Justin set up a quick obstacle course and we all took one run around. It was an awkward bike to say the least and the most amazing moment of the weekend was coming up.

When Matt finished his run on the chopper he took a big handful of front brake, flung the back wheel off the ground and executed a front flip off of the bike. He landed with a huge thud and cheers all around. It was truly a site that will never be duplicated in any universe, ever.

I didn’t expect any schwag from the race but man I took home enough wool socks to help keep a soup kitchen’s feet warm. Thanks so much to Justin and Beth who pulled an awesome weekend out of their hinnies and everyone else who participated, drank, volunteered time and all that jazz. It rocked and I better get an invitation back 8-).

Dennis has some good Bunny Hop photos but I won’t be able to load them until this weekend. I will post them up when I can.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Enduro De Oucho (Part One)

It is extremely rare, perhaps absolutely unique that I have this many pains from a weekend of bikes, beer, diesel busses, dodge-ball, pump tracks, jumps and oh so much more.

To try and describe what went down in the 828 this past weekend is a functional waste of what was reality, even if it didn’t seem like it at the time or never will. I will do my best to relay the events as a reporting participant. You will have to excuse the fact that my camera died during the trials event on Saturday and so those will be the last pictures I can offer. I took more of the Bunny Hop comp but they are on Dennis’ camera. I will get those up when I can.

This is an event by event breakdown of what I observed as a participant in the Enduro De Ocho:

Uphill Mass Start: 5000 -> Spencer Gap -> Trace

Zach, Dennis and I all rolled up to the Trace parking lot early enough that we could warm up on Bear Branch. Then it was on to discover what would be happening for the first event in the Enduro. During a discussion of where we were going, I tried to help people out by instructing them on where the turn off of Wash Creek Road was.

We went out for a rolling neutral start with Jut’s compatriot Beth leading the group. We made the small loop for the start when Beth pulled up with a flat. We all got a good laugh and pressed on. Once we were back out on Wash Creek the race began and I was soon in the back of the pack pulling up the rear with the flatlanders from Ohio. I provided further instructions to their crew, explaining that the left turn was in a sharp right hand corner.

Going up the hill I was completely anaerobic sitting down with my 34X22 assaulting my legs. I quickly realized that I had actually missed the turn, it seemed as though I had been climbing awhile and even though I have ridden this trail hundreds of times before, I missed it. I could see the Blue Ridge Parkway and I knew that was real bad. I knew there were people up ahead of me that had missed the turn as well and soon enough they were coming back down toward me. I made it about 200 yards from the parkway and turned around with someone pulling up the rear following me back down the gravel so we could get back on course. Halfway down I hear “We are going all the way to the pavement!!!” it struck a little panic in me but I knew I was going in the right direction now and soon we were onto Spencer Gap climbing. I was lucky number 13 or 14 out of 17 on the uphill. However, I had a beer in my pack that I gave to Jut when I got to the top, this helped my overall standing in an ever occurring theme called “Bonus Points” over the weekend.

Trace Ridge Time Trial:

I knew this was one of the few events that I would excel at so I was hoping to pin it and come down Trace at a quick pace. The trail was tacky and moist unlike the dusty days we have been used to lately.

The trail was smoking fast and I held my speed right on the verge of control until I had the thought “I would break every bone in my body if I fell at this speed” and proceeded to get on the brakes just a little. It just so happened that my inner trail mind was speaking to me because I was coming up on the only hair pin left turn on Trace. I had scrubbed just enough speed off that I just held on and flew around the corner without touching the brakes. That’s when I thought that I had never and would never ride Trace this fast again in my life.

I got to the bottom of Trace and knew I had some work left on the flat stuff. I crossed the parking lot onto lower trace and spun like a madman. Quickly I came up on the left hand turn and tried to spin fast again but felt sluggish. 6th/17 place on the downhill. Not bad for one gear.

Industry Nine Trials and Jumps

Skinny ride comp:

Justin had arranged a 100 foot skinny ride with a small gap jump in the middle for good measure.

I am no good at Trials but I gave it a go anyway. I think my accomplishment was about 15 feet nowhere near the gap jump. No one made it all the way with their five attempts but some valiant attempts were made.

Bunny Hop Comp:

For me, this was one of the most exciting events to watch. It was a simple arrangement of a small metal pole placed on cinder blocks with wooden planks to raise the height each round.

I am not much of a bunny hopper. I can get over obstacles in the woods by placing my front tire on the tree and then moving my body so that the back tire hops up on the tree. This is no good for getting both wheels high off the ground.

The first round was no more than 7 inches off the ground and everyone made the jump. The second round wasn’t much higher and I was able to make it even with my defunct technique.

Dennis also had a “unique approach” to this competition. He had been celebrating his birthday all day and decided he would use the blitzkrieg technique on the bunny hop. He came into his final attempt at a blistering pace, pre-loaded his suspension, hopped and then proceeded to nick the bar as he went over. This turned him slightly and when his tires met the pavement it over-exaggerated an already bad move, his tires turned inward further putting him parallel to the ground. He turned into the fall and this sent him scraping shirtless across the asphalt after a pretty large impact. He was ok and everyone had a good time watching that fall. THANKS DENNIS!!

The competition soared after this and the bar was getting pretty high for mountain bikes. After the bar was up around two feet, there were only two riders left Adam riding a rigid Karate Monkey and Matt who was on a big full suspension rig. Proving that it is the rider rather than the bike, these two went on to virtually tie as the last bar rise had them both stumped. Attempt after attempt these two were literally a ¼ of a tire knob away from clearing the bar but to no avail. I was impressed to say the least. Good work gentlemen.

Trials Comp:

A small trials course that consisted of two raised four by fours followed by a turning exit onto three stumps, down the stumps, up and over some wooden crates followed by a small ledge ride. Again I was out in a couple feet; two went on to complete the course but nothing too notable here. Good riding.

Pump Track Time Trail:

The pump track at I/9 was tough! We were allowed to pedal and we were told to do four laps. I felt good on this one but I am not sure how I did overall. There were some pretty good crashes in the berm that made for an exciting event overall.


Nothing notable here besides the fact that I can’t jump and others can.

This would end the day at Industry Nine. Thanks to Jeff for letting us whoop it up at the factory.

The night time activities followed by Sunday’s illustrious events will have to wait for tomorrow. Maybe I can procure some more pictures by then as well.