With the 2015 Bicycle season coming to a close, I set my sights on something much needed. A Mountain bike vacation like no other! With daylight ticking away I packed my bags, as well as one weary mini van, and pointed her south on 81 for what seemed like an eternity. Somewhere around the North Carolina/Tennessee border, I started to second guess my decision to leave Harrisonburg at 8 pm on Friday. I pulled off the interstate hoping to find a campsite or parking space to park my poor man's RV and set up my evening accommodations (a sleeping bag rolled out in the back a van), and that's when the adventure truly began. After driving a Tennessee back road for 45 min, I pulled off in the next gravel turn off and called that home for the night, only to be awoken by a dreary eyed fly fisherman later that morning searching for a fishing spot. After explaining I was just as "lost" as he was, I hopped in the driver seat and drove the remaining two hour into Asheville. After Popping by Epic Cycles, and chatting with their manager Chris, who later invited me to ride in Wilson's creek that weeks, (an AWESOME place only locals know). I started down to Brevard to meet up with my couch surfing host, and unload. After a quick pit stop I was pointed to DuPont state park for the afternoon.
I spent the entire day exploring Dupont, an incredibly busy park, at least it seemed busy to someone from the valley, though by the time I got off the trails, most everyone had cleared out. Dupont is a wonder full place, filled with short, punchy climbs, followed by downhills built for all skill levels. Anything from awesome flow trails, to alternative jump lines could be found, you just had to look. Later that evening I met up with my friend and couch surfing host to ride my first taste of Pisgah, Blacks Mountain!
That night was spent chatting with more locals, who seemed more interested in hearing about Harrisonburg trails, than telling me about their own. After a pasta dinner and a few yard sodas I had a route planned for the next day. Black mountain proper, to turkey pen and back, though I'd never make it to that route. Some where on the top of Black Mountain, that late night in Tennessee and all day DuPont adventure started to catch up with me. After making to to the overlook, I did something I'd never done trail side. I stopped, ate lunch, and took a nap! Though I have to admit the view was captivating, and the entire reason I decided to stop for a few hours, and just take in the landscape.
After getting back to town, grabbing dinner, and successfully locking my keys in my camelbak in my car, I got to experience small town hospitality as everyone and their brother tried to help me find a lock smith, or coat hanger in a town that shuts down at 6pm on Sunday. The next day however, I rolled back into Asheville, and meet my trail guide Chris, who would take a group of us into Wilson's creek. I was astonished to see a rider I recognized form this years Tour De Burg (look it up, it's the only race that matters), moments like that make you realize how small of a community cycling can be! We loaded up cars and set out for the most excitingly mellow all day adventure filled with swimming holes, you could imagine, not to mention the coolest rhododendron tunnels!
Once I got back to town that night, exhausted from another full day of riding, and the over consumption of burrito's I'm all to familiar with. I sat down to plan out my final ride, Laurel To Pilot rocks. A mellow ridge line climb that consisted of rhododendron tunnels and rock gardens to the top of the mountain. Spotted with the occasional fluffy bear cub, that'd run across the trail (luckily momma bear was nowhere to be found). Once reaching the top of the mountain, we shifted gears and got ready for pilot rocks, a trail I was told would surely put me to the test. As I started my descent screaming through more rhododendron tunnels. Somewhere along the ridge, I punched into the sunlight, and onto the rocky bench cut. Things finally felt like home! I let go of the brakes, and started smiling thinking to myself "this is what I came here for!" After Flying down the trail, I came to an old road bed that cut across the mountain, one chris had mentioned and pointed to on a map (Isn't local trail beta great?), that would put me at the base of one last climb. Admittedly when I got to the base of the climb, I was pretty adventured out and ready to pedal the gravel back to the car. I pushed on though, and the reward was worth it, a Long 4 mile trail filled with twists and turns, and the final gem. A hidden swimming hole, fed by a small 10 ft waterfall, filled with the coolest mountain water! The perfect spot, to close the book on my first trip to Pisgah!