Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pledge Drive

As you may know, I launched Trips For Kids WNC back in November.  Since that time, I have submitted an application to become a 501(c)3 non profit organization, ( we are currently pending which enables us to accept tax deductible donations),  acquired a small fleet of bikes, co-promoted a Take A Kid Mtn Biking Day-Spring,  and facilitated over 300 kids on mountain bike outings.

This program has already seen huge success thanks to the help of a lot of people: See our sponsor page here.

 I wanted to spend some time evaluating our needs and developing a sound budget, before running a pledge drive and now we are at that point.  I have a number in mind that I have figured out, and if we reach this goal we will be at a point of minimal functionality.  What I mean by that is that we will be able to function as a bare bones operation, be able to offer a quality and safe program, taking at risk kids on mountain bike outings.  Anything donated above this amount will be icing on the cake. ( chocolate icing!!).

I am looking for 125 dedicated people, clubs, organizations and companies, who will pledge $20 per month for 1 yr.  That's it.  Simple.  I know it does not sound like much, but it is, and the results of these pledges and the impact you will have on our community will be huge.

Are you up for the challenge?

Contact me:  or go to :  to get started today.

Thanks for your consideration.
Stephen Janes

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Bikepacking Machine

The Machine

 I got a new bike built up. Its a miracle bike really.  I've been thinking about building a full 29er for a bikepacking specific bike for over a year now.  The plan was to get one this winter or spring,  then life happened and plans fell through. 

I went ahead and put it out there that I was considering a full 29er and things started to go my way.  Friends called with parts they had that they needed to move on.  Liberty Bikes had the rest of the parts that I lacked.  Before long, I had my new bikepacking machine built up. 

As I write this, I find it difficult to express how grateful I am for the opportunity to build this bike.  When you see me ride by and see the smile on my face you will understand.  

I hope to upgrade the frame in the future to something sweet and hopefully handbuilt,  but for now, I'm pleased, and look forward to many adventures!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Mike, Mike and Stephen
Mike (in the middle) recruited me to ride along for a little ways and help pace, or rather distract from the pain on the Assault on Mt Mitchell.  I parked in Marion and road towards the guys until I met them at the rest stop 10 miles from Marion.  I rode with them through Marion and up Hwy 80 to the BRP before turning around to head back to the truck and them home.

It was an awesome day for a ride and had a fun time exchanging stories.  It was a great ride with great friends!!

Mike and Mike reached the top and will spend the rest of the week eating pizza and chocolate chip cookies!!

Great ride M & M!!

Monday, May 16, 2011


I was at the Lake Eden Arts Festival in Black Mountain.  The storms had rolled through and the sky was slightly overcast.  My truck was parked on the adjacent Grovestone property way down the "gravel road of death".  If you have been to this festival you know what I mean; a person could end up walking for 15-20 minutes to get to a vehicle, and if a person were carrying a kid or something else.....

I walked to the security tent to find out if the shuttles were still running, knowing that they were not, but hoping they would offer me a ride.  The thing about the "gravel road of death" is that it is separated by a series of lakes.  My truck was a 3-4 minute walk from the security tent, but the lakes were in the way.  I pointed almost to the exact location of my truck telling the security guards.  The looked at me and said," There's a trail right there".  Surprised, I made sure that the trail was legit.   They asked if I had a light, I said "no" but was ok, because the moon was out and I was able to see enough to get down the trail. 

I climbed up and over the embankment, slipping on some roots and sliding down the other side.  It was quiet on this side and I was alone between the lakes.  I walked softly, listening to the sound of the frogs and crickets, not realizing that there was a very real possibility I was being watched.  I made it to the truck and home.

The following night,  equipped with the knowledge of the trail, I was ready with a flashlight.  It was a good move because the sky was dark and the moon nowhere to be seen.  I climbed up and over the embankment,  walking carefully down the other side.  I paused for a moment to take in the night sounds then started walking softly.  I took about 20 steps and heard crunching in the undergrowth next to me.  The next 10 seconds are emblazoned in my memory and I will never forget what I had the privilege of experiencing. 

I heard the crunch, my mind told me it was something big, these thoughts flash through my mind: deer, bear, person.....I immediately turned and directed my small beam of light on the sound while at the same time, letting out a startled yell.  By the time I had turned, and shined the light, in a flash, all that I glimpsed was the right rear haunch, a charcoal black fur covered haunch, followed by a 3 foot long cat tail covered in the same fur.....mountain lion.

I have heard both sides of the story. The Forest Service and scientists deny that they exist.  The locals, woodsmen and old timers confirm their existence.  I have always held a hope that they are still out there and now I believe.  Very few people have caught a glimpse of this stealthy animal, and I have now joined them.

They are out there....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I woke up close to midnite, the wind howling in over the ridge and into the valley.  It was dark but I could feel the trees being bent by the wind.  I had forgotten to check for widow makers so I crawled out of my sleeping bag and turned on the flashlight.  The air was filled with millions of particles of dust, pollen and debris. I did a double take, then checked for widow makers.

For just over one year now, I have been dreaming and scheming about bikepacking. I scoured the internet, talked to friends and,  worked extra jobs to earn the money to purchase the equipment.  I loaded the bike, unloaded the bike, reloaded the bike,  slept in the back yard, got frustrated, and got excited.  I got to do a coupled of paved road trips, both 2 nights, one camping and one cushy.  But I yearned for the day that I would load down my Siren and hit some dirt.  ( a couple of months ago, I had attempted a trip but aborted because the timing was not right).

The day finally came and the timing was right.  I left after dinner to maximize family time, planned to ride into the Pisgah National Forest, spend the night and return the next morning.  I headed out the BRP and down through the Arboretum, up Hardtimes Rd.  The main thing on my mind was where to sleep.  I really want to be able to stealth camp, just pull off somewhere in the woods and bed down, but whenever I lean that direction, the alarms in my head go off, telling me to go to a campground.  I'm not sure what is up with that, but it happens. 

As I crested Bent Creek Gap, I made the decision to head to N Mills River Campground.  Later, I would be glad that I made the decision.  I cruised down Wash Creek Rd, enjoying the scenery. Near the road that leads to Trace Ridge Parking, I ran into David Knupp and his friend Brian.  We pedaled together chatting about riding and life.   The air was humid and with a chance of strong storms into the campground.  It was getting dark as I completed the set up, of which I totally forgot to take a picture. 

After getting set up, I sat down for my second dinner around 9pm:  frozen bean and cheese burritos.  I brushed my teeth and settled under my tarp to listen to the night sounds before drifting off to sleep. 

Fast forward to midnite when I was startled awake by the howling wind.  The thunder and lightning were getting closer and there was an occasional spattering of rain drops.  I looked up into the trees, looking for the dead branches and tree tops but didn't see any.  I noticed that the trees surrounding my site were tulip poplars.  They were waving in the wind and knowing that they could easily snap, I formulated an escape plan and headed for the concrete bath house where I sat for 45 minutes to wait out the storm.
It turned out to be a good decision.   The storm was rough and the sky opened up, dumping buckets of rain as soon as I got to the bath house.  I sent an OK message on the Spot Tracker so that the wife would know that I was ok and settled in to watch the lightning.
And the rain, and listen to the sounds of a storm passing through the woods.  As I sat there thinking about my fears, I came to the realization that everything I do does not have to be epic.  A simple overnight trip like this, staying at a luxurious campground was fine with me.  I don't need to curl up under a tree in the middle of the woods, by myself to feel complete.  (it would be nice to add that skill to the repertoire, but not necessary).  It was a good realization, and as soon I was formulating a big route through Pisgah NF,  a 3-5 day route with options. 
After the storm passed, I headed back to the tarp, laid out my bedroll and crawled in. I heard the loud crack of a limb, seconds after about 100 yrds away I heard the loud thump of a large branch smash into the ground....then I drifted of to sleep.

I woke up and got moving around 6 am.  I could hear thunder rumbling in the distance and decided to pack up and head out before the rain rolled in if it was going to.  I enjoyed some coffee and a honey bun to get me going.  I was the first one up and out of the campground and virtually had the road to myself. 

Up and over Bent Creek Gap, and onto South Ridge rd, I decided to lengthen the trip and rode some of Explore and Pine Tree before heading up Hard Times rd where I got on the BRP and headed home.  

50 miles for an overnight trip, and I wanted to keep going.  I'm excited to get my first off road trip under my belt and look forward to many more.

Monday, May 09, 2011

5-7: PMBAR

 I saw a notice that Eric, the race promoter was looking for a volunteer to be out in the woods all day to play cop, making sure that no one used FS rd 5015.  I thought about it briefly and after a quick e-mail to make sure the location would allow the wife and kid to come visit without having to stay all day, I committed. 
 Then I started thinking about how long 12 hour in one spot really is and wondered what I should do to pass the time.   I settled on pancakes for the racers.  I started making a list: batter, plates, forks, knives, napkins......syrup....  The list got long and my motivation for that idea waned.   I continued to chew on the idea and settled on grilled cheese sammys and Cokes.

I went shopping and dropped $150 of my own money on groceries,  ouch.  But it was for a good cause so I let it go and was thankful that I had the means to provide a smile for so many people ( groceries are ridiculously expensive).  10 loaves of bread, 2 giant packs of cheese, 6 bags of chips, grapes, 75 cans of coke - the real stuff, 6 packs of sandwich cookies, one pack of butter, and a few other things and I was ready to go.
 I got to Yellow Gap just before 8 am and got set up.  It took about 30 minutes.  Then I waited, and waited and waited some more.  I tried to read, but it was chilly with a cool breeze blowing through the gap.  I wandered around, then started to second guess myself:  was this the right day?  Is the race tomorrow?  I knew how long it would take for the first riders to get out there, so I decided to wait a little past that time, and if  I had not seen anyone yet, I would form a plan. 
String of Cowbells
 Finally a little after 10am the first team rolled through.  Stopping briefly.  2 minutes later the second team,  about 5 minutes later, the 3rd team.  After that there was a steady stream of people rolling through until around 6pm.  One cool thing about this unofficial rest stop was that it was at the bottom end of a lollipop loop.  The racers had to go out and come back through, so anyone who went for this checkpoint, had to come back through. 
Pisgah Oasis
 So I started grilling and kept the sammys coming until I ran out of bread,  approximately 111 sammys later, and I closed the grill.  I still had some chips and cookies left and people continued to enjoy them until the last team came through right at 7pm....and they still had 3 hours to ride!
The set up
 I have never been on this side of the table at a rest stop before, and I never knew just how much fun it could be.  Would I rather have been racing?  Yes, I was glad that I could be involved.  See, for me racing is not all about winning or losing.  There is more.  It is about community,  meeting new people, hanging out with old friends.   Encouraging each other, helping each other.  Cyclists (road and mtb and other...)  are a large group of people with common interest,  we have all been brought together from so many different places, so many interesting situations.  Some are running from something, others are running towards something,  but on race day, we are all headed towards the same goal,  and it is good to be a part of that community.
End of the day
As the last team rolled down the road, I had 1 hour left.  I was fairly sure that no one else would come by, but Eric had asked me to stay until 8pm so I did.  The bright sun had gone down over the ridge and the green glow started to dim.  I sat back in the plastic chair and closed my eyes, soaking it in.  Thinking back on the day and smiling to myself.  Rumors of grilled cheese and coke had apparently spread across the forest, and had possibly helped some people make it just a little farther in this race.  And that thought made me feel good, because that's what I love to do:  help people.

That is why I started Trips For Kids WNC,  to help kids in my community.  To help kids who are less fortunate,  who have the capabilities and talents but not the means to get on a bike and ride into to forest.

So, if you were one of the lucky ones, to roll up to the Pisgah Oasis at Yellow Gap,  and enjoyed a grilled cheese sammy and cold Coke,  it is your turn to consider helping me out.  Please consider making a donation to Trips For Kids WNC so that I can continue to get kids on bikes.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


 After spending most of last weeks free time cutting, splitting and stacking firewood,  my body is worn out.  I guess  I should have spread the work out over a couple of weeks, but it is done now, and ready for winter. 

Not having the energy to ride, but restless, I ended up going for a little hike on the MST: 
Bursting with Green

Bright Green

More Green

Even when the sun went behind the clouds it was green

fallen tree pulled up a rock
I'm also stricken with allergies and taking the meds messes me up.  Hopefully in a couple of days, I'll feel back to normal again!