We wake up. Eyes glued, abused livers, beaded heads. Then we open the curtains and there a few inches of snow on the ground. Hello November. It’s not so bad, we are at Burke and Neko’s house south of Asheville. In the city itself it fell several inches. We eat whatever we could find on the counter and walk out.
We make shuttles to the top of the mountain and go down the new track. Steep, loose and loamy, yeah. In 3 minutes, we complete the lap, and that included the climb in the pickup. It’s like skiing, we are shredding in a foot of leaves, thorns and smooth soil. We carve the stock, it’s good and dangerous.
We ate the dinner and went back working on the track. We raked to find the dirt so we can go faster; we dig and pushes the soil to make berms to also go faster; we put some dead trees in the trail and we filled them to make jumps, to go even faster. It will be fast, I’m saying . You know how is Neko? No? I talked about him in Chapter 7.1. Check it now. When he finished eighth in the downhill World Championships without any chain, imagine him with a chain now. But it’s not just Neko who knows how to ride … Phil Burke of Industry Nine is that good too; there are also Ben, a old downhill racer; Ross The Boss riding like there was no tomorrow and Evan from Cane Creek, which doesn’t leave his place (see this video, the second guy sitting in the office with long hair, white and green shirt… watch it to the end).
And then there is Neko digging a hole in the middle of the trail, full width of the track. But I mean a hole, a real one. A big… fucking… hole … You can lie down in it, 2 or 3. He walks a few steps up, and he does the same thing. Then I naively asked him:
-Neko Why are you digging holes like that?
-The trail is too easy, I want to push into the holes to go faster.
It was really clear in my head, but now everything has suddenly materialized. I’m good on a bike, but never, ever, I will live up to these athletes … This level is so high, impressive and totally…nuts? That’s nonsense. When he took his bike and he pushed into these holes to get more speed, I was amazed.
Je finis la soirée dans un party à Asheville. Un DJ dans le salon, de l’ambiance partout, de la croustade de pomme sur le four.
I ended the evening at a party in Asheville. A DJ in the lounge and a good vibe everywhere, even apple crumble on the oven.
Sunday morning, nobody is in shape to ride, but I do. So I leave for Dupont, a park known for its flow. It’s nice, but cold, I dress in the parking lot and see a man ready to go, he locks the doors of his old 80s Ford. I go to see him, he’s super motivated, he waits for me two minutes and we start together.He’s In shape, without any pride, he lets me go on downhill and we climb together. We chat about life and philosophy a little bit. Like all Americans, he lived in several states during his life, from Florida to Ohio, he decided to settle here in North Carolina, to ensure a good job, a beautiful future retreat near trails. We talk about myself, my trip. Like everyone I talk to, he asked me the famous question:
-I don’t know.
-Does it scare you?
-I don’t know. No. This is intriguing. I think a lot, it’s meditative, and I don’t know where I’m going to be honest.
-Sincerely, I am 59 years old, and I still don’t know what to do with my life.
We laugh, adjust our suspensions, and go down a roller-coaster. When we came down, Parich looked at his watch, he told me cheerfully:
-We have time to do the other part of the network!
Then the gentleman, after a 3 hours morning hike with his wife looking for rattlesnakes, guided me like a professional in his favorite trails. Still in Dupont, it was rolled slightly more technical trails on snowed slick rocks on one side, sunny on the other. The Big Rock trail and Burn Mountain are to remember. Parich, thank you for this beautiful moment and these beautiful trails.