Published Somedays

Pilot Rock ~ a new video

(updated: Nov 21, 2011)

This video is from a trip to Pisgah in October. This was the final ride on Sunday. It was Jimmy and my plan to do this ride, but we had to keep the details secret otherwise the other guys would never have gone for it. Too far, a seven mile climb, hike-a-bike, a sick descent. Then getting back late and having to drive hours to home. But if you think like that then every time you go to Pisgah you'll talk yourself out of it.

They had no idea what they were in for. Laurel Mountain is a 7 mile climb with some unrideable sections. Pilot Rock drops 1000ft in a mile. But I rank this downhill as one of my top five, because of how steep and technical it is. Steep trails are becoming more and more rare over the years, as they are slowly being phased out for more sustainable contour trails.

This was the very first ride I did when I moved to North Carolina back in 2004. This is also where I met Brad. He gave me a lift back up to the Blue Ridge Parkway where I had started. This time I brought the video camera. Incidentally, I heard Ed say that this was the reason I wanted to do Pilot Rock -- because I wanted to video the trail. Yes, that was true. However, despite the weather being absolutely gorgeous, it was horrible for filming. Bright sunlight, high contrast, leaves - an impossible task for most cameras. Still I video'd anyway, because how often do I get out here? It may be another six years before I ride this trail again.

Recently the Bike Snob has been ranting about people documenting every ride, or it's like the ride did not happen:

This is because, in order to ride a bike, you have to do all of the following:

--Take photos of the ride
--Take video of the ride
--Take photos of your bike
--Take video of your bike
--"Tweet" about the ride and your bike
--Upload the ride to Strava or similar
--Upload photos and video of the ride and your bike to Facebook or similar
--Order new clothing and accessories for yourself and your bike

I should stress that this is the bare minimum of what you must do, or else the ride didn't happen.

I have to agree with him. It's getting out of control. I don't do all these things, but I've been photographing and videoing since 2002, so I figure I'm grandfathered in. My goal is to video the trail so you can come to the site, either direct or via search, and get an idea of what the trail looks like. To give you a feel for the type of trail it is and the kind of flow it has. To get you psyched up to ride it. That's all. Not bombard you with all sorts of technical gimmickry and gps tracks.

BTW, Bike Snob also ripped off my Hipster joke, in this post. But who cares? He's like #1 in bike blogs. I am an internet backwater at #987,756,943,342. I don't even have a sirbikesalot Facebook page! You can't Like me. The horror!

Anyway...Pilot Rock is more of a trail for hikers. At times, it feels like you're descending down a trail cut into the side of a large rock cliff. As a result, it has lots of switchbacks, some are very tight. Nothing that a 26" bike couldn't handle, as Jimmy deftly showed by flying through nearly every one. But my big 29er bike with its long wheelbase had trouble.

Jimmy still rides his Trek 9.9 carbon hardtail from his days as a pro mountain biker, racing with Roland Green, who dominated cross country mountain biking in the early 2000s. But Jimmy is a great all-mountain rider, and proved it by flying down Pilot Rock and waiting for us near the bottom.

There was also another rider named Bryan who rode with us. We were both looking for the Laurel Mountain trailhead at the same time. He was heading back home up north and decided to stop in Pisgah for a ride. Sounds like me when I'm traveling -- I'm always looking for great trails along the way to hit if I can.

So, here's the video. If it gives you fits, you can download it. Alternatively, you can watch the smaller version that I keep on my site. It is very high quality, with a 300Mb size to match, so start it and then go grab a beer or something.

If video above is no longer available, click here.

Link to trail info (like where is this trail located and how do I get there?) here.


Rider: Ed.

View partway down Pilot Rock.

Near the top.

Wicked rocky descent.

Ed, coming into a switchback.

Ed's pack was way off to his right side almost the entire descent.

Brilliant Fall colors and ideal weather made this the perfect time to be in Pisgah.

Boulder section.

We stopped here at this granite outcropping. This is a spectacular view.

But Ed appears more interested in the view on his phone.

Jimmy is either looking at the photo he just took, or trying to un-cramp his hands after squeezing brakes the whole way down.

Michael, Jimmy, Bryan.

Yellow Gap (FS 1206) Rd. At Laurel Mountain Trailhead. This was our starting and ending point.

Brian wore a Contour HD camera like mine. I actually wore a Sony HDR CX-160 with optical image stabilization, which really helped on the rocky descent. Otherwise I think it would be unwatchable.

Underneath a Laurel canopy, waiting for hikers.

Steep, rocky switchback. You can get a sense of the grade by looking at Ed in the lower right corner. Like the trail was cut into a granite cliff.

Jimmy rounding the apex.


Sweet rocky trail.

Filed Under: Ride Reports > North Carolina > Brevard


1. brado said...

one of my favorites. we need to ride together soon!

Nov 20, 2011 @ 9:03 PM

2. Michael said...

So I was thinking... "Why are we doing all of this driving to get to a trail when we are only a few minutes away from great trails in DuPont?" Because these are some fun trails that you just don't get to ride every day! The climbing, the crazy-sick rocky switch-backin' descent, some hiking(lots of it if you get off course)and amazing views. Did I mention log piles? (It's what happens when trees fall over on a trail) Sir Bikes summed it up and he's probably right....the ride would have gotten squashed if too many details were divulged. Awesome ride and well worth a night in the doghouse!

Nov 20, 2011 @ 11:18 PM

3. Randy said...

Excellent trick, concealing details. That's the only way to make a group ride happen.

Nov 22, 2011 @ 7:00 PM

4. Jeff LeBlanc said...

Erol, GREAT video! I did Pilot Rock last Fall with a group from Asheville. Had the wife watch this to see some of the CRAZY SHIT we ride ;-) Thanks for the memories!

Nov 23, 2011 @ 5:40 AM

5. Seston said...

Boom shakalaka boom boom, pbrolem solved.

Dec 16, 2011 @ 8:31 PM


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