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.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Little Bunny Foo Foo

Just as Joe has suggested, I think some local university experiment has gone awry. The bunnies are everywhere. I think they have been cross breeding with the squirrels as their level of perceived danger has apparently dropped to nil.

Last night was a hell of a ride, at first I felt weak and slow but as the night progressed so did my legs. We took a nice long route around the forest:

Fawn Lake Road -> Down Airstrip Trail -> Shelter Rock -> Conservation Road -> Johanna Road -> Lake Dense out and back (Geo-cache) -> Johanna Road -> Twin Oaks -> Briery Fork -> Grassy Creek -> Wintergreen Falls -> Sandy Trail -> Tarklin Branch -> Flatwoods -> Rifle Range -> Hickory Mountain Road -> Ridgeline -> Jim Branch -> ???? -> Lake Imaging -> Buck Forest -> Conservation Road -> Bridal Veil Falls Road -> Barn Trail -> Airstrip -> Fawn Lake

I won’t mention much about this ride besides that I was in the back most of the time except on the downhills. I have been feeling really good on the downhills at Dupont. The first to note would be Twin Oaks, we were flying and I have found a no brake line all the way down that fast trail.

Next up was Grassy Creek, this is an alluring trail that sets you on a high speed train down a sandy path when all of a sudden you are rolling through a massive mine field of rocks. Ahead of Dennis riding his full squish I just pinned it and held on for my life grunting when I would take a big hit on the rocks. I felt both tires mash against the rims multiple times, thanks to the tubeless.

After a nice break at Wintergreen my favorite falls in all of Dupont, I could hear Ridgeline screaming out our names. When we got to the Ridgeline trailhead, I let Dennis and everyone else know that passing on the alternate lines was in full effect. Let me explain.

Ridgeline is an extremely fast twisty trail that sends you along the fall line and then away from the fall line and back again to maintain speed. This is combined with banked corners and lots of grade dips to keep you on your toes. There are also some sections where the designer created multiple lines and you really have to know your stuff to pull the quickest line.

When we took off Dennis threw the geared gauntlet down on the flat section leading to the downhill and gapped me. When we hit the twisty downhill I was probably a good 30 or 40 bike lengths behind Dennis. Every one of my thoughts and motions was set on catching Dennis, I knew if I didn’t catch him at the top of the alternate lines I wouldn’t be able to pass.

I could see him and realized that my watching Dennis was causing me to slow my pace so I shook my head out and whispered in my head “ride your line.” Next thing I knew I was coming up on Dennis fast going into the couple hair pin turns that actually cause you to slow down. My brakes squealed a little and Dennis realized I had caught up as he would say later “I was looking over my shoulder all the way down, then I heard your brakes and thought, Damn.” At that moment Dennis said “shit” and I now knew I had to make a fancy move if I wanted by.

There were only a couple spots left where I could pass so I just sat back and enjoyed the show of us railing through the woods whooping it up. I thought, maybe he will take the high line at the big banked turn, he went low as did I. Next up was the log ride, Dennis shot left of the log and I right but when we merged I was still about a half wheel length away. The last turn on Ridgeline has an alternate line but I know the inside line is the fastest. Dennis goes inside and I go outside but the only way I would catch him was if he screwed up. He didn’t and we shot out of the woods giggling. Next time Dennis, next time.

Some views from Airstrip: Stone mountain off in the distance. This is the highest peak in Dupont.

Another awful sunset on the strip to end the night.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Silence is Broken

Ahhhh, Summertime, you have to love it when the sun casts its rays late into the evening. It has been a while since I have done anything “organized” on the bike. I had a great early season, ramped up my fitness and then let it drop in late spring.

However, now my inner bike chi has come alive again. It is striking out amongst the masses of my neurons hoping to fire a response to my legs for more pedal power. Its really just a mental game after all right?

Its that time of the year when you envy the Tour Divide and Great Divide racers, I mean, how am I expected to get work done when I don’t know who will make it to Mexico first? I must admit that no matter how foreign the concept of “bike touring” is to me, its lustful allure embodies all that is freedom in a country that is pinned down by politics, natural resources and heaven forbid cars. They are all sucking the blood from the Earth I tell you. (You should sense a small amount of sarcasm in that last sentence even if it is slightly true)

One person that I have followed in particular this year is Geoff. I read about his adventures of qualifying for the Western States and then saying, ahhh f*ck it, I would rather ride my bike a measly 800+ miles from Utah to go bike touring across the Great Divide than run in the Western States. I think that says a lot for the temptation this “race” brings to the forefront.

Hopefully by the grace of all that is good on this evil planet, this “race” will stay grassroots. I love grassroots. (I do understand that these races are already pushing the limits of “grass roots.” Do you think I will have to qualify every one of my sentences with parenthesis before this post is over?)

That leads me to my point here in this rambling moment that I will call writing. This weekend is the Enduro De Ocho. Yes, this is an event to showcase what it is to be free. An event where you pay for “your” beer, ride and in return you receive nothing but a bunch of bike love.

Let’s hear it for the mountain bike lovers out there. I am looking forward to a weekend full of nothing but bikes and people who love bikes. Since Mr. Jut has already told us to break rule number 1, I am letting the masses know. If you think you have “the love” and you are willing to give up a weekend for it, go sign up because otherwise, you’ll never know what you missed.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Watch That Last Step

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised last night at the ball park. The Greenville Drive (that’s a baseball team not a racing team) had partnered with the Greenville Humane Society to allow “Bark in the park.” You buy your dog(s) tickets and that money is donated to the society. I had thought this might be a really bad idea but it was pretty cool and done properly except for the fireworks after the game and during a grand slam. Poor Buddy almost had a heart attack.

So it was my mission for the weekend to get the dogs so ridiculously tired that they would just want to lay down at the game. There were a few phone calls made on Friday night and I had a small crew on mission to help me with the first step of “tire the dogs.”

Leaving out of North Mills in the morning, the dogs were on fire and Dennis, Clay and I were enjoying the show. I tried to tell Shade and Buddy to slow down because it was going to be a long day. We had met early enough so that I wouldn’t have to worry about the dogs on our only short gravel climb of the day on FS1206.

I watched as Shade would take a sharp turn and fly off into the woods with Buddy following on his tail. It is a classic “What are we going to do today George” scenario. At one point, they had ran up a steep grass embankment ahead of us when quickly we heard some brush rumble and then looked up to see Buddy hucking the six foot drop back to the road. It is quite funny to see how nimble Buddy is while his head smacks the dirt and gravel as his legs give out on impact and just drag behind him. He looks the same way I would imagine Pete Rose diving into home plate drunk. As always, he is up in a flash darting toward the next adventure. There is never a dull moment with these boys around.

Since we were doing a “short dog loop” I left the 34X21 on for some tough Pisgah riding. We were headed straight to Laurel Mountain and I knew the gear would push my limits on some of the steeper climbs. This is one of those make or break you type trails where you can really rail if you have your wits about you or you can really suffer.

I was feeling quite confident and strong and pushed the pedals to the highest RPM’s I could muster while floating across the rocks and roots instead of struggling to turn the wheel over them like I have the past few climbs on Laurel. The first day of summer was crisp and cool unlike the past few weeks so we relished the conditions by taking long breaks so the dogs could rest. You can really witness the effects of the drought as the two spots I thought the dogs could drink on the way up were too dry even for the dogs.

Some steep descending and switch backs with my chest on the seat opened my eyes and took me to my happy place. As Clay and I discussed later in the day, taking the dogs into Pisgah has inherent risks but to leave them forever banned to my yard has consequences too. Therefore I choose the former and let the dogs “live and learn.” The dogs were ecstatic when we arrived back to the reservoir on Big Creek. I watched as Shade lumbered into the deep waters and warned him not to drop the six feet into the reservoir.

We walked across the creek and were chatting when I thought I heard a bird. Then Dennis said “that sounds like Shade.” I immediately ran back to where he was and saw him in shock whimpering. There were no apparent broken bones or blood but he was obviously extremely frightened as he yelped when I touched him as though he were dying. I was immediately distressed and thought he had broken some ribs as Clay and Dennis noticed that the water in the reservoir was disturbed. The only solution we could surmise was that he had slipped and fallen in the water knocking the wind out of him. After a few minutes, he was fine and smiling again. Please cancel that doggie extraction, whew!

Phase one of “tire the dogs” was complete. Let Phase two begin.

Sunday Morning Kristin and I were headed on a “short hike” to rainbow falls. The dogs had us in tow and were ready for another adventure. Last time I hiked/ran up to the falls with the dogs I had noticed a spur trail close to the waterfall. I wrote it off as a quick steep climb to the top of the falls and told Kristin that we should check it out this morning. After our quick visit to the falls and watching buddy bust face against some slippery rocks, we took off up the unmarked spur trail.

Jones Gap never ceases to amaze me. There are some highly technical trails out there ready to enact Darwinian Theory on anyone who isn’t paying attention. Kristin always impresses me with her ability to take these quick steep spots in stride. We worked as a team to move the dogs from ledge to ledge tethering them individually when the trail turned downright scary. Only the best of behaving dogs could muster this trail as a misstep would involve certain death.

I was wrong about where the trail went but quickly figured that at the rate we were going up, we were headed to the top which meant Camp Greenville. Sure enough after a few more feet of steep trail, we popped out about a mile from Pretty Place. We took the easy walk to the Chapel and stopped in to take in the view and discuss future big “W” plans. However pretty “Pretty Place” is, it just doesn’t seem worth it at $1,000 for two hours. It was nice to finally see this place as we had really earned it. As we were headed down I mentioned to Kristin “The only other way up here from South Carolina is 276 and it takes just about as long (in a car) as it will for us to hike down.”

We made quick work of the trail headed down. The dogs were zonked when we made it to the car and both slept silently on the way home, mission complete.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Zen

Picture courtesy of D. Cook.

This is they way our ride ended at Dupont on Wednesday. It was a pretty awful way to end a ripping 22 miles at Dupont. Picture is looking northwest from the Airstrip at Dupont.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

May and June Picture Dump

I knew it would happen, I was prepared to face the consequences.

Buddy's new favorite game:

I am a freak:
Doggy Dog World. . .

Monday, June 16, 2008

No Paved Roads Here

“Let’s stop complaining about our bikes and ride them.” These were Jody’s words while we were catching our breath at the top of Pine Tree headed towards Sheep Mountain. It immediately made sense and I took off spinning my 34X21 up to the highest rpm’s possible. This is a section of trail that I hadn’t ridden in a long time and wow I had forgotten about the speed and sketchy eroded lines that take you flying with a smile around sandy corners and through a hall of green combining deciduous and non-deciduous trees.

After that quick fun descent, Jody had a confession “Thanks for all the work on the trails out here man, I feel bad when I can’t make it.” My response “No problem, I do it because I like building trail, plus I only have two dogs to take care of. You have a family.” Then he went on to talk about how working on Pine Tree back in the day was the first time he had worked at Dupont and met WK.

It was a great morning and instead of the stifling heat wave that we had been experiencing, it was unusually cool and pleasant out when I met Clay and Jody at the bottom of Burnt Mountain, promptly at 8:30. A day doesn’t start much better than this.

I had ridden over from Fawn Lake while Clay and Jody parked at Corn Mill Shoals. It only made sense to meet in the forest. I dropped three teeth in the back on Friday night so I took the easy cheesy route of Fawn Lake Loop -> Airstrip -> Mine Mountain -> Laurel Ridge -> Shoals -> Corn Mill Shoals.

We had an hour and a half to meet the rest of the crew at Fawn Lake so we completed a loop around Burnt and Nooks before deciding to make our way to the Buck Forest parking lot via Longside, Pine Tree and Sheep Mountain. Some nice grade dips have been added on Sheep Mountain to make for some fun coming down.

Jody found love in this Forest Service Bus when we arrived at Buck Forest:
It was a simple gravel grind back to the cars where we would eventually find Justin, J, Meghan and Kristin. While we were waiting a couple road bikers came rolling up into Fawn Lake. The leader said “Hey do you know if there is any way through Dupont?” Clay and I said “If you can ride single track and gravel on those things.” The guy looked taken aback; little did he know that Clay, BrouSSard and Dennis had done just that recently on their road bikes. The mysterious roadie then said “But there is no paved way through the forest huh?” I responded “No, and hopefully it will stay that way.”
Now that our group was at full capacity, we took off down Reasonover Creek Trail. I think I finally figured out how to describe this trail, take a look at Reasonover Creek herself:

Kristin is still enjoying the bike:
We took a break for awhile at Lake Julia, when Jut get’s bored he makes shadow puppets.

After our picnic, we headed up Camp Summit Road to the sound of thunder in the distance. Once we were on the airstrip, we figured the storm was headed this way but not for awhile. The girls took the quick way home while the rest of the crew marveled over Airstrip.

We took the quickest route back to Burnt Mountain so the rest of the crew could slice and dice on the newly remodeled beast. Clay took a spill crossing the creek but as always, he handled it like a man, gathered himself out of the water and tried again, successfully:
Everyone raved at the bottom section of Burnt, I was starting to really feel the dropped teeth climbing this beast for the second time of the day and walked a little. Jut told me to show him the lines coming down but I caught a fire breathing dragon in my eye on the way down and had to stop to rectify it.

Even though the temps dropped, we never saw rain as Jody and Clay headed back to their cars. Then there were three. We took the quick route back across the river, up Shoals to Laurel Ridge and eventually Mine Mountain.

I haven’t done it, can you do it? Here is the second attempt set-up:

Yeah he got up on it clean, can Jut keep it up?

No problemo dice Jut Rut.

A nice dip in Fawn Lake rounded out another crappy day in the woods.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why Are You Acting So Crazy?

Since Mike so adamantly requested more posts. I thought I would share a personal side story from this past weekend. After the fact, it is always hilarious when life humbles you. I am humbled a lot, therefore I laugh a lot.

Kristin and I arrived at the camp site Dennis had secured just in time to see our neighbors pulling in. They had two large horse trailers, no shirts (except for the girls thank god), one dog on a chain and a plethora of cowboy hats. This gave me the impression that I would probably have to leash the dogs more than I wanted. After a couple awkward dog induced introductions to our “Western” neighbors, I decided I better run the nerves out of the dogs.

I quickly suited up and took off with Buddy and Shade up the Bear Branch gravel road. When I got to the trailhead, I stopped and took in nature’s beauty while Shade rooted around in a small spring drinking waaaaaaaaaaay too much water. Buddy on the other hand, ran up the slope way out of sight so he could pull off a number two out of my view. He is poo shy big time.

I had 3/4’s of a six pack in me so I took off like a mad man on a meth binge down Bear Branch. On the two flat upper pieces of trail, I could hear Buddy breaking off the path to run by my side. This is his way of letting me know I am going waaaaay to slow. So when the trail pitched, I figured I would give the little guy something to gun for. There is no doubt that I was on the edge of control but since my back wheel had been re-tensioned by a semi-sober BrouSSard, I felt invincible and there were no more fleeting thoughts of paranoia.

Buddy is fast, but I had gapped two seconds on him coming down to the sharp 90 degree right had turn. About 4 seconds later, I heard the ching, ching, ching of Shade’s collar and he came smiling around the corner. If you think I am joking about the smile, you haven’t owned a happy dog.

From there, I took a nice easy spin down the flatter sections. Taking the bike literally inches above the ground in some spots. Back onto Wash Creek road, the dogs were panting heavily and I knew I had accomplished my mission.

That night Clay had his dog at the campground. This caused a dog barking war between our neighbor’s dog and Clay’s. At some point in the night, the barking commenced but Shade started freaking out. I had Buddy and Shade leashed to my cot as I was sleeping under the stars. Buddy was chilling but Shade was acting a fool. When I surveyed the situation I saw hundreds of fireflies in the field and figured Shade was trying to get at them. Around 4:30 – 5am I had enough and got up to put Shade in the car.

An hour later, I am still awake and I hear Kristin’s alarm go off to indicate 5:45AM for me. So I lay there thinking about pedaling up to the Blue Ridge Deathway at such an ungodly hour when I remembered Shade. I put my contacts in and got up to let him out. He was ecstatic to get out of the truck and started yanking me all over the place. I cussed him and told him to behave, I should know by now that he doesn’t miss-behave and something is wrong but it just doesn’t register.

So I walk him down to the camp and he leaps into the tall grass almost taking me with him. I look over and see him doing the quick foot shuffle to get into prime squatting position just as a moan of ecstasy leaps from his gullet. Immediately I am overtaken with the smell, my eyes start to water and I wonder if the smell might wake up everyone around. Then I remembered the fireflies (all he wanted was to poo), later I would remember the over-indulgence on the creek water that must have upset his tummy. However at this moment in time all I could think of was how awesome this dog is. He held off explosive diarrhea for an hour and a half while he was in my car. THAT could have been a really bad start to the day.


Monday, June 09, 2008

The Big "K"

I have been on a hiatus of sorts. I had thoughts of posting that I wouldn’t be posting in awhile but that would be a post and would therefore negate the fact that I wasn’t posting. So I decided not to post that.

If you followed that penultimate sentence, congrats to you!

I had three pages of material typed up last week, I read them over and over again and realized how negative it all sounded and decided to just not post for a bit. Get over it, I am back and it isn’t revenge I am seeking, it is the reckoning.

I will give a brief description of how I felt on a big ride from two weekends ago where we parked at N. Mills River and dropped into Bent Creek for a look-see at our sections on Green’s Lick and came back.

The ride for me, can be described with two words “Extreme Paranoia.” I was not confident on the bike after 10 days of being off of it and because of this, I failed to notice that my back wheel had lost all of its tension. Instead of noticing this small fixable problem, I went on a paranoia binge to hell and back. Every trail intersection, I was flipping the bike over, inspecting for cracks. Every moment of the day riding was spent wondering if I would die on the next pedal stroke.

Whew, that is much better; I mellowed down three pages of paranoia to one paragraph. AWESOME!

This past Wednesday, we had an awkward moment at our Wednesday night ride. When we all arrived, one deceased man was being taken out from Fawn Lake. Rumor has it that the unfortunate soul had a heart attack while swimming and rescue efforts took too long due to the remoteness of the area.

With no disrespect, the day turned into an awesome ride of the newly re-opened Burnt Mountain. We even saw one of the trail masters himself riding the trail. After ZB discovered my tensionless problem and helped to rectify it, I got some good feelings from the Gods of dirt and rock and really started feeling like a Mountain Biker again. I even felt good enough to launch the bike into the air a few times and received some “props” from our fellowship.

Now we can get down to the talk of extreme trail "K"arma because if you participated in National Trails Day, that’s what you have for exactly one week. Thanks to the organizational powers of Ben B., we were able to manage 120 volunteers from all over to re-vamp Green’s Lick. It is really hard to even begin to describe what happened to this trail. Tons of Locust cell rock armoring on the steep top sections, I think I counted 20 something rock cells at the top combined with some tight berms and even a couple extremely ambitious rock armored berms.

Mike Brown and I worked together with a killer group that helped take care of a flat boggy ditch section. With two rocks I picked out and another huge rock Mike picked out, we created a nice lounge chair TTF that might send you into the air if you were so inclined to take the incline sending you over a small culvert of rock. The direct line is flat rock through the ditch or crick if you please.

Adam worked with a bunch of folks on the last feature of the trail. It was a three-way street of jumps. The left side being the most difficult with a nice table top that leads into a ginormous dirt and rock berm. Early in the morning, Adam and I walked up and took a look only to discover that one tree would have to be taken out. Yes, it was that big. When I saw how perfectly this jump was formed at the end of the day, I had to hit it and hit it I did. The first attempt I didn’t have enough speed and my front wheel hit the landing but the back wheel hit the flat table top and that put me into a nose wheelie down the back side. I pedaled back up and pushed the speed as fast as I could this time landing in the fall line zone about six feet past my landing on the first jump.

That jump along with three beers from the Mayberry cooler had my stoke high enough for me to pedal back up Bent Creek Road to the parkway. Dennis had secured us the last free camping spot along Wash Creek road and that was my destination as I had pedaled to the work party at 6 in the morning earlier that day. Now it was 5:00PM and a cold rain was slapping me in the face as I had my revenge on the climb up to the parkway. A week before, I walked a good bit of this climb.

Once I was at the parkway, with 0 hours of sleep the past night and a full day of trail work under my belt. I knew I wasn’t a candidate for soloing up the Blue Ridge Deathway to get to Trace and ultimately our campground. I pedaled up to the parkway, watched three cars go by at 50+ MPH and decided I would pedal down Wash Creek Road and back up Spencer to get to Trace. I am finally getting a little fitness back and I was at the top of Trace in no time. I had contemplated going down Spencer but I knew that steep + tired + wet + rocks + solo was a semi bad idea so I came down Trace. It was awesome and I dedicate this descent to my friend Mike R. who recently went down hard out in Pisgah and will be living vicariously for a few months while he heals. Best of luck Mike!

Saturday night was low-key as the non-trail-karma people arrived via road bike after some measly little road ride that took them for a 120 mile jaunt through South and North Carolina, WUSSIES. We were all beat, especially those who didn’t sleep the night before because of redneck wannabe cowboys. I slept though all of their cat calls on Saturday night as well as the dogs.

Clay and I decided to push karma up another notch and lead a SORBA ride on Sunday. May-duh had planned out 11 or 12 rides for the day so we volunteered to lead/sweep the Farlow Gap ride. It only made sense.

We pulled up and to our surprise we found no-one joining us, in fact there wasn’t a single bike on or off a vehicle at Daniel’s Ridge. Eventually Jut and Chris joined us for our trip. We took the back way to the top of Farlow with a side trip to Courthouse falls so we could listen to 10 screaming 8 year old girls as they plunged into the icy waters on a cool June day. I really can’t wait for August so I don’t have to keep wearing my knee warmers.

Clay and I were both suffering pretty hard. Jut is a super-human partying riding machine. That’s all I have to say about that.

My ride was pretty tame, I tried fooling with the ERGON angle on my grips right before the descent down Farlow, CAN YOU SAY STOOOPID?

So I had to stop a couple times and re-adjust, I walked a lot. My only highlight was actually making the log bridge huck towards the bottom. Clay helped a little providing Kodak courage.

The only other interesting note was the trail maintenance I did on Farlow. There was one super steep pitch that Jut wanted to clean so I hiked down to capture this occasion with ones and zeroes in the form of digital photography. I found a nice ½ ton rock to sit on and got my camera out. As I was taking a picture the earth started moving faster than normal. I stood up only to realize that this gigantic boulder was only precariously holding onto its position. It teetered and I warned all around not to get in the path of this beast. After Jut cleaned the section, I was putting my pack on when I heard the inevitable, gravity had won over this rock. Luckily only trees and creeks were harmed in the fall. Clay said “Wow, luckily you weren’t sitting on it.” Yeah luckily.

I hate posting without visual aid but I have been hounded for not posting. I will add some visual delights sometime soon.