Monday, March 31, 2008

Stone Cold Sober; Never Again

Of all the holy cows in the universe, a couple of us must have really pissed off the holiest of them all.

This weekend had it all, I will try and reiterate what I can but words will hardly do justice.

I took Friday off so that I could enjoy the weekend in earnest. So Shade and I took off on our mission to make it to the campground before dark on Thursday evening. We were successful and I was surprised to see so many people already looming and awaiting some big rides.

Friday morning I was up pretty early and we had a big group interested in going to do a common Fish Hatchery loop. I had intended on leading Bruce and Cleveland Robert on a ride over at Dupont but it just wasn’t in the cards for me since I had Shade.

So after getting some sixteen riders and one dog (Shade) together we took off headed up the gravel to the middle of Long Branch. A couple of the out-of-towners sighed when they saw what we were riding up next but they all took it in stride. At the top of Long Branch, we decided that it would be best to head straight up Kissee Creek Road for Farlow. I could here the beast crying out to be ridden hard.

However, as we crested the hill toward Gloucester Gap, I realized that we might not be able to make it to the top of Farlow as the road going up was closed. Prescribed burns were the theme of the day and henceforth we headed to the top of Butter. Foreshadowing to Saturday, maybe the Holy Cow was actually looking out for me on this day, causing me to forgo what could have been catastrophic bicycle failure on Pisgah’s most deadly trail. Mooooooooooooooooooooo.

Once we were at the top of Butter, we re-grouped and suited up our helmet camera and goggles. Someone started talking about downhill pecking order so I quickly chimed in that Dennis should head things up followed by me, after that I didn’t care. A couple of the guys that were concerned with the order dropped in behind me. I took the upper section as fast and hard as I could, I watched Dennis pull away pretty quick after that so I pulled up and let three guys go around as I knew I had no chance. From there, it was just a great cruise all they way down to the Long Branch intersection. I stopped to wait for Shade. I heard something about broken shifty bits on one bike. Crap, Shade likes to have sympathy pains so I rode back up Butter until I found Shade and Mr. Broken-shifty-bits walking along the trail. I made sure all was well besides having to walk and called for Shade to make haste.

Back at the bottom, I realized I didn’t have my leash for Shade so we had to make our way around the chaos at the Hatchery and head back to camp via Davidson River Trail. Shade was pooped big time as this was his first Pisgah ride since being on the Disabled List.

We all took time out for lunch and then re-grouped for the following:

Cove Creek -> 225 -> 475B -> 276 -> 477 -> Club Gap -> Buckwheat -> Bennett -> Coontree -> 276 -> 475 -> Davidson River

This time the group was smaller but we still had a good group including Erol who would be filming once again. The climbs weren’t bad but Club Gap hurt a little. I got some “we went the wrong way’s” after that climb. Everyone kept waiting for when I would tell Erol to dawn his HID camera, then they would know that we were headed down.

Dennis and I got to be on camera some coming down Bennett and Buckwheat. I crashed once by hesitating slightly trying to cross a log but it was a soft landing. I once again didn’t have the cojones to try the Q-bert step and tried the move on the devil’s staircase twice but realized I should probably quit while I was ahead.

I came bombing down the last few steps before the Coontree turn off when I took a small ledge at the bottom to hear SSSSSSSSSSsssssssssssssssSSSSsssssssssssssssssssss. Damn, there goes the tubeless. After wrestling with my tire for about 30 days and 29 nights, Erol finally helped me give her the last push over the rim. Whew I was spent.

We made it back to camp safely and proceeded to “get our party on.”

Saturday dawn I awoke to an ever increasing urge to relieve myself. I let myself and the dogs out of the tent. While the dogs ran around waking everyone up in the campground I fell back to sleep.

I should have stayed in bed because the poltergeist was out in earnest on Saturday. Dicky brought the rain so we all convened in Cook’s Taj-ma-beefcake until it let up. While we were all outside playing Frisbee with Buddy, Shade and Juda we heard a rumor that someone had stuck their car in the creek. Jody was not having a good day.

I guess it was lunchtime when we finally had our shit together enough for a ride. There was something like sixteen of us again, so I thought. Luis, Dicky, Dennis and I all waited above the staircase on Cove wondering why we didn’t have any friends. After Dicky double checked and reassured us that we really don’t have any friends, we took off headed to 276. I kept wondering what the hell was going on with my bike as it sounded like my headset was creaking badly.

As we headed out onto the Pink Beds I was in total disarray with what this sound must be coming from my bike. I stopped and adjusted everything. Nothing seemed a miss and I just hoped the bike wouldn’t fall apart because it sure sounded like it would. Oh just ignore it and all will be good I thought. It will get me through this ride and then I will have to get a new head set.

As we got to the good singletrack section of Pink Beds I started to feel some play in the bike. I got off and tugged and tugged on the cranks thinking that the creak might now be coming from the bottom bracket. I could see that the frame was flexing slightly so I inspected the chain stays. All seemed to be good so I hopped back on and two pedal revolutions later I heard the infamous crack of steel and ripping of paint. Come on everybody let’s sing-a-long, “Another one bites the dust, and another one down, another one down, another one bites the dust.”

The down tube sheered in half, slightly further from the steer tube than last time but the same flaw none the less. My thoughts immediately ran to bombing the trails I had yesterday, this could have easily happened on Butter, Buckwheat, Bennett or Coontree. Those thoughts give me the willies.

I ran to find my rag tag of three up ahead. I finally caught up and explained my predicament. I knew what fate was in store for me so I told them all to go on with their rides.

I had a very peaceful walk out to 276, I doodled around in the Pink Bed’s parking area for a minute and then decided to head down 276. I figured it was Saturday and some nice mountain bike folk would see me in distress (walking my bike by pavement in Pisgah is distressed in my book) and have pity on me. If not, it was going to be a long walk back to Cove Creek.

A bunch of cars passed and no luck, then one car slowed down but they were just making sure that I wasn’t bleeding. Just past 475B, another group pulled up and they had room. SWEET!! Dave from Raleigh drove me back to the entrance of Cove, it was his first time to Pisgah so we talked Pisgah a bit and I thanked him profusely for taking me to the beer faster.

Buddha came to me in my dreams and let me know that all bikes break and that my bikes break faster. Buddha emphasized that I work on my finesse. I didn’t argue, arguing with Buddha is bad.

Sunday morning I am up at 7:30 calculating how I can possibly get all my wet stuff together and out of Cove Creek in time to make Crew Leader training at 10:00 am with Mr. Blitch. Miraculously, I was able to make it by 10:15 after I literally shoved all of my camping stuff into the car juxtaposed style.

Next was the picking up, moving and then placing of a bunch of rock. I do now understand Appalachian armoring even better. My Tetris skills are growing rapidly with the help of a trained eye. Hopefully I am learnt enough to lead a trail crew to success on Green’s Lick in June. We worked hard and efficiently yesterday, I have now spent as many work days in Bent Creek as I have ride days.

What has this weekend taught me? Well the Drunken Monkey lasted about 15 months before she met her end. This time the Stone Cold Sober Monkey lasted about 3 months. This makes me realize that Stone Cold Sober is no way to go through life. It could possibly even shorten your life span but that is still up for debate.

Anyone care to hedge bets on how long Undead Drunken Monkey will last? Maybe I should coddle her until the Cohutta. Can a frame fit in one of those zip lock bags they give us for the sag stops?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Meet My New Friend; Kanuga

There must have been some Belgians running around in my house yesterday afternoon because I was seriously waffling on my ride. I forced myself to think about the sweet dirt I would encounter if I could only force myself out of the door.

After much deliberation between my hundreds of personalities, I was able to force myself on the bike. I took my newly normalized route to the top of Paris and dropped in on the dirt. As soon as I was in the park I saw Brownie’s crew and chatted with them for a minute.

I recently slapped a new Conti Mountain King 2.4 on the front and I was interested to see how it would hook up in the dirt. I don’t know what my problem is but this tire just looks skinny. CAN SOMONE MAKE A FATTY 29 INCH TIRE THAT ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE RIDDEN IN THE SNOW? I mean hello, I am riding rigid here and I could give a rat’s ass about rolling resistance. Rant over.

So after we chatted it up I thought I would go see if my fruits of labor on Kanuga (am I spelling this right?) were ready to be received. HOLY COW! I had to stop and take in the view a couple times, the second time I saw a fellow climbing so I waited for him to huff by and took off. This trail is sweet. Not technical, not steep but it travels over some really steep terrain. To know what that section of the mountain looked like before and see a trail running through it is awesome. Kudos to Deno and his trail crew along with all the General Electric and SORBA volunteers that helped make this possible.

I will say that even though the Conti lacked in visual size it hooked up fantastically in the dirt. I am a little worried that it might be a mud slinger though, only one way to find out.

I am so glad the Belgians didn’t hold me back. This should be a big week for me if everything pans out I will ride every day of the week until Sunday. YEAH BABY YEAH.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Burnt Afro

Saturday night was a sad and momentous occasion all in one. I was gathering wood and sticks for a BBQ Travelers Rest style when it happened. The wind was blowing pretty hard and I had already lit the initial load of sticks that would fuel the coals for a more substantial set of sticks. I leaned in way too close to the barrel while offloading some wood when I distinctly heard SSSSSSsssssssssssss and that my friends, is the day the Fro died. See you next winter old friend.

Friday night found Kristin and I out with Krista and Danny. A note to one’s self, do NOT go out with Danny before a big ride. Pre-cocktails and two bottles of premium saki had us fueled for some Karaoke Travelers Rest style. The BARN was on this night’s agenda and we were excited. How can you go wrong with a place that still allows copious amounts of smoking and is rigged to bring a huge redneck fan base their music in the form of amateurs every night of the week? You can’t, it is as simple as that.

As it would happen, I didn’t really notice which song Mr. Mayberry had picked until after the fact since I was wallowing in my own self pity from not seeing the songs I wanted to vocalize to the world. I have NEVER seen a better Karaoke performed as I did this night. As Big Balls by AC/DC was performed, I laughed and cried. The crying was in the form of “oh this tequila shot is going to hurt tomorrow. . .” Ahhhhhhhh good times.

WaaaaaBooooom goes two dogs in the morning when they are left too long in the doggie sleep room and ready to play some doggie wrestling. This was promptly at 8:00 am and per my instructions, I was meeting a group at 9:00 at smoker’s cove. CRAP, I got out of bed and almost immediately hit the ground from the four liquor two sake night. I called BrouSSard and informed him that I might still be caught for DUI eight hours after my last drink. I would be ½ hour late I said, see you then, then.

Kristin was up actually helping me mismatch socks and create my Extreme Tomato suit for the day. Maybe she had mal intent but I wasn’t worried as it sped my process to the trails that we call Pisgah.

Arriving at exactly 9:30, I was greeted by Zach, Valerie, Clay, Palmetto Solo and David George. They were kind enough to just “chat it up” until I got there. As soon as I arrived I exclaimed that “We’ve got, the BIGGEST BALLS OF THEM ALL” and I think it was understood why I was late. Sorry people.

A route was discussed; nothing was for certain so we headed out for the “classic warm-up” of Grassy Roads -> Sycamore Cove -> North Slope.

Toby was out front on his newly re-painted rig and I tagged along behind noticing he wasn’t as Porter-ish as normal. He could normally school me while blind folded. I yelled at him to pedal as he clearly wasn’t warmed up from the bobbling back and forth through the Rhodo tunnels. After my musing, he knocked the cobwebs out of his head and started pulling a small gap on me. We cleaned the entire trail and congratulated each other as we waited for the rest of our train.

As we rolled our way to North Slope Zach said “You have to check this out, we will catch up.” It was a bumper sticker that read “Keep South Carolina Safe. Promote Prescribed Burns.” All this with a palmetto tree engulfed in flames on both sides.

Zach and I noticed that there were zero signs of our group out in front of us and I figured they had gone in by the amphitheater and would soon catch up or we would run into them loop style.

Re-associated at the top, I rallied for a leader. David George said he was up for the task and said “I don’t mind holding everyone up.” Next in line was myself followed by Zach. DG, was killing it. I had to spin like a mad man to keep up and was doing fine until one of the rocky corners had me off my line slightly. I had to bail hard to the left and prayed I didn’t mess Zach up as I looked behind and saw him exit bike OTB fashion. For some reason, (maybe because I am a jerk) I didn’t ask if he was ok and just made chase after DG. He was only caught because we politely re-grouped and passed a group of hikers en masse. DG, almost created a show for the hikers as he was trying some sort of Zorro re-mount and just barely saved himself from plunging down the steeps. It looked like he had crushed his child bearing abilities but he said he was fine and took off.

Next up was PMBAR style riding by heading up the beast that is Black Mountain. Most people choose to descend this seductress but we aren’t most people. At the Thrift Cove junction a mutiny started up, I knew if I didn’t intervene, we would all be back at the cars and drunk before noon. We still lost two, in the form of DG and Valerie. Zach thanked DG for the half of sandwich he let Zach and I eat as me (the jerk) plodded forward, not yet feeling the full onslaught of the prior night’s festivities.

****It must be noted that I have been relying heavily upon my friends lately in the form of but not limited to CO2, pumps, food, re-assurance and most importantly ego. Thanks for this. . . If you don’t drink beer, I am still looking for a way to repay you. ****

At Presley gap the decision was made to descend Maxwell and start up Clawhammer. Zach and I railed it down Maxwell whilst spotting some race Nazi’s. We came to the consensus that if going down a gravel road can be that fun, we must really love mountain biking.

Zach used his power to impeach the ride leader and enforce the Buckhorn law. Surprisingly, I had never actually been down Buckhorn before and what a treat. There was a waterfall rock garden ditch that I flubbed up on the first attempt but nailed the second time. The only other feature I remember is the coolest descent/ascent transition I have ever seen in Pisgah. A quick little downhill that flowed right into a steep uphill grunt followed by a sea of roots from one tree; it is un-imaginable, just go ride it.

After this we descended Avery under Clay’s decision but somehow got turned around in a part of the forest that I should know well but always get turned around in. Somehow, we ended up hiking up a trail that spit us back out on Clawhammer just above the Maxwell junction. Strange, luckily it was too steep to bike because it was a “no bicycle” trail.

At this point, many ideas were presented but only one made sense. Back up Clawhammer to ascend and descend Black Mountian proper. It would only make sense to touch on this trail twice while out for PMBAR style riding.

Ascending Black was my downfall. The hangover came rushing in like a freight train with no breaks. Any time I got my heart rate up even close to threshold (many times I was able to achieve this while pushing the bike) I would have to stop and lay down to stop the spinning. Needless to say, I was odd man out at this point just struggling to stay alive.

The views at the top coupled with the mighty wind that would soon blow in another cold front were magical. You can’t tire of this view, ever. We discussed this ridge and that trail, oh look there is that gap and this rock. Hey is that Tennessee?

The descent down was slow but fun, I just did my best to keep my muscles intact so I could lift twelve ounces of freedom back down at the cars.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Oh Crap

I had procrastinated on entering the Cohutta 100. When I finally decided to bite the bullet it had already sold out. I knew that someone would eventually give a spot away and I would have to suck it up. Somehow I knew this would happen because I watch MTBR like a hawk. Eleven minutes after Harvey posted up that he had to give away his spot, I snagged the ticket in the form of an email.

For you that have followed my ramblings, you know that I have never completed a century on a bike. I don’t own a road bike and have only ridden one twice so I am not going to nab it that way. I tried two years ago at the SM-100 but failed at the 75 mile mark. If you would like to ride along for that one, here you go. The crazy part is that as I read over my own experience, I can still feel all the emotions from that day. I was younger, much less experienced and I rode a bike that I had never ridden before. I had a habit back then of breaking my bike right before a big event. Now I just break them whenever they feel like it.

I am also reminded of my biggest demon while riding, continuous calories. I must eat regularly to keep the pistons firing all day. Luckily the April time frame actually helps out with that as I have a much easier time eating when it is cool.

I like so many others out there, have a full time job so how do you train? There is no such thing as training. I will just ride as much as I can between now and then and hope that the other events I have done this year will have prepared me.

Wait a second, what I meant to say was LOOK OUT LANDIS, a Tomato is coming for you and I am telling you to catsup. Gosh, I amuse myself.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

More Than Meets the Eye

Our Wednesday night ride last night was a no go as it rained and rained here in the south. However, I will take this chance to relay some thoughts I have been having lately. Wednesday nights are my night of the week to let out all the stress of life while on my bike. A while back when I first moved to Greenville, I would visit Dupont regularly by myself for night rides. Dupont can be a pretty creepy place at night by your lonesome so I started posting my rides on MTBR and with my friends in hopes of bringing out like minded folks.

Now I have been “leading” the Wednesday night ride for quite some time and I am proud of the group we have become. Not only do we have a great time but now most of us involved in the group really help to give back to the forest through volunteer efforts and supporting groups such as SORBA. We have a wide range of riders in our group on most nights and it is great to get out and see who does what best. Some are fast, some are technical, some are neither or both but it really doesn’t matter does it?

I like how our group operates, no one worries about routes, heart-rates, logging miles, doing sprints or any of that jazz. Except for when Zach whizzed by me the other night, was that a wind sprint or was their a beer up there somewhere? We just ride and if someone starts front wheeling another on a climb, those two go fight it out just like we did when we were kids. The fastest to the top gets nothing but a longer break at the top.

I have always been a person who learned more from doing than analyzing. If you want to become better at what you do, surround yourself with people who are better than you. I can tell you that from my perspective, I see myself and the group growing and improving. I am proud to say the second place in The Most Horrible Thing Ever is a Wednesday night rider. I am proud to say that somebody in our group had a great showing at Heritage Park this past weekend. I am proud to say that my meager skills on a bike are improving due to the quality of riders that come out.

I am not really here to make a point or to get a pep rally going, I just wanted to put to words what it is that I love about mountain biking. There is nothing more positive then negotiating a line, climb, corner, rock, fell tree, berm, descent, ascent better than you ever have; especially when it is in front of your peers who might have seen you struggle with that obstacle (but he said we wouldn’t climb Johanna due to our Ob-Stackles) before.

I made a toast to SURLY earlier this week for helping me get the Drunken Monkey back into my stable of bikes. Now I lift my glass high to all of those who have helped the Wednesday night rides be what they are, a FREAKING BLAST!!

I would also like to thank those who work hard at Dupont! Here is the supervisor’s report for 2008; it details the work done by those who help keep the forest in tip top shape. Thanks everybody.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Brissy Did You Miss Me?

After reading Thad’s blog yesterday, I was in a conundrum. How could I possibly justify not wearing wool socks?

On my way home from work yesterday, I picked up Kristin’s birthday present which was the same bike she already owns with new shifty bits and a new seat post clamp. She may not have fat tires yet but at least she can now shift and maintain a level seat.

I quickly threw my stuff together and started pounding the pavement to get to Paris. I realized right away that I had completely forgotten the fact that I had flatted this past Sunday very near the end of the ride. So my tire was still on crooked without the bead set. I turned around and went back to the house so I could fix things with the floor pump. I knew that the Nevegal that I have up front was wearing thin but it was looking real bad even with a tube. Oh well, no time for crying over sidewalls.

It took a little longer to get to the base of the climb as I had swapped the 19 in the back for a 22 this past Sunday. All the roadies were out haunting up and down Altamont and I saw more bikers headed up and down than I did cars. Its too bad for those roadies as I was headed up to get some dust in my eyes in place of the exhaust.

I made it to the top in time and was rewarded with riding one of the new trails UpState SORBA has worked on in conjunction with contractors. On my way down to the lake I just wasn’t feeling the trail at all and got stuck on a bad outside line headed for a tree. I had to bail and thought I was going to pull out a standing bail until my feet got tangled and I went down. Immediately I heard voices, so I popped up real fast and watched six guys pass me headed back up. One said “you all right?” I responded “Yes, don’t worry I was completely under control.”

After completing a lake loop I just had to go down the bottom of Brissy. I had heard her mocking me when I went by earlier in the ride. The trail was sticking nicely and I was starting to feel the ebbs and flows again.

I felt pretty sluggish up the road back to Firetower but then once I was back on the dirt it felt like I was flying up Firetower. I think that gear just pushes the Firetower grade perfectly.

After flying back Down Altamont, I was preparing to cross 25 when I saw the light turn green. I took off and too my horror I saw that I had to pass right in front of a Semi who's engine was pouring smoke out of the hood. This guy was sitting at the red light waiting to keep on truckin’ down 25. If that wasn’t enough, as I was spinning furiously through the light just praying the engine didn’t blow up in my face, I glanced at the container, he was carrying gas.

I have a vivid imagination and as I passed through the light I envisioned the engine blowing causing the gas to ignite inside the container. In my mind the now ensuing explosion sends me flying through oncoming traffic’s windshields only to be spit out the back windshield in a flaming pile of rubble and glass.

Luckily none of that happened and I just went through the light and ventured my way home via the Swamp Rabbit Trail.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Back From the Undead

Last Wednesday night was the only time I was able to ride last week, so I thought. Dennis, Zach, David George and I got in 20 miles averaging over 10 mph in Dupont.

Friday came rolling around and I watched the weather like a madman waiting to plan an excursion into the unknown. It was going to be me and the dogs, so I wanted a ride to fit the bill.

It started pouring when I got home so I drank twenty four ounces of steel and watched the weather while swinging on the front porch swing with the dogs vying for “best petting” position. Then out of nowhere the rain stopped and the clouds looked slightly less ominous so I suited up and hit the road on the Stone Cold Sober Monkey. I was still pushing 34X19 as I am lazy to change the gear.

I ended up pushing my luck by riding all the way to the top of Paris but I didn’t drop in on the dirt since it had been raining. Instead I made my way to the very top and reflected on life as the fog briskly blew over the top of the mountain all around me. With vertigo from the clouds completely enveloping me I decided it was time to head back down.

Its good to know the local BP owner won’t even flinch when a blue and white flowered mountain biker walks into the store for 40 oz's of 211. All he said as he took my $2.00 was “Great night for a ride huh?” I replied “yes” ecstatic with my purchase.

Fast forward to Saturday, it is freaking Christmas in March. I got a call from the boys in blue to let me know SURLY had ponied up and resurrected the Drunken Monkey. So here is it is, a time to reflect. I raise my glass of hoppy goodness high into the air and toast this great company that makes awesome two wheeled rolling machines. Way to stand behind your warranty. I will be buying more bikes from SURLY in the future.

Did I mention I painted two walls on Saturday? All the while, the two dogs were playing “escape from columbia-trez.” Kristin and I are working on fixing up her house in Columbia so we can get it on the market. While we were out running errands Shade and Buddy dug a hole under the fence and went on a great adventure. Thank god we found them before they made it to the main roads. I am sure they were running towards the mountains.

Sunday I found myself driving to David George’s house so we could go on our great adventure. It consisted of 40 miles of pavement, dirt, gravel and singletrack to surmount 4,000 feet of elevation gain. It was a perfect afternoon with a cool breeze at the top of Pinnacle Mountain and a warm feeling in the woods.

Climbing up to the top of Pinnacle was one of the hardest climbs I have seen in all of Dupont or Pisgah. At the top you are rewarded this view taken from the hang gliders ramp, the idea of jumping off that ramp with some synthetic fabric manufactured to make someone fly gives me the willies down deep.

We hit two the last two marked trails I had never been on in Dupont. They were both gems. One with two small rock hucks that made me go back for more. It was a big day and we finished just before dusk, the perfect end to Christmas in March.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Route Finding

Early Saturday morning I awoke to darkness and the sound of wind and rain howling all around the house, I promptly fell back asleep and figured trail riding was out of the question for now.

Some people and animals have an innate sense of direction and can navigate routes through the harshest of environments without giving it a second thought. However, first a mental map of any given region must be formed in the brain so navigation is possible.

The second time I awoke, there was a faint glow of light coming through the bedroom window, the rain had stopped but the cabin still creaked from the wind. I was worried the trails at Issaqueena would be too wet to ride so I suited up and hit the SRT to Furman, Paris and back. I thought I would have some roadie carrots to chase up the mountain but didn’t see a soul all the way up the backside of Altamont. When I reached the King of the Mountain spot I was still on the sheltered side of the mountain and the wind coming over the top had the energy of a 400 car freight train with no brakes. I had to take a look so I rode the SCDOT access road to the very top of the mountain and was astonished. Just as I crested the top of the mountain, downtown Greenville was haloed in a circle of sunlight while the rest of the region was clouded over with fast moving clouds.

As I turned to head back the way I had came, two riders came rolling up. Being proper, I commented on the weather and one guy said “nice bike.” Then when I rolled back to the KOM spot, the shop roadies were lurking. I revealed in the sweet bliss of beating all the roadies to the top of the mountain as I freewheeled my way back to the bottom.

Kristin and I headed out to watch the downhill race at Clemson, but since I forgot my phone and any sort of directions to the venue, I was at a loss. I have definitely not formed a proper mental map of Issaqueena. Darwinian Theory could have bested me on this day.

In terms of making the best of the situation, Kristin got to ride her bike and Buddy got to run so we were a happy family. Kristin impresses me rolling her five speed Favorit Rapido down gravel/dirt roads without a second thought. Some day we will have to get her a proper dirt bike so she can enjoy fat tire bliss.

Sunday called for me to meet up with Royalty. I had agreed to give my thoughts on what might be a good loop at Dupont for PAS’ Save The Trails ride challenge. I was limited slightly due to logistic problems but in the end I think this route incorporates the best riding Dupont has to offer.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Case 624X9: Re-appearing Nuts

A picture I snapped during the storms this week.

With two dogs roaming my property at all given times, there can be quite the mysteries. It is a constant DSI (Doggie Scene Investigation) with Buddy hiding everything he can get his mouth on. If you hadn’t noticed, the dog that is so quizzically looking at me in the picture from my last post is the newest edition to our household. He is a rescued St. Bernard/Aussie Sheppard mix. He came from the Greenville Humane Society.

Last night I was planning to go to Dupont as this week has been a roller coaster of work, Mountain Bike Advocacy and zero riding. Well the man held me back and I didn’t get out of work quite soon enough to make a Dupont trip worth it. Plus from the reports I had, trail riding was probably out of the question. So my mind started churning though the possibilities. I realized that I hadn’t yet made the ride from my house down the not-quite-ready Swamp Rabbit trail to Furman. It would be flat and probably not much of a work out but at least it would help ease the demons.

When I pulled up to the house, Buddy came trotting up to greet me as usual. Shade is currently out on the DL (Disabled List) and therefore has to stay in the house during the day. When I got out of the car Buddy rolled over so I could get some good rubbin’ on his tummy. When reached down to pet him I saw something that blew me away. There before me were two protrusions that looked an awful lot like balls.

The day Kristin rescued Buddy, his nuts were chopped. So this was quite unusual that he would mysteriously grow balls again. I wrote it off as anxiety from not biking and went to get my stuff ready.

I swapped the 23 out for the 19 and took off down the road. After two miles of 30 mph back country roads, I hop on the Swamp Rabbit Trail (SRT) very close to Sunrift. The SRT has been graded and most of the old railroad ties removed but it is also no where near finished. The riding is quite pleasurable though as it is mostly flat and once you get through Travelers Rest, it often feels remote with one towering rock garden.

In what seemed no time at all I noticed a trail to my left and realized I was already at my destination which was Furman. I rode the dirt trails out there a couple times and asked myself “Self, what would the Extreme Tomato do for some X-tra E?” E being endurance here folks, so I crossed the road and climbed Altamont to the top of the King of the Mountain. Once at the top, I phoned Kristin to let her know I would be home for dinner shortly. I also told her to take a look at Buddy’s underside. She asked why but I didn’t clue her in, I just told her to look.

I bombed back down the mountain as the sun dipped below the horizon with the more westerly mountains shinning brightly pink eventually fading to a deep blue in the north. It made my soul glow.

Back across the highway to Furman so I could re-trace my steps home. I made it home just after dark and when I walked inside Kristin informed me that she couldn’t notice anything different about Buddy’s underside. I said “here come with me” as I took her outside. I called buddy and promptly flipped him on his back. The nuts were gone, just like that. I think Case 624X9 is going to be one for the books and the vets.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Once Bitten . . .

Late Edition: I had as much luck pulling this tree out on Sunday as I did with the race on Saturday. Thanks for the picture Brad!!
OUCH, is the main word that comes in mind from this past weekend’s Snake Creek Gap Time Trial. I would say that I could have used a “spinier” gear on the back but in all reality I would have taken a motor had someone handed me one 25 miles into the course.

First and foremost I must say that the organization of 297 racers, with no lines anywhere, an early leave time for the shuttle was organized to a “T.” I will be back for more pain in the future. Nice work to everyone involved.

The single track is amazing. Really good smile inducing ridgeline riding, the last ten or there about miles were insane. Imagine taking a Stegosaurus and implanting another thousand or so rocks in his back. I would imagine that if you power washed the granite on the ridge during these miles you would have a spectacle of rock.

On the way to the race venue, David George and I were speaking the “bike speak.” One of the things I commented on was how important looking ahead and eyesight is to riding.

Eight miles into the race I had to ditch a contact that I couldn’t get back in my eye. Drunk vision commenced at that point as I was riding minimalist style and didn’t have a spare. The mud in the first few miles was pretty tough and when you would gather speed back up all the caked mud and pea gravel would fly in your face. I thought maybe I would lose an eye on this day as I have sworn off wearing glasses while I ride.

After the halfway checkpoint it really didn’t matter that I couldn’t see perfectly, I was ecstatic when I had the bike moving greater than five miles per hour. Miles 17 – 25 were still “ok” for me and I still felt like I was semi-pushing the pace. However on the last few miles I wondered if I would make it back before dark. When you see the city of Dalton from the ridge, don’t get your hopes up that you might be having a beer anytime soon.

Reflecting on the race really doesn’t do much for me, reflecting on the smack talk, church bus talk, music, festival atmosphere, sic trials move I saw from the top of a trailer to the bed of a truck, Yazoo friendliness, sweet singletrack, fast racers (not me), Kentucky Waterfall mullet and a general good time leaves a sweet honey nectar taste in my mouth.

Yazoo beer is good, thanks for the sixer Thad. I also acquired a nice new piece of wool but that is deserving of another post for another time.

Trail Karma is reaching a new all time high as I was somehow able to drag my butt and Buddy’s up to Paris yesterday for the second trail work day in two weeks. Thanks to everyone who came out yesterday!!


Pictures courtesy of David George.