Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Swank 65/Couch Potato

My focus has not been on racing this year. As such I don't look for races. The Couch Potato and the Swank 65 are this weekend November 2nd and 3rd respectively. I was riding Saturday and ran into a Mike and Alastair and  rode with them for part of their ride. Today I found Mike's file,which he named Couch Potato. I downloaded his file to my Garmin to do as part of today's ride. I wondered what the name meant, until Chris and Chad rolled up while I was talking to some guys about wheel size. They were looking for the racecourse this weekend and 650b guy (sorry I did not ask their names) gave Chad and Chris directions. I asked them if I could tag along. Then I put together the name of the race and Mikes file name. I heard about the Swank on the Sycamore Thursday shop ride. I just assumed it was far away.

Also, I have been busy riding as, almost all my rides out of our basecamp Adventure Village has been an epic. See them below.

The Couch Potato is the "easiest" of the two races, with only 4,000 ft climbing over it's 30 miles. The Swank spins the dial way past ten, breaks it off and throws it in the fire, ascending 8,000 feet in only 40 miles! Holy crap! Even the easier course is epic, the Swank is EpiHC.

I have to ride Farlow gap, before I decide which one to take on. There is so much climbing in Pisgah that I do not think the SS is an option. On top of that most folks here use full suspension. Chris and Chad had hardtails, they were looking to do the Couch Potato, cause Farlow gap apparently needs a dually. Here I sit with only fully rigid bikes. I may have to put the gears on my Lynskey with the Blacksheep fork, then maybe I would have a chance. I have not ridden SS since I have gotten to this neck of the woods. I rode Dupont SS last November though. Dupont is no Pisgah!

2014 Couch Potato

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Bike Farm Pisgah

I meet some very interesting folks a the weekly ride is led by the tour company "The Bike Farm Pisgah", I know, the name, does not exactly fall off the the tongue. I needed co-owner Cashion's business card to remember it, but I am a bit dyslexic. Although, the tagline is more memorable; " Cultivating good times from the dirt up"  Look them up on the  Web and on Facebook. If you want to get some history on them, read Eva Surls and Cashion Smith's original Blog.

I found out about the weekly Wednesday night ride after a stop at The Hub bicycle shop in Brevard, North Carolina. The ride rolls from from Oskar Blues Brewery at 6 pm. You will need lights this time of year. I pulled out the black tape to help shim one young riders Night rider to his 25.4 handlebars. The first couple miles on the paved bike path would usually serve as a warm  up, but a gusty cold front was pushing through. It was nice to get into the woods. Cashion pulled a light for a rider without one. After the set up we got going down the gravel that slowly became more and more flowy.

This is a more casual, no drop ride. This night we had a dozen or more riders. Some had been out for a few hours already. We went up Grassy and down Sycamore. Eva said that this ride was a little shorter than the usual couple hours, due to that. We finished up at the brewery. I would have joined the others for a pint, but since going gluten free, I have not had a beer. I thought it best not to tempt myself.

 For best results play at the highest quality, 1080 preferably. The second video, in the playlist, is my first time filming in the dark,so I got just a little usable video. Go to the bottom for the night ride on Vimeo. Seems like they do HD with less fuss.
TheBikeFarmPisgahOdarkOclockb from MTB Epic Rides on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tour de Lilly 2013

More thanks to Travis Olson for sending me out the word on the Tour de Lilly from Blackwater bikes in Davis, West Virginia. In just the nick of time, might I add. This is a pretty low key event on some of the same trails as the Revenge of the Rattlesnake . Low key but high quality and fun. They even laid out  a major spread for lunch out on the trail. You could try, but you would be hard pressed to find a better trail guide than Blackwater's owner, Roger Lilly, and he still gots some skilz. I followed his line more than once.

35 strong, we rolled out from the back of the shop at about 10:15 on a beautiful dry Saturday morning. Particularly in contrast to snow they had one year and the damp, rainy, cloudy summer they had this year.

The dirt starts just out of town, on Blackwater Road. It is a nice warm up on fairly level dual track. The first single track climb was leaf strewn (the season was aptly named Fall), with several logs as obstacles as well as a bunch of natural rock features. While every rock, root and log were ridable, I doubt many cleaned the entire trail. There was just enough mud for variety.

We were treated to a real estate pitch from Susan Hayward, I think she was joking. :-)

We rode part of Plantation to Lindy and after some lunch headed back to town, while the rest of us went down the Allegheny trail to check out how the trail maintenance was turning out. Then back up.

Roger took the main group down the pipeline, while Jonathan took a few of us down Davis. Davis is a rockin DH, that kept you on your toes, demanding total focus, especially on a fully rigid bike. We finished up on the Yellow trail. I can't remember the name, but a slight change of spelling was more descriptive of the technical nature of this short, steep, rocky/rooty featureful trail that led back down to Blackwater Falls Road and back to the shop. Post up if you can tell me the name of this trail. Thanks.

Also let me know if you can tell the difference in quality of the first two videos in the play list below. The were similar on my iPhone, but on a PC they were different.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Videos

More to come. Subscribe for updates!

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More to come. Subscribe for updates!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks IMBA Epic

Truly Epic ride! I met Travis Olson on Strava, where I asked him about his North Fork Death March ride. I missed the second one, though, just couple weeks back. He also told me about the HC road climb up to Spruce Knob.  On a very wet, chilly, foggy sometimes rainy day, he brought a small crew to do the Epic. This 40 plus mile, up road/down trail (at least it was a West Virginia DH, plenty of elevation gain on the way down) IMBA epic. We could have shuttled up to the top, but then we would have missed a whole bunch of climbing and sketchy road descents, with gravel showing up randomly on Lower Timber Ridge rd, making the wet leaf strewn sharp curves even that much more... um sketchy. We would have also missed out on the downpour that hit as we got onto route 33 back to Seneca Rocks, getting back exactly at sunset!

The fun started at mile 24, where Huckleberry leaves Spruce Knob. With little elevation lose, the first couple/three miles was nearly constant rain slick rock gardens. Rob got a flat early and Travis pumped it up to see if the Stan's would seal it. It got soft again when they got down to us (Mile 27). A repump and letting the Stan's pool at the hole a while, was the next try. Then the plug kit came out and held for the rest of the ride(Mile 29). It was a pretty small hole in the sidewall and not a scrape or slice ( I had no luck plugging a sidewall slice early this year).

Huckleberry is gnarly and went from wet rock gardens to wet roots and mud. We had not gotten far when a hiker couple leap frogged Mike, Jason and I, while waiting to regroup. The hikers were making better time than us and we never did see them again, they took different turn we supposed. But they were nice enough to let us know about the mechanical. Up till now we had gone through several fits and starts as Rob was learning his rock skills, as I wrote earlier it was plenty gnarly (it is not possible to overuse that word in regards to this trail!)

Although we had not descended all that much by that time, the chilled to the bone sensation we experienced at Spruce Knob and the other times we stopped was all but gone now. Particularly right next to our friend the Mr. Pine Tree. Mike made his own deer bed in the straw grass and seemed quite comfy. Totally different thermocline or should I say Coldocline?

We then connected up with the Horton trail, mostly down to falls on Seneca creek, sometimes steep and nasty(did not want to use gnarly again, HA!).

Crossing the creek was an adventure all on it's own. So recently out of hypothermia weather, only Mike attempted to ride across. Jason literally skated across the rocks he tried to walk across. Travis was the first to try the big down tree that spanned the creek, Success! Rob tried to scoot along, till I grabbed his bike, to hand off to Travis, so he could walk. Travis waited at the ready for Rob and then myself, while I kept my bike for balance. The knots where branches use to have been, made it hard to to make small steps. Alas no swan dives and ironically Travis submerged his foot as I got to the end.

Now for the 1.5 mile hike a bike out of Seneca Creek. It was tough going, I tried to ride as much as I could (it was easier than lifting up my legs hiking), but probably rode less than half of that steep greasy,off camber, slick as snot rocks and roots.

Now at the intersection of the Allegheny trial. Only 6 more miles of trail to go! But we had plenty of greasy barely doable climbs and several momentum robbing down trees on the DH's. We had been riding in the clouds since well before Spruce knob and it was getting thick and the next turn was a hard one to find. A little back track to be sure we were on the correct path and we start what would be the final descent. Steep and sketchy, at times, we were losing elevation quick. This turned into a narrow off camber switchback descent to Whites Run rd. All of a sudden we were out of the clouds and the ground was dry, and then it was over except for the pouring road back to the cars.

Truly epic ride in epic conditions! With an epic crew, just the nicest guys;
A youngin with only BMX saddle time (what he lacked in conditioning he made up for in skill)
An ex runner turned triathlete/MTBer with new knees and lots of enthusiasm.
A bike shop owner, with plenty of skill and endurance.
And the Man, ride leader, Travis Olson. Who watched over his flock, better than a border collie.


Monday, October 7, 2013

MOCO Epic 65

On the first day back on m quest, I sit in one of Maryland's neighboring states, just a few hours away, preparing for another epic. I think back to April, when I was treated to great mountain biking in (at least to me) a very unlikely setting. Being so close to Washington, DC and Baltimore and all. Many different parks linked together by roads. Little Bennett probably had the most technical climb of the bunch. Michael Bonsby took me around the loop. Initially to do the 50. We were making good time so we upped it to the 65. I used my geared bike that day.  A couple days later I rode the 50 on my SS. Both rigid as usual.

The official event is coming up next weekend. Register here:



Thanks GoogleTube for being so hard to use and process so quickly.

MoCo Short 848x48 saved as 1920x1080 from MTB Epic Rides on Vimeo.