So I took a mini-vacation to Brevard. It's really just right down the road, but I think it did me well. The idea for it began with a mid-week night ride with Alexis, Dan, Johanne (national expert super-D champion...yeah, like dang!) , and Tony. Tony's the shit. He's been WWC's mechanic at nationals the past couple years, and for as many times as I would go out to his little work tent, and say, "Tony, you want a cup of coffee?" he would say, "no, I've got four more bikes to do, I'm good." Hard working, extremely knowledgeable, a great mechanic--he's awesome. And I've never really ridden with him for some pitiful reason, so this was great. Plus night-riding in general is awesome because otherwise mundane trails suddenly because exciting and technical and... confusing (even in Bent Creek, which is really incredible.)
The next day, my vacation began, with a stop on the way to do Pilot to Laurel, which is backwards from how most folks do it, but this way was awesome. Challenging climb up Pilot (and Dan just had a 34T middle ring, no granny! bwah!), then 7 1/2 miles of trying not to lose sight of Johanne (I always failed) down Laurel. Dan dropped us off at Jo's, where we shoved cereal and coffee and MTB Action articles down our faces until it was time for the Sycamore Cycles group ride. They've got a good thing going on at that little shop. Wes is pretty much the bomb dot com, and all those Brevard Natural Disaster kids (a talented little cyclone they got a-twisting there...watch out for them this collegiate season), plus a slew of other Brevardians and some random kid from Warren Wilson (uhh...) A speedy, short ride up and over some fun trails. Then Jimy "You can't burn the Devil, Son" Fink made me just about piss my pants with his antics and story telling over grandes and chips at El Chapalas. It was a good evening to wrap up a great day of riding.
The next morning, I met Tristen, Nate, and Colin Izzard for another ride in Pisgah, and pretty much felt destroyed. I rode doubles the previous two days, and kind of just felt like chilling out, but the boys apparently didn't. Ouch. I rode like crap, but so it goes. Nate drove me back to Asheville, where I spun my dead legs and mental doubts out with an easy road ride, then spent the rest of the day doing the most zen thing I could think of...truing wheels at ProBikes while Alex and Jamie entertained/distracted me with their incessent banter. Those two form an unstoppable team of rediculousness.
Not wanting to end my Brevard vacation any earlier, and realizing this would be my last free weekend for awhile, I decided it was high time to do the West Asheville to Brevard route. I had mentioned it my friend Tally, and she got me all siked for an epic, so I packed three tubes, a bunch of CO2 catridges, six goos, a pack of Big Red ("powersticks" as I call them), and even a chain tool--which for me means things are going to get real serious. I was prepared for knife-fighting bears. But the ride turned out to be super straight-forward and casual, about six hours. The most trechereous part actually was the commute down 191 to Bent Creek, from there it was gravel climbs, fire road descents, Squirrel Gap wonderfulness, some South Mills, some Buckhorn, etc. and then zippity-do into downtown Brevard. I'm now thinking of how I could make this ride much more badass, which would include some of my secret stash routes, going out of the way to do Laurel, then not wimping out at the end (like I did yesterday) and finishing on Black Mountain rather than Buckhorn. But I had a good, rather relaxed ride and did see some wildlife highlights: the biggest tom (that's a male turkey for those of you who don't subscribe to Field & Stream) I had ever seen, a white-tail, and a bear cub climbing his way up a locust. Adorably gigantic ears, let me tell you. Good old friend of friends Conor met me in Brevard after a day of flyfishing to drive me back to Ashetown. All he asked for was $8 worth of gas and some ground beef. He's such a pal.
Saturday night turned out to be considerably more epic than the day's ride, starting at the same flyfishing Conor's, then me, Philly Cheese Steak, Cody-No! and Camile "She did not just say that!" Prevost migrating to somewhere in Montford, and ending with the four of us getting a ride home from Dammit Sam in his peddy-cab. Sam had just finished a seven hour shift of hauling around tourists and was still willing to pick us up at 3 in the morning. Granted, he made Phil and Cody get out on the uphills, but man! was he a trooper on the flats and downhills, pulling all four of us. I owe that guy a burrito for all his hardwork, which is something I think I told him about 47 times that night.