Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Almost The Hills

Back in town and done with my vacation, I was itching to ride some NC dirt.  With a free weekend in my sights, I opted to join a group ride to a trail I’d never been to before.  We were scheduled to visit Lake James State Park and I was pretty excited.  I’d heard about it from a few people that had been there, and going somewhere new intrigued me.  I got up early so I wouldn’t be late, made the hour and a half drive there, and waited.

I suck at selfies.  Or I am not impressed with them.  Or I have to poop.  Whatever.

I found out later that the group ride had been cancelled sometime during the night, but luckily I thought ahead so I wouldn’t be alone.  I texted the Dirty Party Cycle the night before and he was down.  He showed up a short while later, and with a map I printed off the website in hand we hit the trail.

If you’re local, the best way I can describe it is a cross between Lake Norman State Park and Warrior Creek.  It was fast, flowy, and not at all technical.  While I usually prefer the gnar shit, this was a nice change of pace.  We clocked in a little over fourteen miles of fun, fast, swoopy downhills with minimal climbing.  The DPC and I had a great time for sure.  Big shout out to the folks at the Northwest North Carolina Mountain Bike Alliance for one helluva job.  It’s nice to have a trail in the area out there.  And since it’s almost in the hills, the views can be quite nice in the park.

Hardly taxed from riding, we still needed beer and food.  In fact, the DPC was talking about where we’d go for brew during the first few miles of the ride.  What a good friend.  He suggested a local joint, Fonta Flora Brewery in nearby Morganton.

We walked in and felt immediately at home.

We bellied up to the bar and I ordered the hoppiest shit I could see, which was the Hop Beard Mountain Man IPA.  With such a manly sound, I was very hopeful.

Damn, that was good.  I enjoyed that for a bit but thirsted for more.  Next up was an IPA made with beets (yes, beets), which turned out to be pretty awesome.

Next up was a sample platter, or a “flight” for you fancy folks.

We’d ridden our bikes and had lots of good beer, so we figured we might ought to get some food.  Before I left I made sure to get something to go.

Hell yeah.

Next stop was a local Mexican place, which if you ride any sort of off road bicycle is mandatory.  I was hungry, and they obliged with a big plate of slop.

It was a good day.  Bikes, beer, and Mexican food.  I might have to say that the highlight of it all though was a local with a KISS tattoo on his arm.

Now I’ve seen it all.  Luckily I’d already eaten before I took that picture.  The Dirty Party Cycle was not so fortunate though.  He still had to finish his big ass drink.

It’s good to be back here in North Carolina.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tour de DC

I go to Washington, D.C. a lot.  I’ve been going since I was little (before I can remember) and for some reason I’m still not tired of it.  I love history, and even though I really don’t care much for cities I still find myself wanting to be there all the time.  Every year Lunchbox and I go, and my last trip to VA was no exception.  Instead of driving in like the masses do, we try our best to user alternate transportation.  Our day started on the DC Metro which, if you know how to use it, is a great way to get around.

Don’t worry, Lunchbox.  We’ve done this before.

Our ride on the Metro took us to the National Zoo, and since neither of us had been there before (for some strange reason) we were pretty excited.  As far as zoos go, it was good.  We walked around for a couple of hours, had lunch, and planned the rest of our day.  

Our asses were already tired.

The plan from there was to ride bikes.  D.C. has an awesome bike share program, and luckily there was a rack right near the zoo.  We picked up two bikes, and took a ride down the Rock Creek Parkway.

It was nice not having to deal with city traffic.

We rode a little over two miles, then made our way over to Embassy Row.  Lunchbox had never been there, and there is no better way to see it than by bike.  We took lots of photos, but I’ll just share the one I took of the Japanese Embassy.

After that it was time to head back towards the city.  On the way in, Lunchbox stopped to take a photo of the Washington Monument.

So I took a photo of him taking a photo.

Once we got to the National Mall, we rode those bikes around and took pictures like tourists.

Then we got lucky enough to get a photo of Marine One making some practice runs.

Then of course, more sightseeing.

Man, we were tired.  A long day at the zoo and riding bikes around meant that we needed to eat.  Luckily, I found a nice place, Capitol City Brewing Company.

Finally, a good beer in the city.

The food was good too.  The only issue was with the utensils.  When Lunchbox grabbed his fork, he said, “I don’t know whether to eat my dinner or conquer it.”

That is a huge fork.

Since we had returned our bikes, we decided to walk for a bit.  We ended up in Chinatown, which is pretty ordinary aside from the entrance.

We walked around there for a bit, then found another bike station and pedaled around some more.

It was dark, but that didn’t stop us from heading up to the Capitol.  No one was working at that time of night, which isn’t really that much different from any other time.

But it did give us a chance to get all Enduro™ on the stairs.

It was starting to get really late, so we made our way back across the Mall towards the Metro station.  Lunchbox couldn’t resist riding in front of the Washington Monument though.

We were there all day and late into the night.  It was really fun, but it was time to get back to the hotel.  We said goodbye to our bikes for now…

We went back a few days later.  Maybe I’ll bore you with that tomorrow.

Monday, August 18, 2014


I had a pretty fun ride over the weekend.  But, since I had so much going on while I was away, I still want to get into the ride I took a week ago in Richmond, VA (RVA, get it?)

Lunchbox and I had a small window to get in a ride, and we took advantage of it.  We headed over to the James River, which has a pretty cool trail system.  We rode there last year and got a little lost, but this year we weren’t worried about that.

We rolled up to the most crowded parking lot I’ve ever seen.  We surmised that the good people of Richmond don’t work during the day and that’s why it was so crowded.  We got ready and rolled out, crossing the James River to get to the good stuff.  I really dug the views.

The bridge on the way over was a little crowded, and after navigating through a sea of people we made it to the other side.

Lunchbox was exited because we were going to his favorite part of that trail system…

They have an awesome skills park under an overpass, so we stuck around to play for a while. 

It was so rad.  My Garmin showed us riding almost two miles while we were there, which was impressive considering the place wasn’t that big.  Eventually we left, heading to the good stuff.  That place is different that the trail we normally ride.

It’s not all paved, but that little path along the river was pretty neat.

We came to some railroad tracks that we had to cross, and we had to climb up a tower (and many flights of stairs.)

It was much safer that way.

The next trail was probably the best one out there, Buttermilk.

Definitely my favorite, and if you’re in the area you should make a point to ride it.

It’s fast, flowy, rooty, and rocky.

And some of the climbs will kick your ass in the August heat.

Just like last year, we had a blast.  We finished Buttermilk and hit the final leg, North Bank (as in the north bank of the James River.)  The trail ran through a glorious field of kudzu.

And they had a few man-made features just to keep it interesting.

What a good ride.  Much better than last year in fact, since we didn’t get lost this time.  After our fun ride, we asked some locals where we could get some good food and beer.  A kind law enforcement officer sent us to Bottoms Up in downtown Richmond.

We had the biggest, fattest, most delicious pizza ever.

 Okay, maybe it doesn't look so good.  It was though.

It was so big that my kid couldn’t finish it, despite his best efforts.

Even though we’d been there before and mountain biking wasn’t the primary reason for our trip, I’m glad we found time to ride.  This is turning into an annual thing, and I can’t wait for next year.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fun Friday (Vacation Edition)

Since I took a ton of photos during our trip, I figured I’d have a few that I could use for a lazy day Fun Friday post.  I took a lot of the standard D.C. shots, but I found a few things that make me chuckle.

Like Dicky’s side business:

It's spelled wrong.  Whatever.

You never know what kind of weird shit you’ll see up there in Washington.  Some things I just couldn’t figure out:

Or this fella that I didn’t even want to know about:

Some drunk dude staring at the street.  We came back by there about an hour later, and he was still there:

I dunno.

Or this van that looked awful suspicious parked near the White House:

Notice the American flag used to hide the contents of the van. There was also an odd security system in place.

Maybe that’s why these guys were repairing the barriers on Pennsylvania Avenue:

Funny? Maybe.  Fun to see?  I guess.  We did ride some bikes in D.C., which was really fun (and I’ll get into it more next week.)  I’ll tease by saying that I got all Enduro™ in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Our 16th President would be proud.

I’m out.  Not fun enough for a Friday post?  Go out and have your own fun.  That’s what I’m gonna do.