Weekend in WNC

The sun will start to set on the last day of my short vacation soon. I’m learning to not take vacation days for granted when working in the real world, and right now, my arms and legs feel a faint sense of exhaustion that tells me the time was well spent.

I headed up to the Hendersonville area Friday night, and spent the evening catching up on life with my dad and brother.

Saturday and Sunday morning, Travis had to be in Brevard for the first day of a lead climbing class he signed up for, so my dad and I decided that we would take the morning to go for a bike ride at Bent Creek in Asheville. I took the time Saturday morning to realign the front caliper on my Fargo, which had been given me problems with rubbing and pissing me off to no end. To this point I had actually started to contemplate selling it for what I paid and buying a new Ogre so that I could switch ti some simple rim brakes. After a little fiddling I was happy with the tightness of the brakes and got rid of the rubbing, but was still skeptical of the benefits of disc brakes, since I have only ever used rim, until I got to use them on the trail finally. I can now see the benefits of disc brakes and don’t think I will miss rim brakes too much.

Salsa Fargo ready to go for a bit of single track. The prototype feedbag can be seen on the left side of my handlebars. I put a few warps of tape on the top tube on day 2 because I found out on day 1 that when I fall, if the bars twist, they can rub on the tube and leave marks. A bit of tape solves that easily enough.

My dad described most of the riding he planned as dirt and gravel roads, but I was happy to find the there was plenty of single track there to test out both the BB5’s and the new feedbag I made for myself. I tossed a 1L platypus, a few small hex wrenches, and some electric tape into the feed bag and we went off. I’ve used bikes for the two years to commute to school and now work, but I have never been much of a mountain biker. I have always just been too much of a pansy for it, but I had a great time at Bent Creek and was happy to only bite it twice in two days of riding. The trails had a good mixture of technical and downhill sections with a few good jumps thrown in. I’m going to be sure to try to get some more single track in soon near Alpharetta so that I can get a bit better. I had a good enough time that I can’t get myself to stop reading reports from the TNGA and am thinking it may be a good way to end the summer of 2013 as more of an expedition and less of a race (if I can somehow get in good enough shape for even that). I am also happy to say that the feedbag was very stable though the whole ride, and I will be making a second and documenting the process for this blog. I love the easy access, simple open and closure, and I still had access to all of my hand positions on the woodchippers.

My second worry about the Fargo was the performance of the woodchippers on single track. However, I found that because the woodchippers widen at the end of the drops, I was able to hold there to shift easily and get good leverage on uphills. On downhills and most flats, I rode with my hands on top of the brakes. This worked well, but did lead to more hand fatigue than flat bars I think. So in all, I am happy with the performance of the Fargo and plan to keep it well into the future while I start my entrance into bikepacking.

Travis’ shiny new rope and sport climbing rack. We were excited to get the rope a bit dirty on Monday.

Monday Travis, dad and I headed out to Holloway Mountain, outside of Boone, for some top rope. None of us had been to this rock before, but Travis had been told it was a good one for just dropping ropes and so we gave it a try. We got on the road around 6:30 and made it to the parking spot by about 9:30 or so. We were happily surprised when we found that the ascent to the rock was only about a 15 minute walk. It wasn’t the tallest of slabs, but the routes ranged from 5.4 up to 5.12 across the rock. After setting an anchor Travis went about sending some problems with my dad and I struggling. After forcing Travis to sit in the harness for a long time on belay I did finally top the 5.9- and 5.9. I haven’t climbed in probably four months, and then I was only bouldering, so I was really pumped on the crimpy 5.9 for the last move. We got in about five or six different routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.10 over a few hours and all got to go home feeling pretty accomplished, but my dad did hurt his hip. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the charger for my camera battery, which was almost dead, so I only have a few pictures from climbing.

Travis posted up on belay.

This morning we decided that to help keep my drive home shorter and rest my dad’s hip some, we would take a nice slow morning and then head out to DuPont Sate Forest for some short hikes and swimming. We went down and parked at the High Falls parking area and took a stroll down to the base of High Falls. I haven’t been to High Falls since the last time I worked as a counselor at Camp Greenville, which was about four years ago now. The water this summer is raging down the falls. The current below was actually strong enough to carry a person away, but it still felt great on my slightly sore muscles. It made for a nice end the the weekend.

Te view from my dad’s from porch as some rain clouds start to move in. It was taken with my blackberry, so the quality isn’t terribly high.

I got to go on a few fun trips, hear some great stories from my brother’s summer working as a counselor, and have been given some new ideas of how to spend my time in Alpharetta, which should make for more posts in the future. All in all, I would say it was a great summer vacation. Most of my vacation time in the foreseeable future will be spent training my winter backpacking skills and getting into shape for some races I want to take part in next year, so it was nice to have a fairly relaxing time this weekend.

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