2Flat is very proud to post the first entry from Quinn Lanzon. He usually blogs under the banner of Quinzon but I believe we might be seeing more from him in the future, beyond this website too. Recently, during college reading week, he trekked down to Brevard, North Carolina to sample the riding delights and came back with this little overview of the fantastic community and trails there.
After a fifteen-hour drive along a foreign highway, through the night and a seemingly never-ending snowstorm, the sight of a beautifully decaled Dodge Sprinter, adorned with myriad bike racks and emblazoned with the words ‘Ride Bikes. Drink Beer.’ we instantly knew the drive was well worth it. We were in Brevard, North Carolina, gateway to Pisgah National Forest and some of the most incredible mountain bike trails I’ve yet to set rubber to. The Sprinter was parked outside one of two bike shops located at the mouth of Pisgah, The Hub Bike Shop and Tavern; yes, heaven on earth. Virgins to the exploratory nature of all-mountain riding trips, my compatriot and I stumbled dead-legged through the door in search of all important local knowledge and a set of maps highly recommended by the forums of internet.
It doesn’t take long to realize you are conversing with a true mountain biker, and most of the people we met on this trip were the real deal. At the Hub, our impressively coiffed host, double-timing as bartender and shop tech, quickly caught onto what type of riders we were and promptly highlighted some loops that would be right up our alley on the rider-made, waterproof map we had yet to purchase. Both shops in town offer these maps, and both employ knowledgeable riders who are eager to get others stoked on their local scene. Map in hand, beer in gut, we headed towards the campsite that would be our home for the week.
With only a couple hours of daylight left before afternoon turned to evening, we desperately wanted to go for a rip before tearing into a case of suds. The North Slope Loop, as we were told, proved to be a brief introduction and fine sampling of the type of riding Pisgah has to offer. RAD! Hadn’t been on a bicycle outdoors in months and my Norco Range felt gigantic compared to the bmx that had been keeping me rolling through the winter. But holy cigarettes did she ever get used to the Pisgah terrain in a hurry! Much like earning your turns in skiing, all-mountain riding is a way to earn your descents through the brute force and ignorance of pedaling uphill. In Pisgah, once the trail has turned gravity in your favour, it is game on until you reach the bottom, there may be a couple of pre-mature seat drops at first, but once you get a feel for the place sweet gravity fueled magic ensues and has you spinning back up the access road for another go.
The trails at Pisgah are multi-sport trails; built and maintained primarily by hikers and “one of the oldest old boys networks in the country”, they are open year round. These are certainly not your typical ‘bike park’ trails. There are no manmade stunts, and any banked turn was made by the carve of a tire, not the blade of a shovel. There are roots, lots and lots of roots. The trails are essentially a series of roots cutting across the trail, retaining dirt and making a never ending rhythm of things to pop off of an gap into; the highside of the trail is usually a more exposed series of undulating roots to hop onto, off of, over, whatever you want! Most trails in Pisgah follow the contour of the hill along bench-cut sections varying in width from two to ten feet, but there are also many ridgeline sections higher up that feed into the gradual descents mentioned above. Some trails, such as Daniel or Bennett Gap offer some pretty awesome rocky sections. Black Mountain was our favourite, as it offered a mix of singletrack turns, some real rough stuff and had an I-can’t-believe-I-am-riding-my-trailbike-this-fast pace to it. In fact, all of the trails we rode at Pisgah had a confidence inspiring feel to them that made riding pinned seem totally natural.
The Pisgah trail network, as far as six days of riding can tell, is paradise for a downhiller. I have never experienced the kind of full blast, bottoming-the-shit-out-of-my-bike-because-I’m-riding-absolutely-wide-open type riding as consistently as I did there. Very different from the stuff up here on the shield that generally consists of a series of sphincter clenching descents linked up with unnecessarily steep climbs, or great trails that leave something to be desired in the distance department. Most of the rides we did in Pisgah took over three hours and involved a very serious amount of fire road climbing, but every last spin of the cranks uphill was well worth it, as we were rewarded with up to half an hour of non stop downhill blasting. And when I say blasting, I mean blasting off from one side of the trail and landing in a perfectly natural transition that lines you up for lift off immediately. Riding there makes your bike feel like being a pebble skipped across water, except faster, more fun, and, last I checked, no one had a beer after skipping stones.
Reading week? I read trail scripture in Pisgah National Forest, you should too.