Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On Dirt

Saturday started off like Sunday.  Up early, household responsibilities taken care of, then work calls.  My (lack of) plans were delayed, but not derailed.  I had a mountain bike on my truck, but no destination in mind.  I knew I wanted to see some dirt, rocks, and trees, but nothing local sounded appealing.  That’s when I remembered that there is a new(ish) trail across the river that I hadn’t ridden yet.

Rocky Branch, across the Catawba River over in the town of Belmont, is a trail that I’d walked before but never ridden.  I knew I couldn’t get in a super long ride anywhere since I was on a leash for work, so at ~3 miles this place seemed appropriate.  Turns out it didn’t matter where I rode, as long as I hit the dirt.

The trail looked fun back when I walked it a few months ago and riding it confirmed that.  It’s a bit out of the way for me but definitely worth the trip.  There were just enough jumps, rocks, and fast downhills to make it fun, and there were even a few climbs in there to make me work a little bit.

One thing I didn’t see the last time I was there was the new “advanced” section.

It started with a small rock garden and ran alongside a creek.

There were some steepish drop ins, and they led into some sort of Warrior Creek style canyon thingy.

The crew out there has been putting in a ton of work to build this thing, and they plan to do a lot more.  Just as I finished my first lap, I ran into a few of the guys that did most of the work.  I did another lap with them, and we spent some extra time out there looking at future sections and reroutes.  I see a lot of potential out there for sure.  I’ll be there for the next work day, and definitely to ride again. 

Sometimes riding something different (no matter how short), is a good thing.  Kinda keeps things fresh, you know?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Work Gets In The Way

Being “on call” for work has cramped my style the last few days.  Yeah, it pays the bills and all that but I hate having to try to squeeze in rides here and there.  I make plans, and a lot of times they fall through.  Sunday was more of the same.  Since I’ve started “training” for next “season”, a Sunday morning long-ish road ride has become the standard.  It’s sorta fun, and it gets me out on the bike for some good mileage before I sit around all day and watch foosball on TV. 

I woke up early Sunday morning, took care of the dogs and cats, and got my shit together to head out on the road.  Suddenly, work calls.  Since I knew I couldn’t fix the issue remotely and had to go on site to one of our facilities, I loaded my road bike on the truck and made a plan to ride when I finished working.  Once I got there, things took a little longer than expected, but I still had time for a ride.  I was near the Huntersville Business Park (you locals know what I’m talking about), and the decision was made to ride a few laps in there to spin my legs.  People around here ride the shit outta that place.  On any given day, it’s full of roadies running pacelines, calling shit out to each other, and trying their best to beat the Strava times of everyone else in the area. 

I did one lap around and I was ready to punch myself in the balls.  I don’t know how they do it.  I think it’s the most painfully boring thing you can do on a bike aside from riding a trainer.  I made the easy decision to head out on the open road, which wouldn’t have me riding in circles.

It was a really beautiful day, and not being stuck in the business park made my ride somewhat enjoyable.  Slightly cool, (mostly) empty roads, and hilly terrain kept me moving along at a nice pace.  I eventually rolled up to a red light, and while I waited I spotted another roadie directly across from me.  He nodded, and when the light turned green he took off in the direction I’d planned to go.  I saw that as a challenge so I took off after him. 

I was gaining on him steadily while he looked back, and eventually I got enough momentum to fly by him.  I waved as I went by and he didn’t seem too pleased.  He tried to keep up, but I pushed it with everything I had to keep him at bay.  I was struggling to get away, but it was working.  My heart rate ramped up to nearly 200 bpm, and after a series of climbs and downhills I no longer saw him behind me.  Big deal.

It was fun, but more importantly it kept me motivated to make the most of my ride.  Sometimes when I ride on the road I tend to slow down and stare off into the fields and trees as I pass by, forgetting that I’m trying to “train.”  Having someone to chase makes it more fun, and the same holds true when I see someone gaining on me. 

Maybe I should start riding with a group, instead of being the Lone Roadie.

Or maybe I should start riding in the woods more on Sunday mornings.

At least I’m riding.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fun Friday

It’s been a long week.  You know, since most of you hung around to hear four days about what I did last weekend.  A new weekend is upon us, and I’m ready to have some fun.  I’m on call for work, which means I may not do anything.  I’ll give it a shot, which starts here with Fun Friday.

Great way to start off the weekend.  I guess I only used that because it’s bicycle related. 

Anyway, now we can go with the obvious (and not bike related.)

Yeah.  Get the hell out of here.  Go have some fun and quit reading this crap and nonsense.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Now We Watch

It was still raining when we left The Pisgah and headed towards Asheville.  The weather report up there said it was clearing up, so we looked forward to some pump track goodness.  Just before I got to Industry Nine headquarters I received a text from Eastwood saying that it was still on.  We rolled in a few minutes later, and the first person we saw was Shanna.  She promptly welcomed us and posed for a photo with the little lady.

We walked out to the pump track and I saw a familiar sight, a DeFeet tent.

Mandy (DeFeet’s newest representative) was on hand to tell the pump track world about DeFeet, volunteer at the event, and talk to Little Miss Sunshine about the cool stuff she makes out of spare bike parts.

And she also helped me capture the elusive North Carolina Bigfoot (sock.)

Ask your local bike shop to get some for you.  And hurry, because they are moving fast...

Soon after we found Eastwood and Brian “Big n’ Buttery” Bradley, we got out in the middle of the action to watch.

There are lots of photos:

Beers were consumed and racers were heckled (in a respectable way of course.)  It was so fun, but Big n’ Buttery needed a break.  Luckily they had food for him:

Then it was back to the action:

I took lots of photos (duh.)  In fact, way more than I put on here.  Luckily, I took some burst shots and turned them into gifs. 


Another awesome day, which capped off another awesome weekend in the hills.  We grabbed more beer (and food) at a local watering hole and eventually made our way back to Charlotte.  I didn’t want to go home, but I guess I kinda had to.

Returning to “normal” always sucks after a fun weekend.  I guess it's good that another weekend starts tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cooking With Fire

After cleaning up from our wet and sloppy ride, we met up at The Hub for some post-ride beer (of course.)  We shot the shit, telling tall tales from our riding adventures.  We stayed for quite a while trying to figure out what we would do for the rest of the evening.  Suddenly, TomTom came rolling in with some ice cream.

Photo cred:  Eastwood

Lunchbox and I decided that we should have some too.  That’s when we made the “scary” trip across the street to get some.

See that sign in the background?  

Mountain Cabbage?  I'm not eating that.

But yeah, we did get some ice cream and it was delicious.

Somehow the topic at The Hub turned to “what kind of shit we could cook with sticks over a campfire”, so we went over to the local grocery store to see what we could find.  That’s when we realized Brian “Big n’ Buttery” Bradley had brought an unauthorized beer into the store.

He doesn't give a shit about your rules.

Roaming around the store for a while, we bought Big n’ Buttery biscuits, pizza rolls, and other shit and headed back to camp.  We prepared to feast.

And I was really hungry until I saw Eastwood’s sweater.

After our meal, it was no surprise that Lunchbox was still hungry.  It was a little weird that he decided to cook toaster strudels on a stick though.

We stayed up late again, but not as late as the night before.  Beers, bullshit, and full bellies made the sleep come easy.  The next morning I woke up to the sound of rain.  No one wanted to ride in it, so we slowly packed up our campsite and made plans to get out of there.

Well, sort of.  I went to the bathroom real quick, and when I returned everyone had rolled out.  I had planned to head up to Industry Nine in nearby Asheville to watch a pump track jam, but due to the weather I didn't know if it was still on.  As soon as my phone came back in service, I checked The Internets confirmed that it was indeed still on.

Lunchbox, Little Miss Sunshine, and I headed up there, while we assumed everyone else headed home…

Yeah, I’m gonna drag this out another day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hillbilly Playground

Saturday morning came early.  Mostly because I stayed up well into it, but whatever.  Since we had a few day trippers coming out to ride with our camping group, we gathered up ourselves and rolled across the street to the Ranger Station and prepared to break off into groups to ride The Pisgah/DuPont.

It was decided that their would be two rides:  a Pisgah Death March, and a tamer, social-type paced DuPont ride.  I thought a tour around DuPont would be fun for those folks that wanted to have a good ride, see some scenery, and not be too tired to do anything else later in the day.  So yeah, I led that one, which meant that a bunch of us drove ~8 miles away to meet in another parking lot.

The ride was meant to be easier, but we had to start out climbing.  Most folks didn't seem to mind.

In fact, some of them downright loved it.

Then there was that time me and George Hincapie took our kids for a ride together.

Yeah, that Lunchbox at the top.  He dropped them on that climb and stood there to rub it in.

The route I planned (on the toilet that morning) had us climbing up fire roads and hitting singletrack for (mostly) downhill goodness.

Then there was that time when it took three people to fix a broken chain.

After Craig “My Bike is Fatter Than Your Mom” Watts saved the day with his chain tool, we all sat around and talked about how rad we were.

A little more climbing took us to the top of High Falls, where we hung out to enjoy the view and the awesome weather.

Since we had some “new to DuPont” people in the group, we took off up the road towards the Airstrip Trail, which I promised them was pretty rad.  The climb sorta sucks, but even the Airstrip is kinda cool.  Lunchbox and I celebrated our ascent with a high five.

Photo credit:  Danielle S.

It’s worth the climb just for the view.

We got everyone back together (kinda like herding cats) and bombed down Airstrip.  It was fun and fast, and there were no opportunities to take photographs.  I had to settle for nature stuff when we finished.

We rode some more and eventually ended up at the skills area we always seem to hit.  Everyone showed that they had skillz.

It had been a pretty long day so far, and people were starting to get tired.  Everyone was looking forward to the final descent, Ridgeline, and getting back to camp to relax.  We had just a little more of that fire road stuff to go, so our big group got rolling.  We got close, and Fat Bike Craig said he just got sprinkled by rain.  I looked up in the sky and said, “We should be okay.”

I was wrong.

The sky opened up, and we hurried up one more climb to huddle under a shelter.  It was decided that we should just head down Ridgeline before everything got worse.  We knew it would be slick, but much worse if we stayed there and waited for all the rain to fall on it.  One by one, we took off down the river that was once Ridgeline.

I have to admit that it was pretty fun.  My bike handled well in the less than ideal conditions, but about halfway down I started to become concerned for the group I was leading.  I pulled over and waited as people went by, yelling to them that I would sweep the rest of the ride.  I waited in the rain as every person in our group came screaming by, each one with a big smile on their face.  I jumped back in and continued the downhill, until a few minutes later I found my kid on the side of the trail.

With a flat tire.

He flats a lot, and even more on that particular trail.  He was disappoint.  Rather than stand there in the rain and change his tube, I told him to just keep riding.  He actually did quite well, and informed me that he had more traction he did before.  Shredding the gnar on his rim and he didn't shred his rim.  All is well.

It was still raining in the parking lot, so a lot of people just jumped in their vehicles and drove off.  Lunchbox and I waited for the rain to stop, thoroughly cleaned ourselves off, and got ready to relax the rest of the day.

At least my bike got a bath.

It was an awesome day for sure.  A great ride, and the rain at the end made it really fun.  No one seemed to mind the free shower either, and it was all smiles as we told the stories around the campfire.

You can’t beat a good day in the hills, but we still had some time left up there.