Carey was out in the woods. I didn't even get a picture of Zeke who was out there too. Bummer, it was an awesome day to be out in the woods....mainly because my old pack rendered the camera inaccessible.
Carey sent me a message a couple of weeks ago asking if I would guide her through Pisgah. She had never been to Trace and wanted to check it out, recon for the upcoming PMBAR. I was excited to do it, and excited because she wanted to spend at least 6 hrs on the bike.
I realized today that this is why I continue training, even though I am not actively racing: so that I can go on a 6 hr ride, in Pisgah, at the drop of a hat.
We had planned on riding Friday, but rain moved in so we changed the date to Saturday. We met up at 9 at Davidson River area and were on the bikes before 9:30am. We headed past the horse stables and up Clawhammer, Zeke taking off through the woods, manhandling his single speed. We took a chill pace up the climb before finally reaching Buckhorn Gap. I took the opp to pick Carey's brain a little about training and pace.
Up and over the gap, down into the valley on the other side, we cruised down the single track. Taking a right on S Mills River we grinned all the way down to the bridge. Walking over the slicker that snot bridge, we took a left on Squirrel.
I had not ridden Squirrel since the trail work had been done and cannot really complain. I felt like the work was needed, although I can understand how some of the veteran Pisgah riders miss some of the more techy features.
I was absorbed by the beauty of the forest and vowed to get out here more often once the wife finished nursing school, in 13 months...
At the intersection of Horse Cove, we took the quick down hill on Laurel Creek to the river crossing that brought us to the intersection of Bradley Creek or the forest service road that lead up to Yellow Gap. Feeling adventuresome, and never having ridden Bradley Creek, we chose the new trail. We each took a guess at how many river crossings we would experience and pushed on. Stopped at one of the river crossings, a 3 inch long bug landed on my leg, and I admit, I squealed a little bit. I simply don't like things crawling around on my body uninvited.
After 10 river crossings, ( I won the guessing game) we reached Yellow Gap Road: 1206. Zeke was ready to head back, and Carey wanted to continue on to Trace Ridge. Knowing what was coming, I longed to ride with Zeke, but held true to my commitment and went with Carey.
The temps were rising and I was concerned about overheating. The pace we were holding was perfect for me. I was glad to find that North Mills River Campground was open and we could fill up on water. I had been conserving a little bit too much.
At the water stop, Carey pulled out a Coke....note to self: next time bring a Coke, and a PB and J.
After filling up on cold water, we headed up the pavement on Wash Creek Road, up to Spencer Branch. The steep grunt past the gate up to the single track was a kicker, with the sun beating down on us. When we finally hit the downhill on Trace Ridge, I was spent and digging deep for the will to continue. I was closer to home at this point that I was to my truck in Brevard.
We hit the Trace Ridge parking lot and Carey was so pumped that she wanted to go again. If I had been game, I really was convinced that she would go again. But at this point, I was close to overheating and needed to head back. Fortunately, she didn't push the issue. I would have waited in the parking lot and taken a nap if she had though!
On down lower Trace, which I had never ridden was a blast. Then came the 1206 gravel grinder section back to Hwy 276. We ground the gravel, chatted a bit, but mostly ground away. We were both tired and hot and ready to be finished.
As we rounded a bend we saw Sam and Trish with the kids and stopped for a couple of minutes to chat. It was good to see them out in the woods.
We continued our push to the pavement and after several disappointing turns to find only more gravel, we came to the pavement. We barely paused before ducking down into time trial positions and hammering out the last couple of miles. Rolling back into the parking lot with smiles on our faces, each having accomplished our personal goals for the day: 6.5 hrs riding and 61 miles we greeted Zeke, and took a quick soak in the Davidson River.
It was a great day to be in the woods with great friends!