Wednesday, October 31, 2012

First Snow

 A hurricane blew through and dropped  a little bit of snow on the mountains around Asheville.   Yesterday evening, the kid and I headed up to Craven Gap to hit the hillside.  We were poorly dressed and were only able to get a couple of runs in before heading for the warmth of the truck.   Heading down Beaverdam rd, we stopped for a picture and realized that we were out of the wind.  We threw some snow in the back of the truck to take home, threw some snowballs and built a snowman. 
 I have sandbags in the back of the truck and chains under the seat,  I ain't skeerd....
I can't wait to take this kid snowboarding at a real slope this winter!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lower Trace

I met up with Julie White on Thursday to continue corridor clearing on the Lower Trace re-route.  This approximately 1.5 mile trail will omit the eroding fall line trail of the current lower trace. It was an awesome day to be out in the woods but after 4 hours of sawing, I had no desire left to take the short overnight bikepacking trip that I was considering.  White Duck Taco made up for it. 

We were able to cut through 99% of what needed to be done so we were very pleased with the progress.  Pisgah Area Sorba's goal is to do all the tread work by hand in an effort to create a rugged back country trail that will fit within the guidelines of the USFS,  but this is going to take a lot of man hours.  I really hope people will rally around this project and get out to dig in the dirt together.   Looking around, I saw lots of rock chunks and slabs laying around that could be moved to make the trail more technical.  I'm not sure what the parameters are on moving rock though.

I do know that the USFS is watching this project closely and if we as a club can't pull this off, we won't have much clout in the future.

As for the current Lower Trace, I am torn about losing it.  While I can't ride the entire trail, I have friends who can.  But the trail has its challenges to me and them.  I hope that the new trail will have challenging features so that I and others can continue to hone our skills.

So, get out there and lend a hand,  let's create something awesome.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Anti Bully

 I've been struggling quite a bit lately,  wrestling with the demons from my past,  working on stuff,  chipping away at the crap that brings me down.  I'm always working on it, attempting to become a better person all around.  Sometimes it hits me hard though, and from out of nowhere.  I'm sure you know the feeling.  Contrary to what I was taught as a kid, no one is immune to life's struggles.

And then the Lance Armstrong debacle came to a head and I must admit, while not surprised, I am very disappointed.  I hate lying and cheating.  I could care less who wins a race,  but if you do it by lying and cheating, then......well, not cool at all.  And bullying?  It turns out that ol' Lance is quite the bully too.  Which brings me to my point.  My life parallels this story in that a bully played a major role in my life for a long time.  Until I confronted the issue, then it became a dodging defensive game.

It is very difficult to confront and pin down a bully,  somehow they seem to always get the upper hand.  They dodge, and cast blame,   and use intimidation.  But I went ahead and tried, and it didn't work out as planned.  I had hoped to make friends with the bully, but the bully didn't like me pointing out the bullying habits, so needless to say it didn't end well.  The one upside is that the bully left me alone, maybe that's an upside..
And delving deeper, the whole situation can be applied as an example to any abuse case.  The perpetrator bullies to a point that the victim is afraid to seek help, and when the victim reaches out, the bully  belittles and dodges.  Unless there is concrete evidence, or unless multiple parties involved, in the confronting, it is very difficult to confront the issues.

So what to do?  Confront.  Do it, get yourself out of that situation, get help,  don't seek revenge or vengeance,  that is not your job.  Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of others.

I hope this inspires.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Laurel Mtn

 I took a little out and back ride up Laurel.  It was chilly at my house, I needed a sweatshirt to stay warm,  so I dressed accordingly.  The temps on the other side of Yellow Gap were the opposite.  Warm,  shorts sleeves and shorts,  awesome. 

The leaf colors this year have been amazing, and while things seem to be fading to brown, there are still quite a few green leaves left in the trees.  It appears that we will have another week or so of color change.  It is especially obvious dropping back down after climbing up. 

I was out scouting some of the downed trees, deciding how soon we need to hike in to remove those.  After feedback from several different folks, who are at different skill levels, including an older backpacker, I decided that priority was low, and the logs could wait while we continue work on the new Lower Trace re-route. 
 Since I had some extra time I worked on a few of the techy moves that I always walk.  After about 4 tries, I was able to ride up one of the moves.  A small victory for me, and confirmation that my skills continue to improve: mtb skills camp anyone?   I was recently discussing how to maneuver a tight switchback with a downhiller friend, and learned a lot.  I have a lot to learn on the techy side and look forward to spending more time on the mountain bike this winter and into the future. 

One day, I might learn how to bunny hop......
In the meantime, I'll be enjoying the scenery!

Friday, October 19, 2012


I decided to join the fellas for a gravel loop around Bent Creek Thursday night.  I warned Kevin that I was not in the mood for going fast and he agreed.   It didn't take long for me to be off the back, and that was fine with me.  I wanted to enjoy the ride, not bleed out of my eyeballs like I have been doing all summer long,  going hyperanaroebic  on every climb, trying to outdo whoever might be outdoing me.... I'm burned out on that, I want to sit up and look around.

This fall has been amazing so far.   I predict a mild winter again this year.  Based on my gut,  and my gut is right all of the time.  When you are still riding your bike in January in shorts, you can remember you heard it here first.

As the sun set, and left the bright orange, red, yellow, green, and brown leaves in darkness, we switched on our lights and joked around.  I commented how it was funny that we all seemed to have the giggles.  Just a bunch of dudes and their bikes... and Josh's flat tire.

We passed some mountain bikers in the dark and hurled insults,  we were on CX bikes after all and that's what CX is all about: heckling.  So, heckle away!

I made it home, showered and celebrated with some homemade chicken and broccoli stir fry and peanut butter cookies... yowza!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I headed over to Bent Creek for a spin.  The trees are in full fall colors, each different species changing a little bit every day.  Some trees losing most of their leaves while others are still green, yet to fade.   There are some fresh leaves on the ground that whip away as we ride by. 

I happened upon Ian in the parking lot and he asked if he could tag along.  I hoped he would wait up for me......he did.  Sometimes I go into the woods to be alone, to think, to ride, to enjoy.  Sometimes I meet up with people, and wish I was alone.  Today was not one of those days.  I had  a blast, chatting with a guy that I have know for a long time,  talking about life and how things have panned out for me.  Even venturing to offer a bit of advice.  

At some point during the ride it dawned on me that, even though we cross paths a lot,  the last time we rode bikes together was about 5 yrs ago.  He and his friend that evening were hammering and I had trouble keeping up.  Fun times. 

It had been chilly, to the point of me shivering in the parking lot when we left.  As we rolled back in, minus arm warmers and vest,  the temps had warmed and the sun was shining bright.  Another day another ride.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


 Oh yes, Fall is in the air.  The time change looms in the near future,  leaves are swirling, there is a slight chill in the air, and tourists who enjoy passing on blind curves are flooding the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I got out for a quick ride up Town Mountain.  No HRM, no goal in mind other than get out and enjoy before its gone.  And that sums up one of my life goals.  Enjoy it before its gone.  Thinking about it in that light is very motivational.  That's why I confront issues that are standing in the way.   I don't sweep them under the rug,  I figure out a solution and attempt to work towards a compromise.  Get it taken care of so all parties can enjoy. 
I'm still loving the Foundry Ratchet.  I've said it before,  it is light, responsive, and comfortable..... and it will fly.  One of my favorite parts is pedaling over the top of a hill, tucking in and feeling the bike pick up speed.

Enjoy it before its gone!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Simple ORAMM Loop

 It has been a while since I have ridden the ORAMM loop so I figured it was time.  I thought I might have some endurance left after the Stage Race, and decided to park at the top of Mill Creek Rd instead of at the geyser.  For some reason, I thought that starting with Kitsuma and ending with long gravel climb would be a good idea.  Actually, I knew that if I parked at the geyser, I would not be riding Kitsuma.   

I started off chilled and shivering.  It was a bright sunny morning with a brisk wind blowing around the valleys and ridges and I was excited about spending the day alone in the woods.  I headed up the Kitsuma switchbacks and across the ridgeline into the Old Fort Picnic ground.  Up the pavement, through Graphite, up and over the tracks onto Lower Heartbreak.   I love this area.  I have learned so much about riding and endurance, pacing, nutrition while training and racing ORAMM.  Today, I was pleased that nutrition was not one of my main concerns.   To say my nutrition is dialed might be overstating it, there is always room for improvement.  But,  I have it down pretty well and it has become second nature. 

Up and over to Star Gap, and then Jarret's Creek road.  I was surprised to find the road packed and well trodden after the first gate.  It appears that there has been a lot of vehicular traffic, cutting down on weeds and packing the road.  It was fast,  not that I went fast, but the potential was there. 
 Left turn on Curtis Creek Rd, and I was feeling sluggish.  I argued with myself about whether or not I should continue.  In fact, I argued until I was halfway up CC rd, and there was no way I was turning back. 

As I climbed, I thought through different things that are happening in life right now.  Lots of exciting things, lots of pressure, lots of baggage from life stuff.  Kids have it good.  They have the thrill of life around them, less the baggage that accumulates over the years.   I'm making it my goal to reduce the amount of baggage that my kid accumulates as a result of growing up in my house.  I'll let you know how that 20 yrs.   
 Winding up, twisting turning,  this would have made an awesome singletrack route.  A mini van passed me and the older woman rolled down the window and said "Wow".  I assume she was impressed, but she could have meant otherwise.  I stopped briefly to greet the ranger, who told me about the garter snake that had just spooked him.  Onward and upward,  grinding slowly,  left on the parkway and more grinding, up the long hill.  I again, stopped briefly to chat with a  guy riding his bike to Boone and coming back on Saturday.   A few miles later, I saw another cyclist.  He was riding from Little Switzerland to Mt Mitchel and back. 

I bombed down into the gap and then spun my way up to Heartbreak Ridge Trail.  I took a break at the gap before descending. I won't say that I bombed down, because that would be a lie,  but I did remind myself to use my brakes less, and focus on smooth lines through the corners.  Maybe it will make me faster, maybe not, but at least I'll have to buy less brake pads. 

On down, through the creek and over the tracks then up Mill Creek Rd.  Its funny,  the gravel road climb can be long and grinding, but after Curtis Creek Rd, its not as bad.  Relative....

And then I was at the top,  changed and heading down through Black Mountain,  and some Okie Dokies Smokehouse BBQ to top off my weekend. ( I realized on my ride that Thursdays have been my only "day off" recently,  and so I have adopted it as my weekend)

Richmond Hill

With a long meeting in the morning and the shop opening at 2pm,  I had just enough time to ride around Richmond Hill for a little over an hour.  My meeting was on that side of town so it worked out perfectly.  My focus was on skills.  Cornering smoothly, braking less, and I also spent some time riding the hairy little switchback that drops into a short rock garden.  This type of obstacle is one of my limiters and I end up walking a lot of stuff that I could ride, simply because I lack the confidence to ride it.

It might have something to do with trying to bunny hop a 2x4 when I was a kid and landing on my face because I caught the front wheel....

After riding down the rock garden, another guy rode up and asked if anyone ever rides the feature,  I told him that I just did but it took some practice.  I showed him a little trail that creates a little loop making it easy to ride repeatedly, then I went on my way.   The next time around the trail system,  I came to the same feature, and the guy, Zack, was there working on it.  I stopped and gladly gave him some pointers. 

I continued on enjoying the warm fall weather and fresh air when I was suddenly being accosted by a doberman, barking, lunging, threatening... off leash.  The lady said he has never bitten anyone, to which I responded" Not yet".  

I went on my way, and rounded another bend only to be accosted by the same dog, off leash.  This time I picked up a big stick and wound up to smack the dog across the face.  The owner called the dog off and it retreated.  I told the owner that I felt threatened and I would be calling the police if the dog ever did that again. 

That's when the question popped in my head,  if I walk down the trail, screaming and yelling, getting up in someone's face,  they would most likely call the police.  But somehow, if its a dog,  its ok.  I don't get it.  Dogs are fine, friendly dogs, but when a dog becomes a threat the story changes. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

I went for a mountain bike ride, and pushed the pace,  I was feeling good and climbing well. Then I realized that there was no reason to push the pace anymore, other than for the sake of going fast.   I was about halfway through my ride, and I slowed way down.   It was a good feeling, to take the time to look around and enjoy the sights and sounds.  The leaves are well on their way to full on fall colors, with a lot of leaves already brown. 

It was chilly out too.  Arm and knee warmers, with a vest and I was warm climbing, and cool descending.  

As I rode, I pondered what is next for me cycling wise.   And I settled on one thing.  Exploring.  I enjoy the fast paced training, racing, recovering aspect.  But, more than that, I relish getting out and exploring.

I'm afraid that bikepacking has ruined my racing "career".    I'll continue to do some racing, especially fun ones, like Snake Creek Gap TT, Pisgah 111k etc.   I'm still undecided about other fun ones like 6 hrs of Warriors Creek and Burn 24.  Those races  are fun and all, but for now, bikepacking is calling my name!

Friday, October 05, 2012

20 Hours, 60 Miles

When the small window of time opened, the one that left me with no immediate responsibility,  I took advantage and rolled out of the door into the sunset....literally. 

6PM Friday:  It took me 30 minutes to finish loading up and get changed,  I was on the road at 6 on the dot.  I figured I had about 1.5 hrs until complete darkness set in and with the thick cloud cover and chance of rain, it would be dark. 

My goal was N Mills River Campground, so I headed south on the parkway, through the Arboretum, up Bent Creek, past the lake, left on Bent Creek Gap Rd, and up the hill to the gap.  As I was riding up BC Gap Rd, the sunlight started to fade, and suddenly, as the setting sun reflected between the earth and clouds,  everything glowed brightly for about 15 minutes.  Out west and in Europe they call it Alpen glow, I call it Appen Glow (short for Appalachian ) .

And then it got dark,  very dark.  I stopped briefly in the gap to turn on my light and put on some arm warmers and a vest.  It did not take long before the last climb and the last bend before riding into the campground.   Half of the spaces were vacant so I picked one that I liked and proceeded to set up camp. 
After eating dinner, I settled in to my sleeping bag.  Staying in a campground has its ups and downs.  Tonight started fairly quietly, but when the guy a couple sites down started to get soused, and when from soused to being "lit up"  things got interesting and even funny.   He started off telling the entire valley,   yelling at the top of his lungs that"  THERE ARE ONLY TWO BEERS LEFT IN MY COOLER,  I WANT MY MONEY BACK".   As time went by, he starting whoooing very loudly.  Around 11pm, he started calling "YOOOGI BEEEAR", again at the top of his lungs.  As time went by, the dude started to fade, sounded like his batteries were dying, and eventually got quiet. Hilarious.  
I spent the rest of the darkness dozing off, waking up, listening to night sounds,  typical night in the woods.  When it started to get light, I got up, made oatmeal and coffee, and headed into the heart of Pisgah.  The goal for the day was to ride up Laurel Mtn, and ride up Frying Pan Gap Rd, up to the fire tower. 
Laurel is a remote, beautiful trail that winds up a ridgeline.  With awesome views in the late fall and winter, during this time of year, it resembles a green tunnel,  forcing me to take in the close up views of gnarled trees, rocks and roots.  It was really nice to take my time and smell the roses.  Usually I am racing or training up this trail.  I stopped in several spots just to listen and looks around. 
Monkey rides along

punk rock smiley face

The hike a bike,  much more difficult with a 50 lb load.

The Galax

Upper Laurel Mtn

The Ridge that I just climbed
I glanced at my watch when I reached the parkway and noticed that it had taken me 3.5 hrs to reach the top.  I had not been watching the time, so did not how fast or slow I was going and I did not care.  It could have taken 2 or 10 hrs and it would have been fine.  I was not bound by time today,  and only wanted to get home in time for dinner. 
I pedaled past Pisgah Inn and up the gravel road to the fire tower.  Snapped a pictured, had a snack and headed down the mountain.  By the time I got to Bent Creek Gap and down the gravel to the lake it was 1 pm.  I was hungry and tired of trail mix, honey buns and crackers, so I took a detour to Celebrity's Hot Dogs.  With my belly full, I pointed my steed towards the ranch and made my way home. 
This did not last long, but was definitely comforting.

With my wanderlust satisfied for a little while, I made a pact with myself to get out on this trip more often,  probably not every weekend but at least once a month.  There are a lot of options in Pisgah for doing some short overnight trips,.  

Can't wait till the next one!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


 I rode up Elk Mountain Scenic Parkway, wind whipping around me,  leaves plastered on the road, causing me to slip when I stood up, even getting tire squeal each time it slipped and regained traction.  I almost got clipped by a Gold Grand Marquis and my blood was boiling.  

It was good to get out on the road again and enjoy the mountains, but nothing can replace the dirt under my wheels and the smell of the woods without the fear of becoming a hood ornament.  
Since the stage race, I have been battling the funk in my head that comes with life.  The stuff creeps up and all of a sudden it is in my face.  The stuff that I thought I had dealt with and put to rest.  The stuff I have tried to resolve, but when the other party does not want to participate, no resolution can be had.   I was even willing to compromise.  

As I climbed up and over the last ridge, I could see blue sky and feel the sun warming my skin.  I had climbed up and out of the cloudy shroud on one side of the mountain, into the clear sunshine on the other side.   And that is life.  We are either climbing up though the fog or enjoying the sunshine on the other side.  And sometimes its tough.

But either way,  up or down,  I have come to rely on the sometimes regular, sometimes random people in my life.  People who care enough to ask, or without knowing, ask a question,  stepping out, facing their own fears and asking for advice,  dealing with their own stuff. 

It was a good ride and good things came from both sides of the mountain.  You can always find the positives, sometimes it takes longer than others, but it can be done.

Go Ride!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Time Flies

It is October already.  The second day of October and time is flying.  It seems like it is getting dark earlier this year, and dark later.   Probably the government's everything else,  or not.

Bikepacking is pulling at me right now.   I have been considering a 6hr race coming up in a couple of weeks, but at the same time, my heart and soul are craving some riding/camping in the woods.  Going my own pace, stopping when I want to and not running from/chasing that person just up around the corner.   

The above picture is from the start of Stage 5.  We are tired, weary Pisgah Warriors, ready for battle, contemplating what is ahead,  in the next 5 hrs and next few days.   I have taken some time off the bike since the race.  I came out of retirement last week to ride the Liberty Road Ride one more time.  Kevin Hessler said he would be lonely without me.  It was good that I turned up, because the new guy thought it was his job to control the group of 5..... it was an interesting ride. 

A little known fact about me is that I used to be a quasi hippie.  We used to drive around in our van,  taking in the sights and riding bikes.  I was part owner of a small t-shirt company.  We screen printed a bunch of t-shirts.  I created a lot of tie dye t-shirts that we also printed on and sold.  It was a good period of life.  I miss the van but not the t-shirt business. 

And here is the bike that got me hooked on the endurance MTB scene.  SS Hardrock, and heavy as granite.  I rode that bike all over the woods,  ORAMM, 12 hr Cowbell, and a few others before upgrading to a Bianchi WUSS.  Things change.