Sunday, June 19, 2011


I got to go for a ride with Dawn from Liberty Bikes.   She wanted to pre-ride the ORAMM course  minus the Kitsuma section.  I was worn out from the past week of big rides but was game since she wanted to go slow and steady. 

 The skies were blue with some cloud cover at the beginning of the ride.  We rode up Star Gap to Lower Heartbreak, wound around Jarrets Creek Rd, and onto Curtis Creek Rd.  Once on CC we started seeing other pre-riders,  Kip &co, Janna who I helped with a flat 4 yrs ago at the Assault on Mt Mitchell, Mark and Joel who I have race with quite a bit.  All friends who I have met at one race or another.  And here we were, in the woods, riding around, fun stuff.
 After bombing down the other side of the Parkway, stopping for ice cream and grinding back up we hit the parkway and then Heartbreak.  At this point we started hearing thunder, and the skies got cloudy.
The above picture was take about 2 minutes before the storm overtook us and had us scampering down the mountain for our lives.  40-50 mph gusts blowing rain sideways, obscurring vision,  it was insane.  The trail is a corridor of stunted trees and shrubs which protected us from the majority of the madness, but when a gap opened up we were pelted .  It was amazing.

I remember being caught in a storm like this when I was 14 yrs old.  I was in a windsurf race in Bonaire, NA.  The storm blew up and I made my way to Klein Bonaire, a little neighboring island, where I crawled under the sail to wait out the storm.  Good memories!

We made it back to the cars wet but safe.  Fun stuff.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Kit

I was asked to list what I am carrying, so here you go:

The bike:
Cannondale 29er Caffeine.  ( I hope to upgrade to a sweet steel frame some day, but for now I am pleased as pudding.)

The Bags and contents:

Revelate Handle Bar Bag:
Filled with as many snacks as I can fit- granola bars, nuun, Honey Stinger, honey buns, rice krispy treats, trail mix, corn chips etc.

Revelate Harness holding a 13 liter drybag, could use a little bit bigger one esp in cold weather or with no possible re-supply.  Also held a pair of $5 camo Wal Mart flip flops that disappeared somewhere on the most recent trip.
Lafuma 35 degree synthetic sleeping bag ( If I were in race mode and the weather was warm, I would trade this for a sleeping bag liner and use an SOL emergency bivy, )
Basic first aid kit
bag of spare clothes: lightweight shorts, dri fit Honey Stinger t-shirt, long sleeve 3/4 zip Hot Chilis turtleneck, mtn hardware fleece hat, wool socks, arm warmers, knee warmers.  this bag doubles as my pillow and also contains a Stowe puffy hooded jacket in the colder months.

Revelate Gas Tank:
stuffed with snacks, bars crackers.  Easy access food.

The other tank:
Small bento box type of attachment, holds more snacks, lube and small headlamp.

Revelate Tangle Bag: 
(This works for now, one day I'll order a custom full frame bag  )70oz bladder in larger pocket
small pocket: necessities, cell phone in zip lock bag, toothbrush, toilet paper, cable ties, etc.

Revelate Visacha Seat Bag:
titanium cook pot and mug,
Esbit stove and fuel
Thermarest Neo Pro inflatable sleeping pad
Locally made ultra sil tarp 5x8  (similar to integral designs)
SOL brand emergency bivy
ground tarp cut out from housing moisture barrier ( off brand, am looking for some Tyvek)
Sierra Designs ultra light rain jacket
PUR water filter

Spot Tracker
nuun tabs

I think that about wraps it up.   I have room to carry about 3 days worth of food, if I stuff my jersey pockets too.  Although that would be a heavy load. 

The Pisgah Traver: Picture Story

Kitsuma Trail Head, the start.

Point Lookout Trail,  this used to be a motor road.  At this point was a restaurant.  People used to drive from miles around to eat lunch and see the bears in cages.

Montreat NC

Looking across the valley from Old Toll Rd, view of Heartbreak ridge.

Old Toll is a lot like cobbles...

Heartbreak = tight singletrack

I do not recommend this for dinner..

the next morning,  a look of hurt

Sunrise on the Gravel Grind

Mt Mitchell

Entrance to Mt Mitchell State Park
Day 3, the first few miles
Laurel Mtn Mountain Laurel Tunnel

Blooming Galax

Davidson River Campground

The Fish Hatchery

I saw quite a few of these little guys

The pavement climb up 215 was hot and long

One of my favorite spots ever.

The trail to Ivestor Gap

The View

The finish at Ivestor Gap

The view from Ivestor

250 miles, home and tired.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Pisgah Traverse

2 things culminated this weekend.  Both have been on my mind for a couple of years and I have been spending time and energy working towards both.  Many nights spent late on the internet doing research, sleeping behind the house in the yard, picking people's brains etc.

About 1 yr ago, I borrowed a BOB trailer to go on an overnight trip.  I pulled that trailer to work, and planned to ride out of work that evening and take my first self supported trip.  The trip never happened.  I also realized that the BOB was not the tool for the job,  if I planned to ride single track.  Over the course of the year, I was able to purchase bikepacking bags from Revelate Designs, and put together a suitable light weight kit.  Approximately two weeks ago, I was blessed to be able ( with lots of help from friends) copple together a full 29er.  I was ready to go.

It was about the same time, probably a little over 1 yr ago that I found out about the self supported bikepacking genre.  An exciting art form where one mixes backpacking, a former passion of mine, with mtn biking, a current passion.  I researched the Colorado Trail Race, the Trans North Georgia, was inspired by the San Jacinto Eduro and more.  Then I found out about the Great Divide Race, got ahold of Ride the Divide, watched it over and over.  I analyzed, scrutinized and was mesmerized.

I waited for the right window of time to open, and after months of pouring over maps, the time finally arrived and I rolled out.  Since the wife and kid were headed out of town, I was on my own and rode my bike the 20 miles to the start: Kitsuma.  4 days later, I have mapped out a course that I think will challenge the beginner through the elite, and will give anyone who attempts the route a taste of Pisgah in all of it's glory.

For the "single track only" snobs, this is not the route for you.   I wound up riding 250 miles in 4 days and mapped a 190 mile point to point route: starting at Kistuma and finishing at Ivestor Gap.   Yes, Ivestor Gap, in the middle of nowhere.... inspired by the Appalachian Trail's Mt Katadin.  At some point, I might chronicle my adventure here.  For now, here is the route:
Note: Old Toll Rd is closed from Oct 1st-Jan 1st for bear hunting season.  If attempted during this time you must take the alternate route, omitting the Point Lookout Trail through Heartbreak.  Please contact me for alternate directions.
Start- Kistuma Trail Head
Ride the trail to Old Fort Picnic area
Left on Point Lookout Trail (old US 70)
Rt on Hwy 70 west- through Black Mountain NC ( not through Ridgecrest)
Rt on Hwy 9 north (to Montreat)
Rt on Lookout Rd
Rt on Rainbow Rd
 to Old Toll Rd
Rt on Heartbreak
left on Lower HB
Left on Jarrets Creek Rd
Left on Curtis Creek Rd
cross Blue Ridge Parkway to FS 2074
left on FS 472
Rt on BRP
Follow Parkway through Asheville
If the Arboretum is open, there is a water fountain at the base of Hardtimes rd that can be used, if not, take the BRP to Hardtimes rd.
Left on Hardtimes (here Hardtimes Rd runs parallel to the Parkway for 1/4 mile.  there is a dirt pulloff on the right,  pull in there, cross the Mountains to Sea Trail and take a left on Hartimes rd,  if you turn right here, you will come to a 12 ft tall chain link fence/gate and you will know you went the wrong way)
left on South Ridge Rd
left on Bent Creek Gap Rd
over Bent Creek Gap, Rt on Wash Creek,Rt on Spencer Branch
left on Trace
through parking lot to lower Trace
veer right on unsigned "Fisherman's", cross river, follow dirt path/road to gate at 1206/ Yellow Gap Rd
at 1206, water and camping available to the left at N Mills River Campground
rt on 1206
Rt on Laurel Mtn just down hill from Yellow Gap
left on Pilot Rock
rt on 1206
left on FS 476
Left on FS 5018- Funneltop Mtn
rt on Horse Cove
rt on Squirrel Gap
left on Buckhorn Gap
straight on Clawhammer/ FS 5058
Left on Gravel rd at horse stables to Hwy 276
(to the left on 276 is Brevard for re-fueling and camping)
rt on 276
left on FS 475 towards Gloucester Gap
left on Davidson River Trail
left on FS 475
20 feet over Gloucester gap, rt on gated FS 5003
left on 140A
rt on 140
left on Sumney Cove
Rt on hwy 215
cross under Parkway
rt on Flat Laurel Creek
Through Parking lot to Ivestor Gap Trail
Finish at Ivestor Gap

Approximately 190 miles, I have no idea of elevation gain or any other data really.  I did it in 4 days (including riding to the trailhead and home from the finish, 3 days is more accurate).

It is a demanding course with single track, double track, gravel rd, pavement, remote....all of the above.

Who is up for it?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Fletcher Flyer

I was excited this spring when I realized my life schedule would leave room on the calendar for me to participate in the Fletcher Flyer,  the flattest century around with roughly 5000 ft of climbing, put on by the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club.  It has been at least 3 yrs since I have done this one and I remember that it was a fun ride. 

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 6am and I could not remember why my alarm was going off so early.  I ran through a list of options in my head before I knew that today was the day.   I got up, and started to get ready: pumping tires, lubing chain, bagel in the toaster.   Sipping my coffee and chewing the bagel covered in peanut butter and honey while checking the weather forecast,  I found that this was going to be a hot one.  I reminded myself to ride within my limits and not go out too hard.  I had made that mistake too many times and pushed myself past the limit way too many times.

The wife and kid would be coming out to Fletcher Park to see me finish and I really did not want to have us driving two vehicles out there.  I decided that I would ride the 10 miles to the start finish and ride home with them after the event.

The 10 miles was peaceful and cool.  There is not much traffic on a Sunday morning and the sun was just barely coming over the ridge line.  I enjoyed the warm up, keeping my heartrate low and drinking lots of water. 

I arrived at the park,  chatted with friends, ran to the trees one last time then rolled to the start to chat with more friends. 

It always amazes me how fast these rides start out.  There is no money on the line, no king of the mtn, just the possibility of bragging rights and stomping on fellow participants.  Either way, I knew that hanging with the fast group, if it was in my limits, would be a free ride for several miles.  So, I hung with them.  I was pushing my envelope a little bit, but decided to stay with the group until the first rest stop.  Most of them did not even stop, but I was out of fluids so I stopped.  Motion Makers, Pro Bikes and Youngblood bikes were all there doling out pretzels, water and gatorade.  I took some  pretzels and water. 

Back on the road, the rest of the day is kind of a blurry grind.  I was able to get in with another group for the next 20 miles to the next rest stop, where I stopped again to fill up.  I remember Craig from Ski Country Sports was there, with some other people,  one lady diligently making pb and j's.

Mile 40-60, it seems like we went through Brevard and rode a portion of the Assault on the Carolinas route.  Grinding along, I got in with another group and made some good time.  I was hoping to get my first sub 6 hr century, and was on par to complete the ride in 5 hrs.  I didn't aim for the 5 hr mark, because it was starting to get hot, and I have learned that heat shuts me down.  If I let my heartrate get too high in the heat, I wind up in the back of an ambulance with an IV, I know this from experience.

Back through the rest stop with about 80 miles to go.  I stopped and quickly refilled my bottles, greeted a couple of friends and hit the road.  It was hot and I maintained a steady pace.  At one point my thermometer read 99 degrees in the full sun.  

I was wearing the new kit from Liberty Bikes,  it is Hiuncappie Brand and has some sweet mesh built in.  It breathed really well and was comfortable.  At times, it felt like air conditioning.  

I ground through the out and back section then on to the last rest stop.  So many times I have been told by volunteers that "it is all down hill from hear" only to learn that there was another huge climb,  I am wary about believing what I hear.   so, when Tavis and Rachel told me that there were 10 miles left, I checked and doubled checked that they had their facts straight.  

Cool, 10 miles to go.  I grabbed a couple of pecan sandies and ground on down the road.  I was please after a couple of miles to find that I was on the Thursday night Liberty ride route.  I put it in cruise control and ground away.  I glanced to the left, upwind, and noticed the industrial sized sprinklers.  Then I smelled what smelled like Georgia on a hot summer day.  Chicken poop, liquid form being sprayed on the field and the spray drifting across the road.   euw....

The last couple of miles I picked up the pace and paid for it.  It was hot and my heart rate went too high.  I finished but could not enjoy the awesome spread of food at the finish.  I loaded up and headed home, lacking appetite due to the heat. 

I ended up under 6 hrs, around 5:40.  I am proud of that and glad to have a solid ride under my belt. 

I look forward to next year!