Annual MTB Trip #2: The crew grows. Discovering Pisgah and Dupont State Forest in N.C

The time had come for our annual adventure trip post. This time I had been riding and training a lot with Carlos Rodriguez, Enric Gautier and Luis Aristigueta in Miami, FL… Alex (my friend from the Oregon blog piece) had to be included in this adventure as well to continue with the once a year adventure MTB trip tradition.

So while brainstorming for a place to go and ride, Enric said he had been to Pisgah (what is consider to be the Meca of MTB in the east coast) a couple times and had a blast while riding N.C trails. So now that we had a member of the crew who kind of knew the area we just set a date, book a campsite and rented a Van…. now, let the adventures begin!!

Van + Bikes
Meet our van “Emily”

Day #1: Drove for 12 straight hours, taking turns of 2.5 hours of driving per team member and the road trip went by so fast and smooth that when we arrived on Thursday, it was a lot earlier than what we had expected. Thats why we decided to go take advantage of time, set up camp as fast as we could and left the campsite to hit some trails. Before being ready for start pedaling we had to pick up Alex’s bicycle at “The Hub” (must stop and visit regularly if you are ever in the area). He rented a Santa Cruz Carbon Fiber Bronson = BEAST which served him perfectly for N.C trails. Let me point out that in our camp “The Bike Farm” there is also possibility to rent state of art bicycles, but since there wasn’t any inventory of what bicycles they had at the time, Alex decided to play it safe and pre-book it at The Hub in advance, but let me tell you that at the bike farm for convenience you can choose from an entire fleet of Santa Cruz and Juliana bikes.

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The Hub – “Bicycles, Outdoors and Beers”

Trails we rode during our trip:

Dupont State Forest:
– Ridgeline
– Hooker Creek
– Turkey Knob
Pisgah State Forest:
– Cove Creek
– Daniel’s Ridge
– Top of Black Mountain
The Bike Farm:
– Long Loop

After picking up Alex’s bike we decided to ride some short loops at the Dupont State Forest trails. Keep in mind that we were exhausted from the 12 hour road trip, we ended up riding around 20kms in 2 hours (which was a pretty descent knowing that we come from Miami, Florida where the biggest ascend we have might be a 10 mts tall with a 5% incline…. ). First loop was about 9 kms and the crew was exhausted and wanted to call it a day, but I insisted to ride another trail to add more kms for the “Stravalife” and persuade them by highlighting how lame florida trails where. They bought my speech and decided to try a second loop, where we rode “Ridgeline” one of the trails with most flow I’ve ever ridden,  we even manage to hit the 45.4km/h speed which was insane. Day #1 Strava

When done riding, instead of cooking in the campsite, we decided to have dinner out because we were way to tired from the road trip and riding to cook ourself…. we found a place called “Mayberry’s Soups & Sandwiches” where we I had a short rib grilled cheese which was delicious accompanied with a cold pilsner. We all enjoyed our dinner with beers and called it a day.

Day #2: Day two was supposed to be the beast day! We intended to ride all day long… mistakenly we ended up riding all day and part of the night…. so here’s how it went down. We woke up at around 8am and caco made “perico” for breakfast (onions, tomatoes, eggs and toast). By 10am we were almost packed and ready to hit the trails, but the seat dropper I had bought did not work in my bicycle, so we had to make a pit stop at “The Hub” to see what were we doing wrong… Fortunately (because there was no way on this earth I could’ve ridden black mountain down in my XC bike) the dropper I had bought did not work on my bicycle because the Trek Superbly 9.8 has no inside cable guides. I ended up renting the bike of my dreams (Santa Cruz, Nomad) and Caco also ended up leaving his bicycle in for maintenance and renting a Santa Cruz, Hightower.

Getting ready

We left The Hub at around 10:45 and went directly to ride Cove Creek and Daniels Ridge trails. First, Cove creek was a warm up ride to get to know how Pisgah riding really was. A little technical but nothing out of this world. Enric, who had already been there several times warned us that this was just a mouth opener in comparison to what Black Mountain really was. It took us around 1:15 to ride cove creek and then started right away Daniel’s Ridge loop. It was a little bit more demanding in terms of of climbing, being most of it a demanding and technical way up, while the way down had a lots of roots and rocks, but still really fast and fun. At around 2:45 we were starving… on our way back to the “Virginia-The Van” we stopped at a river to recharge batteries in the freezing water and head to pizza hut to refuel.

river.jpg
Pisgah National Park (East Coast Meca for MTB)

We had to return our rentals the latest at 7:00pm… So we were deciding if we were going to have enough time to climb up and be back down from Black Mountain in just one hour and a half… Enric, being the only one who knew the way said we had more than enough time since that we were only going to go up to Black Mountain Middle, since that it wasn’t worth it to climb all the way up because the descent wasn’t out of this world. We started climbing and it took us around 45 mins just to get to what Enric thought it was the Hike a Bike part of Middle Black Mountain…. he said he remembered to be not more than a 50 mts (the name or our strava ride) hike a bike trail and then it was just downhill from there. It ended up being around 1 hour of hike a bike trail before starting our descend. It turns out that we missed the turn to descend from Middle Black Mountain and ended up climbing all the way up to Top Black Mountain. By the time we had arrived to the top it was already 6:30pm… we did the math and if we split in two groups (fast descending riders and not so fast riders) we might make it on time to return our bikes. We started a short descend until we faced a new and tougher hike a bike… ride away we realized we weren’t gonna make it on time to return our bikes and decided to wait for the others to descend together.. took some selfies, and realize it was getting dark and that we only had one hour left of daylight to make the descent…. By this time I was kind of freaking out, since that Luis had no glasses on and he was having problems with the visibility on the trails. (Keep in mind that this was the most technical decent I’ve done in my entire life). We got to point where we could descend taking a gravel road, which basically meant a safe road vs taking the sweetest flow trail I’ve ever taken in my life!!! The entire crew voted for taking the flow trail and we carved those turns in a such an insane way! We manage to hit 38 km/hr on our descend at this time (according to enric’s starve 42 km/hr). Check out our strava ride at Day #2 Strava. Since the return hour had already past like by 2 hours we went directly to have some burgers and beers at “Jordan’s Street Cafe” which were amazing!

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Top of Black Mountain – The 50mts hike a bike Enric told us turned out to be 1km of hike a bike. Don’t know how we managed to smile for that picture…

 

Day #3: We woke up destroyed…. each and every single one of us was feeling horrible due to the extra “50 mts” enric made us hike a bike. Decided to have breakfast outside and hit the trails immediately, since we wanted to go to Courthouse Falls later that afternoon. Tried first going to Sunrise cafe (which looked delicious), but it was way to crowded so went to Creek Side Subs which was too crowded as well and ended up having drugs for breakfast = McDonalds.

Got to the parking lot at the Dupont State Forest at around noon and intended to do the Best 18 Miles of Dupont that day. We took it kind of easy this day, stoping every now and then to take pictures, refuel and talk how well we were riding those trails. Dupont trials reminded me of trails in Duluth, MN, although in Duluth the hills weren’t as long as here in Dupont, but they are kind of “flow trails” and the trees or forest does look alike. We stopped to take pictures and fix something with Enric’s bike at one point in the ride and Luis left his iPhone in the middle of a bridge, to realize it when we were about 15 minutes away from there (uphill 15 mins).

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Enric not posing…

Good thing is that Luis is one of the best climbers of the group so while we laid in the grass on the top of the hill in what it seemed like an airport, Luis a.k.a “Forever Young” (he is 42, has a beautiful family but he still trains for triathlons with us, rides mtb and kite surfs constantly, that’s why we call him forever young) flew down the hill to pick up his phone and came back pretty quick. We were in the middle of the ride at this point, and headed back again into some single track action.. we passed by a couple other “Forever Young riders”.. one with his kid on a trailer attached to his bike and the other one having his trail dog (it looked like a beagle to me.. don’t really know if they are supposed to be trail dogs, but didn’t look like it though) followed him which was really cool. In the middle of this single track action we also had to carry out bike (for the second time in the trip) on our shoulders to pass over some creeks or rivers. At the end of our ride, we were missing about 2 miles to finish the best of Dupont loop, but decided to hit the “Ridgeline flow trail” instead for a second time and leave to the falls since we were already tired.

We checked for Courthouse falls on our GPS but realized it was an hour away drive from where we were… since it was almost four, we decided to go to the natural waterslide which was pretty close to downtown instead and had a blast. The waster is freezing cold, and although it looked kind of lame from distance, we ended up jumping on the rocks 3 times and wanted to go on a fourth one but Forever Young tore his chaminoix in the middle of his butt.. so decided to call it a day, since there were children around us and we did not wanted Luis having a child molestor file in his file for public exposure or something like that.

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Sliding Rock, Pisgah National Forest. NC

Since we finished our day at a reasonable hour (around 7) and sun light disappeared at around 8:30 we decided to have some burgers and beers at our campsite and just relax for the first time since we got there. Eventually ended up talking about deep topics, such as how important parents are in a children’s growing stages, what a great company animals (dogs) are and even ended up discussing (enric and myself) about who could win in a endurance race between a horse and a human being??? (Enric defending the humans point of view having the argument of some netflix movie and some random race he found on wikipedia which states that there exists a race in between humans and horses where humans win. My argument was just because during my childhood I use to own a horse at my fathers ranch, and it was/is incredible how strong and loyal those animals are… having said this, I told enric that I believe it is only because of human being smarter than humans that we can beat them in a race, it is the fact that we know for how many miles we will be running and can administrate ourself wiser than other animals…) The discussion got heated up and we switched the subject to something else, and eventually everybody decided to head to our tents and rest for the next day for our trip back home.

 

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BikeFarm at night.

Day #4: Enric and I decided to go on a AM Run on our last day… he woke up at around 7am and I just kept hitting the snooze bottom until I heard him walking around our tent.. round and round, like 5 times trying to make noises so that i would wake up, until I saw him kind of sneaking inside our tent to see if anyone was awake and I decided to wake up then. Headed into a trail inside of “The Bike Farm” which all of us honestly thought it might be kind of short and not difficult, but to our surprise and luckily for us running, the trail ended up being REALLY steep and technical.. (theres a short and long loop.. the short loop is only about 3 miles long the most, but the long one you can make it as long as you want to since it connects with Pisgah National Forest. We went for the long loop and eventually missed the turn for the return and ended up getting lost or overrunning around 3 miles. Reminded me of running in the mountains back home in Venezuela… we had a blast and really ended up exhausted from the trail run. (heres the strava link for the run Strava Run

Once back in camp, we packed all of our tents, bikes and bags, loaded the van and headed for breakfast at sunrise cafe (but this time it was closed) and then finally had luck at Creek Side subs where we had a magnificent all american breakfast. Must go for breakfast if you are in Brevard visiting.

Decided not to ride this day and headed up to Courthouse Falls. In fact, it was around an hour drive from brevard… Its off highway 215, you have to take a gravel road for around 10 mins until you make it to the entrance of the trailhead where you park you car. From this point on is only a 10 minute hike through the trail, which from the begging you walk by the river which ends up being Courthouse falls. One we got to the bottom of it, we jumped (water was FREEZING again). I had seen in somebody’s account in instagram people jumping of a cliff at the waterfall. At first we didn’t know how to get to the top of it, but someone told us that you had to go back up again and walk down river. Effectively thats what Enric and I ended up doing and jumped of the water fall.

Let me tell you one thing though… the scary part was to walk up to the point where you where supposed to jump from, not the actual jump. It was slippery and there was a rope attached to a tree branch which was so sketchy it was definelty there for mental support, not real support. At first, caco and luis weren’t going to do it.. but eventually they both ended up going up there and only caco jumped. All of us except for forever young jumped… probably because he thought in Sascha (his daughter)… but honestly we all thought he was going to jump without a doubt.

photo-9-27-16-7-09-37-pm

After this we just called it a trip, and headed back to the van for an 12 road trip back to Miami to the real world…

Check out our video recap for the trip made by @alex_marquis18 on vimeo: N.C recap video

Let me know what you think of the trip, any recommendations we might have missed or any questions you have regarding our experience!!

 

 

 

 

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