Sunday, August 28, 2011

getting dirty a bit further down south cont.

Feeling a bit refreshed from snack time and and after checking my water supply I was feeling a little bit better about not running out too early. We hit the pavement once again just after checking the map ride side up and headed down the road in search of a school, not sure the name of the school but we were fairly positive it was an elementary school. It didn't take us long to find it and thinking back to the directions we were given before we left I recalled our guide telling us to skirt right, around the school and the trail started just behind it. We immediately found a road that skirted right around the school so we followed it assuming we would see the trailhead with ease. Well that wasn't the case but we did see some very interesting yard art. Several cars, some old, some European, some homemade and an old Hamburgular statue from a MacDonald's playground, you remember, from the good ole days. Anyway we didn't see a trail head so we turned around and headed back to the school thinking we might have missed it with all the interesting yard art to gawk at. Once we reached the school it was evident there was no trailhead but there was an abandoned house directly behind the school. Since it was apparent there was no one living there I decided to ride through the yard and circle around behind the house in search of the hidden trailhead. As I cruised through the backyard not really expecting to see anything I found a hole in the shrubs and low and behold there was a trail running behind the property. I wasn't exactly sure we were in the right place but it definitely looked like singletrack so we decided to ride it and see where it went. Worse case scenario we would be riding the wrong singletrack but it was still singletrack so what the hay.

We cruised along wondering aloud whether we were on the right trail or not, but judging from the trail conditions we were, it was in too good of shape and flowed too well not have been built by mountain bikers for mountain bikes.

We stumbled across a downed tree of rather large proportions and knowing it was too large to clear I opted to walk it. Shane decided it was rideable and well.... just watch the video.

I will have to give Shane credit, he did attempt it again and cleared it as did Anthony.

Another mile or so we started noticing some really cool trail markers with a cool chain ring logo of sorts printed on them. We knew then that we were on the right trail just not to sure if we started in the right spot. I just can't imagine a trailhead being located in someone's back yard or at least what used to be someone's backyard. A little further we found a couple of maps attached to trees along the trail which helped us navigate the system a little better.

The 3rd trail system from what I can tell is all on private land owned by the head honcho of the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, evidently he has access to some mechanized equipment, that paired with a nice piece of land has created his own little mountain bike haven that he shares with the public. The wooden structure pictured above was located just a couple hundred yards from his house which thoroughly impressed me. Note to Melinda, I don't care what our next house looks like as long as we have a couple of acres to build our own trails on. Once we had ridden our fair share of the 3rd trail system we decided it might be a good idea to head back before we were out of water and with the amount of wrong turns we had made there was a good chance of a couple more.

We rolled down a gravel road which dumped us onto a paved road all of which were not marked and then Shane announced we were to turn left back onto another graveled road. After a few minutes of this I began to question him since nothing was marked and how was he so sure about this specific turn. Shane rambled on in a way that only Shane can and he did make a very convincing point but before he could finish the road ended. I laughed nervously as Shane added another beer to the first one he promised to buy me for leading us astray. As we back tracked he found another turn and decided to follow it. Anthony and I decided to wait as it didn't look like much but surprisingly he found singletrack. Still no markings but it was singletrack so we rode it, how Shane found it and figured out which way to go I'll never know. It was either shear luck or maybe my guardian angle was whispering in his ear.

This singletrack was obviously not built by mountain bikers as it went straight up and down the steepest sections of the hills but we found the river we that was pictured on our map so knew we were headed in the right direction and we finally ran into another rider who confirmed we were on the right path. About another mile of billygoat style singletrack and we dumped out onto a paved greenbelt and simultaneously my Camelbak ran dry. I was never so glad to see a paved path while riding my mountain bike. Out of water and legs made of toast I was ready to find the car and refuel.

Shane announced that he felt he had redeemed himself and took back one of the beers he promised me, I agreed and looked for a tow rope to attach to his handlebars. Anthony and I were ready to get back to some water but Shane felt the need to keep stopping for stretching, gels and bird watching.

Once we finally reached the car I grabbed my extra water bottle I had left in the car, hot water never tasted so good. We made our way home but not without stopped for beer and pizza, I highly recommend the Tomato Head and it has nothing to do with the fact that there is a Marble Slab Creamery right next door.

Friday, August 26, 2011

getting dirty a bit further south

As promised, I finally had a little time to squeeze together this short video of the slip n slide. It was a blast!

Earlier this week Anthony, Shane and myself hit Knoxville early one morning to attend a grant workshop. Writing grants is something we know little about but something we plan to take advantage of, especially if we want to get into the wonderful world of mechanized trail building.

We weren't about to drive all the way to Knoxville just to attend a boring meeting, Anthony put in a call to the local mountain bike club and asked if we could get a fully guided tour of Knoxville's "Dirty South Ride".

The Dirty South Ride is a group of 3 trail systems all connected by residential roads, green ways and older trail networks built with the hiker state of mind, straight up and straight down. After the grant workshop we hooked up with our guide only to find out he had to bail on us. Luckily another fellow from the club volunteered to escort us to the trailhead, loan us a map and point us in the right direction.

Our map was somewhat sketchy and falling apart but we weren't about to let that deter us from riding. We were riding within the city limits so how lost could we really get?

The first trail system started right out of the parking lot we were parked at and it lead us right past an old rock quarry which was interesting enough for us to stop and snap a few pictures. The trails were tight, twisting and fast. Feeling fresh and rested we probably rode them a bit too hard not realizing we needed to conserve energy for the extra and unnecessary miles we were about to ride. Once we covered all of the trails we popped out into a neighborhood. Shane was manning the map and pointing us in the direction of our next destination. After about 2.5 miles of pavement we realized we had missed our turn somewhere and ended up back tracking all the way to where we started. Shane realized he was looking at the map upside down and we went left where we should have gone right. He acknowledged his mistake and stated he owed us a beer at lunch.

Once back on track we found our next trail system quickly. This trail system was better than the first with a bit more rocks to keep things interesting. The heat and extra mileage was starting to take it's toll on us, it was then that I began kicking myself for not filling my Camebak completely full. The semi weight weenie inside of me hates lugging a full Camelbak around and the JET only has one water bottle cage which I stupidly decided not to use. What was I thinking?

I really enjoyed the 2nd system but not to it's full potential. Once we finished we opted to take a break, measure our water levels and have a snack. So far both trail systems had detailed maps at the trailhead, something our pocket map lacked. Once we felt rested and somewhat rehydrated we saddled up and hit the pavement in search of the 3rd trail system.

too be continued..........

Thursday, August 25, 2011

NTMBA goes camping

So I guess I've been slacking again, I've been very busy even though I've been off all week. Meetings the past 3 days in a row, but luckily for me and you they have all been mountain bike trail related. More trails are coming to our area and we are working hard to see this done. Unfortunately it takes paperwork and meeting before tools or machines can hit the dirt but we'll do what it takes.

On the home front I've been dealing with a couple of jack asses who think they can get away with taking my money and not doing the work they were paid for. Evidently there are several of these people in our area and I'm taking steps to see the fools who thought they could pull the wool over my eyes won't do it again to me or anyone.

Even though all of this has been going on and taking up a great deal of my time I have managed to get in some great rides. A little over a week ago our local club hit Wilkesboro NC for a weekend of camping and singletrack action. The weather last year was a washout but this year we had near perfect weather.

Friday night started off with a bang, a group night ride on the Warrior Creek trails. Those trails are a blast during the day but riding them at night put a whole new perspective on things. I opted to go with one of my new LED flashlights zip tied to my helmet as my only light for the ride. It worked pretty well even though I mounted it a bit too low. It was plenty bright but not quite as bright as my Magicshine.

Saturday we hit Dark Mountain for a change of pace and ran into a couple of the BMCC guys who were kind enough to show us some of their favorite loops. I pretty much rode the JET9 the entire weekend, that thing is so much fun to ride I'm afraid all the squish is making me soft. Near the end of the ride we hit the downhill section and I was able to stay off the brakes a bit more than normal but I doubt I'll ever see big air. It was so much fun some of us pedaled back to the top for another run. Did I mention the JET pedals uphill almost as well as down?

After Dark Mtn we broke for lunch, refueled and then broke out the Big Mtn Slip N Slide to cool off a bit before heading back into the woods. With almost 80 foot of plastic and 5 bottles of baby shampoo to make things good and slick, all paired with a really long hill, we had a ridiculously fast slip n slide. It was so fast there was no stopping you once you ran out of plastic. Everyone who wasn't chicken and dared to give it a run hit the grass at high speed at the end leaving you with a grassy assy. Some walked away grassy, some muddy and even a little bloody but everyone had a smile on their face. Video footage to come soon.

Even Jackson enjoyed himself, he really wanted to hit it but I was afraid his claws would rip the plastic.

After everyone had there fill of the slip n slide we headed back out into the woods for another round of the Warrior Creek trails. The weatherman was calling for rain on Sunday so we didn't want to waste a chance to ride.

Saturday night we had a cookout of record proportions, I've not seen or eaten that much food in a long time.

The weekend seemed a bit too short with all the fun we had, I almost cried when it was time to go home but a stop at the new Mellow Mushroom in Boone made everything a little better.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


10 Things I have learned about Mountainbiking from Filme von Draussen on Vimeo.

A nice little video I ran across cause I got nuthin' to say, too busy preparing for an epic weekend railing some sweet singletrack.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

all the cool kids are doing it

A little bored the other day and I was cruising the internet and I ventured over to I rarely read the forums unless I've got nothing better to do. Usually there are a bunch of folks doing nothing but arguing about what is better than what and a bit of trash talk. I was looking down through the 29er forum when a kid asked the question, "Why is EVERY manufacturer moving their line-ups over to 29er?" This of course sparked the huge debate over which is better the 29" or 26" wheel. The thread being 2 weeks old really left nothing for me to say, not that I was going to argue for the sake of 29er's. I'm pretty neutral on this issue. If you want to ride a 26er be my guest, if you think they handle better in the tight stuff that's great. I really don't care, I've had both and my preference is the 29er. Usually when a new rider asks me for advice on what type of bike to buy I give them this suggestion. Shop around, and do it at your local bike shops, haggle a bit, then pick the nicest bike for your money.

I didn't read the entire thread, because it got a little ridiculous but I did see something of interest on the 26' hardtail. Someone stated it seems as if the high end 26' hardtail is starting to be phased out. I honestly haven't noticed this and yes I'm sure there are plenty of manufacturers who still make them but I'd say this is starting to be the case. Not because one is better than the other but because the high end 26" hardtail isn't really selling anymore. I know of a couple of folks who still ride them but most have switched to 29. You can still find plenty of 26' hardtails in the lower end models and I doubt that will change anytime soon. Honestly if I ever went back to a 26" it would be an FS, I can't imagine ever riding a XC 26er hardtail again.

I've always liked being a little different, kinda going against the flow and while the Niner brand was popular when I bought mine not many people had them in our area. None of the LBS's carried Niner but once one of them had the opportunity to I jumped at the chance, I really don't like buying bike frames online. Now with a local dealer, Niner's popularity in my hood has really taken off and I'm no longer one of the few. It kinda sucks but I'm not about to sell my Niner's just to be different.

Speaking of different and cool things, I was looking for something like this but couldn't find it until now.

I was having trouble finding a bashguard for my 2x10 system and I ended up ordering an MRP taco but had this little jewel came out a couple week earlier I would have bought it instead. I will admit I'm a bit curious how well the duel sprocket chain guide works but it sure looks cool.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the future is so bright I gotta wear shades

Actually the future looks like hard work, sore muscles and a sore back, blistered hands, sweat maybe a little blood and a whole lotta dirt and fun.

Last night I attended the the meeting of the minds, the minds that make our local mtn bike club the well oiled machine that it is. There were many topics on the agenda last night, one topic that was not but always seems to creep unexpectantly into our conversations was that of trails, new and old. It seemed that almost everyone in attendance has one or two projects up their sleeve. I have a good feeling it's going to be a very busy fall/winter/spring.

I have my eye on finishing the Chestnut trail at Bays Mountain as soon as the temperatures allow. That and adding some new features to existing trails and fixing some water drainage issues. I also would like to see another trail extended to make it sooo much more fun to ride and eliminating a nasty rutted fireroad.

Fat Tony is on the ball getting us in on the grant writing scene so maybe one day we can incorporate some heavy machinery to take some of the work load off our over burdened shoulders. He also has his sights set on a new downhill trail at Sugar Hallow park. Evidently a group of riders took it upon themselves to create their own trail without asking the park's permission. What they created had good intentions but didn't workout so well. The park found out about the illegal trail and has asked us to go in and create something along the same lines but more sustainable. We obviously have no experience in building a downhill trail and so far our cries for help has yet to awaken the gravity crowd.

Then there is also the land adjacent to Warriors Path, on the other side of the interstate. All we really lack to begin building is permission to access it via the land under the bridge/interstate which connects the two pieces of land. We've been waiting patiently for some time but it looks as if the ball might be rolling again.

All this and a couple of other small projects are looking like a super busy year for the small trail building crew that shows up consistently at the workdays. If only I had a magic wand to wave over the hundreds of riders in this area that take our cities trails for granted but never lend a hand and give back. Many have no idea what goes on and many do but just don't seem to care. I lie awake at night and dream of what could really happen if we could get these folks on board and coming out to workdays. Oh the trails we could build!