Monday, November 23, 2009

Drawing Blood

Friday afternoon I was able to get out for my local ride to Paris Mountain and back. I can’t remember anything too exciting happening besides a nice 30 mile after work ride to get the weekend started off right. I did throw on ‘Ol ridge’ so things seemed a little harsher than normal but its that time of the year to start taking it slow and the rigid fork helps with that on the downhills.

Sunday rolled around and nobody wanted to ride in the drizzle (I told you that Clay’s ride would suck winter riding passion right out of these poor unsuspecting souls) so I decided that base fitness and dog exercise were the name of the day.

I set out headed to Jones Gap wondering what I could do that was ‘new to me.’ As I have covered all the trails in the Mountain Bridge Wildnerness Area besides Bill Kimball and a small connector off of Hospital Rock trail. I have always wanted to connect Hospital Rock with Rainbow falls but wasn’t sure of the exact path through “Pretty Place” and Greenville YMCA’s property. So without a map or compass I set out to make this loop once and for all.

With Shade and Buddy in tow sporting their blazed orange just in case we started our ascent up Hospital Rock from the visitor’s center. Even with a cool fall day and a light rain and drizzle I quickly warmed up and shed some layers. As I was encompassed in the stepping mantra that we know as hiking, I didn’t see a fallen tree above me and stepped up to feel a sharp pain on the top of my head. After a few choice words, I looked back and the culprit was a sharp branch sticking off of a fallen pine. It left me with a bleeding scalp but nothing serious.

I really love being in the mountains this time of the year as I can see out to all the ridges and contemplate where the trails on the other side of the mountains lie. As I stood there taking in the view I realized the sound of the rain had changed. Sure enough when I looked down it was sleeting slightly adding to the ambiance. It took a mere 40 minutes to get to Hospital Rock and I decided a picnic was in order along with a warming fire. I have been distraught with myself for not building proper fires in the rain twice this year and both happened to be in Clay’s company so I figured I better practice in case one is actually needed in the future.

Luckily I was able to prove to myself that I still am capable of starting a fire in the woods and the dogs and I relaxed for 40 minutes before taking off again! I think this is the longest rest I have ever taken on a solo hike and it was very nice listening to the rain under the shelter of the rock with my warming fire. I covered my fire tracks with some rocks and headed onward up Hospital Rock trail.

After some huffing and puffing up the steeper sections we made it to the connector trail and I could only surmise from this point as I had never hiked the connector and the map just shows the trail teetering off into nothing. I had always figured that it ran into some trails at Camp Greenville but wasn’t certain on which way to go from there.

After a short hike up the connector I found myself on an old road bed that is obviously still driven by hunters or other recreationists. I never saw no trespassing signs and just as I was about to give up my mission I noticed a Camp Greenville marker on a tree. Then not long after that I saw some signs indicating that I was currently on CCC which I knew was the correct way. Sure enough CCC popped me out just up the road from Pretty Place so we walked down to check out the Chapel and its view. After a very wind chilling moment looking at the rain we started on the trail that I knew took us to Rainbow Falls from a previous excursion with Shade and Kristin. The entire time hiking through Camp Greenville I didn’t see a soul. I thought for sure someone would be out at the chapel as they open it up to the public on Sunday’s but we had it all to ourselves.

Hikers beware going down the top portion of Rainbow Falls as there are some roped climbing moves and I had to assist Shade and Buddy in a couple spots. We found ourselves at the falls pretty quickly and we took the view in for a minute before heading the rest of the way down.

A total of 5 hours in the woods without seeing a soul.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Riding with Blue Ribbons

So it was a great camping weekend this past weekend. I know of some guy, who came up with this crazy ride plan and from the beginning I said “Ain’t going to do it even though it does sound grand.” I knew from the beginning that I would not be in great shape come November and the last thing I wanted to do was to blow out all of my passion for winter riding this early in the season.

So with that in mind Kristin and I decided to make it a joint effort for fun. I headed up to the campground Friday evening. Joe and I came up with a plan for a night ride as I couldn’t stand sitting around after more than 10 days off the bike.

Our plan for the evening was slightly ambitious and I kept commenting that if I were riding “the route” that I would take off on Friday night as there is no way I would sleep well anyway but all this is gibberish since I was obviously a spectator for this weekend.

So Joe, Buddy and I headed out into the night. As we drew closer to Clawhammer the decision was made to go up it. Then as we came to Maxwell Cove, we decided it was an excellent cloudless night for an excursion to the top of Black Mountain.

The climb up Maxwell went by quickly and we arrived at the Gap with Buddy still in tow. Buddy really enjoyed the hike up to the overlook and I was surprised by how quickly we came up on Turkey Pen trail head.

We took in the views on top of Black while I complained about the city light pollution that we could still see. I exclaimed that one really has to reach the Parkway before some of that pollution fades but we both agreed that this was a pretty nice spot for a night time picnic.

The great thing about all the October rain is that it makes biking with the dogs so much easier as there were plenty of opportunities for Buddy to drink along the way. After some walking and bike descending, we made it past the Buckhorn shelter and onward to the next overlook. Joe (a.k.a. I need an LED) said he wasn’t so sure about his new battery and he was scared it might not make through our proposed route of Buckwheat to Bennett.

We reformulated our plan and decided a trip down Avery Creek would better suit our needs. As “I need an LED’s” light kept fading, I was having a blast down Avery as I can’t even remember the last time I rode this trail and I am ready to go back during the daylight.

I had warned Joe that I sometimes get turned around trying to follow Avery at the bottom and sure enough we got turned around two or three times before we made it out to 477. If you think finding your way in Pisgah is tough, add some darkness along with leaf litter and see how you fair.

When we made it back to camp, only two “participators” were still up around the fire. Clay expressed his opinion about the 14 hour mark and then tried to find his tent as Joe and I kept the fire going into the wee hours.

After hearing the “participators” head out in the dark Saturday morning I drug myself out of the tent and started pinning blue ribbons on myself for the ride. I think I had eventually pinned 4 or 5 of those blue ribbons on before the “morning” ride took off.

Joe and I had a guest in the form of “Not too Fat to start a century” but “maybe too fat to ride candies” Nick with us. He had an unfortunate blow out of his pedal early on but Joe had a loaner for him. Sure enough he would break the non-loaner less than 5 miles into his second attempt at a ride that day.

Buddy had to chill in the car and wait for Momma to show up this day as we would be frequenting the too busy for a dog highway 276. Unlike our “participant” friends, we were looking for a nice easy day. So with extra Blue Ribbons in our pockets we took off up Bennett Gap to Coontree.

Coontree was a hoot until I had a small wreck trying to ride the log ride at the bottom. Another pedal catastrophe had “I ain’t too fat to attempt a century” talking about the campsite and his house. Joe and I convinced him that a ride was going down for him sans upward pedal stroke on one foot, onward we pressed.

Davidson River to Butter Gap via the newly found trail thanks to the non-promoter of the non-event that was going down. That’s a lot of vagueness but you get the point. After a break down by a creek and a lot of BS’ing about almost catastrophic bike events of the past, we made the final push up to Butter.

Hesitantly I took the lead down butter but with 6 inches of goodness on either side of “Broken Pedal” he was still able to keep pace despite his mechanical woes. I thought for sure I was going to get passed. It was nice riding Butter without all the stop and go that it was from downed trees last time.

I argued that we didn’t have skinny tires therefore we should push back up Coontree and descend Bennett to complete the day’s trip and eventually everyone agreed. Again the descent down Bennett had “I’m going to sue Wall Mart for everything they got” riding my ass all the way down as he insisted I go first. Who isn’t going to listen to a guy who weighs twice your weight and can wrassle “hush hush” riders as though he was born along the Earp lineage?

Saturday afternoon and night was spent pinning ribbon after ribbon on my shirt waaaaaaay into the night. We fed racers and cheered everyone on as they finished their long days in the woods and eventually my blood ran too thin (I must have pricked myself with so many pinned ribbons) to wait for the last rider to come in.

Lost Dog Sunday was spent cleaning up and convincing Yuri to wait for me to ride. After he waited for a couple hours we were finally ready to head out. Buddy had been riled up all morning playing with every dog incessantly in the campground and I thought he needed to burn some energy as Shade and Kristin were already on their merry way home.

Yuri and I started discussing route options up Clawhammer when all the sudden Buddy was not there. I had seen him in a creek and then he just vanished. It was strange as Buddy is appropriately named and therefore doesn’t leave my side when Shade isn’t around.

I yelled and yelled as I thought maybe he had chased something up one of the ridges and eventually I told Yuri to go on as I had held him up to the point of frustration. The weird part was that we never heard rustling leaves. So I rode down clawhammer and back up to where I had lost him yelling the entire time. I was starting to get nervous when I rationalized that he must be tired and headed back towards the campground where he had been for the last 3 days. As I headed down the second time I saw some friendly bikers who said that they had seen my orange vested canine running down 477. Well at least he wasn’t hopelessly lost in the woods but now I was worried that some hunter might think he was “worthy of the hunt” even though I know Buddy doesn’t like strangers so that comforted me slightly.

Sure enough when I got back to the car there was his happy face and it brought great relief to my mind. There was even a lady there waiting with him as she had seen him running down the road. I thanked her for her kindness as she said he wouldn’t even come close enough to her to take a treat. That’s a good boy!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Its Time For Some Humor


An attempt at a family portrait on Farlow before riders started careening through.


Shadey Bo Badey












Turkey Tiki time Trial Trail (Yes I understand that even at my house I should wear a helmet, give a guy a break)



Buddy expresses his opinion "Mmmmmmmm Faaarrrrlloooowwwww"





Monday, November 09, 2009

What Do You Mean No Riding?

Its true, a weekend all about Mountain Biking but I didn’t ride one all weekend. How does that happen?

Saturday was spent working on one of my favorite trails in all of the land Reasonover Creek. We conquered two re-routes on the beginning of the trail. I told Woody one of the re-routes seemed pretty large to me but then I remembered that we had a ditch witch at our disposal which makes things a little quicker than just me and my shovel and rake. So what took me over 3 months to accomplish at my house took us less than one day out in Dupont. That works for me.

A small team of us took on a 30 foot re-route and made it our own. Its a nice little piece of trail through some rhododendrons and we were quick enough that only hand tools touched this piece of trail, a personal goal of the team.

Sunday morning our family was due for a hike. We had some friends that were hoping to finish the SWANK so we decided a hike in PNF Ranger District was in order. I talked over our hiking options with Kristin; go to the start then hike up the connector to Daniel, or we could go to Daniel then hike a bit up Farlow or go to the top of Farlow and hike down. I was happy when Kristin mentioned the top of Farlow.

Once we arrived, Shade and Buddy donned their hunting attire and were set free to sniff and chase everything in the forest. To keep things interesting we hiked the Art Loeb on the way over which put us on top of Sassafras Mountain and the views were outstanding. Hardly any leaves are left at elevation. I have some pictures to post soon.

Not long after we started we found ourselves headed down Farlow, as Kristin gingerly stepped down the leaf and rock strewn beast I asked her if she was ready to ride it. She didn’t seem too optimistic.

We made to the rock garden wall of hell just in time to pick out a great spot amongst the masses of people (ourselves) when we heard some riders. The first guy down went head over heals into the mountain laurel before the real tech begins. I saw him wrangling in the bushes and yelled up to make sure he was OK, indeed he was and not soon thereafter a friend of his came rolling down and I heard a crash accompanied with “Owe I broke my finger.” “Great,” I thought a first aid situation before racers even start coming down. Well sure enough it was someone I knew from Greenville (ends up there was no broken finger only a shattered ego after he found out spectators were on the trail) and we chatted it up for a minute before they went on their merry hike down the rest of the rocks.

Not long after we had started our lunch, we heard Sam K. flying down the trail in the lead. I gave him a little cheer as he rode the huge rocks around us as though he were headed for crumpets and tea. He cleaned the entire section at what seemed like mach 10 without so much as a dab.

Second and third came down and were quickly clomp clomping down the rocks hike-a-biking like mad men through the leaves. Kristin commented “How can they run down the trail like that in those shoes?”

In the hour and a half that we observed this section of trail we saw just about every level of experience attempt to ride and walk the beast. Luckily we did not observe any injuries to the physical body, only the psyche. My favorite comment that came at least 5 or 6 times from what I would imagine were non-locals was “Did anyone actually ride this?” Oh yes my friend, not only did they ride it, they rode while they buttered their pancakes and sugared their coffee.

One thing is obvious after observing so many folks, momentum is your friend and hecklers are not. One racer observed “Did you guys come out just to witness other’s pain?” Why yes sir, I believe you hit the nail on the head.

Ahhhhhhhhh yes, a fine day indeed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Turkey Tiki Time Trial Trail ~ T^5

For the past couple months, I have been diligently working on some single track at my house. Now granted I don’t have a lot of land but what I lack in land I make up for in imagination, dying pine trees, chipmunks and undulations.

Last night I finally finished the loop on the north side of the house. Now there is an entire single track loop except for where it crosses the driveway for 60 yards of gravel. You have to have a loose gravel climb in there somewhere or people will complain about the lack-thereof.

Currently the single track consists of two long straight-a-ways, (not including the gravel climb) 5 natural turns, 3 berm assisted turns, one pine log jump/ramp and one succession pine log roll/drop off. Trying to pin it for three laps will leave you defeated and wondering where your mommy is to make the owwie go away. I have yet to break out the laser assisted timing mechanism so you all will know what time to vie for but I guess you will just have to wait for it.

Against my lawyer’s wishes, I am holding no lights nighttime (From here on out it will be known as the T^5 Time Trial) time trial the day after thanksgiving. If you are reading this and want an invitation, send me an email and I will be sure to get one to you.

If you consider yourself part of the WNDC and you don’t plan on coming out, prepare to be flogged with bent rims, old endless cogs, treadles Nevegals and maybe a Karate Monkey but I’d hate to break another one.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Pisgah Is Back!!!



If over the past two years or so you have been wondering to yourself, self how is it that I have gotten so fast riding around on the Pisgah single track? Why is it my tires seem to stick like glue and I only fall when my ego outweighs my skill for that day?

Well fret no more because classic ice clad Pisgah (wait it isn’t below freezing yet) is here to stay for awhile and you better show her some respect.

Sunday November 1st was one of those days where you had to pay your respects to every feature in the forest whether you could see it or not, try and push the limits and you will be bitten hard.

Clay, J and myself headed to Black Mountain trailhead to start a long (hours not distance) ride in the beast herself. I had suggested to Clay earlier in the week that it is the season for nice long riding warm-ups and therefore suggested we not take his favorite warm-up which is climbing Black Mountain to the overlook right out of the truck.

We started the day up 276 to 477 and as soon as we hit 477 it started, what about going up 477 to buckhorn, down this, up that, around all of this, back up all of that and. . .

So with that I non-regrettably agreed to ride up Buckhorn from 477 to “warm up.” Of course, all of this was going on while I was snapping pictures of J trying to mount a mock bull at the horse stables set up with suspension and ropes. I guess you had to be there. Check out Clay’s blog for all the wonderful photos. (All pictures in this post are courtesy of Clay)

Buckhorn was wet, slippery, waterfall and eventually pretty steep. When we made back to Clawhammer I was excited about all the mud that would moisturize my skin as we climbed to our first gap of the day, Buckhorn.

Clay of course took off like he had dynamite under his ass and I struggled to even keep sight of him. Next thing I knew I was at the top and Clay came walking up the “hiker’s only” section of Buckhorn moments later. That damn dog of Clay’s has turned him into a monster hike-a-biker and he was actually able to push up that beast as fast as I could climb Clawhammer. If he stays healthy, he will be a formidable foe come February.

Re-grouped we started our ascent to the first lunch stop of the day, overlook on Black Mountain a mile or so past the Buckhorn Shelter. Once there Clay challenged himself with a flat change, he wanted to see how quick he could make the change and it was better than any Halloween special and downright scary.

Some “fellow cyclists” came rolling up and exclaimed it was their very first Pisgah ride. Conversations that start like that in the middle of Pisgah are always entertaining. They had been forewarned that their chosen route of climbing Avery may have not been the best choice. I said “you might have regretted that decision.” However, after what we experienced, they may have regretted the “Pisgah” decision altogether.

So our first true decent of the day to Club Gap was nice with everyone making it safely to the bottom. Clay wanted to document the Virginian’s first Pisgah ride but as we waited and waited we realized they found out they were in over their heads or flatted so we pushed on up Buckwheat.

Coming up on a recent felled tree, I had to back up and line this one up three times before I made the move up and over. J made a nice up, clip out and over move on his first try.

I found myself way in over my head when I came to the off camber rocky section as I was traveling much to quickly for the conditions. I hit the worst possible line and focused on not hurting myself and I made a connection with the rock. Just as I was going to turn and head back up for another try Clay came around the corner and hit the deck in a much more painful manner. No harm no foul and I tried again:



I cannot wrap my head around the Q-bert step on Bennett even though I have seen so many people clean it. I walked and stopped to watch Clay and J’s attempts. Clay bailed with a “not today.” Then J came and I saw him start to nose wheelie just before the top step, not good. As he met the Zenith of his pendulum, I thought for sure some DNA was about to be spread when his huge 200+ form leaped like Catwoman from the bike simultaneously unclipping from the pedals and landing feet down at the bottom of all the steps. It was an impressive save fueled by adrenaline and love for the human form.

On to the overlook, another quick respite and down the rest of Bennett. All of us walked the death defying technical move on Bennett and moved onto Coontree. Coontree is a hoot of a trail and we made it down in quick fashion.

Instead of hiking backup Coontree we decided a loop was in order so onto Horse Cove road up to the Art Loeb trail. I had forgotten how bad any climb up to the Art Loeb is but this one took me to a new place as I made it my mission to keep Clay in site. After what seemed like an eternity we made it to the intersection and I laid down on the knob just relishing the fact that it was over.
Hiking down that beautiful trail to the North Slope connector is painful but it also forces you to take in some nice views. We were rewarded with another attention grabbing decent on North Slope back to the cars. I must remember to pay my respects to the formidable foe, Pisgah. Thanks again for making me feel more alive than I knew I was.

Good ride fellas.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SPOOOKY, Solo WNDC

Last night was one of the few times in the past few years that none of the regulars were going to show up for the Wednesday night ride. I took that as an option to park somewhere different and take a small little pre-Halloween spook night ride. How can one spook thyself you may ask? Well, park at Corn Mill Shoals and make it your goal to get to the top of Rocky Ridge by sundown.

Its been awhile since I have had the opportunity to ride a route and not ask anyone what they think about this turn or that turn, all I did was turn the pedals over, ride and take in all the electrified air that October provides us with.

I took a hint from the two guys getting out of the Middle Saluda with Kayaks at the turn by “The Best Hotdogs In Town” that the water level was pretty high from the recent rain and that I should stay away from the “wetter” trails at Dupont (i.e. Reasonover, Mine, Airstrip) and it was with that knowledge that I made my turn up Longside headed to Pine Tree.

I must say that Pine Tree is really settling in nice and I find myself really loving the new tread design as I must concentrate to make sure I don’t blow any corners. Even though I only put in one solid day on Pine Tree this year a lot of work has gone into that trail and it turned out fantastic. So here is to faster cornering to anyone who helped with that bad boy this year.

From there I took Sheep Mountain over to Buck Forest, a quick out and back to check out Grassy Falls and up Lake Imaging on over to Jim Branch. I let quite a few bikers ride by while descending Jim Branch and quickly turned into the climb up Ridgeline. I let some fellow trail user’s walk by as they were sitting a top two large beasts and exclaimed their love for October as well as their appreciation for my prompt removal of myself from the trail. I passed two more riders that were climbing Ridgeline with me and reminded myself that I was going to ride Ridgeline in the dark when I knew no one would hinder my descending.

I couldn’t decide if climbing to the top of Rocky Ridge was a good idea or not considering how far it would put me from the car but I reminded myself that I was out for a solo death march and that I needed to go slow down so it was all good.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that I would actually be able to make it to the top by the time the sunset and I was rewarded more than I have been all year on the bike. As I started down Rock Ridge, nature abetted me. I had to stop as it was obvious that with the golden red collage that was encompassing me that I had hit this area of the forest in prime time. It honestly took my breath away.

After the quick respite, I mounted back up and flicked my light on for assistance. I was down Rocky Ridge in a flash and quickly pushing up a mushy Camp Summit. Back over to Ridgeline after dark and my theory proved correct, I met no one while descending another favorite of mine. Ridgeline after dark, I prescribe it to anyone ailing.

After another quick climb up Jim Branch, I knew decisions were on the horizon. Do I climb back up Sheep Mountain or do I challenge the swollen Little River on the Corn Mill Shoals crossing? While descending Lake Imaging to Buck Forest I made a decision, Corn Mill Shoals. When I am by myself, I tend to lean toward loops.

A long spun out section down Corn Mill Shoals let me relax and realize that I was pushing it further than I normally do on a weekday night and it brought a smile as I headed into what is the most comfortable section of the forest for me to navigate. I know the Fawn Lake area of the forest better than I do my own back yard.

Shelter rock to Corn Mill Shoals, I struggled and grunted up the wet steep section and descended the most recent of my trail work in Dupont close to the wall ride. I wondered how high the river would be, could it possibly be higher than the day it caused our WNDC crew to split? Could it be high enough to actually turn me around and cause me to ride an extra two hours? NO WAY, I thought to myself, what’s the worse that could happen, I drown by myself in the middle of the night at Dupont. . . it didn’t seem fitting.

I was surprised as I turned the corner and saw that the river was high enough that it was flowing up to the dirt on the trail and as I looked across the river I could see water splashing on the ledge that is my high water marker. I know that if the water is lower than this rock (just barely today) I can cross with relative ease. Off with the shoes and I was across and in such awe of the forest again that I stopped and took it all in while I fitted my shoes back on.

A quick spin up a wet Corn Mill Shoals and I was back at the car. For the second time in my life I saw some locals letting an animal (opossum?) loose in the Corn Mill Shoals parking lot, the poor guy was obviously frightened and didn’t want to head out into the dark woods alone as it hid in the back of the cage, I understood its uncertainly in a way I couldn’t explain.

Ride on brothers and sisters, ride on.

Good luck to some of the WNDC headed to kick ass in Louisiana this weekend at the 24 Hours of Clear Springs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wilderness and Impalement

A sweet Hike with Clay, Duma and Shade from this past weekend. It was my first time this deep into the Shining Rock Wilderness.
Clay and Duma enjoing a quick packless respite.

The rain let up while we wandered around the Six Thousand peak summits so we could enjoy some view.



Shade's enlightenment "Ohhhh This is why they call it Shining Rock Wilderness."









Duma is always making fun of me.
















Shade also knows how a well placed cairn can help.












Again Duma was pissed that he couldn't get in my tent so he dug in disgust.











WATCH OUT FOR WOLVES.
Last night was a tough one for the WNDC. I almost impaled myself during a wreck early on. J had a ride ending mechanical 40 feet into the ride. I suffered a tubeless flat and then tried to kill myself coming down Pinnacle Mountain Road. We also crossed some wild rivers which split the group up.
CF and Tomato's route:
Fawn Lake -> Airstrip -> Mine Mountain -> Laurel Ridge -> Shoals -> CMS -> Little River -> Steep Cedar Mountain Side -> Big Rock -> Longside -> Pine Tree -> Sheep Mountain -> Buck Forest -> Conservation -> Johanna -> Pinnacle Mtn Road -> Turkey Knob -> Reasonover
A tough ride for a WNDC!!





Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Life on Overdrive

Everything is happening, but I still manage to ride. I have been maximizing my fun factor by not taking cameras and rarely writing about riding but alas I am a liar.

I got two very similar rides in at Dupont this weekend from Fawn Lake and both rides consisted of two people. Two people make for an excellent ride at Dupont as you can minimize your stopping time because as I have said many times before it’s the transitions that count in this forest.

I would love to put Saturday and Monday’s ride routes down but I really don’t feel it is worth it. Each day, we rode all around up and down.

Saturday’s goal was to avoid all the traffic at the park and hit some of the last few “trails” that I have never set rubber on. Mission accomplished including a really fast run down Rocky Ridge that might have been faster had I not been worrying about the 80 billion trail users out for the day.

Grassy Meadows is my number one priority lately.

We also managed to pick the exact same lunch spot as PAS had picked for their long ride. A pump track makes a great lunch spot and man this pump track is going to make you work for your lunch. Saturday was good with no mechanicals.

Monday was an interesting day to say the least. Joe and I hit up the mountains and made another decent sized ride with a time constraint that I thought would be completely blown when I had a new-to-me mechanical.

I was showing Joe the kids loop since he is looking into bringing his son up sometime soon. I was on the really skinny, skinny’s when I tried to negotiate a tight turn onto the not so skinny skinny’s. My front wheel just barely slipped off the wood structure and I heard paaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnngggggggggg!!! I knew it wasn’t good but when I saw my rotor I almost passed out. When the wheel slipped the first thing to catch all my weight was the front rotor and it was bent at a 45 degree angle.

Never being one to let things like this get me down. I laughed, showed Joe and he laughed until he realized he had to help me get this situation resolved so we could finish the ride as we didn’t have any maps with us.

I gimped the bike out to the parking lot and started trying to bend the rotor. I caressed it, took my shirt off and yanked on it, put my knees on the tire and bore all my weight down and got nothing, nada, nunca. I stood on the rotor with all my 195 lbs, nothing. My worst fear was the rotor breaking causing some sort of medical trauma to myself so I went and found a BIG rock. I Put my shirt over the rotor and beat the shit out of it. I got it close but it still wouldn’t turn well when happiness in the form of mountain bikes on a truck pulled into the lot.

I asked some strangers if they had some pliers, the nice stranger obliged with an 8 inch handled adjustable wrench. Perfect I said as they watched in horror as I applied to tool to my rotor. A salvaged rotor is what I ended up with which was quite remarkable considering it looked more like a soup spoon twenty minutes ago.

With a new found happiness we finished the ride in glorious style. Another highlight from the day was seeing two fellow bikers at the Corn Mill Shoals little river crossing. Two guys were putting their shoes on as I lined up. One of the fellows glanced at me and realized I would probably be stopping so he didn’t bother to move his bike out of the line. As crossed the halfway point the fellow frantically hauled his bike out of the way.

To cap things off, when I got back to the truck my window on my hatchback looked funny. I popped it open and realized the bolt that holds the upper right side was broken. So the hydraulic pushed the window out of place on the right side. After five minutes of wresting with the thing I got it locked back down. Crisis numero Dos averted for the day.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Can You Smell That?

Good times are lingering in the air when I can take the HVAC switch and set it Duke Power’s least favorite position “off.” I smile while the dogs wrestle outside in the cool morning air. They too sense that the season of summer death in the south is coming to a close with their grins and playful growls. Once again they will enjoy those hefty coats.

As I type this, Buddy jumps in through the half open door with his outside ball. In a nonchalant voice knowing he wouldn’t obey I tell him “Buddy, that ball belongs outside.” He promptly jumps back outside ball in mouth and I could hear him drop it on the deck. He doesn’t always listen so well.

Riding has finally gotten back to normal but I have lost almost all my fitness again from a two week hiatus. Rides have been filled with me watching everyone climb away but its oh so good to be riding.

Coleman Boundary last weekend was excellent. How often these days do we go out into the woods and only see the people in our own group. It was good heading out with some people that I don’t always ride with as well as in an area that we don’t always ride in. We made our way around to almost all the single track and had a great time doing it. Many downhills still follow the fall line and they are fast and rocky. I managed to hit the deck twice but nothing serious. Ever since the ride at Wilson’s, I get reminded almost weekly that I still have a wrist that doesn’t take well to bad falls.

I have finally gotten around to clearing some of the woods around the cabin and I have pruned and raked a pretty neat section of trail. If anyone has fill dirt or recycled concrete chunks, I sure could use some dropped off at the cabin. Granted I have to do quite a few loops to score a mile but with two berms and a small pine tree log jump I can’t complain. Look for some Tiki torch time trials sometime in the near future. The hardest wreck I have had in weeks was on one of my own turns. Kristin witnessed my cussing from another setback on the wrist.

WNDC has been going well. This week’s edition involved some mechanicals right in the beginning of the ride but after those two small hurdles and leaving one man behind (Remember George W isn’t our Commander and Chief anymore), the ride went without a hitch. The highlight of the ride had to be riding up Big Rock as I remembered it being a little harder than that. Then we rode the long side of Cedar Rock back down to the powerlines. It must have been the first time I had ridden that downhill with a suspension fork because it was smooth as butter except for those fleeting thoughts of falling while cruising on the pock marked slick rock.

I have done a great job of avoiding all trail work at Paris Mountain for the downhill race. It is tough to get your head in the game when you can’t see the race line. Maybe I just need to practice seeing the flow better and then I can allow myself to come out.

I have also been trying to write up a proposal to our local Parks and Recreation for a bike skills area at our local park. Hopefully there will be some good news coming down that pipe real soon.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

WNDC - Gives Back



















Thanks to Clay for the pictures.






WNDC - involved some quick rock armoring on the steep rutted section of corn mill shoals inbetween Shoals and Laurel Ridge right before the rock wall ride.






Had my first STANS flat in awhile. The sidewall just above the bead was torn enough to justify a tube. Twelve minute flat change according to Clay's timer, not bad for a slacker like myself.






To the trail work:






Mine Mountain -> Laurel Ridge -> Corn Mill Shoals






After hefting some one person, two person and even a three person rock we armored quickly and were on our way.






After Work:






Corn Mill Shoals -> Shoals -> Laurel Ridge -> Airstrip -> Shelter Rock -> Corn Mill Shoals -> Laurel Ridge -> Fawn Lake






We saw Woody again coming down Airstrip, he was out with the leaf blower drying the trails, now that's dedication!!






I can deal with rock armoring when it is a party of three. The de-berming done last week helped with the after rain puddles but there is still some cleanup work to be done.






Don't forget about another work day this Saturday at Dupont.





Monday, August 03, 2009

Am I dying? Is This PMBAR?

Those were two questions I asked myself during yesterday’s ride.

Our route:

Black Mountain -> Turkey Pen -> Vineyard Gap -> Riverside -> Bradley -> Squirrel -> S. Mills River -> Buckhorn -> Black Mountain

After staying up too late, drinking too many beers and eating too many cupfuls of homemade chocolate ice cream goodness, I decided I would get up at 5:45 in the morning and join Clay on his “training ride.” His main goal for the day being to climb 10,000 feet, we ended up 1,000 feet short.

Does anyone remember what Pisgah is like when it is actually fulfilling its temperate rainforest status? You know the trails are sustainable not mushy but every other element on the trail reminds you that those 2.3 Stout’s aren’t for impressing the ladies. Yeah it was slick the kind of slick that you tell people about but they just don’t listen until they are lying there on the ground looking at you like a puppy dog that just had his last bite of Kibbles and Bits taken from him.

I hadn’t done a long ride in quite awhile and it was apparent. I knew I was going to be slow up Black and I announced this early as Clay and Dennis took off in time trial mode ahead of me. I made it a point to try and clean everything going up the first section but I slipped and fell once while pushing the bike. I think I was actually riding < 10% of the climb. (That’s less than ten percent for those of you who didn’t major in math)

With thoughts of my re-injured wrist on my mind, I had told myself that I was going to take it real easy going down Turkey Pen as it was death snot slick and raining more at this point. Did I mention it was slick?

Turkey Pen was fast until it wasn’t and then it was fast again. The laurels and rhodo leaves were so thick that it felt like you were riding through a car wash with every pedal stroke. At times, you couldn’t see anything but a sea of green, pedal and pray was the theme. My fork was magical since I had acquired an extra 20 millimeters of travel the day before. It helped me stay upright on the super steep switchback and water bars.

Vineyard Gap is a fine piece of single track.

Squirrel, I had saved energy for this bad boy as I know how it is on a slick day. It took all my concentration and energy. Supposedly Clay and Dennis “fell” victim to squirrel’s nastiness but they didn’t look any worse for wear when I saw them crossing the bridge on S. Mills River from below. I had spent my time alone lying in the river trying to levitate my vehicle over Black Mountain and swoop down for a spaceship style extraction.

Slogging up S. Mills and Buckhorn I had convinced myself that I was taking the easy way out (clawhammer, 477, 276) and there was nothing anyone could say to me to change my mind.

When I got to the gap, Clay said something that convinced me I should plod on, he has a way with words. I cussed his name to the full extent with every aching step I took. I was so slow I actually lay down in defiance of stepping any further until I realized I wasn’t getting any further with this technique. I ran out of water for the second time at the top and kept using Jedi mind tricks to bring my cooler closer to my mouth.

After some not-so-spectacular descending and the last hike-a-bike to Hickory Knob, it was all over like a great wet dream turned nightmare I was finally acquainted with my cooler. Nice ride fellas.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Good Luck To ORAMM Racers

I have had the pleasure of many fine rides as of late. Its nice to feel strong on the bike again and I hope it can carry me through The Most Horrible Thing Ever.

I don't have much to say about the rides as of late as I have been more into enjoying them than writing about them.

I can say good friends, fast technical descents and technical ascents make for great mountain biking and it will soon be time to give back to the forest for Fall ride time consumption.

Rode the Paris Mountain downhill the other day, that thing is getting GNARLY.

Good vibes to all and I will see the lucky ones at Barley's tonight!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nobody Go Stealin' My Idea Now. . .

SOOOOOOOO, I have heard through the grapevine that NORAMM is really starting to make its way through the local scene.

I figured I better throw something out there while I still have time.

First off I would like to say that I had my first Bear sighting in NC. It was pretty sweet and I definitely did a double take as darkness was closing in. I think the bear have caught wind of WNDC and was trying to find his way.

Shew, now where were we? Oh yeah, the third annual NORAMM. Let's see last year it was Damascus as I was healing the broken wrist. The year before it was NMR. So I haven't really decided on where this year yet but I was thinking if we started going up HeartBreak around Noon on Sunday. . . ok I am not that much of a hater but it would be quite funny. Uphill rider's have the right of way. . .

So anyway, stay tuned it will definitely be the weeked of ORAMM but not sure if the date will be Saturday or Sunday. If anyone has any suggestions on the date speak up, if anyone has any suggestions on the route, shut the hell up.

I am thinking of charging $5.00 this year. What do you get for your $5.00 you may ask? Well, you need to bring your five spot to me along with your bottles that you are carrying for the day and I will abruptly pour your bottles out onto the gravel and fill them with beer as this is a no water ride, DUH.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It Has To Be Told

Last night at WNDC we have a great ride and then the fun times commenced. I had taken a couple extra trails at the end of the ride after everyone left me spinning by my lonesome back to the car. So of course when I show up, everyone is in relax mode and I was asked if I had a hanger in my car.

It turns out some high school kid had locked his keys in his car. Well we were chilling watching this not-so-adept car thief while waiting for a hiker in our group to return.

So as we sip our beverages we watch as the plan of action went from cell phone calling to trying to break into the car. Eventually DG in our crew suggested that a detachable truck or car antennae could be used to get the keys.

Then with a loud pop one of the kids had pulled off a truck antennae and started trying to wedge it into the window of the car. Hope you don’t like listening to the radio mister.

As dusk grew ever darker our hiker party showed up and cheers came from the high school crowd. However, they were premature in their celebration as the car was not unlocked.

This frustrated the young soul to use the utmost dire technique in locked car key retrieval. A LFR (Little Fucking Rock) was grabbed and tossed at the window, no breakage. So a SBFR (Slighty Bigger Fucking Rock) was grabbed and thrown at the window twice, no breakage. MIT may not take this kid’s application but at least he was persistent.

Our group of Mechanical Engineers couldn’t take it anymore. As it was truly dark (we had flashlights or the teenie boppers would have been dead in the water) our group used flashlights and a slightly more experienced antennae key retrieval technique and within 10 minutes, voila car is open. Celebration and “thank you’s” flowed like the Salmon of Capistrano.

AHHHHHHHHHH WNDC, you never let me down do you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sumter Metric Century

After “pre-riding” this course last year during a fundraiser, I knew I needed to take a LOT of gear inches with me as the climbing on this course around Midwestern South Carolina was miniscule at best. I decided to try something really stupid and throw some big volume cross tires on the Drunken Monkey along with a 34X15.

After unsuccessfully trying to mount the tires tubeless and destroying two tubes on the back tire setting them up with tubes, I was just sort of hoping I could get through the race with out DNF’ing from flats. I HATE running tubes in races.

After a 4:30 AM wakeup call, I met up with 3 other WNDC members and we took off headed deeper into the red clay region known as the Central Savannah River Area. When I used to live in Columbia, I scouted these trails alone and always thought it would be a great idea to link them together and that is exactly what this race is all about.

After a quick and easy race day registration, I staged my bike and got ready for the LeMan’s trot.

During the trot, I heard The Hawley Blog himself commenting on my trotting pace, “I like that pace you got Jonathon.” I think what he meant to say was that if my shorts (plaid) were any indication of my speed, than I had hit ludicrous speed.

On the bike I thought I might have been the first SS into the woods but I must have been wrong even though it would take me a long time to figure that out. I hadn’t tried the 60 PSI cross tires on any trail so I was anxious to see if I could keep it upright through the first section of root filled single-track.

It was obvious that I was going to be slightly slower than normal on the single track but I still kept a decent pace and I only had to let a few riders by, one being a SS that I hoped I would catch once things would flatten out. After a lot of banging around I was out on the first gravel section of the day and had kept it upright even though riding the skinny tires through the woods was intense and not pretty.

Instead of making a point to track the only SS’er that I knew was ahead of me down, I chatted with several folks for a bit and just generally realized that even on the gravel I was having a hard time spinning the gear up to speed. The tires were a great call but the gear was too much for me to handle, oh well.

After grabbing some bottle refills at the first 20 mile checkpoint I took off on the flat single track that is Wine, I love this trail it goes on and on as a tight six inch ribbon of single track that is meant for the big ring. I carefully negotiated the first and only technical rocks on the course and then took off. The only other scare tactic the trail uses against you are all the wet and slippery bridges. Most of the bridges have mesh over them to prevent a disaster and I was really enjoying myself through this section.

As I started to get into a groove I came up on one bridge real fast and realized it did not have mesh. I had to check my speed and tried an easy pull of the brakes but found myself sliding off the bridge next to my bike. No harm no foul, I was up quickly and back up to speed in no time.

Turkey was a repeat of Wine and I was happy to see the gravel and spin my legs out for a bit. At the second rest stop I had a sag bag waiting for me and it was SOOOOO hot I could only drink one of my precious yuenglings to keep the WNDC alive and choked down a ham sandwich. This of course occurred after I laid my bike down in the middle of a poison ivy patch. I had an extra tube in my sag as I was only carrying one but I left it there as I had not flatted.

Two miles away from the rest stop and 36 miles into the race I flatted. Right as I had the tube change in, the rolling dying rider lookout truck came into view and asked me if I would like a floor pump, hell yeah I want a floor pump I have to get this tire back up to 55 PSI. Even at that pressure the tire felt squishy and I was now out of tubes unless I wanted to ride back and get an extra, NO WAY. I had 30 miles to go and just had to hope it wouldn’t go flat again as nobody was going to have the right sized tubes.

I hit Modoc (Stephen’s Creek as I know it) and was surprisingly able to ride most of the 5.5 miles. I love this trail and was having a good time in the mud as we had just missed a thunderstorm. After a couple miles and passing people I came across a twisted bridge that people were falling off of trying to walk across the thing.

I hopped down into the creek and crossed that thing through the water. I didn’t need anymore of those experiences today.

Out of MODOC, more water and Powerade and I was on my way for the last grueling 15 miles along gravel and pavement. The worst part about the last section is that I was just barely catching up to some folks so I could see how far ahead of me they were on the highway and it looked like they were riding to Charleston.

Crossed the finish line in just under 6 hours and 3rd single speed out of 7 riders, I was waaaaay behind the first two and it adds to the learning lesson of gear ratios.

Great time, thanks to CSRA and all the volunteers, that was the best after ride burger I have had in awhile plus I got a sweet pint glass for my effort.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Appearances are Everything


Here it appears as though I am about to ride my bike, did I?

Thanks to Clay for the picture. He has been covering the WNDC quite well this year and its nice to read but I figured it was time for an update.

Yesterday was one of the best editions of the WNDC yet this year. We had the reigning DSG mud champion with us down from the Midwest along with some Creole crew, or is it Cajun? I always forget, anyway we had at least four states represented with 11 riders.

The route was a big one which included some of my favorites in the forest:

Reasonover -> Camp Summit -> Airstrip -> Shelter Rock -> Barn Trail -> Bridal Veil Falls Road -> Conservation -> Johanna -> Twin Oaks -> Briery Fork -> Grassy Creek -> Sandy -> Tarklin Branch -> (quick stop on the kids ‘skills’ trail) Holly Mountain -> RidgeLine -> Jim Branch -> Isaac Heath Locust -> Lake Imaging -> Buck Forest Rd -> Conservation -> Airstrip -> Fawn Lake Loop

I am always up for a classic tour of the forest when someone new and skilled shows up to ride. However, neither slick rock nor Burnt Mountain was ridden. Judging by the looks on everyone’s faces after Ridgeline, I don’t think anyone was let down. I think I heard “I can’t imagine a trail getting better than that” coming from someone.

The kids trail always turns out more injuries than any other. One was a victim of a knee bashing and I was almost victim of a groin pull trying to exit a skinny.


I can never really write enough about Ridgeline. Something about the far sight lines combined with high speed ripping sounding turns just gets me all emotional. I even entered and exited the log ride at a high speed but had to leap off a little early instead of leaving it all to chance. I had a “roadie tanned” Beefcake behind me laughing like a 5 year old coming down a four minute slip and slide which added to the hilarity of it all.

Good times for sure.

Thanks to ZB, I will be trying a tubeless cross tire 34 X 15 setup for this weekend’s Sumter Metric Century. It will either be a great idea or a disaster but it should make for good story telling either way. I plan to be on the lookout for cars and any bleach rain drops though so hopefully those exciting details will be left out this go around.

Hears to hoping everyone out there is riding their bikes again. A goat in a mountain shell has turned back up in the WWW, good on ya and I hope our treads will cross again soon.

Monday, May 04, 2009

I didn’t Die and I’m not Blind. PMBAR 2009

Its hard to go out to a Pisgah Production race and not come back with a good story. This year was no exception.

For Joe and me, it was our fourth year competing in PMBAR as a team. We have now completed four PMBAR’s with two 17th place standings as our best.

Earlier in the week Clay and I had talked about how we would need to dedicate our full attention to the racer meeting this year as things were going back to “Old Style PMBAR.” This meant we would be racing for 4 out of 5 checkpoints instead of 7 like the last couple years with the fifth checkpoint counting as a 2 hour time bonus.

I had good intentions of listening to the race meeting but I was having a hard time because I thought I might be going blind in the left eye. I had inadvertently grabbed my eye-dropper full of bleach instead of my eye drops about 10 minutes before the start of the racer meeting. Luckily the sting was so bad on the first drop I didn’t add anymore and instead just sat there hoping that putting the “real” eye drops in would help flush the bleach and I wouldn’t go blind. I do know for a fact that your eye can survive minimal contact with bleach. Remember kids, moderation is key.

I had heard the most important rule though, all the rules are on the map and we start/finish on Black Mountain just like previous years.

So we decided to take off up the mountain and look at the map later. I figured I would be walking soon enough and I would pull out the map and look at the checkpoints while we were walking.

Joe took off ahead of me and just as I was ready to start jockeying for position a bunch of gearies jumped in front of me going into the single track and dropped it into the granny gear. This frustrated me so I decided to just huff it by them without a call out. Its important to try and win PMBAR on the first turn.

After making the turn past Thrift and up the steep switchback I had Joe grab the map out of my pack and I read the checkpoints off in my head twice. By the time we made it to the descent headed to Pressley Gap, I had chosen our route for the day and had already waved 5 checkpoints off as ridiculous for my current fitness level.

It was fun flying through Pressley with everyone sitting there staring at the maps because I knew we were headed to Turkey Pen.

Our route for the day:

Black -> Turkey Pen -> S. Mills River -> Mullinax -> Squirrel -> Horse Cove -> 5018 -> 476 -> 1206 –> Pilot Rock (out and back) -> 1206 -> 276 - > 475 -> 225 (out and back) -> 475 -> 276 -> 477 -> Clawhammer -> Maxwell -> Black

I made most of the route decisions pretty quickly in my mind but for awhile I thought we would descend Laurel and hit 5000 instead of 225 but then Joe told me he had never ridden Pilot. So today would be his first hike up Pilot and his first descent on Pilot and therefore I changed the fourth checkpoint to 225.

I had a blast on all the single track. Turkey was fast and fun as usual as well as squirrel. The hike up Horse Cove is short. The views from 5018 always blow my mind. I struggled hiking up Pilot but kept eating and felt better and better. I cleaned Pilot coming down (stopping to shake my hands out twice) where Joe had an OTB experience in the rock garden.

As we were headed up Pilot, I saw Wes and Bennett coming down. Then we saw them again as they passed us going down 1206 headed to the West side. That meant they had ridden to 5000 and back in the time that it took us to hike up and descend Pilot. I figured they were flying and in the lead. I started to feel pretty good about my own route choice as I had picked it as a “fun” route.

The ride over to the end of 225 was pretty uneventful. Coming back was a different story.

Back when I would make the drive from Columbia SC to Pisgah, I almost had a brush with a hospital trip while riding on FS 225. I was flying down the hill headed to Cove Creek when I rounded a corner and met a small red car flying up the hill. I pulled a nice hippitty hip hop and narrowly missed the side view mirror by a few inches. This was back in 2003 or 2004.

Now back in 2009, I was off in “peaches N cream” land thinking about everything but riding my bike as we headed from our fourth checkpoint to the finish. I was riding down the hill from the checkpoint and riding smack dab in the center of the road. (Key South Park music DUMB DUMB DUM DADADADUM DUMB DUMMMMMMMB.)

I came around a corner just as a Jeep Grand Cherokee came around the corner the opposite way. I can’t really tell you how but somehow I managed to grab two fistfuls of brake, lay the bike down on its side, plow the front end of the bike into the Jeep and then roll off to the side of the Jeep in one fail swoop. I rolled over a few times on the road and jumped up saying “ohhhh man I am sorry I was not paying attention.” The look on this guy’s face was enough to know that I had just avoided a serious trip to the Hospital and the first true test of my healthcare plan at work. I continued to apologize as the guy put his jeep in reverse and pulled back away from my bike. Luckily he had quick reflexes and had stopped before actually running over the entire bike. I surveyed for damange, the only thing missing was my front carbon brake lever (why do they make those out of carbon again?) I found the lever lying on the ground, stuck it in my pack and we were on our way. No harm no foul.

From there it was an easy adrenalin filled cruise back to the start finish. The only time I missed the front brake was coming down Black but it didn’t slow me up nearly as bad as missing ¼ of my handle bar like last year.
That was one of the best ones yet Eric and volunteers!!!! Thanks so much for allowing me to live an event filled life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PMBAR PHENOM

Every ride that I have been on in Pisgah this year has started one of two ways. Straight up Black Mountain Trail or Sycamore Cove to Black Mountain trail.

One ride recently was an excellent loop; brain child of CF, part of the steel bike breaker club (you know who you are), I witnessed an amazing event. All three riders that I stopped to grab visual proof of attempting Q-bert rock on Bennett; cleaned the rocks and the switch back with me crouching tiger not-so-hidden photographer right in primo photo position but totally in the way of every rider.

Good times in the mountains of SC and NC.












































Tuesday, February 10, 2009

TMHTE 2009 – Stage 2 & 3

(Picture taken by Mike R.: Farlow during stage 1)



Stage two started as the sun was just coming up and I knew one thing, I had to get the hell out of the campground. Cove Creek had its own micro climate and it was freezing in that camp, a great motivator for going back out to ride.

As you can see in the post below for stage two, the mandatory was Cantrell and S. Mills River. That’s a pretty hefty task from Cove Creek.

Clay and I had decided to ride together for this stage so we discussed routes after Eric told us that there were still some closures due to the “whatever it is that is in the forest that might harm us but a prescribed burn will save us” thing in the woods. Sorry if you don’t know that story but it is a fiasco.

Our ultimate route for the day:

475 -> Davidson River -> 276 -> Pink Beds (Hike) -> Gauging Station -> S. Mills River -> Squirrel -> Horse Cove Gap -> from here we broke up. . .

All the crap before the mandatory is suffering that we worked through together. We had discussed the idea of going back via S. Mills River as Joe and I had done during the Double Dare this past October. I was up for it until I saw it. . .

I said “No way.” Clay said “Come on I will take your picture.” I said “no way, you first.”

TMHTE 2009 Clay Faine Crossing S. Mills River from pisgahproductions on Vimeo.
Clay gets the official “He is crazier than the Tomato award for 2009 on this one”. He steps into the water that is almost completely frozen over with four inch thick melting ice covering the fast moving river. Steps gingerly up onto the ice and gets about ¾ of the way across when he broke through, now he had huge 15 foot chunks of ice moving around him in the water so he had to break through it to get across. Now imagine having to do this 10 times. . .OH GOD I THOUGHT. (Picture by Clay: Me "testing the waters")

I tried to negotiate the water but it was obvious that I was not going to make it and the thought of falling in water colder than the Colorado made me realize I wanted to stay warm no matter how much climbing was involved.

Clay and I proceeded to do the, “You come over here, NO, you come over here” for a few minutes and then we bid adieu.

After that it was a hike-a-bike back up Horse Cove to Squirrel -> S. Mills -> Buckhorn -> Clawhammer -> 477 -> 276 -> 475 -> Davidson River Trail.

I made it back to camp and I was feeling pretty good. I hung around waiting for Kristin to show up and when she did I took off on Stage 3. Mandatory check point being the top of Farlow, sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet, Clay had called it earlier in the day.

I left at 6:00 with no idea how long it would take me. I found out pretty quickly that most of the teams were hitting the checkpoint and coming straight back down the road. That’s not my style.

The climb up Pilot Mountain Road was exactly what I had expected. A slog fest and I rode much more than I figured I could. It was quickly approaching 20 hours into the race and I felt good but the legs were losing power on the SS.

As I got closer to the top of the road, the moon came up and the Coyotes went wild. I was semi-hallucinating from sleep deprivation but the Coyotes were real and making wicked sounds that I hadn’t heard in a very long time since riding Dupont at night by myself.

When I made it to the checkpoint, I gathered my wits and went crazy riding down Farlow. I made it to the tree where 20 hours previously I had made the harrowing pass going up the beast that I was now descending. I rode a lot more than I would have expected including the log ride that starts flat and turns round. After coming off the log I realized I better pull it in a notch. I nabbed my second checkpoint for stage 3 and then had a blast coming down Daniel knowing all I had to do was climb the road back to camp and I could call it a night.

Back at camp, Eric informed me that I would take the “lead” if I were to head out on Stage 4. Even though I felt good I knew Stage 4 would take a long time and it was now 9:00 pm on the second night. I called it a night knowing my race was over. A great excuse being no vacation time left at work and a heavy Monday workload.

Great Race Eric and thanks so much to all the volunteers that helped!! I will finish this beast someday and then I might never do it again or. . .

Just as a side note, I was able to get in a hike and a ride on Sunday after freezing in my bag all night at camp.

Ride on Sunday with David George, Valerie and myself:

475 -> ????? -> Butter Gap -> Cat Gap -> Davidson River

Good times!!

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Most Horrible Thing Ever 2009, Official Halfway’er

(Picture - Clay before the start)



Two years in a row I have made it halfway in this horrible race. Last year Dennis and I accomplished the halfway mark and this year I did it solo.


Its Two O-clock AM Saturday morning and while most humans on the East Coast are vast asleep in a dream world, I am pushing my rigid single speed Karate Monkey up Farlow Gap. As it is rare to push up Farlow (this was my third time) its even more rare to have company. So being the sort of person I am, I was trying to start a party. I talked most everyone up, about where they were from, why they decided to do “The Most Horrible Thing Ever” so on and so forth. However, no one was in the partying mood, I took the hint and pressed on with my mouth halfway shut.



Just then, as we headed to the true hike-a-bike section on Farlow I saw the lights of our documentation crew which consists of Mike N’ team. I had been chatty with the two fellows in front of me but NOW IT WAS ON! I was three hours into a 36 hour race and time was precious so I yelled “ON YOUR RIGHT” and stormed off the trail and around the team in front of me for a valiant pass. The craziest thing about being somewhere in the middle of the night/morning is that no one really laughed at the time but I knew that memory would stick. It just so happened that I would remember this moment 20 hours later when I would descend the same trail I was ascending now.



Let’s back up a couple hours to right before the start of the race. I wake up in my tent, and thoughts of the Grand Canyon flood my mind as I slept in that same tent 90% of the time during my trip down the Colorado in January. Then I heard the same wicked sound I had heard this past October at 5:30 am at White Pines “ding-ding. . . ding-ding” it was Eric’s dainty warning that the racer meeting was about to begin. “Holy Cow” I thought, I am not at all ready. I had fallen asleep at 9:00 and now it was 11:45. The race starts in 15 minutes.
Needless to say, I was a little late starting. Clay and I had discussed riding together the weekend before but when he realized I wasn’t really ready, he took off. If I wasn’t the last racer to leave camp, I was very close.

Here were the stages and we were on Stage 1:

I really wanted to go slow for obvious reasons but I was also motivated to catch Clay as I knew he could be caught because of a pending injury. You gotta kick a guy where it hurts ya know.
So it is with this mission that I trudged up 475B. I saw many, talked to everyone and then at Cove Creek I saw Peter. I commented that it was good to see him healthy this year as he was sick the year before and pressed on.

(Picture - Peter's bike on Cove Creek's entrance)
Nothing like coming down the paint shaker (cove creek) first thing in the middle of the night to wake you up, I cussed Mr. Pisgah Productions for bringing us back to camp so quickly so I made my amends by stopping and having some pizza and a beer.
I chatted with Erinna about how far everyone was ahead. Not that it mattered, its just fun to be in the know.



Next up was Daniel Ridge and ultimately Farlow from Daniel. I started passing some more folks and just generally having a good time riding the SS way too much but its so fun.
After the fiasco on Farlow with no one wanting to party with me, I quickly went down 140A. I was taking it slow bouncing around in the rocks thanking myself for rocking tubeless again (not one flat in 21 hours for me) when I came across Clay with a flat. SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTTTTTT SOMEONE TO PARTY WITH!!!!!!!!!!!



I stopped and bragged about how fast I was while Clay fumbled with the flat. We partied and then I helped him stuff all of his crap back into his useless saddle bag. If you want a real damn bag, order one from Epic Designs! I haven’t broke the thing yet so it just might be indestructible.
Clay and I pushed on, we talked about whether or not there was a trail from Courthouse falls to the Devil’s Courthouse and then railed the steep descent on Sumney Cove. We both cleaned that wicked descent and I was stoked beyond belief. I really love that trail and I rarely force myself to go out there, thanks Eric.



Nothing exciting until Butter when clay and I discussed new to us single track, butter was golden as always and really cool because it was frozen. The entire night was very other-worldly because of the deep frost that coated the ground in crystals. It was extremely weird seeing what looked like huge wet mud ruts and then magically your tires would just roll over them due to their frozen nature. (Picture - sleeping bag frozen before the start of the race)



The sun started to show its rays just as I pedaled the road back to camp.




The rest of the race will come tomorrow along with The Most Horrible Video Ever, you won’t believe what you see!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Night Fiasco on the Colorado River

“Can you help me pick up Wes and Christie?” where the words from Andre that prompted it all. We were at our halfway point on the trip, eight days had passed since we put in at Lee’s Ferry and it was time to drop off five people and pick up 2 leaving us with thirteen for the rest of the trip.

(Picture by Fiona "Hiking" in the Grand Canyon)

To add some background, the Grand Canyon isn’t too cooperative when it comes to leaving or entering the beast from the Colorado River. The only way to make a passenger exchange on the trip is to have whoever wants to leave hike out and whoever wants to join the trip, hike in. On paper, it seems like a simple task but in reality you have to remember that you are literally hiking one mile up or down. It just so happens that in January, the trail can become nothing but glare ice and snow at the top. I had already given my make-shift crampons to one of my comrades that was planning on hiking out the next morning as they hadn’t thought about the icy possibility and they weren’t needed for hikes around the river.

I thought it was going against our agenda picking these folks up in the evening instead the next morning as I had originally thought. However, when Fiona (our trip leader and permit holder) said it would be my only chance to use the one and only pay phone in the entire canyon, I jumped at the proposition as I was longing to speak to Kristin.

So our mission was to travel ½ - ¾ a mile from our camp to Phantom Ranch downriver and on river right as our camp was on river left would seem like a simple task as Andre, Robert, Doug and I all took off to find our new trip goers.

(Picture Blue Skies in the beginning of the Canyon)

After successfully finding out that Wes and Christie were on my page instead of Fiona’s as they had decided to stay in a cabin at Phantom instead of coming back with us, we made our phone calls and headed back to the raft. With new life in my bones after talking with Kristin, I wasn’t worried that the dark was quickly approaching and we still had to oar against the mighty current of the Colorado to make it back to camp.

Seeking comfort I had removed my dry suit and thinking we would simply row our way back to camp I neglected to put it back on. Our first attempt at crossing an eddy line proved the fact that we were in no way going to row this beast of an 18 foot raft loaded with gear back to the camp. I jumped onto shore and donned my dry suit. Andre and I were now on a new mission, to pull the raft up along the shore. We had to create a two person system, one would hold the boat in place (in chest to neck deep water with sharp rocks and ledges underneath your feet) while the other carefully made their way up shore holding the rope. Once in place we would both pull the boat up the shoreline. This process was repeated in the dark about 20 times before we could row again.

(Picture Moon and Beginning Canyon Walls)

We finally saw the light of our camp and knew we had one chance to make it into the eddy on the other side of the river crossing the downstream current. With some vigorous rowing we made it to safety and informed Fiona our trip was fruitless. Well except for those of us who were able to talk to loved ones.