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The weather on the second bigmountainriding.com all mountain adventure ride was pretty much the opposite from the inaugural adventure ride. Temps in the mid- to upper-80’s. Blue skies and dust in many places on the trail (Paradoxically, it was also muddy in places).
FYI for the number weenies out there, this isn’t gonna be your kind of site. Just to put it out at the beginning. That way no one is disappointed when they don’t get the exact kilometers of the ride, or the elevation change to the nearest 50-meters. Distance = unknown (5-10 miles); Elevation gain = 1,500 – 2,000 feet (based on computations from the USGS map).
I parked at the Appalachian Trail (AT) parking lot on US 501 just north of the intersection with US 130, in Amherst Co., Va., next to the James River. I had scouted out this ride back in March, on foot. The scouting trip proved my initial idea of using a trail called Peavine Mountain Trail was a no-go, as it seemed to be well-maintained Forest Service Road (FSR) even though on my old map it was marked as singletrack. However, the scouting trip revealed that there was an old section of the AT left over from where they had bypassed it. It went up over a ridge peaking at the Peavine Mountain Trail and then descended back down to the James River. So, I decided to ride this remnant as a loop, using a FSR to connect to the beginning of the left-over AT section.
I packed my backcountry adventure riding gear, even though the temperatures this time made it a bit more difficult of a decision than the initial adventure ride, where the cold temperatures made it easy to pack on the extra gear in an attempt to stay warm. I threw a bee-sting pain reliever kit into my first aid pack, and debated taking out the space blanket, but how much weight does that really add? Fortunately I did bring a lot of water.
I crossed 501 and started the climb on State Road 812. The heat hit immediately after I pointed the front wheel uphill. I ground gears up about 200-feet of elevation gain and then the road dropped down to the creek bed level. I turned onto FSR 36, but only to cross Rocky Row Run and the intersection with the AT remnant.
I was not looking forward to the designed-for-hikers climb in the heat. As I entered the woods, I got my heart rate going quickly on the initial steep turn or two. The climb was lined with pine needles, slowly baking in the sun. I almost put my still-winterized heart through my sternum on a needly tight switch back – all out pedaling until I slid out both wheels at pretty much the same time. Read more…
My 2007 Gary Fisher HiFi, Jack Rabbit Slim, suffered a frame fracture on the inaugural Big Moutain Riding adventure ride. The break in the rear non-drive side chain stay occurred while riding on flat singletrack. Although I had a bit of a walk until the rescue wagon showed up, I was confident that Gary Fisher would warranty it. So they did, although with a part from a newer HiFi – including something that looks like congress designed it (cable guides to nothing). So far, three rides in, the other elements of the rear triangle are holding up. So my fingers crossed that there was no damage done to the other parts during the break down.
Part 1 – I have ridden at Candler’s Mountain, or Liberty Mountain as it is now called, since the mid-90’s. Back then it was a wild and woolly big mountain riding experience with heavily-eroded jeep trails, lots of year-round puddles and rocky trails that required zen-like handling skills. Not much pure singletrack, but some really technical ATV trails that rolled straight up and down the hills, leaving many a mountain biker’s lungs behind. The Gonzo factor came courtesy of shifting surfaces due to erosion, rock bars, ruts that were up to three-feet deep in places and red clay pools straight out of the most lurid ’50’s sci-fi. I rode through one such puddle when it couldn’t be avoided, and for the next several weeks, something ate slowly into my thigh, just above the knee. I thought I had encountered that late-90’s media darling flesh-eating bacteria, until it faded away and I still had flesh. Read more…
Adam Lipinski reviews the 160MM (6.3 inches) travel Commencal Meta 6.2 and it sounds like a rough and ready all mountain bike, with a preference for descents, but a very effective pro-pedal platform that makes climbing efficient for an almost 35-pound (15.77KG) bike.
The Meta impressed Adam with its adaptability and bombproof design. He rode it at the local bike park and on rides ranging from downhill runs on moto trails to cross country. The Meta handled it all with aplomb, and climbed better than a 35-pounder seemingly would. Throughout the extended Dirt Rag review, the Meta’s strong parts mix held up to the rough riding that is the bike’s home turf. Adam includes a nice review the Commencal’s chops on a full-throttle enduro ride on slippery, eroded trails.
Components highlights: The Fox Float RP2 mated to a single-pivot swingarm in the back features a longer stroke and high volume, and really shines on a bike that has to be ready for drop-offs and steep climbs in the same ride. The Rockshox Lyric IS Solo Air fork pairs up well with the Fox rear, and features user-friendly adjustability for climbing, downhill and everything in between. A Maxle through-axle adds to the Lyric’s hurly-burly cred. The handle-bar activated Crank Brothers Joplin R adjustable seat-post bolsters rider confidence with 3-inches (76MM) of on-the-fly adaptability the ever-changing scenarios of big mountain riding, and cleaned up to full functionality after grime baths. Stopping comes courtesy of Formula Oro K18 brakes, which impressed the Dirt Rag reviewer with their modulation and adaptability. Drive train is a mix of SRAM and Shimano, and worked well in all but impossible conditions. © Big Mountain Riding
Read the entire Dirt Rag review of the Commencal Meta 6.2
The inaugural bigmountainriding.com adventure shelled out a lot of what makes Big Mountain Riding so challenging, exciting and yes, dangerous at times. I selected the Whetstone Ridge Trail in Virginia’s Nelson and Rockbridge counties. I picked a doozy of a day for it. Highs in the low 40’s, snow flurries at higher elevations. And the weatherman had it right this time too. Snow flurries throughout the day on this longer-than planned ride.
The ride I had planned out using a USGS map of the area was a 20+ mile loop from the Whetstone Ridge Restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway, featuring a long ridge ride on singletrack and then a prolonged climb back on a mixed surface county road. I had not done the ride before, but I had the time and the experience with long distance riding in less than ideal conditions. Donning the cold-weather gear, I packed away a lot of backcountry equipment as well. These are items that go along on all back country expeditions, solo or group rides. 100-oz water pack, first aid kit with emergency blanket and water purification tablets, compass and map, more food than I think I’ll need. I also wore my crash pads (more later on the irony of that). Fortunately, I also carried my cell phone, although I didn’t think I’d have service for most of the ride. Read more…
I am foregoing the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure this year and will live local and revisit and old favorite, the Middle Mountain Momma at Virginia’s Douthat State Park. Will probably sign up for the Double XC course – 40+ miles of pain and desolation out in the mountains that don’t stop till half way through West Virginia. I hope the ground is not too soft, because that can make the miles really drag!
In 2004 or 2005 I did the XXC, and spent what felt like all day riding around on soft, grassy fire roads on the backside of who knows where. By the end of a day like that – with water only at the mid-point, one wants to reach the finish line mostly just to be able to stop riding. In these type of races, quitting at most points on the course merely means walking back to the finish line instead of riding (or riding an additional 10 road miles). Sounds like fun, right?
I will miss the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure, but I am setting my sights on a top 5 placing in the West Virginia Wild 100 in August.
©Big Mountain Riding