Tuesday, November 21, 2017


 It was my birthday weekend and the wind forecast for the east coast was looking good.  I loaded up on Friday and headed east.  I was excited to finally get to the coast around Charleston and check out some of the windsurfing spots that I have been researching on the internet.  But this trip was about more than that.  It was about some alone time, soul searching, figuring out who I am, and who I want to be.  It seems that recently, I always have a dark cloud hanging over me, and I want to know why.

I'm sure some of it can be attributed to the time of year.  The expectations and excitement that used to consume me this time of year have been replaced with reality.  Maybe I have no yet accepted this reality.  But in order to accept it, I have to understand it and know what the new reality is.

 I made it to Mt Pleasant and checked in at the hotel.  If I'm going to make more trips like this,  I need to find cheaper lodging options!  But its my birthday, so  I enjoy the nice room and biscuits and gravy for breakfast.

After checking in and dropping my luggage off, I head to Station 29.  A couple of kiters are set up.  I chat with them to figure out important info like currents.   With the tide change of almost 6 feet,  depending on when and where, combined with wind direction,  a person could wind up far away from where they get on the water.
 I set up and play around for a couple of hours.  The wind is light, but I stay out, getting the feel of the area and looking forward to some strong wind on Saturday.

 Saturday rolls around and I head to the beach.  And wait, wait some more and wait most of the day.  Other wind seekers come.  Some stay, some go,  some come back later.  We are all looking at the forecast and waiting.  Finally enough wind comes in that I can at least scoot around on the water.  As I'm out, still getting a feel for the area, I stop and chat with some old dudes who are friendly.  We get a good laugh out of the bad forecast and I head back out. 

I head down the coast a bit to where some kiters are playing.  They have huge kites rigged and are making the most of the tame conditions.  There are 1 foot waves rolling in, so I take the opportunity to try wave sailing. 
 It turns out to be pretty fun and not to complicated in these mild conditions.  
The sun starts heading closer to the horizon and the wind totally dies.  I catch one more wave and pack it in for the day. 

Sunday, I take my time getting ready,  take a walk up the bridge to look at the harbor and then head over to Demetre Park.  A tiny little parked, tucked into the harbor side of James Island.  There is 1 windsurfer and 1 kiter.  The wind is good, but with the tide going out, the current is picking up to a point that going out is futile, unless I want to wind up out in the ocean.  I should have been there 2 hrs earlier.  But I wasn't.
I point the truck east and head towards Columbia SC.  Lake Murray is next on the list of spots to check out.  2 hrs later, I pull into the SC& G park.  The lake is covered in whitecaps and 1-2 foot swells.  Holy moly.  My stomach churns with excitement and fear of the unknown.  I chat for a minute with a sailor to make sure there is nothing weird that I need to watch out for, then rig up and head out.  It turns out that the looks of the lake are more menacing than conditions really.  I'm underpowered so I head back in and rig a bigger sail. 

The wind is tame, but I stay out. Because I'm here, and I'm stubborn.  Well,  after about an hour, my stubbornness pays off and the wind kicks up.  After 3 days of searching, I'm finally speeding across the top of the water, hooked in to the harness line, leaning out across the water, free and flying. 

On the way home and over the couple of days since, I come to the realization that my life has turned out differently than I had expected.  I have a great life, great wife and kid, great job, great friends and great community.  Things are great.  But even when things are great,  it is difficult to look past what could have been,  what should have been.  I guess it takes a while to get over rejection and feeling unwanted.  It takes a while for some wounds to heal.  It takes a lot of will power to focus on what reality is now compared to the dreams and aspirations that one had as a young adult.  What I thought was right, and what turns out to be real are 2 different things. 

But every day I get up,  I whisper thanks to God for what I have, what I'm going through, knowing that what is to come is more amazing than what has been.  I hug my family and sit down to figure what needs to get done that day (of course there is coffee).  And I check the wind forecast.  Because just as I know that there will be more good wind days,  I also know thatreality is often realized as I wait, and truth is spoken in that still small wind. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Burned Out?

Good grief.   Its my birthday month,  I have some time off,  I can take a road trip, windsurfari, go bikepacking.... basically anything I want to do.  But man, if I'm not having trouble deciding what to do, much less getting excited about taking any trip.  I need to just pick something a go with it. But I don't have this opportunity often, so I want to make sure the experience is good.  The fact is, I don't really have control over the outcome, especially if its weather related.

Here are my options:
  •  Mtn Biking Car Camping Road Trip- drive around the southeast to assorted mountain biking destinations and ride till my legs fall off
  • Windsurfari- drive to the east coast, chase the wind and windsurf til my arms fall off
  • Bikepacking trip- pick one of the many bikepacking routes now available in the southeast, anywhere from Damascus VA to Ocala FL   
The weather is getting a little cold/rainy/freezing for bikepacking.  I have found that while I can endure wintry weather long distance bikepacking, I enjoy stopping to smell the roses and enjoying the summer sunshine.  Can't do that if it is freezing rain on my head.

Windsurfari,  the wind might peter out, leaving me with long walks on the beach.... maybe that's just what I need?

Mtn Biking Car Camping Road Trip..... trying to get excited

I'm sure  I need a break.  I love, love, love what I do.  The people I work with are amazing, my employee and volunteers make it possible for me to have a little time off.  My family is awesome and understanding of my wanderlust. 

But good grief,  what's it gonna take for me to get excited and get out the door?

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Avoiding the Rain

The forecast was for rain in Asheville.  I checked the weather for Greenville SC,  there was 0% chance of rain.  I decided to head down to ride Paris Mtn, and then back to the parking spot in Travelers Rest via the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

The plan was going well until I got changed and grabbed my cycling shoes.  I had brought my road bike, and my mountain bike shoes. 

Options,  change back to street clothes and just ride in street shoes.... uhhh.  Fortunately, I had parked next to the Sunrift Adventures bike shop.  I was able to rent a pair of mtb pedals for $5.30.  Ride salvaged. 

Heading up Paris Mtn, towards Greenville,  the rain moved in.  For about 5 minutes.  Dang it.  At least is was warm. 

I rode down into and through Greenville to pick up the greenway.  It was a pleasant ride that I will do again, only I'll bring the single speed and do an out and back on the greenway next time.  It is a good alternative when it is butt cold up in AVL! 

3 miles from Travelers Rest, the skies opened up.  Buckets dumping on my head. 

So much for staying dry.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Who I Am

I'm turning 45 years old in 13 days.  I still wake up some days, wondering who I am and what my purpose is.  I like a challenge, and when fulfilling my purpose becomes routine, and things are running smoothly,  I tend to mistake the lack of resistance with complacency.   

That is a mistake though.  Maybe I've paid my dues.  Maybe I'm wise now and I have quit trying to do things the easy way, which a lot of times turns into the hard way. 

I realized on my ride two days ago, that we can't always be who we want to be.   I want to be a rock star bikepacker.  I know that I can't go multiple days with little to no sleep like a lot of other folks,  but I want to ride the long miles and do the long trips.  I have the equipment, the knowledge, and the desire, but I lack one important ingredient: time. 

So,  I have to remind myself to be content where I am,  to fill this spot in the universe that has been reserved just for me.  I have to quit wishing that I was somewhere doing what I want, and appreciate who I am, and who I have become. 

I love my life and I love what I am doing.  I will always have that adventure spirit that will distract me from the awesome things that are right in front of me.  I just have to ignore it sometimes and cherish the times that I am allowed to wander.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

"Us" Not "They"

Lots of talk about road rage, cyclists rights and what we can do to make cycling safer for everybody. 

As a trend, people tend to say things like "why doesn't somebody do something" or "they, ie: the gov't, should do something", "they should make bike lanes". Always "they". 

Why not us? Why don't you take on that responsibility. 

Ideally, someone would write a big check and have some PSA's made for radio and tv, that would be the quickest way to educate the public. But there is no profit in said PSA's so that likely won't happen.

Well,  what can "we" do to help "them" make our roads a safer place to ride?  

In my opinion, we have to start with the kids.  

How many of you have driven a vehicle with elementary/ middle school aged kids and they remind you of every single freaking traffic law in the book?   2 mph over the speed limit? Didn't use your turn signal?  Following too closely?  Yup,  they will call you out on it every single time!  

Why not use that to our advantage?  Why not have a school based curriculum that teaches cyclists rights and etiquette in  school or Driver's Ed?   Because then, once again, we are relying on "them" and that is going to take a while and quite possibly forever.... never.  Because in order to add/ change anything in a text book.....  ugh.

What if "you" could make a difference? What if "you" could make a difference and only "sacrifice" 2 hrs, 1 day per week?  Would you be willing to give that up?  To offer your skills and talents to work with us in making our area more cycling friendly?  

If you answered yes, let me recommend that you get involved in one of the many youth bike related programs in our area ( and yes, buckle up for a shameless plug, because I believe that I am making a difference that will affect every cyclist on the road)  

Trips For Kids WNC and Asheville on Bikes both offer after school bike clubs at local middle and elementary schools.  Each club meets after school, 1 day per week for about 1.5- 2 hrs.  We start each club teaching the kids to do their own bike check,  making sure their bikes are safe and ready to ride.  We also discuss skills, riding etiquette, and how to properly ride on the road, including hand signals and other safety and awareness skills.   

The Blue Ridge Bicycle Club offers Kid Bike Safety Rodeos, to offer the same skills that we offer in bike club, setting up a street scenario in a safe location for kids to practice what they learned.  

And guess what? At some point, these kids will earn their driver's license, and be driving a car or a big truck.  I believe that what we teach them now about bikes on the road, will encourage them to be more aware and understanding when they encounter cyclists.

So,  if you want to make a change, invest in your future, and let's get together to teach these kids what they need to know to help make our roads a safer, more cycling friendly community.  

Carve out 2 hours from your week and help the above programs,  we have a great crew of volunteers and are always looking to expand,  but we can't do it, if no one steps up to help out.  

Contact us today:
Trips For Kids WNC: stephen@tripsforkidswnc.com
Asheville on Bikes:  https://ashevilleonbikes.com/
Blue Ridge Bicycle Club: http://www.blueridgebicycleclub.org/

In closing, I want to give a huge thanks to all of our local bike shops that contribute in countless ways to keeping our youth ride programs running.  We could not do it without their help.  Please support them!  

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

The Asheville Oak: Vacation Rental

As you might have noticed, I have been busy, and absent for a long time.  I spend 4.5 months off the bike and hardly doing anything fun.  I'm burned out and tired, and deep down inside I know the pain and suffering has been worth it!!

Let's back up a bit.  Spring 2016,  we decided to work hard to get our vehicle loans paid off and then work on putting money away in savings so that we could live a simple non complex life. 

Summer 2016,  an opportunity was presented to us to purchase a bit of land next door.  I didn't realize that we had that capability, but after discussing with some good friends and talking to a local banker, found out that we were in a good position to invest in some land. This is the result of countless hours and effort, rebuilding the home we currently have lived in for 13 yrs. Along with the help of the popularity of Asheville, our house tripled in value. 

Before the land purchase dust had settled, we were already applying for a construction loan, ie more debt and a less simple life. 

Now,  1 yr later,  we have something to be proud of: The Asheille Oak: Vacation Rental

If you are headed to the area, check it out as an option.  1 bedroom, 1 loft, 1 bathroom, full kitchen, central heat and air, washer/dryer,  convenient location, easy access to Interstates, downtown, breweries, restaurants, trails, Pisgah National Forest etc.    

Monday, August 21, 2017


Miracles.  Sometimes they can be explained away with science,  sometimes not.  Sometimes it is better to simply enjoy than to try to figure out.  Too many why's, how's, and could be's, and a person loses focus of what is really going on around us.  What is really the purpose for the things happening around us.  Why birds fly and pigs don't.

For the past year, I have been on a mission.  My question was, do miracles really happen?  Then I started observing small things.... and some major.  I watched a family narrowly miss getting hit by a car,  I watched the sun come up,  everyday, on time,   I saw flowers bloom, hate turned to love.   Good grief, I saw a lot, and continue to see it.  Once I stopped expecting and started observing,  my perspective changed.  I have also become more grateful to be alive, and thankful that I am a small part in this huge tapestry of life. 

We headed out to Ocracoke Island for our end of summer vacation.  We dragged the sailboat and windsurfing equipment out and I was excited about the great wind forecast. 

But, alas,  Tropical Storm Gert/Hurricane Gert swooped in and sucked all of the wind out to sea. 

Man, I was disappointed.  I had waited all year for this and now, no windsurfing for me.  I was on vacation, with my family and it took a lot of hard thinking to reset my mind. 

We did get in some good sailing, and I sent to wife and kid out on a para sail trip! 

The wife and kid, 800 feet above the Pamlico Sound
Me,  living the dream on the Pamlico Sound

The Ultimate Windsurf Mobile

We saw sunsets, on the beach

And from the sailboat

Poor conditions for windsurfing, tend to be good conditions for sailing....and parasailing

We met some amazing locals on the island.  Locals who invited us into their daily life!

....dog's life

The last evening, the wind finally kicked up just enough....thankful.
And then it was time to leave.  Sadness.  I am super happy and thankful for the opportunity to  visit the island, but leaving feels the same as so long ago, when I was 16 and I left the small island of Bonaire to move to Charlotte.... sadness.

We pulled onto the ferry, and headed towards Swan Quarter.  I wandered the deck with the kid and the dog, talking about the week, life and stuff.  Quality time that I don't regret.  2.5 hrs later we started the engine to point west and head for the mountains.
And then things went south.  15 miles out of Swan Quarter and we crossed the Pungo River Brigde.  Where the bridge meets the pavement on the other side, there is a dip.  We hit that and the trailer boat trailer bounced.  I heard a pop and saw smoke and debris on the left side.  I figured that we blew a tire and pulled over asap.  I got out and was shocked and a bit panicked to see that the axle had snapped. 

The start of the miracle.  Last year, we made this trip in the mini van.  Over the winter, we were able to purchase a pick up truck fits out lifestyle needs.  Had we been in the min van when this happened, our options would have been severely limited.  

Solutions raced through my mind.  It was 4 pm.  4 hours til sunset.  20 miles to the nearest town: Belhaven.  I unhooked the trailer and decided to drive to find a tow service or possibly a U-haul Trailer.  

3 miles up the road, at a roadside convenience store and deli, I could not believe my eyes.  A U-haul trailer rental site, with the exact trailer that I hoped would work.    Hopeful, I went inside and rented the trailer.  I felt like it took forever for the guy to slowly type in all the info,  with the warning that often times, the U-haul system does not work right.  Arggh.  We were burning daylight. 

The folks were very kind in understanding our plight though and we were soon on our way.   I hooked the trailer up and drove back to the broken boat trailer.  Everything was as we left it.  I turned around and got into position.  I was going to figure out some way to hoist, winch, drag that boat trailer up onto the U-haul trailer. 

As I got into position,  a jacked up, blacked out Chevy Silverado pulled up and I heard angels singing: " Do yall need some help?"  Without looking up ( I get pretty focused sometimes) I said: " I would love some help!".    The fellas pulled over jumped out and went to work.   Less than 1 minute later, another truck pulled over and a guy jumped out to chip in.   5-10 minutes later, another guy stopped by to get in  on the action. 

I was amazed at what was happening and am a bit teary eyed as I write this.  The 5 of us, hoisted, pulled, pushed, pried, winched and miraculously got that broker trailer up onto the U Haul trailer.   We got it chained and strapped down securely and just as quickly as they came, they were gone.  Alone again on the side of the road, I said a quick prayer of thanks, did one more quick check to make sure everything was secure, jumped in the truck and headed West once again. 
The time?  5pm.  1 hour.  If I would have succeeded in accomplishing that task alone,  it would have taken far more than 1 hour total. In fact,  I don't know if I could have done it alone. 

Do I believe in miracles? Yes.  Miracles happen, when we least expect them.  Not on demand miracles though.  Not miracles to get us what we want when we want it.  No,  miracles that surprise us and get us what we need when we don't know that we need it.  An extra boost, an  extra bit of encouragement, a fresh perspective on life. 
Start to watch for the miracles in you life,  you will be amazed!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Yancey Ridge S240

Wow,  it has bee an while since I posted an adventure.  A lot has been going on and I'm excited to share.  This adventure has been about more than  just riding a bike on a route.  This adventure has been a test of my mind and soul.   Over the past 2 years  I have had some unsuccessful trips and wondered if I was even capable of bikepacking any more.

One obvious thing I allowed myself to admit is that  I'm not in the same kind of shape I was back when I did the Allegheny Mountains Loop, 4 yrs ago.  I did 400 miles in 4 days!  I still think back fondly on that trip and hope to get in that kind of riding shape again!

The other thing holding me back is realizing that I have some  level of separation anxiety.  It turns out that this condition is recognized in children but while being fairly common among adults, it  is not acknowledged, talked about or dealt  with.

The week leading up to an adventure, I would stay stressed out and look for any and every reason  to cancel the  trip.  I love bikepacking, but so many excuses  come to mind  and failure of many sorts  ensued.

Once I figured out what was going on, I did a bunch of research and the symptoms matched.  I talked with the wife about it and she found ways that she could be  more supportive.  More about this in  another post.

On to the route: The Yancey Ridge S240 from Bikepacking.com 

I made a to do list over the summer.  Realizing that I can't ride 80 miles a day back to back right now, and admitting that although I love an epic ride, I needed to start  small,  I started with the shorted  local route I could find.

Free overnight parking at  the Wilson Creek Visitor Center.  I parked and headed out around 2pm.

 I was feeling good and enjoyed the ride immensely.  I was feeling like I had started  to conquer something and was enjoying a new found freedom.  In addition, I have been off the bike for 4 months and was so glad to be able to ride again! 
 The route grinds up some  beautiful, mostly shady gravel roads.  I opted not to visit  the Lost Cove Cliffs, but plan on stopping there next time. 
                                        Turk's Cap Lilies: native flower and somewhat rare. 


 After about 3.5 hrs of climbing  gravel, I made it up into the highlands  south of Boone. 

  I went off route to camp at a campground.  I usually carry all of my camping gear and  end up trying to find a motel or  something to sleep in.  This time, I had made a commitment to myself to camp out, no matter what.  Fortunately, the weather was amazing and I wasn't even tempted  to find indoor lodging.  I had made a reservation at The Down By The River Campground and fulfilled that reservation.  I do enjoy  some comforts  while camping, and a hot shower and clothes dryer  are  a nice  touch.  

 After getting camp set up, my next dilemma was deciding if I should eat freeze dried, Mexican or Italian...  I opted  for Italian and ate some pizza!   Stuffed, I headed back to the campground and enjoyed being bored for once.  It seemed like I had a pretty good  handle on my emotions  at the moment, and embraced where I was, relaxing and enjoying  my trip.  Small victories.  

 I did not sleep great but got up and packed the next  morning, excited to see what the  day had in store.     Being in the area,  I could not miss getting breakfast  at  Christa's Country Corner.   Homemade  yeast rolls with bacon, egg and cheese, one  for now, one to go:  without the egg.
 Feeling a litte  stuffed,   I set out for  what  I assumed would be a chill day descending back into the valley. 
 There was nothing chill about the day, but is  was the  most fun I have had on a bike in a long time!

 I turned off of the pavement on to the next 8miles  of single track and experienced all of the best trails  in  Pisgah, packed into  one. 

 Amazing, decent, with some punchy climbs, techy, hike  a bike, to smooth buff flowy.  So nice.
 Glad to be  almost back, out of  water, but no worries,  because half a mile  to...
 Hot dog, Cheetos and Coke.  Life does not get much better  than  this!
Wrapping my time up in the woods, it was great  to face a challenge, face  the trauma from  my past and move forward  once again.  We all have things  in life holding us back and  it is not until we realize these things, not until we figure out positive coping skills that we can face the issues and move beyond them.   Who knows the  limit of our capabilities?  One day, I might even spend the night, in the middle of Pisgah, alone...

Monday, June 12, 2017

Blue Ridge Epic: First Finisher

Congrats to Angie Baker who came all the way from California.  She is the first person ever to complete the entire Blue Ridge Epic,  a 245 mile loop in Western North Carolina.

She completed the loop in about 2.5 days and as wrote in the description, got a taste of back country Appalachia!

Being the first to complete the loop using the cues created by Ride with GPS, she was lucky enough to be the guinea pig and work out some kinks.  Thanks for doing that Angie. 

As soon as I figure out how to add an alternate route to the map, I will be doing that so folks have the option of avoiding the thigh deep river crossing, and the chest deep field of poison ivy!

Angie's attitude was nothing but positive and I appreciate that.  When I checked in to her Spot tracker and realized she was having some navigational troubles, I felt terrible.  She claims she only hated me for a little while.   I think the beer at the finish smoothed things over.  

I asked her if she enjoyed the route, if it was worth the trip and would other people enjoy it.  She said something like:" Only if you enjoy waterfalls and beautiful scenery"!! 

Who is next?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Updated Route

I update the Blue Ridge Mtns Epic route to include color, showing pavement vs offroad/gravel.

Blue Ridge Mtns Epic

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Blue Ridge Mountains Epic, Unveiled.

 The time has come to finally unveil this bike packing route.  Two routes in fact.  One just under 200 miles and the other closer to 250.

I wanted to ride the entire route first, but I'm out of time this spring so I figured I would share these jewels with the general public.

I have spent several years working on this route, trying to get the most amount of gravel as a reward for the amount of pavement included. 

At some point, NC decided to pass a law requiring the state to pave every single road in the state.  Not many roads were left unpaved.   The  last 3rd of the route is an example of this (without going through sketchy backwoods, farm road, mooshine trails).   But the last major climb up the gravel heavy Stoney Fork Rd to the Blue Ridge Parkway is a local classic that could not be left out.  

Even the paved sections are mostly back roads and give a good flavor of life in southern Appalachia.

You will find some good gravel with the longest stretch passing through local elk habitat.  I saw an adolescent elk on one of my exploration trips!

The longer route goes right below Max Patch, a local bald with 360 degree views.  If you are following the Lite Route, Max Patch can be reached with a short out and back off route.  Totally worth the time.

After Del Rio, on the Epic Route, you will ride a stretch of pavement before crossing the French Broad River on a bridge.  You will then enter the forest again and find some steep single track, hike a bike.  I could not find Chimney Rocks Trail on Ride With GPS, but the route follows FS Trail 154, to Trail 7 to Paint Rock area.  ( you asked for it).

The great thing about this area is that it is considered a temperate rain forest, and there is always some sort of water to be found.  

There are no re-supply stops between mile 64 and mile 188.5.  Be prepared.  Hot Springs is easily accessible from Paint Rock,  just under 7 miles one way next to the French Broad River.

I'll add important beta as it comes to mind.

I hope you enjoy riding the route as much as I have!
Get out and ride!

Blue Ridge Mountains Epic Lite

Blue Ridge Mountains Epic

Friday, April 21, 2017

My Rocket Ship

First up Fox Asheville for keeping my fork dialed.  After upgrading from my Rockshock over the winter, I rode more techy trail than I have before, and with more smooth confidence.  Love the Fox!
 Trips For Kids WNC and the community that makes the program work like a well oiled machine!  I would not be racing without all of the support.  I hope I'm an inspiration to the kids we work with!
 Of course, no rocket ship is complete without I-9 wheels and Endless Bike Components.  The best of the best and local!!  I love these  companies.

I switched to Maxxis Crossmarks before the race.  They used to be my favorite tire, and now they are again.  Gordon mentioned that one does not see the Crossmark much anymore,  and wondered why?  I figure it is because tire companies have come out with about 2 billion "newer, better" tires since.   Stick with what works, don't be afraid to try something new, and then go back to what works!
 Cane Creek,  for the headset that never fails and keeps my turns smooth like buttah!
And of course, thanks to Liberty Bikes for helping me get on this Salsa El Mar Ti!!  

Livin' the dream!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Catchin' Up

 So much fun to be had, so little time.

Last week was my 9th consecutive Pisgah Stage Race.  And I missed two days.  With Todd's no DNF rule, I still managed a 10th out of 11 single speeders.

I took it easy on stage 1 and scored an 8th or 9th place.  I wasn't concerned.   I knew that was going to miss Thursday and Friday, so I wasn't going for it.  I decided to just enjoy the ride.  No regrets.

Stage 2, the bottom 9 single speeders tried to have a neutral roll out, but that became difficult on the 6 mile road ride to the first single track.  I tried to keep a moderate pace, but when geared wheels went by, offering a good draft,  I had to take it.

13 miles into the stage, I cam across a racer sitting next to the trail nursing a dislocated ankle.  I borrowed a phone from another racer and called the race director then 911, giving them the exact location of the injured guy. In the 7.5 minutes it took to make the calls, most of the other single speeders caught up to me.  I think at the end of the day, with the time adjustment, I scored a 4th place. But, I'm not really worried about that.

Thursday and Friday, I found myself suffering in the trenches with a shovel, struggling with the emotions of being a kid stuck in a grown up life.   The contractor was available, and in this growing down,  you can't ask them to wait, or it might be another month before they can get to you.   I kept telling myself it will be worth it in the end.... really, it will.

I was really excited about this year's race because I had just gotten this little camper built up.  Still have some finishing to do, but with 3 bunks and room to sit and play cards,  I'm hoping this will get us out of the house more this summer.

I bought the aluminum shell and built the rest to create a lightweight slide in camper.  I need a couple more windows, and ac/heat window unit and a couple of other minor things.  Staying in Brevard made a huge difference in my race.

As soon as I hear the dates, I'm going to make reservations for next year's Stage Race!

 I made it back out to Brevard on Friday night.  As I said before, it is so nice to wake up, have coffee and head to the venue 10 minutes down the road, rather than drive 45 minutes......

Stage 5, I hid in the middle of the pack and then worked up towards the front of the race.  Within a mile, the single speed leader slid out and I was momentarily in 1st place.   Of course it didn't last long.  I settled in to my pace.  My goal today was to beat Markley.  A super cool guy from Ohio, who has done quite a bit of self supported endurance racing.  He has a strong steady pace.  We rode together a couple of days.  Not today, I was in front and as much as I wanted to slow down and hang out,  I felt like I needed to prove something to myself.

I went for it, to my limit and finished the day in 4th place,  45 seconds behind 3rd!   
Before the race, I was pretty discouraged about my "training".  Due to life, it had been inconsistent, and, well, I didn't think I had it in me.  Apparently I was wrong.  I was thinking this would be my last, but I had so much fun this year....  I'll be back until Todd tells me to leave!!

Monday, April 10, 2017

PSR #9

I got my camper built up just in time for the race.  I'm slightly more excited about trying it out than I am about racing. 

In fact,  I'm not racing.  I'm just going to enjoy the ride.  You think I jest, but no Ms Jackson, I am for real. 

Several key factors have helped me make that decision.  One is that I am going to miss 2 days of the race this year.  Fortunately, Todd, the race director has some cool rules that keep everyone in the event and prevent DNF's.   If someone doesn't start, or misses a stage, he takes the last finisher's time in your category, adds 1 hour and the result is your posted time for the day. 

I have been riding, but not consistently.  Last week's 150 mile adventure gave me the boost of confidence, telling me that I have the endurance to finish.  But, I have not ridden since.  ( I ran 2.5 miles with the kid yesterday though)

In addition to my binge riding habit,  I have a major construction project going on which is also time consuming.   I've hired someone to do the work, but I'm helping out to keep costs down.  

Of course, after months of logistics and waiting,  this Thursday and Friday appear to be big days that I need to be present for....

So,  I'll be racing and digging at the same time. 

I love the Pisgah Stage Race,  I love the trails we ride.  This is my 9th time and I admit my interest is slightly waning.  Do want to round it up to an even 10?  Too soon. 

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


I'm glad I quit when I did.  I'm glad that I chose to get a ride with a stranger. 

I was able to get out and scout the next section of the route this evening and holy freakin' cow.  More climbing.  Lots more climbing.  Narrow two lane roads.  Back woods, back country, out there, don't turn down that side road kind of place.

And I got turned around and lost.... not good.

But, beautiful and a good taste of Appalachia.   I might need to change the name of the route. 

I wish there were more gravel roads on the loop, but it simply cannot be.  

Sometime back, NC decided that it would be a good idea to pave every single road in NC.  And that is what they attempted to do, and got pretty far.

Fortunately,  the Forest Service roads escaped the pavement rampage. 

With my crazy busy schedule, I'm hoping to get out there again this weekend to scout more of the route, and make sure it is reasonable and relatively safe for passage.  I can't have anyone ending up in Spillcorn!

Stay tuned!

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Blue Ridge Mountains Loop

 The Blue Ridge Mountains Loop is a loop that I have mapped out that circles the mountains and valleys around Asheville and deep into Pisgah National Forest and the Smokey Mountains National Park.  The route is a mix of gravel and pavement.  The final route is about 30%gravel with 70% pavement. 
 I've been working on the route for a long time, about 4 years.   I came home after doing the Allegheny Mtns Loop and decided to map out something similar in our area. 

Our scenery is beautiful and challenging and I want to share it with the bike packing world.
So I sat down at the computer and started mapping, planning, routing and re-routing.  The original route was about 350 miles.  Pretty huge and some fairly long stretches of pavement.  The route circumnavigated Mt Mitchell

But, as time went by I started whittling  the route down into something more manageable.  Not an easy feat, because there are so many gravel roads in certain areas and I wanted to include a lot of it.   But, then I realized that there is no reason to include everything in this one route. 
 So,  I thought about my goals:
  • Leave from my front door, or anywhere in the Asheville area.
  • Manageable mileage for the weekend warrior or the beginning bike-packer
  • A challenge for those who enjoy pushing through the night and traveling light and fast.  The long distance racer types.  
  • Easy access to services for refills, so one could travel lightly and "live off the land" without having to carry 3 days worth of food, etc.  
  • Access to lodging options including campgrounds, cabins and hotels for those who no longer enjoy sleeping in ditches. 
  • And finally, a route that would showcase our mountains and give a taste of Pisgah and the Smoky Mountains.
 I wound up with a 190 mile route that meets all of the above criteria.   I have not released the map yet, because I wanted to be the first to ride the route, obviously. 

But,  I wanted to release it early this year so that folks could have access to a great route for training or simply the challenge.  I have attempted to complete the route several times but have not quite finished for different reasons.

I'm not quite ready to release the route yet, because there is a portion that I have not scouted, and I don't want to send someone up the wrong road, in the middle of Madison County.   My desire to do this was confirmed when Grace Moon, who kindly gave me  a ride back to civilization when I was disoriented and fatigued.  She asked if I had heard of a place in Madison County called Spillcorn. 

No, I had not. 

She warned that that is one place I didn't want to end up especially on a bike....  I told her I have a way with folks and wasn't too worried.  After all, she had picked me up.   We agreed that not just anyone could pull that off!
 I have  a little bit more route recon to do before releasing the map.  I hope to get that done in the next week or two. 

Stay tuned!