Sunday, February 1, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ash Wednesday

So, after I got in from stage 2 of the Horrible Race I told Jonathon I was taking a month off the bike and even though I had just spent sixteen hours on the bike and crossed some god forsaken river ten times he believed me!

Since there are only two more Wednesdays left before the time changes I decided I had better make the Drinking Club. I was working near Dupont and when I got to Lake Imaging it was only 4:30 so I decided to park there and wander my way across the forest on my bike instead of driving. I took Jim Branch over to Mine Mountain and had a great time in the process. After lots of Pisgah miles Dupont feels more like a day spa than a mountain bike trail and I was loving the feel of my fully rigid single speed.

After a quick stop in the parking lot to silently commune with my hooligan friends we were back out playing in the woods. We did Reasonover and then I decide to bid my farewells and wandered back to my loyal pick up truck. Never even turned the light on!

Today Duma was looking a little bored when I got home so I decided to take him out for a ride. We did our 5050 > Yellow Gap out and back to the river loop. Good stuff but I don’t know why they call it Yellow Gap Loop. Where’s the loop?

Here’s the doggie:

The road is closed. That means it is the perfect time to do an alternate route up Laurel. If not this weekend, the next.

Posted by clay at 00:20:20 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Signs of Life

Friday afternoon I blew off work and took the dog out to the Green River Game Lands for a quick hike. Our route was:

Pulliam Creek > Green River Cove > Pulliam Creek > Bear Branch > Bishop Branch

Somewhere down near the bottom of the gorge I encountered what appeared to be the first wildflower of the year. Due to mild temperatures and the low elevation of the gorge this little guy has managed to pop through:


Not a whole lot of water moving but kayaking is definitely going on my To-Do list.


After a quick rest stop at the river’s edge we headed on up and out of the woods via the seldom traveled Bear Branch trail. I had never been on it and my computer printed maps are questionable at best and I was faced with several unmarked intersections and a rapidly setting sun.


In the end near catastrophe and certain death were avoided and me Duma made our way out of the woods with minutes to spare. As we drove home I watched the sun set over Pisgah and wondered what the morning would bring.

I had decided to spend Saturday on the road bike but couldn’t decide where to ride. I’m very much addicted to Pisgah right now and simply cannot get enough and every moderate road ride I could think of paled in comparison to the excitement that only the Pisgah Ranger District can bring. So after much speculation I decided to just ride up to Mount Pisgah and back home.

Easy enough. I just wandered my way over to North Mills River Rd and then climbed the gravel of Wash Creek Rd. up to the parkway and then headed on up:


I was surprised by how many people had parked at either 151 or 276 and were out walking to Mt. Pisgah. The downhill on 276 was straight into the fiercest headwind I have ever experienced and the normal 40+mph downhill had me barely hitting 35. If that wasn’t bad enough it was devastatingly cold and I realized I was going to be fighting the wind the whole trip home and still had a good 20 miles to cover. I stopped at Coontree for water but it was frozen and a quick check of the map revealed that my Henderson County map wasn’t going to get me out of Transylvania County alive so I high tailed it straight down highway 64 back to home!

Not a bad ride for my first time out with the roadie in awhile. Only one climb!

View Interactive Map on

Sunday and it was time for some good hiking with the girl and the dog so we loaded up and headed for Jones Gap State Park. After a nice Sunday afternoon drive we made our way to the park only to be greeted by a forest fire. I’d forgotten that the Extreme Tomato was holding a tree burning over the weekend and seeing as how such events can only turn bad I am sure that the controlled blaze got a tad bit out of control and a wayward spark drifted over over to Jones Gap.

The park was closed so we backtracked our way back to town and chose to go for a quick hike back where my weekend began. Green River, Pulliam Creek!

Posted by clay at 01:56:46 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yellow Gap Loop

My fingers are still numb. I don’t know if it is a result of the rigid bike or the cold but I hope it goes away.

Took the pinche perro out for a ride tonight. There is a new gate that is up but open on 1206 at Rocky Fork. We parked there and headed up Rocky Fork Rd.


This was Duma’s first time riding in awhile but he took the lead and didn’t let up until the descent down Yellow Gap trail. Yellow Gap is a great little downhill that is tucked away in its own little pocket. It spit us out at the river and Duma was shocked and happy to be able to splash around in the water. No ice in sight and I had no desire to get my feet wet. After a little playing in the river we headed up and out of the woods the same way we came.


Posted by clay at 02:46:52 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

TMHTE Stage 1

What a night! I arrived at Cove Creek around 11:15 after eating dinner and grabbing a quick nap at home after work. Stage 1 of The Most Horrible Thing Ever proved to be tough but it could not have any better of a night. The sky was clear and the moon and stars were all twinkling brightly as we took off out of the campground. I’d talked with Jonathon about riding together through the night but he seemed to be fiddling around with his gear so I went ahead and took off figuring that he would catch me somewhere on the west side.

Cove Creek was a sweet start to the race and I decided to keep going instead of doing one last gear check as I passed by my truck. On the climb up Daniel Ridge I caught another riding but either couldn’t or didn’t want to pass him. We chatted a little bit as we rode up the bottom of Farlow but then when we hit the hike-a-bike he just took off in front of me, disappearing immediately into the darkness. I’m a pretty fast hike-a-biker but this guy was super fast and it occurred to me that there just might be a race going on ahead of me.

The hike up Farlow was as good as it gets. Everything was aligned just right. The moons, the stars and the trees. It couldn’t have been better and when I finally saw the gap in front of me I was a little sorry it was ending. But it was a race after all so I took off down 140A as fast as I could. Everything felt right so I was really letting it hang out on the rocky trail when suddenly I felt my front tire go flat. 4 am or so and there I am with a flat. No big deal so I got to changing it. Tube changes are not my specialty and I was floundering this one big time. A few riders passed by me and then Jonathon pulled up with stories of unheard of speed and stamina and a strong desire to party. I was able to get the tire changed after 20 minutes and we took off down the trail together.

Whenever we were going up we chatted and whenever we were going down we were simply bombing. Summey was easily a race highlight with the top section flowing really well into the hike-a-bike and then the very steep descent. Good stuff to be riding in the middle of the night. The return trip up to Glouchester Gap wasn’t as painful as I anticipated and before we knew it we were going down Butter Ways. I’d told Jonathon I needed to keep moving because my light was going to die and just after we went left down Butter after the Art Loeb it did die so I spent the rest of the night riding with my leds I use for climbing. They do not put out nearly enough light to go fast like I knew Jonathon wanted to so I told him to go on and I limped on back to camp myself. I was able to ride all of Butter and Cat Gap but not with the speed I would have liked to.

I got back to camp at first light, right around 7am, tried to make sense of my gear and the stage 2 passport as I waited for Jonathon to do whatever it was he had to do. We discussed possible routes - some absurd, some rational – told Eric we would be taking the length of South Mills River and took off into the cold Pisgah morning.

Posted by clay at 00:57:32 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

THMTE Stage 2

It was around crossing number five when I started to think that maybe I had made a bad decision. The river was deep and covered in ice. I was having to break my way across. I would start out walking gingerly across the fragile surface and then once it started to crack I just stood there and braced myself for the icy plunge into the water and rocks below. The large slabs of thick jagged ice that broke away were banging and grinding into my shins and although I couldn’t feel the pain I could see the cuts so I had to try and step away and wait for them to float off down river before I took my next forward step. Then the process started all over again: step up onto the ice, take a step or two and wait for it to crack and break and then float away. Eventually I would make my way to a little channel that would give me respite from the ice but these channels were always deep and fast moving. Several times the water was pushing waist deep and there were plenty of times when the force of the current threatened to take me under.


Crossing five took a solid five minutes to negotiate and I knew I had at least four more crossings before Wolf Ford. I was thirteen hours into the race at this point and four more of these monster crossings seemed an impossible task. I had been riding with Jonathon and after a frustrating morning spent in the freezing cold while making navigational errors we had decided to take South Mills River out of Turkey Pen. My feet had already gotten wet on Cantrell Creek and since it is usually the fastest way back to Buckhorn with the least climbing it seemed perfect. Jonathon tried the first crossing but turned back:


I was itching to do something out of the usual and South Mills sounded perfect. My knee was inflamed and really hurting and I had a hunch the race was over for me and plunging my way across a frozen river sounded better than the climb I would have had in its place. As if the river itself wasn’t bad enough the trail was covered in dead fall – it was obvious nobody had been this way in awhile – and the numerous fallen logs that crisscross the trail were all covered in ice making riding them treacherous at best if not impossible. Then there were the long stretches of ice on the trail that had to be gingerly walked. A section of trail that normally takes me 45 minutes took 1:15. but in the end I made it to Wolf Ford without incident.



I was ready to pull out my emergency kit and light a fire at the ford but a few teams were just coming down off Squirrel so I opted to warm back up by following them straight up to Buckhorn Gap. Three of the guys seemed to think it was faster to go across black to Club Gap so I left them to work on that and headed on down Clawhammer. On the short little uphill coming down the road my left knee stopped working. I could do the down stroke but the up stroke was impossible so I coasted down Clawhammer. Once I hit 477 and it started to roll I figured out I could do some one legged spinning with my left foot uncliped . That technique carried me all the way to 475. By that time my right knee cap was hurting as well so I was resigned to walk the rest of the slight uphill pithces back to the start.

After 16 hours on the bike I was done. When I saw that Stage 3 only meant going to the top of Farlow I was tempted but knew I had been risking further injury by pushing it as hard as I had so I threw in the towel and headed for home. If I would have hung out I would have ridden more I knew my only chance was to leave satisfied.

Posted by clay at 04:06:48 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday Funday

The Most Horrible Thing Ever was The Most Fun Thing Ever. Of course my perspective might be blurred by the fact that I did not attempt to finish. I did manage to finish the first two stages doubling my results from last year! Along the way I had a thousand and one adventures peaking with my decision to take the length of South Mills River out of Turkey Pen. I crossed the frozen river no less than nine times. Copperas Rock:


I slept in today and then went out for a big breakfast during which I tried to eat every type of breakfast food on the menu and didn’t make it back to Cove Creek to check out the end of the race. The weather was still very nice out so I took Duma to the Green River Game lands with Terri. We did Longside > Turkey Gut as an out and back. Stairstep Falls:


More pics and race report to come.

Posted by clay at 02:07:30 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Friday, February 6, 2009

Horrible Things

A man can’t just at home and do nothing so I guess I have to saddle up and ride tonight.

I got back in town yesterday and have hardly slept all week. Nutrition has consisted of sweets and fats and hydration a steady stream of beer… Just got back from Bad Fork with the dog and the weather could not be any better. No telling what the night might bring. My plan is to get through it and see what happens when the morning comes!

Posted by clay at 19:21:06 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Took the dog up Bad Fork today. We got bored and took a right off the trail and bushwhacked our way to the top of a very deep drainage.


Posted by clay at 19:34:16 | Permalink | No Comments »

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nothing Lasts

Driving home from my Sunday afternoon hike Duma saw a truck he didn’t like and thought it would be a good time to break another window out of the truck. A disappointment for sure but it is just a piece of glass and in the grand scheme of things it is irrelevant at best. Eventually I’ll get it replaced and eventually Duma will calm down and stop breaking them out.

It was a good hike on the most glorious day of the year so far. Sixty degrees and sunny is not a bad way to start February. We started where the Art Loeb intersects 471 and walked to the shelter just past Butter Gap where we stopped for lunch. After that we opted to make it a loop by taking 471D down to 471 and back up the gravel to the truck.

Saturday I met up at with Johnathon for a hardcore thmte training ride and gear check. I wanted to test out carrying my sleeping bag on the bike as well as water and tools. Everything worked perfectly and the day could not have been any better for riding bikes around Pisgah. With Buddy in tow our route for the day was:

Black Mtn. > Maxwell Cove > Clawhammer > Buckhorn Gap > 477 > Clawhammer > Maxwell Cove > Black Mtn.

Sadly I will not be competing in The Most Horrible Thing Ever this weekend. After a long battle with cancer my grandmother passed away this afternoon. We were very close and most likely I will be spending the weekend with family. Have fun and be safe everybody!






Posted by clay at 01:57:21 | Permalink | No Comments »

No comments:

Post a Comment