Now about that biking... I rode here for three days, and barely scratched the surface of what area surrounding Asheville has to offer.
On day 1, I rode the Laurel Mountain loop in Pisgah National Forest. If your thing is epic rides, this is the place for you. Once you get on a trail, it's miles and miles and miles before you have to look at your map. You don't have to think about which turn to take (they are few and far between) only about climbing over the next rise, cleaning the stream crossing, walking up the crazy steep slope, hike-a-biking over the jagged rocks on the off-camber turn with serious exposure, spinning the pedals as you go up, up, up.... Do you see a theme here? I'll admit, I was not prepared for the relentless and seemingly endless uphill. I should've clued in when the guy at the bike shop started describing the route: "Well, you climb for six miles..." There's nothing to compare to this in New Jersey and I suffered appropriately. And the payoff? Going *down*. Bouncing over rocks, dropping off ledges, railing (or walking!) insanely tight switchbacks, and then rolling out to a sweet, flowing singletrack descent. Of course, the gorgeous vistas and the mystery of riding through tunnels of mountain laurel only add to the experience.
Day 2 was a vastly different ride. Needing an easy day I hit the much milder DuPont State Forest. I was frankly quite disappointed with these trails. With rolling hills and a mix of wide singletrack and fire roads, it seemed that this trail system is well-suited for someone looking to put in miles without the heart-attack-inducing steeps of the Pisgah National Forest. This day was redeemed by the wicked BMX track fun of the Ridgeline Trail, and by views of several waterfalls.
Day 3 in the Asheville environs was spent taking a bit longer at the waterfalls in DuPont State Park, this time with the actual intent of taking pictures. No mountain biking this day, but instead I focused on exploring the possibilities of multiple-exposure shots like panoramas and HDR. Looks like I have a lot to learn here...
|Triple Falls upper sections - panorama|
|Triple Falls middle section - HDR|
On Day 4 I finally got around to heading to Bent Creek, just 15 minutes from downtown Asheville. Man, to have a wicked trail system like this so close and readily available is awesome! Apparently all the locals think so too, since prior to riding here I was asked again and again if I'd been here yet. And, more to the point, it is obviously busy and well-used, and the parking lot at the trailhead was full of bike-rack-bearing vehicles shortly after noon on a Wednesday afternoon. Once I was out on the trails, I could see the reason for its popularity. Not technically challenging by any means, the trails are a cross-country rider's dream, all full of ups and downs and flow and general fun. Best of all, it featured a kick-ass, white-knuckle, whoopin' and hollerin', grin-inducing downhill, the likes of which I have not experienced since leaving BC. With jumps, bermed corners, and just enough obstacles to keep things interesting, I had a great old time going down this rollercoaster of a trail. (Note: I'd *love* to take a 1st person video coming down this thing. If someone wants to get me a GoPro Hero 3 or Contour 2+ or something along those lines for Christmas, I'd be a very happy camper!)
As I said earlier, I just barely scratched the surface of what Asheville has to offer. Will I be back? Oh yes!
|Bent Creek parking lot shortly after noon on a Wednesday in late November|