Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Farlow Gap. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Farlow Gap. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, November 25, 2013

Farlow Gap

Yeap we had been in Rosman, near Brevard, NC for over 2 weeks and the SS was still strapped in the basement of the bus. The road bike even came out already! After a giggle ride with Tammy, I swapped the gears from the Ferrous to the Lynskey Pro29 w/ Blacksheep Ti Fork (Closest thing I got to suspension!).

I have really missed this bike. It is so much lighter and more resilient than the Ferrous w/Bontrager carbon fork!

I needed to decide if  "A" I was going to race that weekend and "B", would it be the Couch Potato or the Swank.

I got my warm up on route 64 and headed up Cathy's Creek to 471D, which gets you to Butter Gap. Take that down and take Long Branch up to 475. Take a left and continue to 229 (Pilot Mtn rd) and climb it up to Farlow gap. Then Decide just how much nerve you have. Just how much you ride and when you should walk. Both very poignant  and souls searching questions. Yet so vital to one's race choice decision.

I had one of those silly meetings with the ground shortly before the Farlow Gap DH. Must have been a mountain gnome, as I could not find any other cause.

The Mountain literally slapped me in the face. As if to say "YOU MUST RESPECT ME!" and served to keep me focused the rest of the way down and keep me from getting too cocky!

I took video of the descent, but it was so long, had so much walking and most of the riding was so rough it was just a blurr. So unless I get specific requests, I will not waste the bandwidth.

Wes Dickson of Sycamore Cycles and one of the areas top racers, said to treat Farlow as an adventure and that I did. I have to thanks Wes for letting me replace the spoke that that gnome took out and introducing me to Heather of Blue Ridge Adventures.

I went for the challenge The Swank and even contemplated going back to back as some others did.

Here is what I wrote on Strava Shortly after I popped my Farlow Gap cherry;

Farlow was ok. A bunch of hike a bike at the beginning. Maybe with slack angles and a lot of time riding one and I could ride some of what I walked. (Said idn Yoda's voice) To old to start the training , he is Mhmm! A couple sketchy creek crossings , but mostly rideable WITHOUT suspension. Not sure how it goes from 4k to 8k between the Couch and Swank. I got a little more than 3K between Pilot Mtn(229) and the up part of the Farlow DH. To me going up Pilot Mtn and down Farlow is better than the other way around. The Swank will be a good way to start out the IMBA 5000 meter climbing ending 11-9
P.S. I finally got the Ferrous set up as a SS, But have not ridden it yet!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Racing Swank 65

Swank gave me over 6K ft of climbing. My Garmin showed 6K, Strava was 6,250/(6,146 elevation corrected). Garmin Connect registered 6304/(11,670? Elevation corrected).  It was advertised as 8K. Any way you slice it, it was a lot of climbing in just 40 miles (65 km).

Without help from Heather and Todd from Blue Ridge Adventures, I would have had to sit this one out.

Very low key and relaxed, yet started on time, just like the Couch Potato. Most races I do have many classes and age groups, Swank and Couch Potato keep it simple with just mens and womens Open class. It was sort of a controlled start down the fire road crossing the creek on a narrow bridge or a cold shower to start the race with wet feet on a coldish day. Still, some took the creek to jockey for a better start position.  I took the bridge.  The race was on!

I decided to to use my usual strategy on longer races, go hard but not in the red zone. I passed a few after the official start and closed that gap. We had a nice conga line going into the first single track connecting to the Cove Creek climb. Passing was tough, but not impossible. I followed Paula Burk (Eventual Womens winner) while she picked off a few groups of riders. Then I passed Paula (only for her to pass me on Pilot MT later on). I put a good gap in, still well behind the leaders. Then as I made the end of Cove Creek onto 225 to Daniel Ridge.  I saw another rider that was caught up in the pack and had made it through. I forget his name, I believe I did a night ride out of Sycamore with him a week or two back. I tried to stay on him and did so for a while, as he was reeling in another rider. Once things started going down, he pulled away, he rode it like he knew it and I just couldn't go as fast without suspension. I did catch a couple other guys on the way down. I thought I heard Wes Dickson of Sycamore Cycles at rest stop one, later I learned he broke his chain in 2 places on the start. I put in a good climb on the fireroad to Glouster. Joe did catch up just before 471D. We rode and talked a bit up towards Butter Gap. I asked him if he was a good descender and he said I caught him on Daniel Ridge and let me lead on the Butter Gap DH. We slinkied a bit on the rollercoaster climb that is Long Branch, emerging back on FS 475 almost together. Joe stopped at the rest stop. I still had juice in my camel back and bottle and did not want to carry any more. Joe complained a bit that I did not stop, but caught up quickly and we paced each other for the first mile, when I had to go to the granny and watch him slowly pull away. Paula and one other came by before Farlow Gap. I got close to someone a few times, riding more than I expected of the rugged DH hike a bike. By the time I was back on Daniel Ridge, I was alone all the way down to FS 475 and Davidson River Trail. I thought I saw a single speeder there, but he turned left on 475. Some folks were attending to a rider that took a header on Davidson River. I had only been down 475B, a fast DH. The climb was not as bad as I anticipated. I knew it would be about 4 miles up 475B then 4 miles down Cove Creek. What I had not noticed were the descents on the initial climb up Cove Creek, but they became apparent on the way "DOWN". I was happy to clean the final creek crossing. Finishing 21st of 97 starters. Almost an hour out out of 2nd and 3rd, which were 25 minutes off of 1st! Sam Koeber rode all of Farlow Gap on his Fuel EX.

Here is some awesome video from Land of Sky Media

2014 Couch Potato

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 Swank

The Course changed from last year.  Turns out the well established short connector between FS225 and the top of Daniels ridge does not have the official blessing of the Forest Service.  The Forest Service also changed there mind, last minute on up to 200 riders going down Cove Creek twice, two days in a row.  Blue Ridge Adventures was forced to do two reroutes, very close to race day.  What they came up with was arguably even better.  Just enough fireroad to string out the pack, before the clockwise assault up Daniel Ridge.  The gradual old narrow FS road, still allowed plenty of opportunities for passing, until the right, where the bridge is gone.  From there the race is on, up a super gnarly climb, to the top of Daniel Ridge, past the connector, and down what was the timed enduro section of the previous days Couch Potato.  Completing the Daniel Ridge loop.  Taking a right back on 475, a long FS road climb up to Gloucester gap.  Then a left on to 471 for a little more climbing, before descending to the climb up to the Butter gap DH, up Long Branch, utilizing a little FS road to avoid the rutted part of Long Branch.  Where the Couch Potato. takes a right back on 475, the Swank, turns back up hill to the rest stop at Gloucester gap, before really pointing uphill on 229 towards the Farlow gap/Daniel Ridge enduro section, going down the initial climb of the event,  Left back on 475 (Couch Potato is the same from here), to the left up the Headwater rd (475B) climb to 225, and down Cove Creek to the finish.

I worked the gate so I started my video there, about a quarter mile from the start.  Then some video at the hairpin coming down Daniel the first time, Wes gives some cornering tips on that video.  Before heading to the finish, I got the top 9 descending the last of the gnar on the Enduro section on Daniels ridge and several others on my way back down.  They were so spread out I missed the top 5 at the finish, but got nearly everybody else.  Everybody that rode the Swank, is on the playlist somewhere, though, several times.

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Barton Creek Austin, Texas

With a 34/15, I was geared great for much the river valley trails and made most of one of the big offshoot climbs, before the first underpass.  The Hill of Life, was another story altogether, I be back with gears, cause one gear that makes that climb, maybe doable, would be painfully slow on some of the trails along the creek.  There are lots of rock gardens and features to work your technical skills, a few would have benefited from a lower gear too!  There are two entries on Single Tracks that kind of overlap, Barton Creek Greenbelt and Barton Creek Wilderness.  From the topo maps they  look like slightly different versions of the same trails.  Distance and descriptions vary quite a bit though.  My best take on that is that the Greenbelt encompasses the main trail along the creek and the Hill of Life and the Wilderness trails are the unmarked trails across the creek from the main trail head in Zilker park.  A nice warm up would be to go east toward the river/lake, cross the first bridge and head west up to the road, around the construction and access the unmarked trails, just up the road a bit.  Take them to the karin and go right across the creek, back to the main side.  It looked like the trail may continue on the unmarked side, but I was uncomfortable riding through what looked like someones property, no signs, just a patio and a landscaped walkway.  Even on the main side there are many offshoots, some come back to the trail, some dead end and others go back down into the creek.  Some reviews on both entries mention the Hill of Life, but I do not think that you could get there in the 4 miles listed for the Wilderness, but the topo map includes it, but seems to miss the unmarked trails across the creek from the TH.

This is the first time since I started running the Knard/Blunt 35, that I got to descend big rocks and drops, maybe since Pisgah even!  Now while I was not descending like a I was on a downhill rig, I felt in more control and I did not feel like I was going to be bounce of the bike, like at Farlow Gap!  While not quite as intense and gnarly as Farlow, descending the Hill of Life and other sections of Barton were a good test.

I love the technical aspect of these trail and the first real climbing in quite a while.  They can get pretty busy at peak times, so plan accordingly.  Zilker park has a lot of other activities, such as canoe and kayak rentals, swimming holes, playground a kids train and a garden.  Zilker also gets you access to the Town Lake bike path, which was even busier, due to its tame wide and flat crushed stone surface.

Ironically, at first these trails reminded me of other river valley riding that I did way back when in the Minnesota and Mississippi river valleys in Minnesota.  Just throw in lots of rock gardens from my more recent home town trails in northern New Jersey and a couple big climbs.  It was "ironic" cause part way along as I was about to take another dead end, a rider comes by and I tag along.  His name was Tim and he also was borne and raised in Minnesota.  He left when for texas when he was 21.  Small world for sure.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Daniel Ridge/Cove Creek

In last few weeks, I found two of my favorite rides in Pisgah, near Brevard NC and mad it to Bent Creek near Ashville.  Here is the one.

If you want a pretty technical climb and a boat load of single track on the flip side, I think I've got it for ya!

The Daniel Ridge/Cove Creek combination is pretty killer.  You can park at the Fish hatchery on 475 off of 276 north of town of Pisgah Forest, which is next door to Brevard. NC.  Ride out of the the Hatchery and turn left on 475 and in a few the Davidson River trail will keep you off the road and get you a taste of easy single track to get you warmed up for the 1500 feet of climbing to come.  Take a left back on 475, just before it turns to gravel for a short while before the Daniel Ridge Parking lot.  Cross the Bridge and stay left when Daniel ridge splits.  You will gain some elevation as this trail slants gradually upwards, with just a few tricky spots.  That is, until it turns abruptly right and up, where the bridge use to cross the creek.  This is where the fun begins.  Very technical and some hike a bike will be required my most folks, enjoy the cascading creek to your left when forced off your bike or taking a break.  Continue right where Farlow gap comes in from the get to descend a bit as the trail rolls, instead of going straight up, like before.  But it is still plenty technical.  Watch for a trail that comes in from the left after a period where the trail levels off before the descent of Danile ridge starts.  That left will take you to Cove Creek rd, take a right there.  This rolling mostly DH single track becomes a Forest Service rd.  Watch for the Cove Creek Trail head to come up on the right.  While manly DH, it does roll up and down on it's way back down to 475.  Fast and flowy, with banked turns and new bridges (as of this writing) as well as some gravel filled mud holes, that rode nicer that the hike over them the day before suggested.  A few techy parts and off camber roots here and there that can get sketchy at speed.  Shorty after the fastest section you will see the camp ground on the left.   Turn left after you cross the creek, there is a sign but you come up on it quick, just when you have to navigate over a few log steps, up out of the creek.  Take a right on the FS road.  The creek crossing can be deep, so take the bridge to the left, just as you see the creek.  Take a left on 475, and take the Davidson River trail back the way you  came in to 475 back to the Hatchery.

1500 feet of climbing and less than 14 miles and 2 hours (for me).

I kind of gave up looking for that perfect 3ish hour ride, in this part of Pisgah.  Anytime I tried, ended up being 5 or better hours, with either way to much gravel or some ridiculous hike a bike or death march.  I like nibbling on Pisgah, cause when ever I try to take a mouthful, I always end up


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Surly Knard on a Velocity Blunt 35 First Look

Back on February 20th, I built up a Velocity Blunt 35 29er rim, to mount up a Surly Knard 29x3 inch tire, 29 plus to all the cool kids.  Both my bikes are suspension free and riding in Pisgah, particularly Farlow Gap, got me thinking, as I walked way too much of it.  I was calling it semi-fat, but 29+ is more succinct.
See the follow up here Surly 29er+ Velocity Blunt 35 Knard to Follow and Follow Up

Here is the freshly built front wheel

I will only be running it on the front.  Like suspension, it is most important on the front and it would not fit in either of my bikes in the rear.  I was sure it would fit in the Bontrager Switch blade and pretty sure it would fit in the Blacksheep fork(turns out that,except for Maah Daah Hey quality mud, there is more than adequate room).  

Here is the Knard/Blunt compared to a 2.2 Ikon/Stans Arch

On the Blunt 35, the Knard casing measures out to 71.6 mm or 2.8 inches and 75.6 mm knob to knob, nearly 3 inches.  I expected less, considering it is mounted on a rim 15 mm narrower than Surly's intended rim the Rabbit Hole.  Luckily it still fit in the BlackSheep fork.  You have to angle the big old tire past the brake caliper on both forks.

Stay tuned for my trail experiences with the Knard and the Blunt 35, sounds like a superhero team from Jay and silent Bob.

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