and now for something completely different…

This weekend I traded in the cross bike for, you know, a 6″ travel trail bike.  At the shop in Madison these bikes were always sort of a novelty, but in Pisgah they are totally appropriate.  Nine of us began the ride with a shuttle to the top of Shuck Ridge (~4600′) to descend Farlow Gap which we followed to Daniel’s Ridge for a drop of about 2000′.

loading up the shuttle truck!

I had a lot of fun on this trail considering it was unlike anything I’ve ever ridden before!  There are definitely some sketchy sections where one could really get hurt.  The leaves are absolutely gorgeous now and the weather was perfect.  I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

From a parking lot a bit above the Hatchery, we climbed a fire road to descend Longbranch and Butter Gap; both of which were super fun!  Butter Gap lives up to its name and is fast, smooth(as far as Pisgah goes) and full of drop-offs and jumps.  For the first time, I landed a drop correctly–with both wheels at once.  It doesn’t sound like a huge accomplishment, but this is something I’ve struggled with.  All day I was really trying to focus on lifting up the front end of the bike and it was nice to see some progress!

most of our group! (photo by Trish Stevenson)

We finished out our day of adventure with a 45 minute climb (which felt like eternity after all that riding) and a long, awesome but secret descent that made it all worthwhile.  I haven’t been in Pisgah for a few weeks (!) and these trails reminded me why I moved here.

This morning I finally took the Chequamegon number plate off my beloved hardtail and got in a great recovery ride at Bent Creek.  I typically don’t like to mountain bike alone, but Bent Creek is one of the few places I feel totally safe and at ease doing so.  At the beginning I kind of felt like I ‘d been run over by a truck–I haven’t been this sore in a while–but after a while I began to feel stronger and much more like myself again.  I just really love riding bikes.

Dave and I caught a nice sunset right next to Mt. Pisgah on the Blue Ridge Parkway tonight:

taken from a phone--not bad!

And so completes my weekend off…I am actually looking forward to work tomorrow and hope to start commuting part of the way by bike (I work an hour from Asheville on top of a mountain ridge near Mt. Mitchell so it involves some planning).  Training is difficult to fit into my full schedule and I need to take advantage of the daylight before the time changes!  Fortunately I am working much more consistent, reasonable hours and getting closer to finding better balance in my life.  Everything is beginning to fall into place.

And I am really, really happy.

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