Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dupont Report

Of the trails that we dared ride for the WNDC yesterday evening, here is what I can report to you my reader.

Longside: Good condition, minimal impact from recent storms and currently dry.

Twixt: Increased ruts in spots, currently dry

Rock Quarry Road: Mostly clear, soft in spots

Buck Ridge Road: Clear, mostly dry

Micajah: Top rutted section is a disaster zone with increased rut damage from storms

Wilikie: Slick rock doesn’t erode good shape.

Big Rock: Very bottom is a rutted mess along with the normal wet spots, rest is good to go.

Cedar Rock Steep side: Same as Big Rock

Cedar Rock Long side: Good to go

Little River: Have you ever ridden it? Its wet.

Pine Tree: Good to go as Clay and I removed two sets of deadfall and it is dry.

Sheep Mountain: Good to Go

Isaac Heath and Locust: Good to Go

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pisgah Report

Finally for some recon, I got out for a dark night in Pisgah for some fun. I have been weary of the conditions in Pisgah after the snow storms and rain but when I read about the Friday night ride on MTBR I couldn’t resist.

I started my ride at 5:30 with a quick out and back on Coontree. I was surprised at the conditions on the bottom section as the trail was surprisingly dry.

Once I met up with Clay and Zach for our ‘warm-up’ on Farlow I realized that not all the conditions were superb. The roads are completely drenched and the ride up Pilot Mountain road was harder than I ever remember. It is a constant zig zag battle to figure out where the ground feels semi-ride-able. The roads just beg for you to get off and walk sucking every last bit of your energy.

On the double track over to the top of Farlow we found some leftover shin deep snow drifts. For a small section we hit the “disaster line” with trees down everywhere even though all of Farlow is clear.

I fell four times coming down Farlow, the hardest of them all happened while hiking down a steep section.

We met up with the rest of the group on Daniel and continued our loop:

276 -> 475 -> Davidson River -> 475 -> Pilot Mountain Road -> Farlow -> Daniel (counter clockwise, turn around at the bottom for a repeat) -> Cove Creek -> 225 -> 475 -> 276 -> 477 -> Bennett Gap -> Coontree

We rode from clear skies on Cove Creek into intense fog on 477. A great night with 8 hours logged in the woods.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gorges Biking

As I was running next to Dennis while he spun the granny gear I said "You know why this is so hard? Because it isn't supossed to be Gorges Biking, its mountain biking."

Try riding your bike somewhere with "Gorges" in it and you will be in for some pain.

When you can't get a map this detailed anywhere, you take pictures of the map for consultation later. In the past two days I have logged close to 50 miles in Jocassee Gorges and I am sore.

Clay and I made the trip to Jumping off Rock on Friday and then a group of us made it back for a different route on Saturday.

Sunset on Jocasee from Jumping off Rock.

Clay prepares for the dark that is soon to come on the grueling 9 mile ride back to the trucks.

Saturday morning breakfast of champions for some unamed scandium rider.

We found some freshly graded roads, not all of it was finished though. . . (picture courtesy of ZB)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Desolate Parkway

The day started with some trail work on Bear Branch. The pine was frozen to the forest floor.

Creek crossings have new meanings in January when it is REAL COLD.

Alas but the parkway looks clear!!

The parkway won't be open to vehicles for quite some time.

Maybe it isn't all clear. . .

After the first tunnel, Clay mentioned death and frostbite so it was time to head home.

For warming up.

For cooling down.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Dupont Greenways

If you think Dupont was “not technical” and “too smooth” for your liking then definitely don’t go out there for some time. Dennis and I braved the cold for what we thought was going to be a gravel grinder yesterday.

After ample supplies had been drunk we made our way toward Mine Mountain. As soon as I spied the trail and saw that it was all frozen over and we made the call.

I couldn’t believe it when the snow cohesiveness was good enough to climb the first pitch on Mine Mountain. I couldn’t take a bunch of weight off of the rear tire but if you sat back and pedaled hard you could fly up the trail. As the trail leveled out I couldn’t believe what was happening, the snow was still pretty deep but the way it has been thawed and refrozen has created the greatest adult play land, no studded tires or ribbed condoms required.

As we powered up Mine faster than we ever have before Dennis said “Watch those downhills” and sure enough I was really puckered coming down.

Next it was off to the Airstrip which was magnificent with the top turns being clear and the bottom completely covered. When I stopped by the tree ride at the bottom of the Airstrip you could actually ride in-between the two trees on the snow. Then I got off the bike and almost killed myself. Walking on the surface with bike shoes proved quite difficult.

Off up Johanna and again I have never climbed so well as it was as though the road had been paved overnight. Then the fun ensued, Johanna was a roller coaster ride, with the snow being so hard it is as though there were no trails, only a big blanket of white to turn over and you could rail turns and crisscross over the trail. I was laughing out loud when I stuck my front wheel into a fallen tree and went sailing over the bars. As I hit the ground I started sliding next to Dennis while he was still riding. Apparently there were spots where the freeze left it super slick and almost immediately Dennis also hit the ground.

I was slightly more cautious after this but hit the ground another time. The snow was so compact and frozen that my handle bar smacking the surface hardly left a scratch. We ended up having to post hole and ice climb up some steeper stuff but I can’t imagine having a better time on the bike. At one point I slipped and started sliding on my feet back down the trail. I had to fall and use my bike to arrest my fall. Everywhere on the trails you can see where animals have crossed and how they make their paths in the woods. Once it thaws it is going to be awful but if it is cold go have some incredible turns on the craziest snow I have ever seen.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Being a Beginner

Its been awhile since I have felt like a true beginner at a sport but while in Banff I had the chance to try just that. After meeting Leslie and Keith in Banff, Keith was kind enough to fish up some touring skis for me so I could make my first ski tour!

Well not only did Keith hook me up with the skis but also a pack with everything one needs for a trip to the back country including, shovel, water, avalance beacon and skins for the skis.

Keith taught me the basics of the avalance beacon such as turning it on and checking the battery power. Its good to be safe.

Putting skins on and off is a task in itself. The skins help the skis stick to the snow so you can ascend steep slopes. The act of "skinning" is where I felt like a total beginner. When it get's steep it all becomes counter-intuitive but eventually I made it work.
Breaking trail is the hardest work and luckily I only did it for a brief period of time.

In this picture you can see our fresh tracks on the left side. We found some great snow.


Lend these two your camera and you will come back with more pictures than you bargained for. Truth be told, I couldn't thank these two enough for a great day in the snow.

After a path is beaten down life get's much easier and fast turns come alive.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Sixty-Four Degrees of Change

I have started an unorthodox, unreliable, unstructured self-motivated training plan to help me hopefully complete this year’s edition of February madness. I don’t know what to call that race anymore as not calling it “The Most Horrible Thing Ever” just tears at my heart.

First off the “un-train log” since I have been back from vacation:

December 21st one and a half hour trail run.

December 22cnd two and a half hour trail run/hike.

December 23rd 3 hour trail ride.

December 24th 1 hour easy picnic walk with the dogs and Kristin.

December 26th 3 hour 40 minute trail run/fast hike.

December 27th 3 hour ride from Travelers Rest through Paris and ultimately downtown.

December 29th 1 hour trail run.

December 30th 4 hour ride on the mountain bike.

January 2cnd 4 hour mountain bike ride at Croft.

As I drove to the trails in the dark on the 21st, I noticed the temperature at the Marietta Fire Station read 42 degrees F. Now just 8 days earlier Kristin and I had gone hiking in Banff Alberta where the temp was -22 degrees F. Yes, 64 degrees difference in 8 days. To say I was back in South Carolina was an understatement. So onto the good stuff from our time in Canada. I have only loaded some of the pictures and have to make an entire post still dedicated to the day I was taken ski touring as I haven't felt that beginner'ish in a long time.

Looking very Calgarian watching the Flames defeat the Kings on their home turf. The best part of the game was when the U.S.A. National Anthem was played all the Canadians exemplified (shouted in unison) any words related to their team such as "red" and "flames."

Selft portrait of the Honeymooning couple in front of Lake Minnewanka. You could hear the moans of the lake as it was alive with the freeze cycle.

Lake Minnewanka

Male herd of Elk.

View from the Banff Gondala. Banff is the small town and the minor mountain to the right of town is Tunnel Mountan, we stayed on the backside of this mountain.

The picture of pictures, "surprise" corner of Banff Springs Fairmont.

Storm Mountain Lodge, hands down the most romantic dinner spot I have ever been too. It was overcrowded with two other couples eating at the lodge.

My favorite picture that Kristin took of me hiking Johnston Canyon.

Ice falls and walls of Johnston Canyon.

The view from our room and hot tub was meager at best.

Bow River valley on the coldest day of our trip. It was -26 degrees Celsius on this hike. We hiked around the backside of Tunnel mountain. We hiked straight out of the Condo as we were staying in the National Park.

Kristin on the Tunnel Mountain hike. Luckily we came prepared for the worst of the worst cold.

We saw these female Elk the first 5 minutes in town close to our Condo.

Canadian Christmas tree transportation. Inside the park it is illegal to cut down ANY tree.

Family at Hospital Rock before the trip.