July Showers Bring…

So if you haven’t been around Asheville for the past three months, or if you have been around Asheville, but never go outside, you may not have noticed that it has rained just a little bit this summer. And by “a little bit”, I mean we’ve had a shit ton of rain.

Or is it a pant load? I can never keep that straight, how many pant loads in a shit ton?

The worst of it started with PMBAR and then 12 Hours of Tsali in early May, and it hasn’t stopped since then.

When I lived in Ohio I used to joke that “It never rains on me”. This blog is full of posts from years past where I’d come home from a ride having dodged the raindrops, day in and day out, despite the forecast. Well, living in the Western North Carolina mountains, in the middle of three national forests that are classified as temperate rainforest, the odds of never getting rained on go way down. And when you take a year like this one, in which we are shattering or will soon shatter nearly every monthly and annual rainfall record kept, on any given day getting a ride in without getting wet is pretty much impossible.

So instead of trying to avoid the rain altogether I’ve come up with a rating system to judge whether I have won or lost the battle with Mother Nature.

What I do is look at the percentage chance of rain for the time I plan to be out riding. If the total % of time I get wet during the ride is less than the % in the forecast, I win.

Based on that simple criteria, I’ve actually managed to win more days than not. Which is small consolation considering that whether I win or lose, I still come back soaking wet, with trashed bikes, trashed clothing and water squelching out of my shoes.

By now it has become pretty much part of the routine.

July Showers – Week 1

7/01 Monday: Bike Commute – An easy ride into downtown, with what appears on the GPS to be a preliminary stop at French Broad Brewing.

7/02 Tuesday: Rest Day

7/03 Wednesday: Bent Creek Gravel Ride

I believe it had rained about 36 hours straight with record totals. With all that rain, the trails were trashed and our regular Wednesday ride was cancelled. At about 9pm however, the rains finally took a pause, so I texted Tom and he met me at Bent Creek for a gravel loop ride. We did something a little bit different, started out on the pavement out of Bent Creek, and onto the Parkway via 191. We climbed up to Hard Times Rd. and then did a South Ridge/479 loop. Total was about 13 miles fairly easy effort. Mostly just to try and save our sanity.

(It didn’t work)

Side Note: this was the 4th anniversary of my arrival in North Carolina, so that partially the reason I was so hung up on getting out for a ride. The first thing I did when I got here with the moving truck was grab a bike and my friend Brian and ride from Whittier up to Waterrock Knob. It was good to celebrate the anniversary on a ride with a new friend, even if it was just for a few soggy miles.

7/04 Thursday: Independence Day Parkway Ride

The rains had subsided a little bit, so I chose the best break in the radar and headed on up to Craggy Dome. This was the third time in less than two weeks. There’s not much to note about this ride other than I got soaked to the bone and didn’t care one bit. I did manage to stop for a couple brief photos in one of the “drier” spots during the descent.

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7/05 Friday: Laurel River Trail – Failed Attempt #2

A while back Julienne and I headed over to Hot Springs and on the way, stopped for a ride of the Laurel River Trail. This is a very flat but also very rocky/bumpy 2.5 mile trail that runs directly along the Laurel River until it flows into the French Broad.

Or so we think.

On that first attempt, we discovered Julienne had a problem with her bike so we ended up hiking about a mile of the trail instead.

On the Friday after Independence Day we once again were on our way to Hot Springs and brought our bikes. This time, we actually got to ride, and got about twice as far, but still did not reach the end of the trail. We had to stop too many times to go around down trees and other debris, and the pace was far slower than we had anticipated since, despite the relatively flat grade, many segments of the trail are too rocky to ride by anyone but an expert (and stubborn) rider.

Someday we’ll have enough time to venture to the end of this silly little trail, but until then, here are some pics.

7/06 Saturday: Mt. Pisgah Ride

Did my first ride up to Mt. Pisgah from the new place. It used to be a 34 mile round trip so I would go past the Pisgah Inn and turn around at 276 for 40 miles. Now the ride to Pisgah Inn, or the general store rather, is 55 miles. That’s a pretty good distance so I didn’t feel much of a need to ride any further. The day was a mixed bag of clouds, sun and a bit of misty drizzle. Made for some interesting photos.


7/07 Sunday: DuPont Tour Guiding

A while back, some friends of mine launched a touring service called Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventures. They lead individuals and small groups on guided mountain bike tours in DuPont Recreational Forest and Pisgah National Forest. Occasionally when they get a booking that one of them can’t make, they solicit the help of a group of friends, myself included, to join as a secondary guide. This was my first time doing a trip, with Chris as the leader and three intermediate level guys. With all the rain DuPont was very wet and the trails were pretty muddy, but we did get in a 15 mile loop which included two new super fun trails that I had not been on yet. We also made stops at a couple of the smaller waterfalls in DuPont, which were flowing out of their banks due to the record rainfalls.