Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pisgah: Day 3

Here's where it all goes sideways.  I've been on a bit of a personal improvement program of late, and I've trimmed off about 28 pounds so far.  One of the things I've paired out lately is beer.  I've thrown down a few light american style lagers, (who cares about the brand, they all taste the same), but nothing adventurous and certainly nothing even remotely earning the terms "craft brewed" or "hoppy" .  SO after the previous day's fun, I threw down a couple of the locally brewed Brevard Ale's at the Hub, and then that night I washed down my spaghetti with three Belle's Brown Ale's.  Now that is 5 beers, but we are talking about consumption over a 5 hour period, so I should be fine, right?


The trail that we chose for the day started at the Hardtimes Trail Head, at Bent Creek, and went up.  As in climbing.  As in climbing for about an hour straight.  Ugh.

Pretty climbing, but climbing none the less.  It was also a cold day, and even with three jerseys on, I was still chilly in the shadows.

Mercilessly turning to descend, this was the highlight of the day.  10-15 minutes or so, mostly downhill, enough to shake your forearms numb and make your calves burn.  Somewhere around here I saw trail markers for Green Lick, so I guess that was one of the trails we did, although I was not navigating.

At the bottom we had technical difficulties as the only guy with 29 wheels and the only guy with tubeless had troubles all the way around and we spent 45 minutes in the chilly shadows waiting for the technical difficulties to be resolved.

So now I'm cold,  numb, hungover, and generally feeling pretty crappy.  Enter 2 hours of rollers and I was in the hurt locker.

The group.
Luckily Ashville was in our future, and while I didn't partake of anything more adventurous than an unsweet tea, the others filled their empty growlers at the Craggie Brewery there in town after we had some food..  We also visited Bio Wheels bike shop next door, (foreshadowing).

On the wall at Craggie... Boil Fruit?
We ate at the Lexington Avenue Brewery, and I had a Grilled Gouda cheese sandwich, with bacon, apples and french fries on the side.  I also had a fleece vest, and after a few hours I was back in form as my jolly old self. (?)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pisgah: Day 2

Day two begins with a much more ambitious plan.  We will leave two cars in the parking area for Turkey Pen trail head on the east side of the Pisgah National Forest, and then drive a third car to the Pink Beds trail head on the west side.  Then we will ride the 20 or so miles from Pink to Turkey thru Squirrel Gap, benefiting through our car ferrying antics by having to only climb about half as much elevation gain as we will enjoy rolling down.  Who says cars don't come in handy when you are biking!

Pink Beds Trail Head

Right up the road from the Cradle of Forestry.  No word on where the Dradle of Forestry is located, and I'm not even sure if North Carolina allows for that sort of non-Baptist type of thinking.  Of course, Ashville would be all over it, being the blue city in a red state.  But then again they roll for everything so that isn't saying much.

"You mean to tell me these improvements were funded with Obamy Money?!"  WWJD?*

A weather/water monitoring station of some ilk.  And a Turner.  I'm not insane enough to roll a vintage 26 at Pisgah, or even a rigid 29.  Nope, I want travel.

Back side of the station.

Charlie motors off into the distance.

Many of these bridges in the Pisgah National Forest. Ride them while you can, because I'm sure that there won't be new ones built under the current Tea Party, Small Government, Public Servants Suck kind of mentality painfully prevalent in government today.  They will be whining like bitches when the bridges are gone though, probably still blaming government for not building replacement facilities out of rope braided in darkened government offices out of the hair of released employees.  "Don't tread on me" my ass.  You get what you pay for.

Soap box aside, the views were spectacular, and the leaves were just beginning to hint at their fall colors soon to be in full force.  They were plenty colorful by Floridian standards, but not prime for the Appalachians. 

This was the Grape's first run at glory on a biking trip, and it performed flawlessly.  As a long time Rover owner, no trouble codes or warning lights or chimes left me wondering if the car was even running.  Even the gas mileage hinted that it seemed to run on air.

Looking Glass Falls, on the road back from Pink Beds after dropping off driver number two at car number three

Next up, a not so happy day on the trail...

* Jesse Helms

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pisgah: Day 1

This was a drive up day, mostly spent behind the wheel motoring up I-95 and I-26 to Brevard NC.  We did arrive in time to give Turkey Pen a quick 9 mile or so run.  I did not bring a camera so I only have this crappy cell phone pic ganked shamelessly from J-Pow.  Day Two I start to fire off my own shots.

So here we are giving the boys back home the one finger salute.


Friday, October 19, 2012

You know you live...

...in a subtropical swamp when this type of thing is waiting at your front door to greet you when you come home from work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shanghai Surprise!

I've told this story a million times, but I recently discovered a menu in my glove box when I cleaned out the recently departed car, so one more time won't hurt...

When I was in college, as most college kids with no money did, we ate boat loads of crappy Chinese take-out.  Our favorite local haunt was just up the road from the university.  The place was awesome.  Housed in a defunct Hardee's fast food joint.  Delicious food, super cheap, gobs of glow in the dark sweet and sour sauce, and massive fountain drink cups for your takee outee pleasure.  We loved it.  Even when one of my dorm-mates found a sauteed cockroach in his pork-fried rice.  We still went back.  It was just a one time thing, right?  

We were young, stupid and poor.

And happy and well-fed on the cheap. 

We were college kids.

Try the won ton soup.  

Anyway, one day we went in a car load to the Express and sat down for a gorging of our favorite glow in the dark sweet and sour selection of choice. We filled our cups multiple times.  We ate until we bloated like dead cats in the road (foreshadowing).  We loved it.

Finally we meandered, stuffed to the gills in processed fast food, out to our car, parked in the back of the restaurant near the dumpster enclosure.  The dumpster was a nasty place, crawling with roaches which would scatter as we walked toward the block walls of the enclosure.  The smell was unimaginable.  

The sight was even worse.

Sitting there next to the dumpster wall was a U-Save grocery bag. Inside the grocery bag was something even more unspeakable than the dumpster smell or the pork-fried cockroach.

Three severed cat heads.

It was nasty.

It was gross.

It was horrific.

We were appalled. 

We were disgusted.

We returned for dinner 3 days later.  

Love that cheap Chinese take-out. 


Scene of the crime.

Today the place is much as it was when I frequented it.  I think it is closed, but it always looked like it was closed so who can tell?  The Dumpster enclosure is still there but mercifully the bag (or 'newer releases' of the bag!) is gone.

What of the cat heads?  Who knows!  They could have been dumped by a passerby and had nothing to do with the restaurant.  The outside of the place was in horrific condition and it would not surprise me to find out that no employee had been anywhere near the dumpster enclosure with the intent of cleaning up. The area was littered with stray cats, so some whack-job could have just been on a private vendetta cat-eradication-expedition.

Then again, they could have come straight from the kitchen.

In the end, we didn't care.



Monday, October 15, 2012


Truncated Trip Blog:

Day One - Drive up (29 MPG in the Grape with bike on roof, 75-80mph into a headwind), Turkey Pen.  BBQ.

Day Two - Leave car at Turkey Pen to complete shuttle from Pink Beds.  Complete shuttle from Pink Beds.  Scratch new car on drive down from Turkey Pen. Drink 5 beers.

Day Three - Wake up hungover.  Drive to Bent Creek.  Get caught in the Inbred Tractor Parade. Climb on the bike for an hour.  Feeling clammy and gross.  Descend for 10 minutes.  Feeling cold clammy and gross.  Watch J-Pow wrestle with his flat tire for 45 minutes.  Watch J-Pow mangle my new tube.  Ride for another 1.5 hours.  Feeling cold, clammy, bent, bonked and nasty.  Eat dinner at Lex Ave Brewery.  "I'll have an unsweet tea, please."  Drive to house and collect my crap.  Head to Greenville.  Eat home-made veggie pizza.  "I'll have water please."

Day Four - Wake up 8. Roll out at 8:30. Friends are heading to DuPont.  I am not.  Drive to ATL.  BBQ. "I'll have unsweet tea please."  Leave ATL 2.  Arrive Jax 7:30.  Cereal.  Bed.

31.1 MPG.

More to come.  With Details.  And pictures.  Consider this the Teaser.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Haile's Trail

This past Saturday some of the fellas and I took the opportunity to hit the Haile's Trail course prior to the scheduled race on Sunday.  It was a good time, a hot day, and a challenge to say the least.  I don't think the course has parallel anywhere in the state for varied terrain and difficulty.

No pictures, as I was either sucking wind for 2 and a half hours, or drinking heavily afterwards, (who knew Sierra Nevada Pale came in cans!?) I actually rode hard enough to hurt myself climbing; got a little calf tweak going on.  Don't usually get that in the flatlander state.

Well you missed it this fall, but Haile's will open again in the spring, so be on the lookout!

Pictures shamelessly ganked from www.Singletracks.com.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Return of the Attack of the Son of the Soul of the Florence Clones!

Like a bad Japanese horror movie, my brother's since sold Honda Fit has returned to the family in spirit!

After nearly a decade of service to the big-wigs high in the gleaming towers of One Utahdog Center, World Congress of the Americas, the Land Rover now sleeps elsewhere.  That's right, I've turned in the big lumbering beast, choosing to embrace the fact that I no longer have neither the time nor inclination to slog around off-road, or fumble with an OBD-II reader to turn off warning lights, or track down the source of new drips and leaks as they appear with frightening regularity in my driveway.  I really enjoyed the Rover while I owned it, I must say.  It was exactly as advertised.  Big, slow, thirsty, comfortable, quirky, questionably reliable, and capable of going absolutely anywhere. It was also almost 180 degrees from what I need in a car today.

So I dumped it.

For an Easter Egg.

With a bike rack on the top.

I've been thinking about this for quite some time.  Two years ago my brother bought a Fit Sport Automatic (with flappy paddle shifters as well as the usual slush-box console selector) after I recommended it to him over a Prius, and he sported around the great petrochemical state of New Jersey in that sucker for a year or so before moving overseas and leaving me with the Fit (which he nicknamed 'Florence') to sell for him.  I liked the car almost immediately and I blame that experience for planting the seed to replace the Rover.

Now you may ask yourself, "why didn't you just buy Florence?  Why wait until a year later to make the decision when you could have saved a few grand just by taking over the Fit from your brother?"  First, that whole automatic thing.  I've owned 2 small Honda's in the past, a 1989 Civic DX hatch (that I also got from the big brother, irony of irony) a 1998 Civic CX hatch, and I've also had in my possession for one reason or another, my brother's 1995 Civic EX Coupe, and my mother's 1999 Integra GS hatch.  ALL 4 of those cars were manual transmissions, and I have to say, small cheap manual transmission Honda's are about as close as you can get to discount sports cars, this side of a vintage GTI.  There's a reason why the ricers hop these things up.  They are a hoot.

I even used to Autocross the 89 Civic, (when my mother wasn't looking.)  Ran some pretty good times even bone stock.

So the Fit needed to be a manual.  It needed to be a Sport model, and it needed to not be Blue, Green or Red, and should be preferably white or silver.

So when it came right down to it, I got a purple one.

Meet "The Grape."

It is fast, quiet and comfy.  I can fit the family and soft bags in it with room to spare and a Yakima rack sits on the roof with a comfortable cross bar spread to allow me to carry almost anything.  Best part, my insurance goes down, the Fit takes regular gas instead of the premium required by the Rover, and other than condensation from the AC, it doesn't dump planet killing fluids all over my driveway. In the spirit of Florence, there also will be no payments, which makes the savings in operational costs immediate. Plus I got to push off the 3 grand in due scheduled maintenance  needed by the Rover to the next owner of that beast.

The Grape  has a little computer gauge set inside the speedo that not only registers trip odometer and odometer figures, but also tells me how my mileage is working out per tank real time. I think I'm in love with that little gauge...

It speaks to me.

Monday, October 1, 2012

66 Split

Ever want to drive a 46 year old VW Split from Gainesville Florida to the West Coast?

Well, wonder no more!

Two gents, both by the name of Mark, (no word on the Funky Bunch), are on their way from Fla to Cal in a 66 VW Deluxe.  This is a bold move and surely promises to be an adventure. Heck, I break out in a cold sweat when I get more than 25 miles from my house in my Split!!

The subject 66 is similar in trim to my  bus, but obviously has a few more windows.  Many, many more windows, being the more expensive 21 window Deluxe as opposed to my 13.  Follow the tale by clicking the linky above or the blog listing over there to the right...

In related news, my bus's Pierburg fuel pump decided to slowly dribble and trickle a steady flow of raw gas from the 6 screws that hold the two main halves of the pump together at the diaphragm.  Some quick screwdriver action and the leak is solved.  I rebuilt that pump so I'm surprised it leaked so soon.  One more thing to keep an eye on...

At least I'm not thousands of miles from home, like the Funky Bunch.