This week I was able to get up to Pisgah twice and put in some hard miles on some difficult trails. The first ride I didn't take video as it was so cold I wasn't sure what would happen to my gimbal and cold weather gloves and trying to hit record on the go pro would have been futal at best.
The first ride was Sunday, me, and a few friends (new and old) decided to hit up Pisgah even though it was 11 degrees at 10 am!
We started at the Horse Stables and climbed Clawhammer up to Black Mountain which had some beautiful frozen waterfalls I wanted to take some pictures but, didn't want to stop because it was so cold. Can't sit still when its this cold for any amount of time when wet, so we proceeded to do upper Black Mountain and down the other side after a very brief break. This trail is no joke on the way down. Short but gnarly.
We then proceeded down Avery Creek, and my confidence was growing. One of the hardest things to gauge in mountain biking is when you are overconfident. It is important to figure that out because once you are overconfident bad things frequently occur. I was riding faster than normal and felt great until.....
Avery Creek is a fun trail with some technical aspects for sure. Technical rock gardens on ledges everywhere, drops into other rock gardens, switchbacks with drops in them and you can gain a ton of speed in a hurry if you want to.
There is one switchback in particular that you can take the high side of the turn and drop down.... that was no issue. Coming down a couple of hundred feet from there were some drops, and there are two lines you can take. Around them or through them. I opted to go down the middle of these because I was overconfident and the bottom of my front tire dropped into a hole under the leaves and OTB I went and slammed back first into a tree. Always fun. I got up quickly though as my pack took most of the brunt, my elbow hit a rock pretty hard but can't dwell on the little things so back on the bike and down to catch the guys.
There were a few treacherous stream crossings because of the ice. One, in particular, Patrick slipped on and damn near went off the ledge. He was laying on the ice holding his bike that was hanging over the side! It was risky being out there for sure. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing to Avery Creek Road.
Avery Creek was only the first leg of this ride, so I had some more learning and climbing to do. We took a short break at Avery Creek Road and ate some food before heading up. I bought a delicious chocolate chip cookie from Sycamore Cycles on the way into Pisgah and that hit the spot! One guy dropped as it was still freezing and sometimes opting for a beer and a fireplace is the right decision!
The three of us that were left headed up to Bennet Gap. Bennet Gap is another gnarly trail that is classic Pisgah. Huge drops, extremely technical climbs and obstacles that I won't even attempt at this point as I will probably end up on a stretcher but it is super fun.
I had done Bennet once before on Black Friday and had no issues. I walked a couple of things that I rode this time around but I didn't crash at all, but this time it would be different. Once we finally got to the actual downhill, there are some fun obstacles such as trees laying on the trail that can be jumped. One, in particular, can be dangerous if you take the wrong line and land on a branch of the tree or you don't have your hands at the end of your handlebars as sometimes they will drift inside and you don't gauge the width correctly, and you clip a tree, which is exactly what I did. Clipped the tree, went OTB for a second time on this ride. My confidence was shot.
We hit the gnarly drops after that section and was down to lower Bennet, but I didn't try anything new and took it easy. Lower Bennet was easy enough and back to the stables to grab the cars and head for post-ride beers at the Hub!
Lessons learned: Overconfidence is dangerous and when riding to make sure my hands are at the edges of the handlebars. Also the cold isn't as terrible as I thought it was going to be.