Weekend Trip to North Carolina – Day 1: Tsali and Asheville

Absolutely fantastic riding here!

Absolutely fantastic riding here – Mouse Branch Loop on the Tsali Trails

30 degrees outside.  Sick of all the baby on board signs in ATL.  Let’s get out of dodge.  Black Eyed Peas, help me out here.  Jump in the Hyundai Sonata rental rocket, bike in the trunk a dunk dunk.  North Carolina bound.  Stop 1 = Tsali.  What, never heard of Tsali?  He was a Cherokee leader in the early 1800’s who sacrificed his life so his people could stay in the Great Smoky Mountains.  What, never heard of the Tsali mountain bike trails? Click here then.

A quick look up at the deep red trees on Thompson Loop

A quick look up at the deep red trees on Thompson Loop

Cross the border line like Madonna, feeling better already.  Saturday at Tsali means Mouse Branch and Thompson loops only – horses get the right and left loops.  Then it switches on Sunday.  Fine, I say.  Let them shit up the trails and throw hoof divots under the tutelage of super-sized, under-educated, tobacco-chewing twangers.  Although right and left loops are longer, word is Mouse and Thompson are the ish of the network anyway – let’s pedal.

A quick rest before climbing to the Mouse Branch Overlook

A quick rest before climbing to the Mouse Branch Overlook

Hit Mouse in the clockwise direction, boom boom pow.  Overlook Loop for the dove’s view of the lake.  In, out, swoop, up down, around – Jamaican bobsled, wind in the face, better get the f out of my way, nonstop bliss.  Contouring the lake.  The legs stopped listening and just pinned the 17t like it was grand mama.  20 psi tires hugging and gripping for dear life.  Blaze orange hats pop outta nowhere, rifles in hand.  WTF?  Yeah.  Hunting season.  Best get to stepping off the singletrack Duck Dynasty before u get run the f over.  Deliverance looking cousins probably just finished a banjo session.  Hee haw.  Ok, be nice Alan.  They’re just trying to score a 10 point buck… back to the the innocence of powder turns on sweet lakeside flow trails.

View from Mouse Branch Overlook

View from Mouse Branch Overlook

You think Mammoth has any Uber drivers yet?  Hmmm… I should jump on that.  Anyhoo, Mouse Branch was only 7ish miles and went by in a blink.  Wam bam thank you mam.  Ok, let’s flip Thompson on its side.  CCW for this one.  Interesting views of all these old junky house boats on the receded lake.  Probably where those two hick hunters dwell.  Reminds me of the old movie Piranha…

I started imagining some co-ed’s jumping in this lake come summer time and next thing you know, they’re grabbing for the dock as their limbs are chomped and movie tix are sold in bundles.  As far as riding goes, more of the same.  But a little too much fire road on this loop.  Just as I was starting to yawn, I hit more mousy style singletrack for redemption.  The good stuff went by way too quick.  Long way to drive for 15 super fast miles.  Made me wish I was allowed to ride right and left loops on the same day.  I wasn’t ready to put the bike back in the car.  But that’s cool, off to Asheville for lunch.

Leaves covering a section of Thompson.  You could barely see the trail - but so much fun!

Leaves covering a section of Thompson. You could barely see the trail – but so much fun!

Hit up the downtown of this fun little beer town.  Quick stepped it to Barley’s Taproom for a flight and a calzone.  Now we’re talkin.  GOOD local beer here.  You know what?  I want to see Birdman.  Love Emma Stone and Ed Norton – and Beetlejuice.  Stepped next door to the art house theatre, and caught the 4pm matinee.  Worth it.  Go see it.  Great acting, great writing, great directing, great cinematography.

My flight and calzone at Barley's Taproom was the perfect compliment to riding Tsali.

My flight and calzone at Barley’s Taproom was the perfect compliment to riding Tsali.

I liked this board where you could write bucket list items in chalk.  Asheville, NC

I liked this board where you could write bucket list items in chalk. Asheville, NC

Peeped the scene around town after that and settled on Farm Burger for a quick dinner before bailing out to Brevard for the night.  Turns out, Brevard is the “fall colors” capital, and this happened to be THE weekend for checking out the colors… every hotel, motel, b&b, etc was booked out.  Frickin A, you know what that means, right?  Find a dark residential street.  Pull the bike out of the trunk and tie it to a tree.  Take a piss on the tree to mark one’s territory.  Hop in the trunk with a puffy jacket on, and get some sleep.  Yell chata to the neighborhood dogs growling at your piss.  Turn heater on every hour or so.

All puffed up and ready to go.  Sleeping in the trunk of my rental car.

All puffed up and ready to go. Sleeping in the trunk of my rental car.

Be so thankful you have shelter.  Before you know it, sun’s out, guns out.  Let’s ride.  Next stop:

Dupont and Day 2 of the Weekend Trip to North Carolina…

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2 Responses to Weekend Trip to North Carolina – Day 1: Tsali and Asheville

  1. Pingback: Weekend Trip to North Carolina – Day 2: Dupont National Forest | Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

  2. trailstasher says:

    Nice. I’ll be doing a 50k trail race there I’m 2 weeks

    Liked by 1 person

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