Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Preparation PMBAR

Boom shackalacka!

Greetings internerds and welcome back to BanjoLife where aint a damn thang change but my limp...

The past week since I last brought you epic bloggage mediocrity was pretty swell. A few bike rides, more beers than I should be drinking this close to endurance bike riding, and a little home improvement...

Wednesday was when the week really kicked off with the post work shit show ride down at Trace Ridge with some co-workers. These rides have been pretty fun for not taking bike riding seriously and just hanging in the woods with good folk. We ended up shuttling Trace Ridge even though I did my best to ruin the ride by forgetting my front wheel at the bottom... and then I forgot water, and then managed to ride despite all that. Beers were swilled, Pisgah was shredded and we had a great time.

Friday I got out after work and headed to Bent Creek for some solo miles. It had been a while since I Bent Creek'd it and It was actually kinda fun after shying away from that place for so long. Managed to knock out a few good climbs and a few good descents and felt pretty good. About halfway down Ingles Field Gap I noticed my left foot felt odd and about the time I looked down my crank arm was in imminent danger of falling off. Stopped and fixed it as best as could... more on that to come.

Saturday was the day to start proper PMBAR prep with a part swap on Thelma Lou. She had been a great bike all winter long but she'd been rode hard and put up wet more often than any bike should. The time had come to freshen her up a bit. Five beers and 3 hours later I had her back up and running like a sewing machine. Sunday the plan was to head out a do a shakedown ride and little reconnaissance on some trail that I hadn't been on in a long time. Charlotte folks were coming up and the weather looked awesome. Best to make sure Thelma Lou is ready...

Sunday arrived and Em. Watts, Tom Tom, myself, and Burton the Elder were off on a shakedown. Heading out from N. Mills Campground we headed up FR 5000 toward Spencer Gap. Gravel grinding we hit Spencer and up we went. The climb up Spencer always tests me. It starts off mellow then proceeds to get steep as shit for a short time but toss in some nasty root beds and loose rock and you got a pretty tough climb. I took off in the lead and did my best to hit a "comfortable" PMBAR pace. We met back up at the saddle below the Trace Ridge climb and made the decision to go down Spencer Branch toward Fletcher Creek. Spencer Branch downhill is as gnarly as anything in the forest. Big washouts into rock littered gullies, sketchy switchbacks and the absence of any true line down makes it one of my favorite descents. I ended up behind a random dude on a 6.5" travel bike and kept his wheel the whole way down. Once at the bottom we headed up the N.E.R. and onto Fletcher Creek. Fletcher creek is the Yin to Spencer's Yang. Smooth, flat, and fast as hell. Too fast as I let the bike get away from me a few times and narrowly avoided ending up the brush.

city folk wading shoeless....

From there we headed up to Lower Trace, down the "new" Lower Trace and back onto FR 1206. We refueled at the truck and Burton the Elder decided his knee was not up for the rest of the ride and held it down for us at the parking area. Tom Tom, Em, and myself pedaled up 1206 to Pilot Cove/Slate Rock. I had never pedaled up Pilot Cove and it wasn't so bad. There were a few hike-a-bike spots but overall it wasn't too bad. We hit the saddle at Slate Rock and headed down (with some up) back to 1206. It was at this point that my left crank arm went to shit. It fell off at least three times between Pilot Cove and Slate. Luckily Tom Tom used his expert woodcraft knowledge to cram a stick into it and make it work temporarily.

Tom Tom.

We stopped for a good rest at the Slate overlook and headed down the trail back to 1206. Once back on the rode we ran into Mike Pierce who was out for Mikes Big Dumb Ride 2015 aka the dumbest 200 miles you can do on a bike. He was on mile 120ish and looked no worse for wear. 200 miles in one day on a bike is pretty dumb but bad ass too. No doubt his PMBAR will go well...

Burton the Elder had gotten bored and driven down to meet us and Tom Tom and Em took advantage of the free ride and headed out back to N. Mills. I wanted to finish so we said our farewells and "see ya next weekend"s and I took off. It was at this moment that I realized that If I pushed I could probably beat them back to the campground. I started cranking and knocked out the climb out of Bradley Creek surprisingly fast. I was really stoked at how my legs performed at the 30 mile mark on one of my least favorite gravel road climbs in the forest. However, my legs we rent enough and the crew passed me about the time I hit Laurel Mountain. Not to let an F-150 full of bikes get the better of me I stomped it and was within sight of them within a half mile coming down the descent into the Campground. Gears maxed and legs spinning out I managed to pass them on the inside and I'm pretty sure Dale Earnhardt would have been pleased with my moves coming around them at 40 miles an hour.

But the long flat going into the Campground got the best of me and they passed me before we got to the bridge.

Fun day in the forest.

I feel pretty good about PMBAR coming up this weekend and the bike performed well, beside my crank arm issue.

Hopefully Saturday will go well and I'll have another PMBAR under the ole belt...

That's it folks. Have a great week,

Party on.

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