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.



1SpeedBrian said...

I recently made that same wrong turn in the bottom of Avery. I had ridden the low swampy part of Avery several times and not made that mistake. Something down in that holler must have moved around to influence folks up that trail. I can’t say I enjoy the Buckhorn decent quite as much as your description though. The family and I are heading that way for a long weekend, maybe we will see you out there.

Anonymous said...

We want burnt afro pictures.

Anonymous said...

Actually, wouldn't it be a "Cauco"?
I mean, just in your particular case, naturally.....

Palmetto Solo said...

How was the smell? Sorry to hear about the fro. You should probably sculpt it into a mohawk for the Cohutta. Sike the sucks out.

The Goat in a Turtle Shell said...

Sorry I missed you guys. Had some bros in from Charlotte who wanted some trails but also lots of gravel for the Cohutta Training.

So this mean your gonna shave the head. Go ahead balidie style. I'm sure Kristen would love to wax it for ya.

Robert said...

almost made it down for your ride, but i was in the same drunken state, just 11 hours away, DUI would've been inevitable. Been in pisgah for two days, heading to Ocoee tonite, then to Pinhoti, back up to maybe Dupont Friday....come along if you dare.

ExtrmTao said...

Brian and Rob,

Gathering at Lower Cove Creek this weekend.

I will be riding pisgah all day on Friday but I could be swayed into the Dupont ride.

Make sure you swing by the camp and have a brewski with us.