When I was first asked about going to Pisgah with some People’s brewing riders I was not really sure what to say. I really wanted to go back as it has been way too long, but I know what kind of talent these riders have and didn’t know if I would be too slow. Even though I should be in the best shape that I have ever been when I was there. I was assured that it would be a more casual pace and I would be fine. I still knew that I would more than likely be making everyone wait, but I really enjoy riding with some of these guys and figured it would be worth it. Worse case I know my way around pretty good and could just take a shorter route if needed.
We were all heading down in one of the best vans I have ever been in. It was obvious right away that it was going to be a great trip no matter how well I rode. I am used to going all the way down in one day, but with everyone else coming from farther north, we made a pit stop part of the way to break up the trip in to two segments. It was really nice doing it this way. I was not as tired when we got there and we still put in a good ride after checking in to the hotel. We did the normal Maxwell>Black mtn>sycamore cove loop. This was not a huge ride, but it was a great start to the weekend and ended with a ride to Oskar Blues Brewery. This place is just awesome and a great addition to the area. This was just the beginning, but I soon found out that there was a lot bigger ride planned for the next day.
Three of the guys are signed up for the Pisgah 111k. The one had not done it before and the plan was to see a lot of that loop for a training ride and to make sure the intersections were more familiar. To do this meant we were going to ride a LOT of trails. We did Clawhammer, Buckhorn gap, Squirrel, 5015, Laurel, Pilot rock and a few other trails that I can seem to remember at the moment. A lot of the intersections were familiar, but I was very rusty on my navigation of the area. I could really tell that it had been a while.
The day went pretty much as the day before and as I figured. I was pulling up the rear for most of the day. Some times not as far off as others, but any time the trail headed up I was by far the slowest of the group. I rode a lot of stuff and climbed fairly well compared to previous trips down there, but I just didn’t have the power when climbing. I was having this issue before I went down there and had hoped that the legs would come back better than they did, but no such luck. I had a pretty scary moment on Squirrel as I went over the bars on a tight section and ended up landing over the side of the hill. I landed a lot lower than the trail that my tires were just on. I saw the bike flip end over end about 3 times before stopping. The side of the hill was pretty steep and I was not sure how I was going to retrieve my bike. Somehow I managed to make it down to it and back up to the trail. I was not hurt, but I sure was a little more timid for the rest of this trail. With the wreck they were really waiting on me and was starting to wonder if I was ok LOL.
The climb up 5015 and Laurel was hard, but seemed to be going better. By the time we made it to the top I was feeling better about my riding again, but still getting tired. I had a little mess up right at the top of Pilot and should have known that my game was a little off. I walked down the first two switch back drop offs and started to ride as much as I could. I was doing pretty well for a few sections, but not too far down the trail I went over the bars again. This time was just as scary as squirrel, but the landing was not near as soft. I had nothing but a section of rocks to land on. I ended up jabbing the end of my bars in to my lower gut and ending up sprawled out on the rocks. My head was lower than my feet and I was having a little hard time getting back up. I was a little worried that I really hurt my self where the bars hit me. My hand was hurting and partly numb. I was having a hard time feeling my brake or holding the bars. The mount to my computer was broke so I put it in my pocket. I then walked a little bit of the trail after that. I was not sure if I could hold the bars or squeeze the brakes.
I last time I came down Pilot I rode more of the trail then I had ever done before. This time I walked more than I had ever done before. Quite a difference between rides. But, I was really mentally messed up and not confident in my riding. Eventually I started riding some sections, but still had issues using the back brake. Sometimes I could squeeze it and it worked and other times I could not feel the lever. I really thought my finger or hand was broke. With all of the issues they were waiting at the bottom for a very long time. One even started to ride back up the hill looking for me, but I was already near the bottom by then. I was hurting pretty bad and not really sure of my condition. They must have discussed it already as they decided that we would take the road around back to the bottom. It was going to be a little longer, but it was going to be an easier ride. There were no arguments from me. I was just hoping to make it back to the hotel at that point. This ride was one of my longest rides in Pisgah to date. The only other time I did a longer ride was the only time I actually finished PMBAR and was out there for over 13.5 hours.
The beer was sure good that night as I tried to kill the pain and discomfort. Still thinking my finger was broke, I now had a softball sized blood bruise on my gut and assumed that I didn’t do any major damage inside or I would have known by then. I was not sure what was planned for the next days ride, but it was not looking good for me to be there. The next morning I decided that I was going to just go do my own ride on some gravel. I figured I could turn pedals but the bars/brakes were another story. I called my wife to give her an update on how I was doing and said I was not riding. After that it seems that the peer pressure kicked in and before I knew it i was loaded up in the van heading toward Dupont. It was sold to me that it was smooth there and if I could ride gravel, I could ride Dupont. That was not completely true, but not too far from it. I still had some issues using the brakes at times, but I managed to ride good enough.
I can not express how grateful that I was invited along for this trip. It was so much fun on and off the bike. I might have been riding slow, but considering who I was riding with I would say that I didn’t do too bad. Maybe some day I can get up to that level or at least a little closer. I can not thank Jeff and Jason enough for everything. This was the best trip I have been on in years. Florida is not bad, but not even close to how much fun this one was. I think my face hurt from laughing so much.