The Bike Farm, North Carolina
Words by Ali Zimmer
After the Pro GRT in Snowshow West Virginia, racers had 4 days to get to Beech Mountain for the next weekend event. This was the perfect opportunity to go and ride the famed “cycling capitol of the south” near Asheville, NC. With beautiful weather expected for most of the week, we (myself, Dylan Conti and Abby Hippley) packed up Monday morning from Snowshoe and drove 7 hours south east to Brevard.
That evening we meet up with local legend Chris Herndon, and some of the athletes he works with (world cup extraordinaire Neko Mullay, and winner of the Beech Mountain ProGRT and UVM student, Max Morgan to name a couple) The guys gave us a sweet tour of Dupont state recreational forest, where mellow twisty climbs brought us to ripping long downhills. The well maintained trails in Dupont are made to sustain heavy traffic and hold a vast network of trails (100+ miles) for all abilities.
After our lovely intro to the area we had a refreshing dip into one of the many options in Transylvania (the county that contains Ahseville, Hendersonville, and Brevard) which is also known as the ‘land of waterfalls.’ Transylvania County was touted ‘America’s best kept secret,’ in 2012.
We followed Chris and his crew to the Square Root, which deliciously filled our empty stomachs and gave me a chance to try one of the local brews. Brevard Brewing Companies IPA was awesome! After planning a ride for tomorrow we headed to what would be our home for the next few days, The Bike Farm at Oskar Blues REEB Ranch Bike Park.
The Bike Farm is a dream in the making from a collaborative effort between Dale Katechis, owner of Oskar Blues Brewery as well as REEB (beer spelled backwards) Cycles, and bike enthusiasts/entrepreneurs Cashion Smith and Eva Surls. Smith and Surls vision and passion set the stage for an ideal partnership with Dale to develop an all inclusive mountain biking facility with lodging, a bikepark, single track trails that lead to the Dupont Forest network, guided rides in Dupont and Pisgah for all ability levels, as well as giving visitors the inside scoop on the areas best shuttle rides, restaurants, breweries, and places to swim, sight see and chillax.
The 145 acre farm was purchased by Katechis this past March and will soon also serve as a sight for growing hops and pasturing cattle, aside from being the home base of The Bike Farm. The countryside farm abuts the Dupont Recreational Forest, and is a 10 minute drive to downtown Brevard and the Pisgah National Forest. With two 40+ foot waterfalls, a 1940’s cabin, a renovated top floor apartment, and tenting/camping sites in the works, the Bike Farm is an Oasis for any and everyone in love with the sport of mountain biking and the natural world.
As we pulled into the picturesque farm, huge dirt jumps met our eyes, built by Red Bull for the Dreamline BMX dirt jumping competition which will take place this October, attracting some of the best riders in the world. After the event the dirt jumps will be turned into a bike park progression for all ages and ability levels, with a kick ass pump track already built to go with it. Thanks to Abby’s friends, Eva and Cashion, we spent our 4 days/3 nights in the barn apartment, equipped with a refrigerator (already stocked with Oskar Beer,) stove, sink, shower, bathroom, queen size bed, couch and plenty of spaces to sleep.
Tuesday was another gorgeous morning, and we were amped to check out the famed Pisgah national forest. We rallied at Sycamore Cycles, Brevards local shop, which was adjacent to Crank Coffee, a perfect spot for a morning cup as well as some great treats and phenomenal daily fresh juices! Fueled and ready we drop up to the turkey pen parking lot (the last 5 minutes of the drive is a class 4 road.) Chris guided us on a 4 hour adventure with over 20 miles of riding, and nearly 3,000 ft of elevation gain on the out and back Squirrel Gap ride, one of his favorites.
Most of the trail is hand cut CCC that winds up making for long, yet mellow enjoyable climbs, ripping long descents with sections of rocky tech. The extreme ends of the trail have been reworked with machines to help with drainage. The multi use trails (horses and hikers are allowed on all almost all of the national forest trails,) were in unbelievable shape considering the traffic they receive.
We came across a group of horseback riders once on the trail, and quietly walked by them and continued on without any hassle. We did not come across any other people on our ride, and made it back to the car just as a thunderstorm was rolling in, Feeling a bit worked and famished, yet still in the post-epic-ride-glow, we followed the locals again to Pascados to dig into some great oversized burritos made to order.
After some needed fuel we heading back to The Bike Farm for the afternoon, where Cashion and Eva gave us a tour of the gorgeous waterfall and cabin, sweet single track trail that leads over the ridge to the Dupont trail system, the pump track, and the cool mountain stream swimming/Wading hole in which we lounged in the heat of the afternoon.
The bike farm’s charm was growing on all of us, and Dylan and I began talking/dreaming about how we were coming back this winter. That evening Cashion and Eva took us to one of there favorite restaurants in Hendersonville, the West First . Here we were tempted by a lovely menu ranging from wood fired pizza, delicious salads, Paella and other seafood dishes, pasta, etc. The portions were huge, and the meal was exceptional, with great company too boot.
Wednesday was another beautiful morning, and we met up with Chris and the gang at Sycamore Cycles/ Crank coffee for morning wake up and more of the fresh pressed juices. We rode right from the bike shop a few mellow miles up the road to enter the national forest at a different point with various camping spots along the way. We continued to ride up to the top of the ridge. We road Clawhammer road to Maxwell Cover to Black Mountain Trail. The riding was a little more rooty and technical then Squirrel gap had been, intermixed with flow, doubles, and ending in a long high speed decent full of fun water bar jumps and fast corners.
We came back out at the river, and went to a nice spot to cool off before heading back into town. After a relaxing lunch with Chris and the crew we all heading over the bike farm for a pump track session. The pump track is a super workout, and watching the guys style it out was awesome. I took some solo time at the waterfall landing to breath, relax picked some chanterlle mushrooms that were prolific on the trail and caught up on some needed work (there is reception and Wi Fi at the bike farm.)
Thursday Morning we took our time packing and taking in the beauty of the place before heading North. I can not thank Cashion, Eva, and Chris enough for their hospitality, and such memorable times! Love, Gratitude and Ride On my friends!