Dupont State Forest
It was a
warm Friday morning and despite many people driving through the
night to get to NC you could see the anticipation on everyoneís
face. After the preliminary pleasantries, we were off to Dupont
State Forest (DSF) to ride some of the only granite slickrock in
the East, which just recently opened to the public. After the customary
group photo and synchronization of everyoneís watches to maintain
our precisely calculated schedule we were off to ride the Cedar
Rock trail (for future reference it is the third left not the second
At the beginning of the ride
there some valuable lessons learned about bike maintenance: 1)
DO NOT lube your chain with 90 wt. oil, besides the inadequate
the stuff is the worst smelling crap I have ever inhaled (and I
have ridden behind Recon on night rides, so I am familiar with
smells). Thanks Recon for the education. 2) There isnít a chain
made that Bogus canít break and 3) Do not loan your bike to Sweet
Lou. Eventually we all made it to the top of Cedar Rock (with the
exception of Recon and Kilowatt, who decided to follow Coondawg
and I thought dogs had a good sense of direction) and hooked up
with Al (mugg) and Rosita, as well as a friendly local, PisgahBoy.
With PisgahBoy now guiding us we rocketed down some blazing technical
trail on open granite.
After the downhill we went to
check out some really cool waterfalls (Bridal Veil falls) and then
on to the Burnt Mt. Trail. After the initial climb we reached the
top part of the Burnt Mt. Trail, PisgahBoy informed us some very
worthy jumps were headed our way. Dirt Devil (video master extraordinaire)
proceeded to bike down first to set up for the ballsy riders. Fausto
did not disappoint with his terrific crash right into Dirt Devil,
given Faustoís skill he was able to wreck within in the frame of
the video camera. Make sure that you bring that footage to the
Dirt Devil, so everyone can marvel. After the downhill we were off
to the parking lot then to Hog Wild for food and a siesta.
After the lunch
and a visit to a cool bike shop at the entrance to Pisgah National
Forest, we decided to try a brand new trail, Sycamore. PisgahBoy
us about a 1mile climb with over a 3-mile technical descent. Mary
(Kilowattís better half) and Debbie (Moabís friend for her very first
ride) joined us for the Sycamore Trail. We drove to the trailhead
and began our climb up the fireroad, which left many of us questioning
the sanity of biking so soon after our meal. As we got close to the
top of climb many riders were heard muttering "there better
be a good descent after this climb or someone will pay."
As we began the descent many of
us were reminded of Snowshoe and were excited about what was to come.
The rest of the descent was one of the best technical downhills that
I have ridden in a while. Evidently Coasterís bike got a little out
of hand and he had to show his bike who was in charge. After the stern
reprimand Coasterís bike received, it kept its place and carried him
down the trail. Kudos to Debbie who did well on her first ride on
a trail that wasnít really meant for beginners, she came out of the
woods with Moab and a big grin on her face (I am assuming the grin
was from the ride).
A short ride back to the trailhead
and we were headed for the icy waters of Sliding Rock. Sliding
Rock is Mother Natureís version of a water park; you basically slide
down a moss-covered rock into a pool of 45-degree water, which leaves
you feeling quite nipply. Since the spokejukies always want to
push the envelope, there was a train of 12 junkies formed to slide
the rock; the picture doesnít do it justice. After the group hit
the water there was an accusation of someone grabbing Bogusí package,
not to name anyone but I think the offender also spent some time
in the armed forces and has questionable lubrication practices.
It was then back to campground via the scenic route, which provided
many wonderful views of fog. Everyone began to dream about what
Tsali would hold for the next day...
Although Iím not aware of
an official head count at the Tsali trailhead, approximately twenty
riders showed to assault one of the best known trails in the East.
Foaming at the mouths, the Spokejunkies wouldnít wait long enough
to be counted and were rariní to go fight the crowds that were
evident in the parking lot and later on the trail. Iím not certain
where the name "Tsali" comes from, but itís probably
Native American for "fast even when muddy."
We started up the Thompson Loop
which is one of the two more technical* of Tsaliís four total
loops. Even though North Carolina had gotten a week of rain, the
trail was in great shape. After a relatively short climb, the
true beauty of Tsali became evident: miles of roller coaster fast
trail. The only thing to slow a person down at Tsali is a rider
coming the other way or a mud puddle in a turn. Mouse Loop is
similar to Thompson with the exception that it is a smidge more
technical*, making it the most challenging loop of the four. It
makes up for this by offering some excellent views of the lake.
Normally you donít see the lake because youíre going too fast
to look. If you do you might get a real close look at the water
when you drop off one of the sections of trail thatís only a few
feet wide. Some things of note about this ride: Debby, after putting
up with a definitely not-beginner trail (Sycamore,) conquered
yet another challenging (long) trail and certainly earned the
"Good Sport" award. Putting-up with Moab also helped
earn this award.
Tsali is a good place to get stung by a
belligerent bee or do a strip tease, or both. Just ask Bruiser.
Pigpen made it through another ride without breaking his bike.
It appears that his bad-bike-karma is now working on breaking
his body. Last thing to note about Tsali: try to ride it on
weekday. This trail suffers for its popularity. Too many riders
going all different ways makes things hairy at times. *Technical
is a relative term however. Nothing about these trails is overwhelmingly
difficult. What they lack in challenge, they make up for in
And you can make the trail tougher by going a little faster.