After a week of the most deserved down time post Double Dare, I ventured back out into Pisgah for a little Squirrel Gap riding. There were two goals in mind; go ride the thing in the day after just riding it at night with malfunctioning lights, and also start discovering some 3 hour loops that involve singletrack, but don't involve getting very wet.
I only mildly succeeded at both. It rained all day Friday, and my early morning assault on Saturday didn't give the sun enough time to even show itself, let alone remove moisture from the soil. Squirrel was very wet, the mountain laurel and Rhodo where tucked in close under the weight of water both in and on their leaves, and the riding reflected the conditions. There was a lot of ducking wet branches, sliding blind corners, and slow motion crashes on slick roots. My favorite were the two times I pedaled myself over the bars when the rear wheel lost traction on a root or a rock or a root over a rock. As per the not getting very wet....the 16 hours of rain upped the level of Bradley Creek a healthy bit, and I had one thigh deep crossing. Guess that wouldn't feel too great in November.
After Saturday's debacle, a week spent on two feet in San Francisco sounded like a good idea. My whirlwind four days included seeing No Twist play at Bimbo's on Monday which required a little walk out of the financial district north through San Fran's little Italy, a.k.a North Beach (Boston's is called The North End....what gives?) We ate at House of Nan King, and eclectic little chinese place with a huge line out the door (on a monday) where the owner simply takes away your table if you take too long. We skirted such an experience, but did witness it happen many times. No Twist played one of the best shows I've seen in a long time. I had the original German import of their record back in 2002, and hadn't listened to it in a while. Their live show added alot of static and noise layered on top of their studio electronic rock status quo. Awesome experience, wish they made it over here more.
Tuesday I hooked up with SSWC co producer Jeff Hantman and hit the Mission District to tour the west coast's answer to the hipster-fix-gear-obsessed Williamsburgh/Bushwick/Greenpoint. We talked art/music/biking/music in that order over a couple of beers at Zeitgeist, a great pizza pie. Curtis chose to stay busy and avoid the city, so no meet up there. The man just turned 40 and needs his rest. The plan is to possibly see both these boys back in the Southeast for SSUSA and DSG in May with a week of Asheville inbetween.
Wednesday was another criss crossing of the city....tracked down some great soppressata at Boccalone in the Ferry building...the meat artist is a friend of Jeff's, and they make all kinds of delicious cured pork products...and then deliver them on a beautiful Sycip cargo bike...we met some work folks at a bar all the way up in Fisherman's Wharf after accidently walking through the surreal disney land tourist trap of Pier 39, where the only photo of the week was taken....I left my camera in Asheville....them's a bunch of sea lions, and that ain't a zoo. Which is pretty cool. Thanks to Sherrie for the picture. From there, cabbed it back over to the the Mission for a beer at Elixer and to have dinner at the Monk's Kettle. Jeff and I spotted this place the night before, and the beer list alone made it worth a revisit. I think Sherrie and I looked over the list for a good 30 minutes, dismissing out patient server every time they wanted a decision. I ended up with a great Flemish sour as a starter. The only other flemish sour I've had is the infamous Rodenbach post the existence of the actual Rodenbach yeast strand. This was equally good, if not better if I had the opportunity to sample them side by side. Great wild taste, and it opened up the rest of the night that ended with Avery's "The Beast," which, on the menu listed 14.9 ABV, but when it arrived the bottle boasted a 16.41%. Christ...I don't quite know how you push a beer passed 12 or so without going the barleywine route, but this was a true to taste and form Belgian triple, and was really balanced, and hid it's night ending alcohol well. There was a little mishap in the kitchen with Sherrie's salmon, so we got a giant salamander half cooked oatmeal cookie thing covered in icecream from our server. Imagine, a big hunk of oatmeal cookie dough, thrown in the salamander enough to crisp the outsides in a cast iron skillet, and then brought to the table half cooked with ice cream......doughey sweetness. With a little more base in the belly for The Beast, we went over to the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel for a night cap. Sherrie got her coveted Lychee Martini, and I nursed 5 oz of vodka. The last time I had a lychee Martini the liqueur wasn't allowed in the states, but I guess that changed. Or The Clift gets away with a subtle smuggling operation. Either way it was late, and I had one more day of work. Back to the Hotel des Arts for a few hours sleep, wake for a few hours work, and then slept on the plane all the way back to Charlotte.
Back to a simpler life her in Asheville. Putting wood in the stove, playing with the dogs and planning a couple routes in the woods for the week.