Monday, May 24, 2010


Transecting the Pisgah Ranger District. North Mills River parking lot to the top of Pilot Mountain Road. Sunset vistas, roaring waterfalls, deep-green forest, rhodies in bloom, the smell of campfires along Yellow Gap. Surprising how what looks on paper to be just a gravel grinder can turn out to be a renewal.

All the steep you need on Pilot Mountain Road

Dusted off Old Red for this ride. This bike's been sitting around since March like a loyal but creaky old dog, missing out on all the fun. She's not up to hitting much singletrack right now but she's fine on the gravel. There's some noodling in the rear triangle and the fork is long overdue for a replacement. This bike's been ridden hard and seen way more action than most mid-price-point 07 Epics have, and still has some life. Still fits. Old Red, thanks for another in a long line of good rides, and sorry I've been neglecting you these days. Promise I'll buy you a new fork soon.

Near the 5046/Daniel Ridge trail intersection

The ride: North Mills River campground--> 1206--> 276--> 5041--> 225--> old 225--> Daniel Ridge connector--> 5046--> 475--> Pilot Mountain Road to the turnaround at Deep Gap and back down--> 475--> Davidson River Trail--> 475B--> 5041--> 276--> 1206--> North Mills River. Most of the way across both sides of the map, with two big climbs to keep you honest.

The old logging roadbed of "old" 225, as singletracky as the Epic wants to get right now.

The Daniel Ridge connector was rough on this bike, but a nice addition and a link that kept this ride from being just a complete out-and-back.

Dense green on Pilot Mountain Road

Starting at 3pm meant I would definitely be riding part of this with lights. The promise of some peaceful solo night riding under a fat gibbous moon was definitely part of the appeal of this gravel grinder. Running into Robb (the extra B is for badass) as I got started at North Mills, then chatting a bit with a tourist couple at the Fish Hatchery, and a bit more with a guitar-toting hiker coming off the Art Loeb Trail up near Farlow Gap, meant it took longer than expected overall. Got to the turnaround as the sun set, made it back down the first long descent before dark. By the time I got back to the car I felt renewed. It felt so good just to be back in Pisgah again.

Its too bad the distant thunderheads lit by the sunset got washed out of this photo. The Droid camera is good but misses some subtleties.

I could see doing this ride again and again, actually. I could see time trialing all the way up to Deep Gap, then laying down for a while to recover, then cruising back to the car. I could see rerouting a little and doing it on a cross bike... hell, with the right conditions (and right tires) this could be a sweet ride on a road bike.

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