Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Birthday Present

Birthdays are a good time to treat yourself. So I did with a quick get-away to Douthat State Park last Friday/Saturday.

Originally, Pisgah was to be the destination. However, rustling up an accomplice to ride in Transylvania Co. down in North Carolina did not pan out. So, as not to let a beautiful weekend wither, a quick decision was made to roll out to Douthat for riding and camping.

Friday provided the perfect blend of crisp fall air and high clouds with a low sun breaking through to illuminate the polychromatic landscapes of Virginia’s mountains. Driving west was filled with some of the best interstate views I have seen in a while.

Nearing the WV boarder, I exited the interstate for a close up view of the mountains. A twisting road leading into Douthat greeted me with warm fall shades and I reciprocated with a wide smile. My worries about getting a camp site were fortunately a waste of time. I was able to pick from about 4 or 5 lakeside camp sites.

Finally I was ready for my ride that would circumnavigate the park on ridgeline trails with some excellent climbs and descents. The trees were absolutely stunning with a vibrant variety of colors that were amplified by the cloudy skies and sharp contrast with dark limbs and brown leaves on the ground. Sometimes a ride where you are by yourself delivers you to a deeper Zen and so it was as I enjoyed just rolling through a sublime fall landscape.

As night drew near, I flowed down the trails back to the campsite. A quick trip to Covington let me gather proper fireside fair at a local grocer. Soon I had a nice fire waiting to smoke the brats and beans I looked forward to. After some grub and IPA I settled into a nice slumber in the crisp air under the stars.

Morning on the lake produced a fog that was eerily skipping across the lake just before the sun broke over the eastern ridge of the park’s mountains.

A few more hours of riding and it was time to return for lunch to finish off the brats and pack up my gear. Heading back to Richmond, I realized that this would be a great gift to give myself every year.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Video - Pisgah Stage Race- day 4 Black Mountain downhill

I finally got some free time to start looking through all my videos for the Pisgah Stage Race. Here is a quick video I shot from my hadle bar cam while descending Black Mountain on stage 4. (click on the photo)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Stage 5 - 2011 Pisgah Stage Race

Stage 5 - Transylvania Loop

42 miles. 6,400+ ft of elevation gain - MAP

The final stage of the race was started with a chilly road ride. The weather for the day was about 40-50 degrees with a lot of wind. A splendid blue sky and beatifull leaves completed the fall weather.

All the riders lined up behind the police escort as we rolled out. Traffic was stopped at the highway and people cheered us as we started the 5 miles or so of road to Turkey Pen road.

I stayed with the lead group and pacelined with all the top racers and that was really fun. In one section I found myself at the front and took my pull as Jeremiah Bishop pulled aside. Pretty cool to mix it up with the big boys.

Turkey Pen road was a gravel climb that eventually brought us to the trail head of the 1st single track climb. I pushed my arm warmers down and got to work. I remembered the fun descent that follows, really fast, leafy and lots of drops.

Next up was crossing a stream (small river) 7 time in 40 ish temps. I was relieved to get off this section and start the gravel climb, needed some body heat. Miles later and the aid station came into view.

Now the real work began with a long climb up the sides of Laurel Mountain to the top where the Pilot Rock descent started.

This is a very technical descent with lots of rock gardens and switch backs. Very technical. About midway down is a challenging rock garden where the giant white squirrel cheered us on.

I almost got took out by a stray limb near the bottom. Relief is what I felt when I dropped out on the fireroad and got a chance to give by body a rest from the pounding descent.

Eventually the fireroad gave way to a familliar single track climb. When the trail turned right instead of going up the side of the mountain I was really thrilled. The descent down Avery Creek was off the chart, and super fast. There were some drops that snuck up real fast and I just had to hop down em as they came. I passed a few riders here and got got some good footage.

When the horse stables came in to view, I took the advive of the race director Todd Branham and emptied the tank on the last climb. I paced off another rider and eventually was able to pull away from him on the way to the trail head and I hiked up to the final descent.

Finishing the last downhill was fantastic and I had a huge grin flowing down the trail.

4:46 4th place Open Men

I was really pleased to have placed 4th in open men for my second run at the Pisgah Stage Race

Thom Parsons was staying in our house and has posted a ton of cool videos on www.cyclingdirt.org

After the racing ended the party began at the awards dinner and party. What a great finish to my favorite stage race!