Part 9, getting smoky in Asheville

I can't believe it's already been 4 weeks. There have certainly been days that felt like they took forever, and moments when it seemed like I might have bitten off more than I can chew with this whole thing. But sitting here in Richmond, VA, with only a couple stops remaining on the east coast before I head homeward, that sense of time has turned around on itself and I feel like I've only just gotten started.

My last stop was in Asheville, NC, which I had been looking forward to. Pisgah & the Smoky Mountains have a really good reputation for MTB trails, and the city of Asheville had a lot to offer in terms of post-ride food/drink as well.

Proof of good times

Proof of good times

This turned out to be another camp + bike situation, which meant things were already off to a great start. I did get a little nervous, though, when it started to rain as I headed out from the campsite toward the trails. Having already spoken to some bike shop folks, I knew I didn't have to turn around - the trails wouldn't be harmed by wet-weather riding.

Despite raining fairly heavily, the dense tree canopy kept most of it off the trail and myself. The temperature and humidity, though, meant that I ended up just as drenched at the end of the ride. The loop consisted of a bit of flat riding, a decently challenging climb, and an exhilarating, nonstop downhill to the bottom. While I found myself decently muddy at the bottom, the dirt was never dangerously slick. All in all, it made for a fantastic 3-hour ride, and I enjoyed it so much I decided to do the same thing the following day.

This time around, the weather played ball. It was still warm and humid, but dirt conditions were top notch.

This particular set of trails had a mix of loamy dirt and red clay. I'm sure a geologist could tell you more about why. I just thought it was neat.

The whole trail system is covered by a canopy like this. It's vibrant, gorgeous, and feels really good when you brush an arm against a wet plant and get a refreshing splash of water.

Almost ran over this guy, but luckily spotted him before it was too late. Took a second to take a few photos, then moved him a few feet off-trail.

Everybody's happy to pitch in on trail maintenance

Everybody's happy to pitch in on trail maintenance

Another great ride, no crashes, legs totally spent - what more could one want?

Pretty darn nice

Pretty darn nice

How about capping off the day at the Sierra Nevada brewery? Sure, twist my arm.