On the top step, I won my age group in the Southern Classic’s Race to the River in Columbia. I had a great start and everything was dialed in… just a good day. On a side note: Yesterday after I pre-rode the course, another racer parked next to me asked me “why do you race?” He was over 50 and doing his first race, his friends had talked him into it since these were his home trails… My answers: 1. I need the carrot and stick. I love riding my bike, but without racing, I don’t ride enough to really get into shape, or at least slow down the effects of my bad diet (love of food) 2. I like the travel, riding new places, seeing new things, an excuse to explore. 3. I really like the nervousness I feel on the start line, the “butterflies” waiting for the gun. I felt it in triathlon, every softball season in my first at bat and at every bike race. As we talked, about my answers, it came up he has motorcycles and I explained I have wanted a dual sport, I admire how motorcyclists still just go for a ride, they have no agenda, place to be, just drive small roads for the fun of it. I do this in my truck, but I would really enjoy 60 mpg over my 17mpg. The dual sport is needed so I can still explore dirt roads, etc… he said he has been wanting another bike but has a spreadsheet for his retirement (he is an engineer) and knows how much he can spend so his kids don’t inherit too much and how much to save so he doesn’t run out of money. All I could add was my feeling, “no one lies on their deathbed and says I wish I had saved more….” I don’t think I helped him.
Today was riding in Pisgah NF. I choose one the “classic loops” and headed up Clawhammer Road (closed, old logging road) and across Clawhammer Mountain and Black Mountain and down Black Mountain trail. I had forgotten I rode in the Wilson Creek area of Pisgah in the late 1990s and didn’t care for the trails, in fact, as I recalled, I gave up, looked at the topo map and bush whacked my way down the mountain to a paved road. Turns out I still don’t care to ride these trails…. this loop was recommended by the local bike shop and another group of riders. It is such a classic it is listed on the map I bought. The climb is a hour long up (which I enjoyed) but then you have to hike a bike to the summits of the two mountains, this overlook, between the summits was awesome and worth the trip, good thing since I am not going back. The loop’s big moment is the descent, but it was so rough, large drops and eroded, I could only ride half it, and that was with a lot of braking! After the ride I took a nap and realized I was really sore, I knew I could not ride again, the wind was too much for kayaking and the waterfalls are shorter hikes, so I want to save them for family outings, so I showered and headed for home.
The reason I choose these trails today was the Cedar Rock Trail (or slick rock of the east) The exposed granite is a lot of fun to ride! The airstrip trail starts across an old…. airstrip, it is cool to ride down hundreds of yards of mountain top before descending down the fast single track on this trail. The waterfall is Bridal Veil Falls, you may recognize it if you have seen “The Hunger Games” it was filmed here.
Today was riding in DuPont State Forest. This was a last minute add, I had planned to ride in Pisgah NF and Bent Creek trails, but at the last minute saw these trails. I really enjoyed myself here. A local warned me about this trail, the only way across is through the Little River. The advise is throw your shoes across and walk over the very slippery moss in your socks. I choose not to throw my shoes since I have learned, I can not replace my buckles… but man is it slick!
I am not the greatest landscape photographer, and these three picture show how much difference slight changes in position make. All three are of the Twin Falls. I almost skipped these falls because the DNR map showed a trail head with a fairly long hike, 5 miles or so round trip. But the ATVers said there was a shorter way in, I followed their directions which started with turn at the biker bar… I later found the directions they gave in the “Waterfalls of the South Carolina Upcountry” pamphlet.
A couple of stops today. The first two are the waterfalls at Longshoals Park, right off Hwy 11. This looks like a great swimming hole in the summer. The next is Laurel Fork Falls. I saw the name on the map while driving and couldn’t remember why I didn’t have info on the falls, once I hiked the 1/2 mile or so in, I remembered, no access to the bottom of the falls, only this overlook, although I did walk across the top looking for another trail down. The final picture is Virginia Hawkins Falls. This is a ~2.5 mile round trip hike, 1.2 downhill and 1.2 up. The sky clouded up and made for some pretty pictures.