Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Twelve Days In














A toast to our new little ray of sunshine's first hike.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Yeah Snow!!

Thanks to Kristin for my new camera. I can start photo blogging again. I think this was as tough as this hike has ever been. It was mostly a controlled fall coming back down.














Monday, November 01, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hang Your Tongue Out In the Woods




Four hour Wednesday night ride for the "Howler's Moon." Long day in the woods on saturday with two bee stings, a decent down Big Creek and Trace in the same day equals happiness. Even if your fork sounds like a small bird.
The pictures above are from a 3 hour 20 minute fast hike on Sunday. Hospital Rock, CCC, Rainbow Falls, Jones Gap. The crazy part, no rain the entire time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

WNDC!






Thanks to Clay for this awesome picture!! Its the best ride season and you know the leaves are going to look like firecrackers in the woods so get out there.



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Technical Mud Puddles – Wild 100 2010

What do you do when, you haven’t ridden your bike more than 30 miles since Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure and you need a fix? Well you sign up for the Wild 100 in West By God Virginia, that’s what you do.

I only had a small idea of what I was getting myself into. Its called the Wild 100 because the promoter tries to design the course so that you ride approximately 100 kilometers. My ally and drinking partner Mr. Pisgah Adventure and I rode up to the Elk River Touring Center on Friday, made quick work of camp and got busy doing what we do best.

After dinner, I just couldn’t help myself and being a socialite I took up advice as to where I could find the rock stars of this race. I was told that the rainbow ended at the back of the campground where the fire was.

A quick reconnaissance turned up nothing but sleeping bodies, the only people left standing on Friday night were from Pisgah (I was lumped into this group by default.) We had two individuals and one team representing the area.

I had prepared myself for a HUGE day in the woods as I had no idea where I was going and I had to somehow find 5 checkpoints deep in the woods on this strange land.

Go!

I opened my map and immediately knew what trail I was taking, the 8 miles of decently graded singletrack named Props Run. I took off quick and kept up with some racer types just so I wouldn’t have to pull the map out for a few minutes. After I knew I was on the right trail and steadily ascending, I set to my all day pace and was passed over and over again. I knew I was going slowly but I knew that a slow warm up would be the only way for me to survive.

It wasn’t long and I had nabbed my first checkpoint and I had to check the map for checkpoint two. It looked as though a trail named Gauley Mountain was the only way to go so I set out for the gravel grind to this trail. Along the way I chatted with John a rider on a rigid NINER who was obviously teaming up with another group who knew the way much better than John and I. Unknown to me at the time, John was my only competitor for the day as we were the only two in the “First Timers” class.

As John and his group yo yo’d with me back and forth we chatted about where we were from and what trails we liked. Then we found Gauley Mountain Trail and they paused, I wasn’t ready to stop so I pedaled on down the trail. Gauley Mountain was in horrid shape, endo inducing hub deep mud puddles littered this trail. There was virtually no dry singletrack to be had over the course of the trail. Adding insult to injury, it started to rain and then pour buckets. Gauley “Mountain” was flat and I was pissed off at this trail so I wanted it to be over as quick as possible. Adding absurdity to injury, my swim trunk cover ups started breaking the laws of physics. I started to hammer but as I spun the bike up to speed my trunks would catch the seat bolt clam wrenching my spinning legs to an immediate halt. I eventually had to roll up and “peg” my swim trunks so I could spin.

Once Gauley Mountain ended, I was forming a better attitude despite the fact that it was still raining. At least I was riding my bike rather than rafting the high seas of Gauley Mountain.

I made it to checkpoint two much faster than what I had thought it would take and relished in the fact that my lighter still worked. Now that my head was properly in the game, I was ready to start clicking off checkpoints.

I knew the next single track coming up was the premier downhill of the day so once on top of Tea Creek Mountain, I pulled out my fresh gloves and enjoyed a killer descent of 4 miles to Tea Creek Campground where checkpoint 3 awaited my arrival.

For motivation, I decided to ask if I was the first “First Timer” into the checkpoint. She informed me that I was so I took a long look at my map and ate my roast beef sandwich loaded with mustard. I figured the best route to checkpoint 4 was a trail named Turkey Point. Later that night, I would find out that I was the sole racer that took this trail. It was a steep beast of a hike a bike in the beginning and after another pep talk at the bottom I started making up banjo songs about Turkey Point as singing at the top of my lungs seemed to drown out the fact that I was walking alone next to the Drunken Monkey. In all actuality, I was in the best mood I had been in all day.

Once on top of the ridge, the riding was incredible. In my mind, I was the luckiest racer to be the only one who took this trail. It was completely covered in bright green moss that contrasted the dark skies and fog that loomed all day. Encompassed in the moss were rocks, rocks and more rocks. There was some awesome descending and then I found myself at the intersection of Bear Pen which I knew had the shelter where checkpoint 4 loomed. It was another low point as I pushed my way up to the shelter but eventually I made it.

I realized that most everyone else was taking a different route as I descended back to my favorite trail on the mountain Gauley. I had already looked and knew I didn’t have to ride much of Gauley on the way to checkpoint 5. Otherwise I would have gladly climbed 4 more mountains to avoid this muddy POS. Out onto the Gravel that would take me to checkpoint 5 I climbed and sung songs about water and beer as I hadn’t had a beer yet today and was out of water. At some point, probably the peak of my song I buzzed right by one of my turns and didn’t notice for about 15 minutes of descending, OUCH. I checked the map and then cussed at myself for every turn of the cranks back up the hill. I ended up being without water for 45 minutes. I passed some streams I could have bleached water out of but I figured I would make it to the checkpoint before it purified anyway.

The promoter Gill was at checkpoint 5 along with one of sons and a dog. The dog started licking my legs while I sipped my beer and drank a coke. When I sat down the dog licked my arms incessantly so I poured some beer on my arm for him to drink. We were best friends. I announced that it was too dangerous to drink 24 ounces of liquid courage before descending my last 8 miles down Props Run to the finish so I poured the rest out and fixated my mind on not getting hurt. Strangely enough, I really enjoyed the descending and the 8 miles was over after a series of a million grunt inducing creek crossings. There aren’t too many smooth spots on these trails around Elk River Touring Center.

I crossed the line after 11 and some odd hours of trudging through the woods for a solid first place. John who I found out was my only competition at the awards came in about an hour after me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Snow Is All Gone

Summertime is here just in time for short rides. Long drawn out rides are for the winter time when the air is crisp, cool and bug free. I am crossing my fingers that I am on the healing side of my injuries and I am feeling a desire to ride often.

So despite what you may think, I am still riding and having a good time. The best ripping descent I have had in a long time was on Trace Ridge this past Sunday. DG and I were out tooling around with the dogs and after our hike up Spencer Branch I announced that I was lethargic. DG argued that his lethargy could trump mine so I took the lead. After the initial climb to the actual top, I was refreshed to see that a smooth laser beam of a line has been carved into this trail goddess.

Thoughts of being tired flew off of me and soon I had that unmistakable feeling of flying through the woods. It was all over way too soon but it re-awoke the desire to go fast.

W.N.D.C. has been going on with or without you. It’s a self-sustaining club, now if we could only build trails this way. I am a futuristic thinker.

Last night a good group met up for a jaunt through Dupont:

Fawn Lake -> Reasonover -> Camp Summit -> Airstrip -> Shelter Rock -> Corn Mill Shoals -> Bridal Veil Overlook (out and back) -> Burnt Mountain -> Corn Mill Shoals -> Longside -> Pine Tree -> Sheep (Baaaaaaaaa) Mountain -> Buck Forest -> Conservation Road -> Fawn Lake

It was HOT, fast, hot, slow, humid, hot and finally nice in the water.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finally, A Win

No, not in a race, that might never happen again. However, the fundraising ride I was organizing for obtaining funds to create a Flow Park in Gateway Park went off without a hitch.

I have to admit that a small wave of depression hit when I got to Sunrift and it started raining. I was thinking to myself “not again” as last time it rained and therefore our main mission to raise money was befuddled.

This time was different though and we had great success with raising enough money to say we are 1/5 of the way to our goal.
Two rides were led out of Guion farms with some helpful volunteers leading an intermediate ride and myself leading a 28 mile ride that touched the three main lots in Dupont. A big thanks to everyone who helped make it possible. (Pictures are courtesy of Paul Mayni and John "I don't know your last name)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why Did I Do That?

So this weekend started off with a bang, literally. Next thing I knew, I was running my first 5K in a race format ever. With close to 3,000 people at the start line, I only concentrated on not getting tripped up for the first ¼ mile and not re-injuring my ankle. It was maddening with people everywhere so as soon as I saw a hole, I took off way too fast.

I couldn’t really refuse this challenge as it was only a few miles from my house so I rode my bike to and from the race while also running the 5K that supports the Swamp Rabbit that has finally opened from end to end making downtown Greenville accessible to me via 13 miles of greenway. All it takes for me to get to the greenway is three miles of 35 mph road. I am also currently working on a project to help improve Gateway Park for “Flowy” types so it wasn’t hard to throw down $11.00 for a good cause.

I forgot how much farther things seem on foot and got lost trying to follow the course prior to the race on my bike. Eventually, I found the missed turn and realized there were two significant hills on the course. I figured if I could power up those two hills, I would be home free for a fast cruise to the finish.

My ankle felt fine while running so I let it all hang out the best I could. I have not trained for shorter events so I was in significant pain when I passed mile marker one at 6:48. Mile marker two came at mid fourteen minutes. All I had left was a very gradual climb up the swamp rabbit to the finish for the final 1.2 miles but I was spent. Guys pushing strollers started passing me, small children that came up to my knees went flying by and I just suffered.

I was so spent at the finish I didn’t even look at my time, however I saw on the website today that I came in at 23:45. So I ran the last mile in 9 minutes, that’s ugly!

Sunday was one of the shortest mountain bike rides all year with the dogs. They loved the 90% single track route picked especially for Shade. We flew around the loop and made it home a little after Noon.

Fisherman’s Trail -> Trace Ridge -> Spencer Branch -> 50?? -> Lower Trace -> Fisherman’s

Monday, May 03, 2010

PMBAR 2010 – OUCH!!!

It feels like the very first time. . .

So I know you reader, you came here for the catastrophic failure of yet another component on me or my bike that will entail an epic Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race report (PMBARR). If epic involves carefully placing my foot for every hike-a-bike step, extreme cramping and an overall 19th place finish, then sure, read on.

As though on cue, I woke up Saturday morning and immediately the bottom of my foot cramped, YIKES, maybe beer isn’t the best hydrator for the human form. By now, Joe and I have our pre-game down, we ate our breakfast, had a little coffee and were off down the road carless toward the start.

GO!

I said to those standing around me, what are we going to look at the maps for? Will it say Black is off limits?

I pretty much knew the way we were going due to my ankle’s circumstance. I wasn’t going to egg my ankle on with more hike-a-bike up to Turkey Pen when I knew the top was not yet clear, stepping through deadfall would equal death for an already injured foot.

The start of this race is always the most entertaining part of the race for me. I love watching everyone’s ‘technique’ for climbing to Pressley Gap.

Joe and I made quick work of Pressley and headed down Maxwell and up Clawhammer. At the bottom of Clawhammer, I took a peek at the checkpoints and for the climb up Clawhammer, I went over routes in my head.

I have been talking about my ankle, but how bad was it you ask? I am not sure but I can tell you that when I sat out Cohutta the week before, I had a huge cankle and it was a pretty color of purple and green.

Now, climbing Clawhammer, my ankle was still different colors in small spots but most of the bruising was gone and all the swelling had receded. So even though Joe and I had been talking a big game all year, I was route finding for four checkpoints rather than five.

With this in mind, I knew we were skipping 225, it was only a question of Pilot first or dropping down South Mills for a counter-clockwise route. As much as anyone wants there to be a “secret” route that will give you an advantage, there isn’t. I was leaning toward Pilot for numerous reasons but I thought I would ask Joe. He seemed to confirm that Pilot early sounded like a decent idea. So after a quick map check to make sure that 476 by the gauging station wasn’t closed as in past years, it wasn’t so off we went.

We made quick work again on Pilot hiking all the switchbacks with every rock looking like a swollen ankle but it was holding up fine. Joe was obviously stronger than me as he was leading all the climbs.

A quick conversation with Shane at our first Mandatory checkpoint, and we were off. We hadn’t seen anyone hiking up Pilot and now we were headed down Laurel Mountain. Descending Laurel was the greatest fun of the day, I laughed out loud as we flew past some of the gaps. Its hard to beat giddy mountain biking on a hot spring day. Well except for maybe, a cool spring day.

As we rode over Yellow Gap toward FS 5000, we started seeing teams again and I knew most had made the alternate decision to head counter-clockwise. We stopped for water at the campground and worked our way to Spencer up 5000. This is where I started to feel bad, it was hot and I was turning the cranks slowly.

Nabbing Spencer, a COLD PBR, YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!! I drank a mini red bull and started to feel a little better. Joe started questioning our route choice when he found out most teams had 3 checkpoints as we only had two. I said “yeah but now they have to climb Laurel or ride 1206 all the way over to Pilot.” I kept up with Joe finally climbing back to Yellow Gap, it was still hot.

Down 5015, Joe commented “I thought this road was down to Bradley?” I said “it is.” It just goes to show that perception changes when you are out there for hours on end.

I chatted with Allan quickly at Bradley and Laurel. He confirmed our unusual choice by saying that we were a rare breed heading clockwise.

I started leading the climb to the switchbacks up Laurel Creek and it took the wind out of my sails. When I got to the hike-a-bike I started falling behind and feeling like crap.

On Squirrel I had the first twinge of cramps, I thought to myself “great cramps on squirrel, now is not the time to flail.” I realized I had dug a hole, so I did my best to fill that hole up eating and drinking but it was obvious I was slowing way down. I had hoped that if we could keep a decent clip on Squirrel, our route would work out just fine.

Eventually we made it to the Sermon (literally 20+ guys with overnight packs speaking the gospel) at Squirrel and Cantrell. I filled a bottle at the creek and heard clapping as I took off continuing on Squirrel.

The rest of the day, climbing S. Mills River and Buckhorn, I was fighting cramps bad, punching my inner thigh with every pedal stroke to stave off the debilitating cramps.

Besides passing out and backers on 1206/5000, we hadn’t seen any teams all day and finally climbing Maxwell, it felt like a race again. We were passing teams and being passed. Once we were back on Black, we railed the descent as fast as our cramping hands would allow us, ultimately being the 5th four check point team into the finish but ultimately we were pushed to 19th.

A huge thanks to Pisgah Productions and all the volunteers!!! No swelling on the ankle today means one hell of a fast recovery, thank you ice and Advil, you do wonders.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just Put Some Peanut Butter On It

All you have to do to ruin any good fortune in your life is to talk about it. At a party this past Saturday, I was talking trail running with some friends and I expressed my good fortune in not turning any ankles in a long time. Its not hard to see where this is going is it?

Well sure enough after running the entire Rainbow Falls trail at Jones Gap I was happily pacing back to the car on the flat section next to the Middle Saluda when out of nowhere I was laying flat on the ground with my ankle screaming at me. I was in absolute agony but was able to walk out. Applying the usual regiment of ice, a little rest, elevation has helped but in no way can I race Cohutta this weekend. So I will be on the sidelines cheering (making fun and drinking beer) the racer types.

What about PMBAR? Well thanks to some emails from my partner in crime, I remembered the adversity we have faced in the past four years racing PMBAR together.

The first year I lost the map on a fall going up Laurel, only to find the map with another team going back down Laurel. Then we descended Black in the dark with pretzel lamps.

The next year went by without too much adversity besides the normal PMBAR madness, no brake pads left and a spent rotor at the end of the day. ~The year of the angry burrito.

In 2008, my handlebar broke descending Clawhammer. I descended Black from Pressley with ¾ of a handle bar.

Last year I started the day with some bleach in the eye and then slid under a Jeep on 225 breaking my front brake lever. Again, we finished despite the circumstances.

So in 2010 the adversity begins before the race . . .

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Flailing

Starting from the Black Mountain Parking lot, Joe and I made an unorthodox loop around the Ranger District since in his words “I need to get some climbing in.”

Sycamore Cove -> Thrift Cove -> Black Mountain -> Buckhorn Gap -> S. Mills River -> Squirrel Gap -> Horse Cove -> 5018 -> 476 -> 1206 -> Pilot Mountain Road -> Slate/Pilot -> Pilot Cove -> 1206 -> 476 -> S. Mills River -> Buckhorn -> Clawhammer -> 477 -> 276

I am not sure how far or how much elevation but I seem to be trending this year on my rides. I like to not drink enough, not eat enough and dig some really big holes.
With Cohutta Big Frog 65 coming up this weekend and PMBAR the following weekend, I am really hoping to break this trend. We will see.

Monday, April 05, 2010

P36 2010

Walking up Horse Cove on Saturday with sticks poking at every part of my body, hoards of gnats flying in every orifice, I could only think about walking forward and hoping I could get on my bike soon or I might just go whacko. It was approximately 2:30 in the afternoon on Saturday and I had been on the bike for over 14 hours.


Horse Cove was a low point for me on Saturday. I had knocked out stage one well enough but when I got done around 6:30 Saturday morning I had felt awful so I slept for over an hour and then suited up for Stage 2.

My route for Stage 2: Cove Creek campground -> Cove Creek -> 225B -> 475B -> 276 ->477 -> Club Gap -> Avery Creek -> (FS Road from Avery to the top of Clawhammer) -> Clawhammer -> Buckhorn -> S. Mills River -> Squirrel Gap -> Horse Cove -> Cantrell -> S. Mills River -> Turkey Pen Parking Lot (ba ck track all the way to Buckhorn but I continued up S. Mills to Pink Beds) Pink Beds -> 276 -> 475 -> Davidson River -> Cove Creek Campground



When I got to Turkey Pen Parking lot (self portrait picture) I was at my low for the weekend. It was all I could do not to beg for a ride back to Cove Creek. When I got to Pink Beds I lost my mind, pulled out my passport (which was not marked as 276 off limits) and cruised down 276. It probably took just as long but I was tired and done. DQ’d from the off limits 276 that was on the board, oops.





I had a great time while I was out in the woods, the only wildlife I saw was a mouse descending Farlow with me. I was so enthralled to see the little guy negotiate the rocks I almost forgot to look at the trail













































Thanks a bunch to Pisgah Productions pushing my limits. Some day. . . . some day. (The last three pictures were from a group ride {with some of the dropouts} on Sunday) Thanks to D. Kuntz for the log ride pics.





Tuesday, March 30, 2010

P36 Prep


Somewhere in the depth of this photo, lies a secret weapon. . .

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rest Days

I can say for sure, that I have done what I could to prepare for this year’s version of P36 (RIP The Most Horrible Thing Ever). I can finally let “TMHTE” name go as the weather is lining up to be what some call down right beautiful even if it is to my disadvantage (my optimum cycling temperature is right around freezing).

Back when Kristin and I got home from Banff I made it a goal to train outside despite the weather we had this year. I won’t go into those details. I will just say that my way of avoiding SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is to stay outside as much as possible.

So now the weekend of P36 is quickly approaching and I am trying to calm my mind as best as possible. Its time for me to sort through gear, stare at the map and remind myself that riding circles across the 280 map is easy cheesy.

Two Saturday’s in a row I have spent most of my time helping clear trail in Pisgah. Clay asked me about my goals and expectations for P36 while we wrestled trees and limbs off of Squirrel Gap. He was dumbfounded by my response which is that I have no expectations. I like to go ride and do my best, which I plan to do and smile while doing just like last year. Wherever that takes me, so be it.

Of course, all the time and energy I put into the Gateway Park fundraising ride was basically awash. No seriously, it rained and I wasn’t about to ask people to donate money to go ride in the rain. So a small group made it out on the Swamp Rabbit and also to Clemson. I hate it when these things don’t work out but there will be other days and other rides, however I feel as though I will have to get more creative actually raising funds. Volunteer advocacy is tough but if it were easy, we probably wouldn’t have to do it.

It is something I will probably focus on more after April as this month is lining up to be hectic as always with P36, Cohutta and PMBAR.

To those who have carried saws on rides and done trail work this early season, may good trail karma come your way.

Mr. Drunken Monkey, I will see you at midnight this Friday.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gateway Flow Park Fundraising Ride


I have been coordinating the efforts for a Flow Park (its really a pump track but SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH we are not allowed to say that) at the park in Travelers Rest SC.


Some come one come all on March 28th and bring 50 friends. More details at http://www.upstatesorba.org/.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What's Going On?

Last Wednesday I made it out to Dupont for a little alone time with the dogs and my saw.
Before. . .
After. . .

Mine still had some snow drifts. I gawked at the sunset till it was time to go home. Two hours and only .5 mile of trail cleared in that time.






Jocassee Gorges, I heard more bitching on this ride than I have over health care.


Thanks to the time change, the dogs and I can start trail running Jones Gap again.







I have a feeling springtime won't last long in these parts.




Monday, March 15, 2010

Pure Bliss

I am not keeping up with the blog period. I will get back to it eventually when I take some photos worth posting.

I have not been slacking on workout luckily. Lots of miles on the mountain bike and some 6 mile neighborhood runs inbetween for good measure.

Two mountain rides this weekend but the pure bliss comes from a ride that goes a little something like. . .

Dogs weaving in and out of the woods, how is it there are more dogs than riders? With a terrific crash of leaves there goes another one and I watch as she bounds while I take drifting leafy corners at speed. I can't imagine anywhere else I would want to be at this moment.

Life is good.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Parkway Report


Giving it my all post holing on the parkway close to the Devil's Courthouse.

After the video stopped I almost collapsed from exhaustion. I make it look easy as the snow was still very deep this past Saturday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Packed Powder Conditions

So this past weekend the south saw a significant snow storm. We got some of the white stuff at the house and so the weather called for an early morning Paris Mountain ride.

J got to the house early enough but it wasn’t until we were properly hydrated and baconated that we were able to leave.

It was a much longer day than anticipated as J and I climbed the mountain four different times including the ride to and from the house.

The conditions on the backside of the mountain were much like a packed powder day. Just as I was explaining to J that Vancouver wishes they had these snow conditions my wheel slipped out causing my handlebars to snag a tree and down I went.

I guess it is time to start a new “training” log as P36 has been postponed due to weather. So a 35 mile ride to Paris and back starts the trend of “peaking” in April.









Monday, February 08, 2010

The Next Ice Age?

Jones Gap on Saturday, surprisingly, there was quite a bit of snow left over from our most recent storm. Hard fast hiking including a lot of snow running as it was the perfect moisture level for helping you stick to the trail.

Sunday morning, I found myself riding up Paris at 8:30 in the morning. I was able to get in and out for a good ride without hitting all the crowds. I happened upon one hiker while I was descending Pipsissewa. My bike was being extremely quiet and the young lady and her canine companion had not noticed me. This scenario happens a lot to me so I knew I would frighten her when I said hello as she was obviously enjoying the woods. Complacently I said “Good Morning” she reeled around along with the dog doing a jumping 180 degree turn and proclaimed that I had in fact scared her. I apologized and moved along. I believe Ninja’s were single speeders with cantilever brakes.




Clay negotiates a technical trail feature.




A properly trained dog awaits a treat.


Duma loves to try and fly, I don't know if he will ever get all four feet off the ground with that wingspan.