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.