Now that’s puffy.
Book hotel while driving 80mph at midnight
Llama, Eleanor, and I drove 880miles each way to Asheville, NC for Thanksgiving week. The target was Llama’s brother and family. Eleanor got to meet her sweet cousins Olivia and Maggie for the first time. I road my bike some, we had a successful AIrbnb experience, and all was good.
10month old Eleanor is a traveling rockstar. The key to success is long stops to romp about, and having a parent sit in the backseat for playtime with plenty of toys and snacks. We used Yelp and hotels.com to find great stopping points along the route. Yelp is my favorite app - it kept us well fed and off of highway food. I drove until I got tired, then booked a hotel from the driver’s seat using hotel.com connected to paypal. Tech has changed how we travel for the better (though we still sing and listen to books on digital device, NO TV screen in the car)
Asheville North Carolina - so many foodies and breweries
Asheville is cool place. Aside from the interstate intersecting neighborhoods making urban design severely flawed, there is strong neighborhood character, beautiful mountains, and a laid back artisan vibe. The bounty of delicious eateries and micro breweries is curious as the economy is fueled by the tourist and services sector. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of mid to high income jobs here that typically supports a vibrant restaurant community.
The mountain biking - backcountry all mountain not so good on a rigid
First I must say that I have an awesome wife- she encouraged me to get out twice on my bike.
On Thanksgiving morning, I rode my rigid singlespeed at the famous Bent Creek area on the edge of Pisgah national forest. Despite the rain the day before, the trails were in great condition. The climbing was awesome , though compared to Western MA, the trails lacked technical features. Due to it’s close proximity to Asheville and ease of navigation, Bent Creek is a must ride for any mountain biker visiting the area. One day was plenty to get a sense of all it has to offer - I covered 20miles in just over 2 hours.
Strava map of my ride:
The day after the deep fried turkey feast, I had the opportunity to digest in style, riding some of Pisgah’s more remote offerings . Thanks Shanna of Endless Bike Co. for the ride recommendation!
The Laurel Mtn loop was much more remote than what we have in Massachusetts. Because I was alone and out of cell phone range, I took it easy. As the trail went up the snow and ice cover increased. The views were stunning and the silence refreshing. The downhill trail, called Pilot, was too nasty for my rigid bike. I took it easy and opted to walk a bunch instead of falling off the mountain. As I got back to my car, two singlepeeders were heading on the loop!
Pisgah is truly amazing for adventurous type mountain biking. The map by Pisgah Map Company showing the huge trail network, makes me want to spend a few weeks bike-packing in those mountains.
These trails also shift my perspective on full suspension bikes. Instead of never swaying from hardtail singlespeeding, now maybe I’ll take one - when I’m 50.
Go to Asheville. Ride your bike in Pisgah. Eat and drink . Bring the kids. Travel safe. Be happy.
My brother in-law, my niece, and I got to tour Industry Nine . Above are some sweet hubs in the raw. Below are the finished goods.
The extent of my black friday shopping:
Over the last couple of years, the CTS (Charlemont Trail System) trails have received a dramatic dose of human powered mountain bike trail development. Charlemont is located in the Northwest corner of Massachusetts, along the Deerfield River and the scenic Mohawk Trail. About twenty minutes West of Greenfield, this network is easily accessible for anyone in Western MA or from locales such from Boston to Southern Connecticut. Anyone who is looking for a fantastic and unique trail shredding experience, should make the trip to CTS.
This past Saturday (11/09/13) 7 guys with shivering nipples and winter gloves completed a 27 mile, 5 hour journey that included almost all of the trails in the network. We climbed about 5,000 vertical feet. It was tough, yet three of us were happy on single speed bikes, so anyone with gears and hardy 1-speeders can handle these trails.
The trails are a great mix of smooth/fast and technically demanding. The technical bits are not of an “all mountain” flavor, but rather are full of challenging features common in New England; ancient rock masses tweaked with an added rock here or there to enable a sweet rideable line or quick up-and-over requiring full body english (sometimes called ‘humping’ or ‘twerking’).
only 1 flat and one broken chain all day .
Many of the descents at CTS are very fast, inviting total shred. Yet keep a finger on the brakes as the singletrack widens and narrows rapidly and downed trees or swooping turns come on fast. This is an awesome place for riders of all skills and abilities to explore their control edge - that point that falls between super fun and somewhat sketchy. The many switchbacks and twisting trails are for most part very well bed-in. Bridges and other man-made structures are well placed and increase confidence and rhythm over some dangerous areas.
I really enjoy the climbing on this network - at least when I am guided by one of the many folks who helped build these trails. Some are long and are peppered with repetitive steep spurts yet since traction is very good, finding a personal rhythm is not hard. At the end of the day on Saturday, the steep quick climbs started to get hard yet the downhill rewards were never too far off.
There are a couple of large group led rides each year at CTS- MAKE IT! For folks coming for a weekend adventure, hit up the NEMBA forums or contact CTS directly for trail info. I suggest hitting the People’s Pint in Greenfield for post ride foods and brew. Also stop at the co-op in town and pick up some locally made Real Pickles sauerkraut and dill pickles for fermented food adventures at home.
From the 2012 Whole Enchilada CTS ride. Those mountains in the background are part of the network also!
A moment at dinner
CSA pick up with Eleanor. We are riding to pick up our food at the farm and at the food coop nearly 90% of the time.