Monday, September 14, 2009

Three days of life on bicycles, big mountains, berries, mushrooms and road kill.

In these slow economic times we must find new ways of entertaining ourselves. I have said that in life you often find yourself with either spare time or spare cash in the bank but rarely both. For years I found myself very well off yet working constantly and longing for a spare hour or two in the day that would never come. These days the tables have been turned and I have more spare time yet very little spare funds to throw at a quick but costly trip out west for the SSWC09 Party. So opting for the Dollar Adventure Menu I just spent same amount of money that I would cost to drive to Knoxville TN on a multiday tour of a lifetime.

Myself and three other adventure minded individuals (Denny M.F. Stevenson, Bonnie "Badass" Bloom and "The Mac") spent three days on bicycles that I will never forget. I called it the $20 Tour De Pisgah and had I not bought firewood on the first night I could have reduced the cost of the trip by 25%. But hey, sometimes you want a little luxury while your on vacation.

It all started a just few days ago with the idea to ride to Boone while drinking beer at the last Asheville Tourist Thirsty Thursday Game. We all had the right amount of alcohol in our system to agree that a multi day tour a week later would be a great idea. Not being one to back away from inebriated ideas one week later we found ourselves geared up and ready to roll North.

We picked a tough day to start the tour. Cloudy conditions loomed on the Parkway and cold and rain were inevitable. Boonie Badass Bloom was so kind as to have ridden to Craggy Gardens the day before the trip to test her gear and pick Blueberries for the trip. She warned some of us to "bring your winter gear". To prepare for the trip I attended a show at the Orange Peel and stayed out to 2am dancing with a few friends to some great DJ's and bands. With a few hours of sleep in me the touring bike felt like it picked up a few more pounds. The ride out of downtown Asheville was nothing more than a fourteen mile climb to Craggy to start the day so the tour going out the night before sounded like a great idea. After cutting of some knobbies off the side of my tires to clear the chainstays and making a few last minute adjustments we were off and climbing Town Mountain.

It was quite the way to start a trip and by the time we reached Craggy Gardens we could see the piles of hail on the side of the road from the storm the day before. We put on all the warm clothes we had and prepared for the first decent of the day. Riding from Craggy to Mt. Mitchell was rough. Fifteen feet of visibility, cold descents, sweaty accents, cars, motorcycles and slick roads are not the conditions you want but we did what we could and the Jack Daniels warmed our bones. I will let the pictures do the talking for a bit. enjoy.

First stop of the day.

Mac "feeling it"

Denny and Bonnie warming the bones. Thank you Jack Daniels..

Wild Blackberries = free energy food

The Crew.

Going up the Mountain.

Laughing till we felt like crying..

Tunnel Visions.

Riding in the clouds.

Just keep on pedaling.

What's for dinner Denny?

Living the Pisgah High Life.

Home on the first night.

Waking up to find everything you left out was wet is so awesome on a three day tour..

Bonnie gathering her Chanterelles for dinner.

I won a stage!

I won this stage by beating Bonnie to the ground score laying in the road up the hill. The ground score ended up being a Marines baseball cap. As I picked up the hat I noticed a truck pulled over up the road. He was attempting to drive backwards to pick it up and I rode up to hand it to him. It turned out to be an eight year old looking man and his wife in a beat up pickup truck. I handed it to him politely with a "here you go sir" and he offered me a lift. I grabbed hold of the side rail of the truck and took a pull about 3/4 of a mile up the next mountain.

Little Switzerland.

The horses wanted to race.

Denny picked some corn for dinner. Too bad we found out it was cattle corn AFTER we put it in the pot with the mushrooms and rice packet.

Grandfather Mountain here we come.

Grandfather closeup. There were a few more "bumps" along the ride that day.


Wow. The Viaduct was amazing!

Next time I will bring a fishing pole.

Our first mission complete.

Wait till dark and sleep in the park.

Ok, let me add to the pics below with a little more information. We are rolling down hwy 221 when we see a deer jump in to the path of a semitruck going 50mph. The deer goes flying off the grill of the truck through the air a good twenty feet, skids across the pavement and tangles up in the metal supports of the guardrail on the side of the road. Dead on impact! As we stand there stunned by what we just witnessed Bonnie is already thinking of how we are going to get the dead deer back home. After a quick call to a friend who was unable to come pick it up, she is distraught and trying to figure out what we can do to take the deer with us. Unable to think of way to haul a 200lb deer on a touring bike we ride on up the road. A mile or so later Bonnie pulls up to inform me she is "going back for the deer". Wtf I ask myself? I catch up to Bruce inform him of Bonnie's plan and his first remark is "I want a steak too." We turn back and roll up to find Bonnie attempting to slaughter this animal with a Swiss army knife. I provide her a more adequate cutting apparatus and she proceeds to cut out some tasty tenderloin steaks while Bruce and I sit back and question our manhood. Ok on the pics.. If you can't stand a little gore scroll down quickly..

Meat Sack.

Bonnie Badass Bloom. If you're plan on getting lost in the woods, take this woman with you..

It looks gross now but will taste so good in a few hours..

Life and Death.

Nature's Own.

If she could have strapped the deer to her bike she would be making deer skin clothes right now for the next trip.
All the boys could do was sit back in awe..


Almost there.

The Road Kill Grill at Pisgah Brewing..

Beers and Bartenders. How I love thee.

Boonie demonstrating how she provided our dinner.

Wooden Tooth rocking the house.

Bonnie and Bret cooking it up.

Well it wasn't a race but if it were it is needless to say Bonnie "Badass" Bloom won hands down! The girl road to Craggie Gardens the day before the tour to pick berries, brought only a few clothes, a bag of blue berries she picked, a bag of nuts, a block of cheese and some bread she found while dumpster diving. She collected wild mushrooms that we ate for dinner on Friday night then carved up a deer for dinner on Saturday night. I am very pround to announce we have found a new member of the Pisgah Brew Crew, go Bonnie! If this girl ever buys a mountain bike she will crush you while singing to herself on the trail, catch dinner with her bare hands and have it ready by the time you are getting back to camp.

Denny MF Stevenson pulled of a sweet second place by riding a 44 x 18 single speed mountain bike over the 20,000 ft(?) of climbing with a rigged up seat post rack and a back pack and probably spending less than 10 bucks. I was waiting to see him get off and push that bike up some of the steep climbs we encountered but he rode it all with a smile on his face. As we rode up Old-Old 70 after three hard days in the saddle he looks over and says "Never let them tell you that you can't do something, don't listen to those people." Thanks Denny. I won't forget that one..

I guess since Mac bailed due to illness on the second day that I pulled off a third place finish. I felt pretty good considering I had done five light rides over the past eight weeks so I was basicly coming of the couch for this one. The legs held up, the weak ankle did not revolt, the mind was cleared and I probably lost half the weight I put on while I was off my feet.

Mac made it home safe riding solo on day two to sleep off the cold he was riding with on day one. It was great to have him along and I only wished he had been able to make it further with us to enjoy the awesome weather on day 2 after weathering the storm on day 1 of the trip.

So now it's back to business for the next few weeks. Like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter I am going to give Real Estate my all for the next few weeks while riding some sweet trails of course and start working on a few events for the fall. I moved to the mountains to have the feeling that I am on permenant vacation and this trip has reminded me of the amazing new discoveries and experiences that await just outside my front door. All you got to do is take the first step..

Live limitless..


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sack Racing, Festivals, Dance Parties, and LSD.

Festivals, Dance Parties, and LSD, oh how I love thee. The past two weeks have rocked. The Pisgah Summer Games, LAAFF festival, house parties, bigwheels and mountain bike rides.

The Pisgah Summer Games were awesome. I learned that "fast" on Kitsuma is about 23 minutes from parking lot to park, wiffle ball rules, and watching adults compete in sack races after 8 beers is one of the funniest things you will ever see. Twenty racers and far more competitors later in the day made for yet another quality brew crew event. Kickball, sack races, wiffle ball, a little frisbee, and a lot of great beer made for some fun times. As for the bake sale and funraiser side of things, we raised a whopping 40 bucks after expenses. Well, at least we didn't loose money on our own fundraiser and thanks to Pisgah Brewing for letting us celebrate at the brewery on a Sunday and everybody who came out to play, made food, bought lunch and some baked goods.

LAAFF was amazing, 12,000+ freaky party people and no real issues. I worked on this one for the past few months with a wonderful group of people. I was in charge of organizing about 50 volunteers, which I thought would be a lot like herding cats but instead ran smoother than trying to organize an impromptu game of wiffle ball with fifteen of my friends at the Pisgah Summer Games. Art, bands, costumes galore, bigwheel races, and bike jousting. What more do you want?

photo of joust and chicks on big wheels by jody flemming -

The house parties just keep coming and they seem to turn into a dance party every time. Sleep has become a valuable commodity and I don't even have to be at work at a set time these days. While the parties have picked up I managed to get in a few good mountain bike rides at Bent Creek before re-injuring my ankle while test piloting one of Mooney's big wheels on Friday night. Having a pedal come off while cranking down the sidewalk on a makeshift bigwheel will hurt a weak ankle, but proceeding to get drunk and dance on it till 4 am will ensure the swelling and pain comes back.

I figure that with my ankle (re)injury, a whopping 40 bucks raised at the summer games and no idea of when my next paycheck will arrive that I have more than enough reasons to stay in town. As bummed as I am about missing the SSWC09 Party I am looking forward to hanging out in the mountains I call home and doing LSD. LSD is awesome, it's cheap, it clears the head and makes you stronger. Yes, Long, Slow, Distance or L.S.D. as it is called in some circles will do wonders for the soul.

The time of the year is right for a loooong ride, the price tag for adventure is right and I can obviously do enough partying in my own town to warrant cashing a reality check that says "Stay Put Sucka". So I leave on Thursday to ride a bicycle to Boone on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway with few of the Asheville crew. If all goes well we will then head west with hopes of making it to Hot Springs NC on Saturday for a nice soak before heading home on Sunday. To my crew that is heading west for the big dance, I wish you well and offer this race advice..

"When you find yourself in the tree house having a dance party at 1:00 am after driving a few thousand miles, riding a few hundred miles, hitting all the sswc preparties, drinking a thousand beers and competing in this years sswc race, you know you've won.."

word up. i'm out.. Jut 2da Rizut