cycling essentials

I’m sure there has there been a list made of cycling essentials, but I figured I would go over some of the things that I have recently been putting together due to some of my recent 6-7 mt bike, hiking, exploring adventures.

This is a list that I think is more first-aid, emergency oriented rather than the usual ‘how to make a repair and get home’ list of repair items.

Some of these things I wouldn’t necessarily carry for a quick trip around the local trails where you may see 5-10 other riders. This is more of what I pack when I go on adventures looking for trails that most other cyclists do not know about.

On some of my rides I only see military Rangers in training. Most of the time I see no one else except for maybe a couple people near where I park. Usually I see more wild-life than anything else.

1. Water tablets/water filter – Hydration is 1 of the most important things.

currently water filters are about $70+ and weigh almost a pound. So, I am carrying some tablets instead. I have had to use them before.

2. Benedryl – For the 3rd time just this weekend I had to pull out some benedryl for someone who just got stung by a bee, on the lip. A sting from the neck up can be a serious problem for someone that has an allergic reaction. Being able to quickly take a benedryl can minimize the risk. Usually the second thing to happen is a restricted air passage. I would rather someone take 1 of my benedryl, then have something serious happen.

3. compression bandage – this is the stuff for a serious cut/gash. Many of us get scrapes and bruises, but this stuff is for a more serious cut that could occur after a fall. These are pretty easy to find at a pharmacy.

4. para-cord or similar string – I know that many people are wearing the para-chord bracelets, but if you are really in the outback wilderness, there can be many uses for such an item. Tying a splint to hold a broken bone in place or a twisted ankle, tie a sling in case someone breaks a collarbone, tie down broken shoe straps, tie down things onto your pack.

Originally designed for paratroopers, paracord is a kernmantle rope: a braided sheath over a bundle of seven inner cords. This mantle makes paracord very resistant to abrasion. 550 paracord is rated for 550 pounds: 300 pounds for the sheath and 35 pounds for each strand. The cords can be removed from the sheath and divided into two strands if finer string is needed.

Read more: Uses for 550 Paracord |

5. chem-light – this is something I watched the rangers use. They store for a long period, but you just pop the middle and they light up. This is a great tool if you get lost and people are attempting to find you. I wouldn’t say that it doubles as a flashlight by any means, although if tied to a walking stick (as I’ve seen the Rangers do) it may aid you if you are walking.

6. multi-tool – I know most Mt bikers carry a cyclist specific multi, but I also carry a regular leather-man multi-tool. They have pliers, knife, screw drivers, file, etc.

7. compass or compass app. Although I have a good sense of direction and figuring out which way I need to be going – I usually do so based on the sun positioning. I have a back-up plan though – a Free compass App on my phone.

8. Another ‘smart’ phone app is MyTracks When exploring I currently use MyTracks – and I try to remember to keep my phone is ‘airport’ mode to save battery.

Dumbing down trails

There has been an ongoing trend of dumbing down Mountain bike trails.
Some sections of trails need to be maintained in order to keep the water run-off going properly. Side-Note: I understand that this is the USFS main concern for National Forestry property.

Some trail systems seem to be going in the direction of a smooth roller-coaster ride. Yes, they do great and Fun re-working of trails, but they make most trail systems (that I have ridden around Atlanta) so basic that anyone on most any bike shop bike could ride all of it.

Where is the challenge in that? Where is are the latest trails to challenge your skills? Don’t tell, because seemingly they are coming for those trails also – and they are bringing a big Zamboni to plow through any technical sections that maybe left.

Recently on trails that have been previously re-worked I have noticed that work-groups have gone so far as take out parts of a trail that have been a small obstacle for years. This is what we call ‘dumbing down’ trails so that anyone can ride everything. This happens when people take out parts of a trail because it is too challenging. Never-mind that there is no real danger in these obstacles – or that you could make an ‘easy path’ around an obstacle – they just take it out. Flatten and smooth out the trail so that a good Mountain biker could easily tow a child in a trailer through.

At what point are Mountain bikers going to notice how far they have gotten away from their roots.

Is it a goal to stop Bicycling magazine’s articles about how to bunny-hop, do a wheelie & how to do a track stand – due to the fact that no Mountain biker on an SORBA trail will ever need to know this information?

I have found myself going far away from some of these trails, in fact I would often literally pass 1 trail system to go ride trails that haven’t been bulldozed.

While on a camping trip over the 4th of July, I was shocked to hear that a trail system we were riding has had a sectioned that had been re-worked with a motorized shovel.
It suddenly hit me that the places that we are driving hours to get too are slowly being over-taken by the giant well oiled machinery of SORBA.

Most of the trail work they do is Great! But it seems that they are like a dictator who is getting drunk with power, and now wants to take on other countries – snapping roots, popping rocks, and leaving a dirt mound strategically placed in it’s wake.

I’m hoping that in the near future IMBA/SORBA will realize that in order to grow the likes of Pro Mountain Bikers, they will have to leave some technical sections on the trail.

Please focus more efforts on keeping trails open, and maybe opening more trails. But for the sake of the true Mountain bike passion, stop the insane pursuit of “sterilizing all trail systems”.

US Forestry Chainsaw Certification

This past weekend I attended the US Forestry Service (USFS) chainsaw certification class/workshop in Blairsville, GA. This class was recommended to me by David so that we would have more trail volunteers capable (certified) to do more maintenance. This class was Free from the USFS and a volunteer, FOR volunteers.

In attendance was 1 new USFS employee, 6 Appalachian Trail volunteers, and 9 local Mt bike volunteers – in attendance was Mike Palmeri, Joe Palmeri, Todd Lyons, Seth Owens, Jason Brousche, Tony Stevens, Gary Monk, Jim Townsend and myself.

Forestry Morning Meeting

On the Forestry side, it became obvious that (as you can expect) these guys are overwhelmed with the amount of land that they have to maintain, manage. They are thankful for the volunteers. The USFS in their efforts to gain assistance, while volunteering, a certified sawyer is considered an employee of the USFS and falls under their insurance. They said to date, that no one has needed to take them up on the offer of the insurance, and hope no one would need too.
Oak slice

Side Note: For those of you that don’t know, each Spring/Summer I cut & Split 3-4 cords of firewood for my Mom to heat her house all Winter. So, going into this class I felt quite confident, but was also hoping to fill in some areas of my knowledge. Well, it was pretty shocking that having someone that is basically grading you and hanging over your shoulder as you work made me more nervous than I would have expected. Suddenly, I’m not out there doing things my way & just my dog watching. But still I was able to attain ‘B’ cert. or the 2nd level of certification.

Getting Instructions

One of the greatest things that I learned from the class was Safety! Of course, working with chainsaws is Dangerous – period! The moment you relax and/or get ahead of yourself is when you will get hurt.

They are insistent that you use the brake on the chainsaw. This was something I wasn’t used to – heck, only 1 of my 3 chainsaws even has a brake on it.

Speaking of Safety, 1 of the things they were insistent on was a pair of chaps – and this is why:

Since most of what trail volunteers deal with is blow-downs (trees that the wind knocked over) they showed us how to best cut that tree with out getting your saw stuck, which is very easy to do & also dangerous.

How to properly cut a tree to better control which way the log goes once it has been cut.

How to maintain more control over a tree that has been blown down on the trail.

Dawg demonstrating a leaner cut

Another great technique was how to deal with Spring trees – these are trees that the tops got pulled over by another tree and the trunk is still rooted, but the top of the tree is pulled over & down. They are a dangerous situation, because the force of the tree wants to ‘spring’ it back up.

How you approach a situation where multiple trees are down and you need to clear the trail. Access the situation from all angles – and do some limbing if you need to get a better understanding of where to start.

How to determine the amount of lean a standing Tree has. This will determine which direction a tree naturally wants to fall, and what it would take to make it drop in a different direction if needed.

Since I do cut firewood & have to cut down dead trees I learned a ‘felling’ technique that I am anxious to try out.

Here is an example of a compound tree that I cut up for firewood. Notice it has a ‘Spring tree’ on the right, and that it is a compound situation where the downed tree is interlocked with the standing tree. It was a tricky situation to say the least.
Compound Fell Tree

Again, remember taking your time for safety and accessing the situation are the 2 greatest points – we are volunteers out there and in some situations even the Pro’s have to walk away.

Also, if you ride Mt bike trails – you should volunteer, if you are good with chainsaws, this class was Free from the USFS and volunteers, FOR volunteers.

2011 Christmas eve ride

This year was a bitter sweet Christmas eve ride as we enjoyed our time together on the trails.
We got the dogs out for a short ride before most folks showed up, then headed out for the group ride around 11am. There was a bunch of climbing, and we ended up exploring an unknown trail which ended up looping us back around to mid-climb, then we got to bomb back down the trail again – good times!

We had a water crossing that had no bridge – w/ a smart phone in my pocket, I figured it was safer to walk than take a $200+ dunk/phone renewal.

Post ride we hung out with our friends and the dogs, and remembered our friend Jeff.

Good times with Great friends!

Hope you have very Happy Holidays and enjoy time spent with friends and family!!

Mountain biking Tsali

This past weekend I loaded up the Jamis Exile Single Speed and made the drive North to Almond, NC to one of my favorite Mt biking locations in the South east – Tsali. Tsali is a magical trail system located on one of the most amazing backdrop of The Great Smokey Mountains.

I got there late Friday afternoon, just in time to set up camp before dark. And that’s when the fun started. Hanging out by the campfire catching with friends that I haven’t seen for most of the Hot, Muggy summer we have had in the southeast.

Campfire and Niner single speed at Tsali.

One of the great things about Tsali is the ability to ride straight out of camp and onto the trails!! It is awesome to come back from a ride with perma-grin and pop open an adult beverage, heat up some food, and just hangout and chat about the ride. And fortunately it is cool enough to need a campfire in the evenings. And oddly enough, I just happened to see this picture opportunity pop-up one evening of Tad’s Niner hanging on a hook behind the campfire. We took several photos of this with various amounts of lighting on the bike.

Mouse loop overlook

The next morning we get up, eat, and get prepped to ride Mouse, followed by Thompson.
I honestly can’t remember much about riding mouse – but for some reason I seem to remember everything about riding Thompson, especially the finishing stretch down to the camping area. This is a longer downhill section with just enough twists, berms and turns to keep you on your toes.

Of course, since I brought a good friend who had never been here, I made sure that we got to each overlook. And Lady Luck was on our side as it was a peak leaf viewing weekend at altitudes above 4,000 feet.

The next day we headed out to ride Left loop. This such a great section of easy paced trail that followed along the edge of Fontana Lake. It gets challenging in a couple sections due to the narrow trail along the slate rock.

Lake Fontana, Left loop at Tsali.

From the overlook on the left loop, we headed over to the Right loop. This Right loop takes you from the overlook level back down to the lake level & then back to the Tsali parking lot.

All the trails are quite groomed at Tsali, but what makes them so much fun is the speed and maintaining your momentum on the berms in the corners. Running the Jamis Single Speed at Tsali was Great! I ran a 32×20 gear, and although it seemed a bit on the easy side a couple of places, for several of the climbs I was glad I wasn’t running a smaller cog. Any place that was flat or downhill & straight enough that I wanted more gearing didn’t last long enough to really warrant a bigger gear. And I was surprised to find on the couple of climbs that I had to get off the bike (don’t say walk) was where a rider in front of me caused me to loose momentum or the rear wheel spun out on me.

This wasn’t my first weekend at Tsali, but I think I got much better pictures this time!

Jamis Exile 29 single speed review

I got a Jamis Exile29 Single Speed for review earlier this year. The Jamis Exile is a steel (Reynolds 631) hard-tail frame. Although ‘Steel is real’ I think we can add heavy to the end of that saying. However, with that added weight comes a great ride and feel of the bike.
Carbon bars
For this test, the bike has a Rock Shox, Reba fork up front. The reba is coupled with an aerus 110mm stem, and aerus carbon riser handle-bars. I like a wider handlbar on a single-speed bike. I have found that on a single-speed you end up pushing and pulling much more than on a geared bike, and the Aerus hasn’t let me down.

The front tire is a Kenda Nevegal 2.2.
The rear tire is the Specialized Fast Track – 2.0.
Truvative bottom bracket and cranks, with a 32 front chain ring & a 20 tooth rear cog.

adjustable position, 20t gear

Jamis set-up their single-speed horizontal drop-outs by placing wheel position bolts in the rear dropouts. Anytime you change a cog, you would have to change the position of these bolts. I ride with several people that have SS’s, and I have had to wait several times for them to re-adjust their bottom bracket (BB) positioners (which is some bike manufactors way of keeping the single speed chain ). Once you adjust your positioners with the Jamis, the rear skewer will keep them in place. With the other BB there is a lot of torque and movement going on there, and riders seem to have to re-tighten often, or make double sure they are tight enough to begin with.

Chain keeper

It has a chain keeper in the rear. Which seems over-kill until you go about changing out the gear, then it is a nice added feature. When are about to take your rear wheel out, you simply take the chain off the rear cog, and ‘hang’ on the chain hanger on the rear of the frame. This keeps the chain from dropping down. It’s a small detail, but one that I appreciate.

Braking is done with the Avid Juicy Threes. This Jamis is set-up with 180mm rotors up front and 160mm rotor in the rear. This is done so that you have enough stopping power up front where your weight will shift slightly, but not so much stopping power in the rear that you back tire locks up every time you feather the rear brake.
Although with the Fast Track on the rear, locking it up while braking is my only complaint.

Even being a single speed, this bike is a heavy weight – 27lbs. This is part due to the heavy wheels, but lets face it, the 631 steel frame is heavy material, however, it is a great riding frame.

Single Speeding at Chicopee with Apollo

This is not a bike that I would want to start out the season riding. Single speeding can be brutal on the wrong course if you are not in shape. I did a long ride w/ a friend and his kids, and at a slower pace, you mash the gear & my legs got worked!

I think every Single Speed needs a handle-bar mounted Front fork lockout! Loosing momentum from a bobbing fork on the trail sucks! And with a Single Speed, when you hit the uphill section where you notice your fork isn’t locked out, it is even tough to sit & adjust with out loosing momentum.

The Ride
This bike is FUN!!!
This is the first single-speed bike I have ridden, and although it seems like it will be too tough to ride much on a single-speed, I have found that most terrain is actually very rideable. Granted, I didn’t dare take it too the foothills of the Appalachian Mts when I went, but I have surprised myself with the climbs that I have gotten over with the single speed. As most Single-Speeders will tell you, usually, if they have to dismount and push, most geared Mt bikers have to dismount and push also.

Exile SS

This bike handles very well, and with the single-speed, I have noticed that I can whip the rear end around much more than with a geared bike.
The single speed causes me to look ahead to what is upcoming, so that I have a better chance to prepare for the terrain. If it is uphill, I will look for a place to gain some extra momentum before the climb.

The wider Aerus handle-bars allow me to push, pull hard on the climbs, or anytime I’m accelerating, and they also allow me to lean it hard into corners – which I think is necessary for a 2Niner.

Overall, I have been impressed with how smooth of a ride this bike has (smoother than my other aluminum 2niner frame) and what I thought would be a bigger challenge of only a single-speed has actually been a gift of simplicity.

Climbing Winding Stairs

This weekend was another busy weekend in my life – sometimes that is great & sometimes I’m not busy enough to keep my A.D.D at bay…. We had the annual holiday party at the training studio Friday evening – much joyous celebration of being at the ‘pain cave’ when the pain was replaced with a mini-keg of Triple Ale (9%). Great friends & Good times.

On Sunday, I finally got away from working on my car to run up to Dahlonega’s finest area of trail & Fire service roads – Bull Mt. I met up with Greg of Greg Rides Trails and a few other motley crew members for a 24 mile ride that wound it’s way up and over Winding Stairs. (several people that have ridden it before just shuddered as I write this). That’s because in those 24 miles we climbed over 3,100 feet – BUT we also descended 3K feet!

We suffered up to the top of Windy Stair & once getting there, started to Shiver! The top of the mountain was not only windy, but also significantly colder. Suddenly 1 of the guys says, ‘it’s 4pm, we gotta get around the Mountain before sunset!’ We took off, shivering & me with a re-newed nervous energy that comes from not knowing exactly where you are, nor how far you have to go until you are done.

On the other side of the mountain we found snow and ice still in Georgia. In the Atlanta area, we had a day or 2 of 60 degree weather, but here on the North side of the mountain there is less light, the sun seems to set earlier and it doesn’t get to warm-up as much due to both lack of direct sunlight and altitude. Onward we marched, I was savoring the cold wind of a eye-ball blurring, nearly out of control, descent that I haven’t felt lately, yet the whole time I was hoping that maybe I could zip up the collar on my wind breaker just a little more with out choking myself. The cold winter wind has a sneaky way of exposing every little crevice of open material in your clothing much more so than during the summer months. Don’t Figure.

I said to Greg, I think I forgot how much Fun fire-roads can be! To which he replies matter of factly: ‘then we should have ridden this route the other way’. Sweet, I got a good excuse to Bomb down Winding Stair… but I have to work my way up to the top first. Luckily Greg & I had more gears than the Motley CX bike riders did (not that they seemed to need them), however, on the descents Greg & I passed them quickly due to the suspension & Fat tires!

We hit the final descent down Cooper Gap road, which is a good pitch and some switch backs toward the end. I was having so much fun taking the turns at full speed, nearly overshooting a couple turns, and kicking a foot out to make sure I didn’t slide out completely. I realized it was the perma-grin & cold wind that was making my teeth cold. And just like that the descent finishes nearly as fast as you fly down – something about distance/pace continuum thingy…. I amped to think clearly.

We rolled back to the car, both thrilled and a little disappointed, the ride was over, yet we made it before dark. We chatted some and I warmed up the vehicle to head back into 1 of the most amazing sunsets I have seen in a long time….. maybe it was because I had just ridden over a mountain, but having the sunset in one area of the sky and the full moon showing in another area was very awe inspiring, and the icing on a stellar day in the saddle.

Riding fire roads in the winter is a great way to get in the necessary training that road cyclists need while not getting up to the speeds that you may want on the descents. Now, I really enjoy descending, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has to ride them as fast as possible. Stay steady and safe on the descents. The climbing is usually less windy due to the trees, and a good average race pace on a Mountain bike is about half the speed of road training, thus half the wind-chill factor, yet you can work on the climbs as much as you would have to on most any road climb – after all it is all up to the gearing/grade.

Another point about riding the fire roads (that also effected us this weekend) is when it rains – your local trails will usually be closed. The fire roads are rarely closed, and usually drain quite quickly.
Thanks Greg for being flexible and meeting up with me! Thanks to John at Dahlonega Wheelworks for waiting on us & Thanks Hill Billy…. just for being yourself – Good Times!

Cherohala crossing

I partially got talked into doing the Cherohala crossing #3. I knew Hammering Hill Billy and FarmerG have done this ride before, and although I heard it was on/off road with 3 climbs, it would have some of the beautiful views of North Carolina and the Cherohala parkway.

I finally made it to Paradox, although a little later than anticipated. After some bites of steak & some veggies fresh from FarmerG’s garden we huddled around the campfire & told tall tales of our mis-adventures of bike racing over the years.

A bit a late evening of jocularity and sipping adult beverages around a campfire before we finally turned in for the night. I was camping for a 2nd night, 1st being at Mulberry Gap for the Drama Queen ride – and was fortunate enough that FarmerG had some extra blankets because the sudden N.C. night time low of 48 was most unexpected after our months HOTlanta heat.

as more people pulled up before sunrise, I rubbed my groggy eyes, they were anxious for the day of riding to get started. We on the other hand we dragging slightly. Andy was there and soon Mr Paine himself pulled up – an unexpected surprise – now I know this ride was going to be a brute.

We had an great breakfast of coffee & pancakes, jittery with anticipation of what might be in store for the day. Troy was our designated team driver of the vehicle – many Thanks to Troy, who was saving his legs for the infamous US100K on Monday.

Climbing was the game today – 3 long climbs and descents, all on dirt. I was on a 2Niner Mt bike with a knobby up front and a Maxxis CrossMark in the rear, probably the best rear tire for this ride. I was at a disadvantage going uphill, but on the downhills the Mt bike was a huge advantage over the cycle-cross bikes.

We readied ourselves and left from the park of Murphy, NC, and headed to Andrews, NC – but not until I had the ONLY flat of the day. Onward we marched rolling along the small rollers, each 1 taking it’s toll already on my legs. The Drama Queen was starting to show her evil backside to my quads. I would be mid-pack of a moderate moving group, then slightly off the back, then have to re-gain ground once the road flattened out.

We made a left turn on what was a paved road, which soon turned to a dirt road. The group was now starting to split up. The grade of the road would change every so often, however the usual ability to get out of the saddle and pedal to maintain speed in a steeper section was lost due to traction on the dirt road. It was a ‘sit & spin’ kind of a day.

I tried not to think too much about the gearing I was using because it wasn’t long until I realized that my legs didn’t have much left in the tanks. I was running low on fuel and the reserves had not been replenished. The gravel this year was reported as much looser than the previous year. And clearly they had recently put down new gravel on 1 of the descents.

Once to the top would re-grouped with everyone, and I was inhaling all food that I could, and re-filling water, then adding Nuun tablets. I found out that HillBilly and Shane were duking it out for the KOM on a day that I was trying to survive. The descents were long, somewhat loose gravel and Fast as you wanted, most everyone had pains in the forearms and calves from standing while braking down the descents.

The flat sections we quite fast for being on a Mt bike, I was able to grab a wheel of Greg and put my head down to hold his wheel. Then we would regroup, ride awhile until someone got frisky again – back to the races, then slow enough for everyone to catch up.

On the 2nd climb, the body went on strike: said ‘no mo, until we get supplies’ I got some gel, got a bite of cliff-bar, but it just wasn’t enough. My body was on ‘E’ and I felt like I was holding everyone up – the day was going to be long enough as it was so, I hopped in the follow vehicle and snapped some photos of the other riders climbing up this mountain. Meanwhile, I was eating anything available: cheez-its and Pnut butter wafers, and drinking more Nuun. At the top, we regrouped again before another awesome descent – I was on a mt bike, descents were tough for those with the cyclo-cross tires. Somewhere either on this climb or on the descent we crossed into Tennessee. Hit some flatter roads and the 2nd store stop. Luckily for me, I found a pop-tart in my pack that I had forgotten about – I don’t think I had ever been more excited about a pop-tart ever before.

After the store-stop at the bottom of this gap was along the river, and we had to gradually climb out of this area. I was holding pace with the group along the flats, then once again, I was falling off slightly on the rollers and catching back on. We were heading out for the final climb of the day.

What this last climb lacked in length, it made up in short steep sections that whether from tired legs, lack of gearing or lack of traction, several people had to walk up. Once re-grouped at the top, we started again down the Mountain. Just after passing me, Shane moved his way up to the front, and out of sight through the next turn. I was slowing down because the edge was on our right and the turn went out of sight to the left. About mid-way through the turn, I saw a pick-up truck that luckily was now stopped on the far left side of the road, and luckily again, there was Shane just a little passed the truck looking back at us, as if to say ‘Holy Crap!’ We were all able to safely get around the vehicle.

Once again at the bottom, Greg was an instigator and was Hammering this section all the way to the stop sign. There we waited on everyone and headed back out for the final leg back to Murphy. Just as I thought the worst of this ride was over and seemed to have some energy again, the upcoming climbs were to take their toll before I was able to drag myself back into town. Greg and Wayne stopped and waited on everyone before getting back to the cars.

After 15 minutes of beverages and munching it was time for the all-mighty HillBilly recovery ice bath in the Hiawassee river. After soaking for a bit, we motored on back to FarmerG’s for some beef burgers and pasta with sauce straight from Farmer’s garden – Awesome sauce to top an Awesome weekend of riding with great friends!!

Cherohala crossing #3:

Stronger cycling

I have taken a week long break away from cycling in the Atlanta heat. It was a nice break during a heat wave that came through the South eastern US – good timing for me.

I spent two weeks in the gym working out again. This re-visiting squats, lunges, core exercises, and total body circuit training helps the balance the body back out from too much of a good thing (cycling) and allows you to tone up and hopefully drop some bodyfat % – ALL of that will create a stronger cyclist.

Now that I have been getting back on the bike I am starting to get in more climbing again. I have been getting out on rides that only had only a few people in the group. I have been able to do this on the Mt bike the past couple of weekends, but now I’m also getting some of that climbing with groups.

Last night I did the Smyrna Bikes Monday night ride. This is a fun group to ride with, and although the pace is not ‘race pace’ it is definitely NOT a recovery ride. For this ride, my goal was to ride how I felt, but climb in a harder gear than I usually would while attempting to stay with a group, this is possible with this ride because after each serious climb they will re-group. That allows me to work on my leg strength with out worrying about being dropped by the group or getting too tired to keep up with the group later in the ride.

A buddy of mine commented that I always seem to climb in a seated position. This is true, and not by chance. 1) For a non-climbing rider, you can usually put more power into the pedals being seated. Where-as a lighter rider is usually able to use his own bodyweight to add more power to the hills while standing.
2) staying seated on a climb keeps my heart rate lower than standing, I will stand to accelerate or stand just to get over steeper sections of a climb.

If you have compact cranks you can still do this type of hill training, the key is to use a harder gear than you usually would. Most people that have compact cranks end up spinning all the time. This is good on race day or Big events, but it does not create stronger legs. If you truly want to get stronger while cycling you have to mash a harder gear in training.

Remember train your weakness, but race your strengths.

Climbing hills in a harder gear than you are used too will give you ‘on the bike’ leg strength that is needed for stronger cycling. What happens is that you to fatigue your muscles, and only by stressing the muscles and allowing for adequate recovery do they get stronger. As you continue to do this, those mountains will become more like hills.

So get out there and hit the climbs.

Get the System that I and my clients use to become a Stronger Cyclist. In this ebook I will give you a system of how to set-up your training in a way that allows you to focus on 1 of the 4 parts of the puzzle at a time AND in the correct order. This will ensure you become a Stronger Cyclist.

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Pisgah vs. Tsali trails

Wonder what it would be like to ride some of the fabled epic trails of the south east?! These are 2 of some of the most epic riding in North Carolina, yet each is so different in style and scope that they would probably appeal to different types of riders.

TSALI is a smaller network of trail system that is awesomely fast, flow. There is very little that slows you down too much. The trails are quite well taken care of and groomed. There are races there often. And although you may find several spots of mud puddles of various depths – which you figure out how deep they are after going through them – the drainage of the trails in general is quite good, especially the right and left loop.
There are several overlooks that contain stunning views of the lake and the Great Smokey mountains.

The trails are Fast! For the most part you can run a 32/20 and probably walk only a couple of short stiff climbs. On a geared 2Niner I use the middle ring for all except the same climbs. Some sections of these trails are just too Fun, ripping it downhill and around corners of the lake is a blast!
For Tsali I usually take 2 bottles, a gel flask, clif bar (that I usually don’t eat) and a patch kit.

Camping is onsite and you can ride all the trails straight out of the campsite – BUT you may need the campsite or hotel if you want to ride all the trails. Tsali trails are basically a 4 leaf clover, with half the trails open to Mt bikers and the other half for horseback use, and the days alternate. This past weekend we got to ride Thompson and Mouse loops on Saturday, then ride Left and Right loops on Sunday.

PISGAH is a much larger network of trails. You can come across any number of things while in Pisgah. Downed trees are not uncommon. Drop offs are not that uncommon either. Pisgah is where I saw the longest rock garden that I had ever seen – well over 100 yards, all at a downhill angle that would give you a forearm pump that would make a rock climber be jealous.

Caution is to be used in Pisgah!!! Navigating and maps are a must unless you are very familiar with the area. We had mapped out a route that we figured would be a good 5-6 hour ride, we did about half of it due to not being sure where we were at and hiking rather than being able to cycle up some climbs.

There are several places to camp in Pisgah, from the Davidson full RV campground, the group sites w/ only rest rooms & tent sites (my choice), to just a tent site.

For Pisgah I usually take 2 big bottles, camel back, 2 gel flasks, 3 clif bars, patch kit, 2-3 tubes, and I would take a filter if I had one or iodine tablets. Don’t expect to get much cell service. I have verizon and usually get service most places – not Pisgah.

As crazy as Pisgah can be I have some incredibly epic rides there. Some downhills and stream crossings the likes of that I have never seen before in the south east. Some of the uphills will make hike-a-bike challenging. Some stream crossings you will have to get off and walk across. You may think you are some place on the map that does not exist – probably because I don’t think all the trails are actually on the maps. There must be sections of trails up there that only the locals know about – there is just so much forest there that they have Mt bike stage races.

If you want a simple and well groomed trail that is just a blast to ride, it is Tsali hands down! The trails are well marked, only a handful of intersections. Only a few times that you may have to walk or step over downed trees. There are some great sections of trails to catch speed and some jumps, whoops to increase the fun.

If you are looking for a more complex trail system that challenges you to navigate, riding technically, longer hours of ride time, and throw anything at you, including an epic adventure, then Pisgah is for you!