I woke up around 06:00 and had the place to myself to shower and get ready for the day. We had a lot planned so it was nice to take my time swapping clothing and equipment out of my truck and into my bags.
At around 08:30 Alan popped over to his place to do the same and we ate some instant oatmeal before heading to The Hub in Brevard. The Hub is an incredible bike shop and reminded me a lot of Mello. Alan had rented me a mountain bike from there and we picked it up before heading to Ridgeline. Mountain biking is not my thing, and I am pretty terrified of it. But Alan really wanted to share this experience with me as it has effected his life in so many ways.. not to mention I have been interested in exploring it for a while. I am super grateful that Alan wanted to share it with me and rented a bike for me to do so.
Ridgeline is a fairly easy trail so it seemed like a good place to start. It started off as an easy fire road which was good for me to test out the shifting and such. It quickly turned to single track but still wasn’t too technical. My only there experience mountain biking was at the quarry in Syracuse which had much tighter single track so this was a pleasant surprise. While I kept a slow pace I was able to stay on the bike and maintain a consistent effort. After only a few minutes my legs were really feeling it and my heart was pounding. It was a lot tougher than I expected which made me see the potential for an investment in the sport even more.
We rode with this other gentleman for a minute as the trail widened to a fire road again and got ready for a steep but pretty smooth drop. We let him go as I wasn’t sure how quickly I would feel comfortable going but I was able to maintain on him the entire way which made me feel a little less self conscious. The entire ride was about 5 or so miles which in mountain bike standards felt like 20 miles on the roads. This shit is tough! And terrifying!!
Once we finished that loop, Alan really wanted to take me to another trailhead which was a bit more technical but had some really impressive views. I was having a good time despite my hands hurting from squeezing the bars so tight so I was totally game. The increased technicality was a bit concerning considering how hard I felt the easy loop was, but I am down to try anything.
We went to and rode the Big Rock loop which was another 5 or so miles but this time a bit steeper with some super slow slick rock as the main terrain with some technical roots and big ledges to pop the bike onto scattered through out. This did not bode well for me as I just couldn't maintain the speed to push through those tiny technical bits and I found myself bailing on the bike a handful of times. Once we finished that climb the views were really nice and definitely worth it. The descent was as fast as the climb was slow but for some reason I felt a little more comfortable. It wasn't as sketchy as I had anticipated and we sessioned a bit of a rock garden a couple of times which felt cool and like I was learning.
Overall I am super glad that Alan facilitated this and feel really lucky to see the trails that he sees on a daily basis. While money doesn't quite allow it currently, I could definitely see myself mountain biking somewhat regularly, and am pretty proud of myself for trying it despite being so scared of it.
After the two rides we were pretty beat. We stopped at a gas station to get some cold drinks and a couple snacks and then decided to head back to his place to pick up bouldering gear and head out for a little while. Alan is just getting into bouldering and my mountain biking is his climbing. I was excited to swap the roles for a little while. He took us to this spot just a ten minute drive from his place and the rock looked really beautiful. Unfortunately, it all was a bit too challenging for either of us, but it was fun to get the crash pad dirty again and to tear open my fingers for the first time this summer. I was psyched for Alan to be pushing himself and he did really well.
Once we both felt pretty pumped we hiked back to the car and went back to his place. We reset a bit, and then headed into town to meet Linnea and grab dinner at Polancos. The food was incredible which is good considering their wedding reception will be there in June.
Once we finished dinner we headed back to his place and sat at the river by his trailer for a minute after splitting ways for me to shower and sleep the long day of adventures off. I wound up going to sleep around 22:30. I am so happy that Alan has created such a rad little life here in Asheville but holy moly I don't know how I could handle this much fun every day, its exhausting!