Sunday, March 01, 2015

Mission: Fail

 After an exploratory trip last weekend, and a ton of looking at maps, I though it would be really cool to map out a mostly gravel road route, that would link both ends of the Palmetto Trail in The Enoree District of The Sumter National Forest. 

I headed down again to explore some of those roads that I had linked together on the map.  I was excited when I turned left on the first bit of gravel about 2 miles from the Sedalia Campground and the northern trailhead of the PT.  I headed down excited about the day, then came to a gate. 
 No signs, so I followed the map and went around.  A couple of miles went by and then the nice firm gravel turned into freshly plowed mud. 
 I paused for a moment and decided to continue on.  Maybe it would improve, or maybe it wouldn't but I would still come out on the other side.  About 5 more minutes of caked mud and the road dead ended near a creek.  Looking at the map, I thought I could follow the creek to the river which would in turn take me to the road and back on route.  But,  if I was looking at the wrong creek on the map,  I would be in for a long hike....  I decided to turn around and eliminate this road from the route. 

 On to the next section of "unimproved" road,  and it turned out to be paved.  I continued following my planned route looking forward to the next road which would take me through a ford across a tributary of the Tyger River.  I crossed SC 176 from Eaves Rd to Mikes Rd and dropped down.  200yards later, I was in what looked like someone's driveway: clicke here for the Google Streetview image.  There were dogs barking and 2 guys standing near the single wide looking down at something.  As far as I know, they didn't see me, and I decided that I didn't want to be here, or cross this property.  Again, I turned around and rerouted.  After several more miles of pavement, I decided to scrap the plan for the route.  Even if I was able to find some gravel, it would not be worth all of the pedaling on pavement to get there. 
 I kept riding though, because another goal was to ride more than 4 hrs.  I was glad that I would be able to make the trip worth my while.  I readjusted my route and meandered through the back roads around Whitmire.  Stopping in a gas station to refill water bottles and listen to the local tell his story about his lost lottery ticket. 

Back on the road, and pedaling, I formulated another plan.  Why not just park at the northern trailhead at Sadalia Campground, ride the shortest pavement route to the southern trailhead and then follow the Palmetto Trail back to Sadalia?  35 miles of pavement, and 36 miles of back country single track.  Sounds like a fun challenge. 

 3 miles from Sadalia, I felt that sickening soft feeling in the rear tire.....  a slow leak.  I pedaled until it was really low, then I managed to get some air into it.  I pedaled again for a mile the stopped to pump it up.  I could not get air into the tube.  I didn't feel like taking the time to change the flat, and with my pump not functioning, I just road the flat tire back to the parking lot.  That's a nice thing about 38's,   easy to ride on when flat.... 

Overall, it was a fun and challenging day,  longest day on the bike this year. 

Enoree Challenge anyone?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Surviving The Storm

 I've been able to ride fairly consistently with a mix of roller rides, Spin Tech, slushy parkway, and a rather pleasant snow ride in Bent Creek.  Megan Archer joined me for that one

I'm loving my Salsa El Mar!  It was super stable in the 2-3 inches of snow and forgiving when I wound up in some ice ruts.  A couple of hairy moments and I slowed down.


Megan Archer cranking up the hills with the added resistance of snow.

Freshly plowed Parkway= booo
 With soft snow all around the neighborhood, I was hoping to find the same on the Parkway.  I was about 1 hr too late.... oh well.

 Ollie, loves the snow.   We went out the night that the storm moved in.  He could hear the flakes falling and chased them, not knowing what they were.  Hilarious.  

Now the snow is slowly melting.   Hopefully the kids will have a full week of school next week.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sumter National Forest- Enoree District

 I took a road trip down to SC to escape the mountains and the winter weather.  Jamie McLaughlin joined me for the adventure.  We headed down to ride an out and back on a portion of the Palmetto Trail,  the trail that runs from the SC coast, all the way to the mountains.  I rode the trail a couple of years ago, and have been wanting to get back to ride it some more.  But with 50 miles of pavement on either side of Columbia,  the appeal is less than ideal. 

After searching around Weather.com to see SE area temps,  I realized that temps would be around 55 on Sat.  I was set,  invited friends and headed out for an adventure. 

We got to the Brickhouse Parking area and saddled up after paying the $3 day use fee.  We got on the Palmetto Trail heading south, hoping to make it the 14 miles to the next trailhead and then back.  My only goal was to be out in the woods for 4 hrs.  Other than that I was determined to have fun, and Jamie was on the same page. 
 This portion of the trail is shared with hoses so was a bit churned up in spots but not too bad.  The trail is also not ridden much, and has a lot of leaves and pine needles covering the dirt, making riding a little slower.  There were a couple of trees down here and there but not so many to make it miserable. 

We meandered through the woods, hooping and hollering and loving the 50 plus degree weather.  Pretty soon I was stripped down to shorts and short sleeves.  So refreshing. 

We decided to turn around at the 2 hr mark to make sure we would have the energy to get back without turning the day in to a death march.  When the time arrived, I took a look at the map and realized that we were only 1.5 miles from our goal.  We decided to keep riding, tired as we were. 
 After snapping a few photos, eating a little bit and deciding on a route back to the truck,  we headed back up the trail.  We had discovered a couple of loop options and some gravel roads as well.

 But first, I needed to refill my water bottles.  I busted out my Sawyer water filter and filled up.  Jamie was reluctant at first, to fill up out of the creek, but followed my lead just to be safe. 
 We headed back on the Buncome Horse Trail Loop.  We were a bit more quiet now and focused on keeping a steady pace to get back.   We were both feeling good at this point and neither one of us wanted to blow up. 

 At some point, we realized that the horse trail that we were struggling against was paralleled by a gravel road that led in the same direction that we needed to go.  We got on that road, then onto a 1 mile connector trail and back to the lot. 
22 miles, 4.5 hours of meandering, warm temps, some sunshine.  We were content with our day.

The only problem is that now my mind is racing.  So many options!   I'm thinking that I could route a 60 mile route with a mix of 50% single track 50% pavement and gravel road.  Gotta go explore some more!! 

I ordered a map of the forest and can't wait to scour that and get back down for some more adventuring.  It is going to be a great winter riding area,  with temps 15-20 degrees higher there than here in Asheville, and only a 1.5 hour drive!  

Can't wait.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gravel

Legs and body were feeling like toast.  I decided it would be wise to take an easy spin, so I headed out to Bent Creek on the John Henry for some gravel grinding.  Decked out with 2x10 from the previous race bike, the race components are now mounted on the work horse.  I spent the 1.5 hr ride dreaming of temps above 40 and adventuring.....  c'mon spring!!  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Salsa El Mariachi Ti: First Impressions

 I finally got the bike out in the woods for a spin.  The only problem was that my legs are toast from cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood,  getting it ready for next winter.  But, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do!   Hopefully it will make me stronger, and I can work on faster and longer soon!  

I'm going to have to go see Eddie at WN Precison in ATL to get my fit dialed in, but all I can say is that I am not disappointed.  The first little drop in out of the parking lot I got a taste of how smooth and stable this bike was going to be. 

I ground my way up to the first down hill, and stopped to catch my breath.  The wind was blowing the big storm clouds overhead and occasionally I could see a patch of blue sky.  It was chilly and I was a hair overdressed. 

The bike climbed the gravel road well.  Then I dropped in to the longer downhill section. 

Smooth.  I hit a line that was not really the best choice.  The bike rolled through and brought me out on the other side.  Wow!   I couldn't believe that I had just rolled through that and not gotten pushed around.  The only non techy way I can describe it is smooth and stable. 


I continued my ride.  Choosing to take a longer climb and a longer decent.  The bike climbs well,  smooth and goes where I point it.  The decent,  pure fun.  Stable and forgiving, I gradually started rolling over trail features that I normally would not have.  The bike was so smooth that the downhill ended quickly.   I can't wait to try it out on Laurel/ Heartbreak/ Farlow type trails!

Looking forward to some more adventures!! 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Hanging

Little Ripper and Proud Dad
 My new ride is hanging on the wall, built up and ready to roll.  I've been busy.  Getting firewood ready for next year, and taking my boy to the slopes. 

I'm proud of him.  He is ripping it up.  Second time out and he taught himself how to carve.  Ate it hard one time but got up and kept going.  That's life.  We eat it hard sometimes,  hopefully learn to slow down a hair, then get up and keep going! 
Edge of the World
It was warm and sunny and we go a bit burned too.  The snow got soft and slow mid afternoon but firmed back up towards the end. 

The next to last run, I told him to take off while I got buckled in.  I would catch up, that way we could squeeze in one last run before the lift closed.  I couldn't catch him....  little ripper!


Friday, February 06, 2015

New Ride

 I'm excited the announce that I will be riding a Salsa as my race bike from this time forward.  My Siren bike have done great for me and I appreciate what Brendan did for me, with the sponsorship on the grassroots World Bicycle Relief Team.   First the original Siren 55, ( 69er geared).  I love that bike and I'm a bit sad as I strip the parts to transfer to this new one.   That bike carried me up and over a lot of mountains and I am thankful for the opportunity to ride it and spread the word about the brand. 

Then I got on the Siren John Henry, steel framed 29er and my eyes were opened.  I rode it geared for a while, using it as my go to bikepacking bike.   Last year, I decided to set it up single speed and ended up racing it that way,   I fell in love with single speed again.  

Now the issue was that I didn't have a specified bikepacking bike, so last fall I began the search. 

Fast forward to Feb, 2015,  and with the help of Salsa Bikes, Liberty Bikes (thanks Kevin Hessler and the others at the shop who had a hand in the mix), and Cane Creek Cylcing Components,  my race bike will be the Salsa El Mariachi Ti. 
 It looks dirty already even though I have not ridden it yet, because I'm using shifting parts from bike to bike.  The Siren JH will be my bikepacking bike for the time being, complete with gears and Revelate Bike Bags! 

I can't wait to get out on the trails and rip with this thing.  Also looking forward to upgrading the fork to something newer.  I have to sell a brand new Rock Shock Reba 27.5,  first.  I'll take $350 for it: 100mm travel, tapered steerer tube, 15mm thru axle,  remote lockout.    Excellent deal!