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