Deep in the heart of western North Carolina lies paradise. Pisgah National Forest has close to 200 miles of singletrack and hundreds more of fireroads. I had heard that it was where you needed to go to hone your technical skills. So last Friday, Zeke and I headed out to discover and rediscover (Zeke had been there before) the daunting terrain of some of the East Coast's finest.
True to Pisgah we arrived in Brevard and were greeted with fog and drizzle. O.K. by me! I was here to ride my brains out over the next 2 days. We hooked up with the Flyin' Phenoms Trish and Sam at the hatchery parking lot. The next 3 hours were bliss. Trails such as Long Branch, Cove Creek, and Butter Gap gave me a permagrin! At one point while getting some air over the multiple water bars on Butter Gap, I started giggling hysterically. I was like Carly with her Pokemon trading cards ... totally immersed in my own little world of pleasure.
I stayed on Trish's wheel for most of the descents as the fallen leaves were covering a bit of the trail and I knew she would take the best lines. At one point, she shouted back, this rock you are about to see is rideable ... not slippery at all. As I approached this slab of rock in a creekbed at an incredibly steep angle, I held my breath and hit it hard and fast. True to her word, I cleaned it with nary a slip.
Zeke had set up his bike with a Stan's Raven on the front, thinking that all he needed for Pisgah was just a bit more side knob. He soon discovered that to tackle these trails properly, he was going to need a tire with a bit more! Even Sam chuckled a bit when he saw what Zeke was riding. After the ride, we stopped at Sycamore Cycles and Zeke had them mount a Captain. I secretly enjoyed the whole transaction, knowing that it was killing "weight-weanie" Zeke to have to add a few more grams (100-150) to his bike.
We thoroughly enjoyed Trish and Sam's company and parted ways after a post-ride meal. I hope to be able to ride with her more as she is a kamikaze on the descents!
Saturday we were on our own. We wanted to see what Farlow Gap was all about so I pulled out the map and took us up a fireroad climb to where I was sure we would find the Farlow Gap trailhead. This is where I wish I had Lisa's skillful map-reading prowess as we came to a board nailed to a tree. To the left was Shuler Tr. and to the right was Bypass Tr., neither of which was on the map. Not wanting to become practice fodder for the National Forest Search and Rescue Team, we decided to head back down the fireroad. (Did I mention this was a leisurely 1 1/2 hour climb!)
We then found Daniel Ridge Tr. and from there hooked up to Farlow Gap. We are probably one of a select few who do this as an out and back. But I am glad we did as I got some training in hike-a-biking. Actually it wasn't too bad and I enjoyed the last 1/4 mile hike-a-bike push to the top. Lisa would be proud!
Coming down was SO FUN! Granted, there were several places where I graciously and smartly dismounted and slid down the trail, but the rideable sections were a blast. I even managed to clean a log crossing over a ditch ... three times as I was trying to get Zeke to take a non-blurry picture for proof. Oh, well time to get a camera that can take action shots.
We then finished the day by riding the rest of the Daniel Ridge loop. I loved this trail as much for its technical ascents as well as the descents.
After nearly 70 miles of riding, we just hit the tip of the iceberg. Shame on Zeke for waiting so long to get me here. (He has known me for about 4 years now.) I want to come back when I don't have any constraints and can put together 4 to 5 days of epic riding.
I am looking forward to the Swank in a few weeks. I just hope the trail conditions are as good. Even though it rained hard the night before we rode, the trails were not slick at all. I know I will have to deal with all the leaves, but I would rather they be dry.