Sunday, May 29, 2011

midnight on a carousel ride

I had to work all day on Friday and didn't get home until after seven. Then I took the dog for a run and enjoyed a nice and relaxing dinner with Terri. Afterwards I loaded up the bike and gear and headed out for a fun little ride. It was almost 10pm when I finally was on the bike and rolling out of the Black Mtn. trail head. Since it was the middle of the night I figured my best bet was to keep it sensible so I headed for Farlow Gap via Black Balsam. I planned to sleep at Farlow Gap for a few hours before resuming the ride on Saturday morning.

My route for Friday was:

276 > 477 > 276 > 475 B > Case Camp (mandatory hike) > BRP > 816 > Flat Laurel Creek > 215 > BRP > Art Loeb (mandatory hike)

477 and 475B were both very fast and I was walking up Case Camp before I knew it. Case Camp is a hiking only trail so that gave me a perfect opportunity to relax a little and settle in for a fun night ride. When I popped out onto the parkway a half hour later there were a thousand stars there to greet me and it was a good night indeed. The single speed is really feeling good these days and up there on the parkway with the slightly skewed perspective that the darkness brings it was impossible to tell if I was moving fast or slow but I just fell into the perfect rhythm and everything was right in the world for a brief moment or two.

I was in the midst of a big 17 mile climb and by the time I made the right turn onto 816 I was second guessing myself and was wondering what I was doing out there. I was out of water so I went straight to the spring on Ivestor and filled up my bottles ate some food and just hung out for a minute getting my head straight. It was cold so I put on my rain jacket and reminded myself I wasn't in any sort of hurry. Farlow Gap wasn't far away and I had all night to get there.

With that in mind I took off down Flat Laurel Creek. It is a very fun and fast trail and it being midnight made it all the more fun. From there it was up 215 back to the parkway and then past Devil's Courthouse before turning onto the Art Loeb and yet another mandatory hike a bike. This one was downhill and was frustrating but Farlow lay just on the other side. I got there right around 2am and got my minimal gear set up and then spent an hour or so trying to get wet sticks to burn.

I didn't even try and sleep until 3:30 and was back up and on the bike three hours later for a little Farlow Gap at sunrise action. I didn't even bother to try and ride any of the hard stuff and instead just enjoyed being there. Before I knew it I was on Daniel and then out 225 for the home stretch. I was out of food before I even got to 477 so I skipped the All of Black finish and opted for Maxwell Cove and the Black Mtn. Light finish instead. My stomach was grumbling hard and I was a little worried I might bonk just a few miles from the end but I made it to Hickory Knob where it was all downhill from there. I was done and at the Hub with a cold beer well before noon.

My route on Saturday was:

Farlow Gap > Daniel Ridge > 225 > 475B > 276 > 477 > Clawhammer > Maxwell Cove Rd. > Black Mtn.

It was a fun trip and has me excited to do more bike packing. My gear worked pretty well but I'm going to tweak it some and drop the pad and ground sheet and take a hammock instead. Here is what I took:


It weighed 5.06lbs without the bike repair gear and 6.06 with the repair gear. Food is heavy but even with 10,000 calories it should be under 10 pounds.

Here it is all packed up on Hickory Knob:






Nothing but flowers:


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