The first time I rode with Boyd I learned he definitely knows gravel so when I heard he was hosting a GRAVELUTION at the Boyd Cycling HQ in Greenville I had to be there. The rain dampened the festivities a bit, but everyone there was happy about bikes and gravel riding. This was a great excuse to check in on our store in Greenville.
I usually ride the rides and eat the food after. Today was different. I watched the ride start and worked the pizza tent feeding the finishers, I enjoyed this perspective.
I’ve always heard nice things about the Hincapie Fondo and it turns out they’re true, this is a great celebration of cycling in South Carolina and the south east. We served 250 pizzas to many old and new friends, and heard fun stories from the day.
I've been wanting to ride the Black Mountain trail in Pisgah for a long time, so today was the day. I started with a route suggested by a friend to ride up clawhammer to black mountain and turn left. Follow this to buckwheat knob then Bennett Gap. This was the gnarliest trail I've ever ridden so I decided to follow it up by riding back up clawhammer and turning right on black mountain, I didn't realize how hard my day just got. The downhills were rewarding so I finished with Sycamore Cove trail for fun.
These stairs are intimidating.
I found this campsite so I thought I peaked out but I was wrong.
Today's ride was hard. I knew it would be hard and it was harder than I thought. Maybe I'm just used to riding easy trails but this changes my perspective on Pisgah riding. I would have eaten a whole pizza while out there riding it was so hard. I drank a bunch of beer and I'm gonna fill my little belly with lots of pizza now.
Met up with some other adults for a bike ride up to Cypress Gardens.
We did some proper paceline riding.
Lauton brought a pump and decided to use it.
The good old Berkeley County poo poo plant always smells fun.
cruising through the old navy base was nice.
Ended the ride at Hurialy on Huger Street. Acai bowl and coffee was a perfect end to a perfect Sunday morning ride.
I was planning on racing the Hellhole Gravel Grind this weekend but those plans were changed by the pending hurricane creeping toward the Carolinas. Hurricane Florence was a major hurricane the size of both North and South Carolina that made landfall in Wilmington, North Carolina then traveled across South Carolina. The Francis Marion Forest was closed under the mandatory evacuation issued by the state thus postponing the bike race.
My family started their California vacation early so I was left to work and ride bikes. It was a nice week for riding so I got out more than I expected.
The streets were pretty empty on Wednesday so we took advantage of the situation.
By the end of the week I stopped thinking of it as a hurricane week and more as a wasted week in Charleston because the storm did not hit us, as forecasted. I worked making pizzas Friday and Saturday because D’Allesandro’s Pizza was one of the only places open to eat. I grew more frustrated with the mandatory evacuation as the storm blew right by us and did more damage to the people that evacuated to the upstate than to those of us that stayed in Charleston.
Yeah safety first but people have got to be smarter about when they evacuate and where they go. If the storm is moving at 10 mph and it is 1000 miles from land then you do not need to evacuate 4 days prior to the predicted land fall. You can evacuate 24 hours before the storm is predicted to hit (watch the hurricanes at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/) and if you do evacuate you should definitely not go in the direction that the storm is predicted to travel.
The week ended up being it’s own hellhole for the state of South Carolina as many people are at losses due to storm damage and from being put out of work for the week.
My friends invited me to Pisgah Monster Cross with the preface that the amount of alcohol consumed is more important than the place you finish in the race. Pisgah Productions revised the course to be more gravel and much harder which they achieved on all levels. Of course I rode single speed again, my gear of choice was 32x19 which was harder than I wanted to go but softer than I should have ridden. My favorite beers of the weekend were the Pisgah Pale Ales Friday night and the Dale’s Pale Ales at the finish line.
This year’s course was about 75% gravel and 8500 feet of climbing, including loose gravel descents and a few rocky descents that made me happy to be on a hard tail Mt Bike. The most memorable sections were:
The first climb (Avery Creek) which is an ass kicking 6 miles of gravel that gets steeper towards the top.
Watching my only full bottle pop out of the cage and roll off a cliff on a wash board descent 20 miles from the next rest stop.
Soft gravel on steep sections.
A strava segment named “Medusa” which turned out to be gnarly as shit.
Rocky descents that made me wonder if I signed up for a gravel or MTB race.
Fresh Dale’s Pale Ale waiting at the finish line.
Santa Cruz High Ball
Rock Shox REBA RL 110mm suspension fork
Tires: Schwalbe G-One 38mm tubeless gravel tires
Wheels: Stan’s ZTR Crest 29er
This bike felt great and the flat handle bars were perfect for the sketchy descents. The suspension fork was a bit excessive and I’d think the best trade off would be wider tires (2 inch) and a rigid fork. There were many descents that were almost flat so the gearing made these sections miserable. I’d consider running 34x19 next year so I can pedal on more descents and flat sections; the climbs will be harder but they are short enough to put out more power and recover while descending.
This year’s edition of Pisgah Monster CX was worthy of 1 whole large pizza and a case of beer. My result was 4th in the SS division at 5:40, 57th overall, and 4 pints of beer at the finish line; I’ll definitely be back next year.
Low Country Racing is hosting The Walterboro Regional Crit and TT Championships on August 11 and 12, 2018 in Walterboro, SC. Join our team for a fun weekend of fast cycling on the front porch of the low country. Here's a link to register: https://legacy.usacycling.org/register/2018-1890
Fixed Gear Merckx TT Competition: In addition to the Merckx TT category, there will be a fixed gear Merckx TT competition presented by D'Allesandro's Pizza. D'AL'S Pizza gift cards will be awarded to the podium in the amount of $300 to 1st, $150 to 2nd, and $75 to 3rd. Register for the TT then send an email to email@example.com to let me know you're racing fixed.
I mark the Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell (ORAMM) on my calendar every year because it challenges my riding skills unlike any other race. This year's race was shortened and made easier by the removal of Star Gap and Jarrett Creek Road but that just meant it would be faster. I chose to race single speed as I usually have an issue with going too hard too early and then blowing up. I wasn't sure what to expect of the trail conditions due to this year's Nor Easter but oh well, this is Mt Biking.
Star gap is arguably the most difficult section of the normal ORAMM course because it immediately follows Kitsuma and is a difficult 1 mile single track switch back climb. Jarrett Creek Road is a fun road as long as you know it is a rolling climb for the first half and then a fast descent for the second half. I'm not sure if I was happy these 2 sections were taken out due to Jarrett Creek Road being washed out by the Nor Easter but I knew the race would be much easier.
I figured the SS would force me to take it easy on the easy sections and then I'd have more energy to go hard on the hard sections. My gearing was 32x19 which was right at the cusp of being too hard. I spun out on the early flat sections leading to the Old Highway 70 Greenway and then passing back through town on the way to Curtis Creek but I looked at those spin outs as possitives. Being "dropped" early on the flats meant I would have plenty of riders to pick off as I climbed, and I picked off a lot of riders. Many of the riders then passed me on the flat section through town but I easily caught them and many other riders once we hit Curtis Creek Road. I grinded my way up Curtis Creek Rd and passed the 3rd place single speed racer toward the top of the climb, putting me in 3rd (although I thought I was now in 2nd).
Heartbreak Ridge is an amazing descent now that I've ridden it 4 times. Letting off the brakes and flying over the bumps and roots is definitely the easiest way to get down. I was having so much fun I almost missed a switch back and did a graceful jump off my bike, landing on both feet of course. Thinking that I was in 2nd place for the SS race I didn't want to take any chances at the bottom of Heartbreak Ridge on the "rock of death" so I road the B line on the left and stayed focus.
I stopped for quick bottle refills at the last rest station and then got moving on the Mill Creek climb up to Kitsuma. This climb is relatively short compared to the rest of the climbing in ORAMM so I got to work grinding it out real quick. This made it hurt a little more on the Kitsuma switch backs but I knew the race was almost over and to just keep pushing on. Kitsuma never dissapoints with it's ability to challenge me on the climbing and descending. I find the trickiest part is to know when the quick climbs are coming so I can keep speed and momentum going into them.
Overall the 2018 ORAMM lived up to the race's reputation for difficult climbing and technical descents. I ended up placing 3rd in the single speed category and cutting more than the suggested 1 hour (due to the shorter course) off of my time. I cut nearly 2 hours off my previous time. I liked riding single speed and now I know what to expect from 32x19 gearing, I'll consider 32x20 next year if Star Gap and Jarrett Creek Rd are in the course again.
The race ended with a creek crossing and a free Oscar Blue's beer at the finish line, the perfect ending to a great Mt Bike event. Drinking that beer while sitting in that creek watching other riders finish is why I love Mt Biking, I'll be back next year.
We've all spent our time riding and collecting our stats for the year, now let's see how we all measure up. The annual stats contest determines the fastest rider; slowest rider; who's ridden the most miles; and who's climbed the most feet per mile. Entries were submitted through our Facebook page, each winner get's their choice of a PizzaWatts cycling jersey OR a $50 gift card to D'Allesandro's Pizza.
High noon on New Year's Eve was a perfect time for the first ever PizzaWatts monthly ride; a fun ride on the twisty single track at Wannamaker North was chosen. The sun was warm through the bare trees and the leaves were crunchy on the trail. All the bikes were out, including the squishy fat tire bikes, gravel/sport utility bikes, and hard tails.
Wannamaker North is a tight single track that let's the leaves stay where they fall and allows for a crunchy ride this time of year.
It was a nice turnout of about 20 people with half the crew midway through riding the Trifecta (Biggin, Wannamaker, and Marrington in one day).
Conditions were dry except for a few mud holes. My Scott Gravel Addict was fitted with the Boyd Jocassee 650b wheels and WTB Byways which was my first time riding this setup on singletrack. This bike was quick through corners, but the roots definitely sketched me out. Riding the CX bike on trails is always a good reminder of how good we've got it with full suspension bikes.
Wannamaker felt tight until we got to the Orange loop, then it felt tighter. The orange trail should be renamed “Flat Pisgah” because it is very technical and you've got to think about every pedal stroke. I definitely lost the trail a couple times but corrected myself quickly enough to not get lost. The orange trail is constant turning which is great for imrpoving bike handling. We were relieved to make it off the orange trail unscathed and fortunately the rest of Wannamaker feels fast and open after the highly technical orange trail.
Back on the red/blue loop we started flying as everyone was ready to eat pizza. One last section to ride was the ridge loop which offers many whoopdy whoos and and a corkscrew. Ride carefully or you may get thrown off your bike.