Trip Report: RKP and the Summer of Rain

Guest blogger: Micheal Hakala

Photos by TJ Kearns

After driving 6+ hours from Atlanta to Boone in what could be described as the start of the second biblical floods we finally arrived to our hotel at Beech Mountain. With that amount of rain I was thinking that there was no way we were going to get any solid riding in the High country that weekend and others in the group were kind of questioning it as well. Maybe it will clear up in the morning. Not so much.

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Hak on the start of the PBJ trail


We got on the trails after a stupid amount of rain and the sky kind of cleared up with Scott, Josh, TJ, Kristian, and his mini shredders in the making. First reaction was ‘holy crap these trails are perfect’. All that hand laid rock armor drained like a champ. After a few photos we started making our way up the mountain. As we climbed up towards PB & J all I could think about was how sick it was that these trails were nothing short of the hard work of some awesome trail builders and riders who wanted a place to call their own.  You could tell the amount of love, planning, effort that was thrown into these trails when Kristian described the process and the amount of time and energy that went into them. I was getting fired up.  

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KJ on the first table top. PBJ Trail.

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The stone in Stone Binge.

So after playing around and trying out the various features TJ let us know that he got the shots that he wanted and was ready to start climbing up to the top of the mountain. Granted climbing is NEVER something that I enjoy but this was different, we were in the High Country and if Kristian said it was worth it I would take him at his word. As we climbed yes my three broken ribs were hurting and I was engaged in that mental battle of ‘damnit why am I doing this, I can’t take a deep breath, etc. I mean if you’ve ridden and you are not just a complete animal you know what kind of games your head can play. Even with this whining I was doing in my head and probably audibly, this strange sense of peace and excitement came over me as I took a second to look where I was. I was riding through a cloud/mist/fog up a mountain in Boone, NC with my buddies on a trail that were built to perfection. Why the hell was I being a baby. Damn. Then we got to the top and that is when I feel like we truly got to experience these trail builder’s (more like trail artists) vision and ability to produce. Holy rocky, fast, flowly, alt-line, brappage-of-the-berm batman! Following TJ, Josh, and Scott down the hill was freaking awesome. Flying down the hill, doubling rock piles on the side of the main trail, lines up and around trees all while in this misty/cloudy/ High Country weather…holy hell…it just gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. The different line options, the perfectly sculpted berms you don’t even need breaks for, I mean common I have said it a million times Rocky Knob is freaking awesome. This is seriously a mountain biker’s play ground in the High Country. This place has it all. I you like to ride and want to experience what a properly constructed and maintained trail system looks like you HAVE to see and ride this place. I know that I am planning a trip sometime this fall because I need to experience the newly built pump-track. I can’t freaking wait.

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Jude Jackson (5) flowing through the start of the PBJ.

Rocky Knob Fall Fest Review

Rocky Knob Fall Festival

Words by Bill Splawn and John Brundick

Photos by Sara Beeken

131011_SLB0002 On October 11 and 12, Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park hosted its annual fall festival.  The festival consisted of a pump track jam on Friday night, where riders were challenged physically and mentally by the series of competitions hosted.  About 130 riders and spectators attended the event. The riders competed in, the longest manual, best trick, best style and Jr. shredders.  All competitions were very laid back and for fun.  Red Bull appeared at the event,and brought a long their signature DJ booth and played smooth jams all night.

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Saturday morning was a whole different setting with Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day. Twenty-Four youngsters showed up with their bikes in hand, ready to learn necessary skills to ride the pump track and trails at Rocky Knob.  The Boone Area Cyclists held a skills clinic to educate the kids on pump track safety and showed them how to have fun while riding.  By the end of the day, there was a noticeable improvement in the kid’s riding abilities.

In addition to the Kid’s event, Magic Cycles provided an impressive demo fleet of Santa Cruz Bicycles for all visitors to take to the trails with some of the nicest bikes on the market. Group rides were provided with instruction from the Appalachian State Cycling Team, many of whom showed us their impressive skills at the Pump-Track Jam the night before.

               To close the full weekend of festivities, the ASU Recreation Management Program Planning group coordinated a full luncheon and raffle to raise money for the improvement of Rocky Knob Park. The BBQ lunch came loaded with Bandana’s coleslaw, Stick Boy Cookies, Jimmy John’s sandwiches, Black Cat burritos, and a variety of items courtesy of local grocery stores including Earth Fare, Ingles, Harris Teeter and Lowe’s Foods. The lunch raised $250 for the pump track and ASU Recreation Management Program’s Scholarship.

We would like to give a thanks to all of the sponsors who helped contribute to the event: Bald Guy Brew, Tsuga, Mountain Khakis, Bell, Giro, Yakima, Spy Optics, Black Cat, Ingles, Lowes Food, Harris Teeter, Earth Fare, Jimmy Johns, Stick Boy, Specialized Bikes, Roachel Laney (BBQ), ASU Recreation Management, Boone Area Cyclists, Magic Cycles, International Mountain Biking Association, Red Bull, Bandanna’s BBQ, Beech Mountain Resort.  Rocky Knob would also like to give a special thanks to Appalachian Mountain Brewery who raised $350 for the pump track.

Rocky Knob Fall Fest Update

The weather is looking amazing for Fall Fest at Rocky Knob.

The Fest starts Friday evening at 5:00 with a Pump Track Celebration. We’ll have light food, coffee from Bald Guy, music, and informal fun events. Afterwards, head over to Appalachian Mountain Brewery for Port-O-Pie Pizza. They will donate a portion of sales to the Pump Track (5:30 to 10:00).

On Saturday we’ll kick of the morning at 9:00 with Take A Kid Mountain Bike Day and Stick Boy treats and Bald Guy Coffee. Bring the kids with their bikes for some fun riding. Santa Cruz Bikes will be on hand with their demo tour as well. Check out their new 27.5 trail bikes. We’ll have BBQ at lunch ($7 for plate a raffle ticket) Raffle prizes include a Double Down rack from Yakima, Bell’s (fantastic) Super helmet, goods from Tsuga, special Bald Guy Rocky Knob Roast, Mountain Khakis, stuff from Vans, and Spy. Extend the goodness of the day with Appalachian Mountain Brewery. On Saturday night they’ll will have Burnin Wood BBQ here with bbq ribs, and kabobs. Food will benefit the pumptrack (5:00-10:00pm).

The Rocky Knob Pump Track: What you need to know

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Ross Landino Photo

What you need to know:

  • The pump track is open when it is not raining.
  • Riding the pump track during or after rains, or whenever it is wet, will damage the track. Please ride elsewhere. The RKP trails are usually good to ride after a rain. If the sign says CLOSED, stay off.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Take your turn and give other riders space to ride. The track is really a track within a track. Many, many options of lines exist. Use caution when many riders are at the track. Encourage riders to ride in the same direction.
  • Watch out for the youngsters. Children will be riding too.
  • Inform a BAC member or the trail boss of any issues with the track. Please do not alter the track in any way.
  • Watch from the start area.
  • Educational signage will be installed in the near future.
  • Never ridden a pump track? We will hold a few clinics this fall. Stay tuned.
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Ross Landino Photo

This pump track has become a reality funded the generosity of local businesses and individuals. With their support we have created a unique dirt experience that will add new dimensions to your riding.

A big thanks goes out to Terra Tek Trails and Elevated Trail Design and the small army of talented volunteers for the construction.

If you are still interested in supporting the track, we are still in need of funds for signage and maintenance. You can donate online here.

Be sure to thank the following supporters:

Double Black Diamond Level

 Ray’s Weather Center

Cole’s Lawn Care

Bald Guy Brew

Coyote Kitchen

Destination By Design

Boone Area Cyclists

Single Black Diamond:

Barry D. Greenblatt

Flat Shovels:

Eliza Bennett

Amelia Bennett

Joshua J. McMann

Paul A. Stahlschmidt

Chad Eppley

Ricardo Ceppi

Steve White

Jay Womack

Kathleen Collins

Rocky Knob Pump Track Fundraiser

Update: Make Your Mark On Rocky Knob Park

We are getting closer to our goal but still need your help to make the Rocky Knob Pump Track a reality. We are aiming to have donations in by July 15th. so we can begin construction. Thanks for your support.

Donations to date: $3525.

Since the inception Rocky Knob Park in 2009, the driving vision has been to provide a place for visitors to and residents of Watauga County to have easy and free access to outdoor recreation. We have been fortunate to create an urban mountain bike park with adventurous and accessible trails.

goldbaum pump trackThe idea of the trails was to get more people enjoying the outdoors on bikes, while providing a skills-building environment. As a result, we have built over 8 miles of trails with 4 skills areas. We have yet to provide a skills area that people of wide-ranging ages and ability levels can access directly from the parking lot.

Now it’s time to build a legendary Pump Track, and we need your help.

Pump Tracks: Bike skills for all ages

jude pump trackPump Tracks are small zones of dirt that nearly any rider (including kids) can ride. These tracks are small, connected loops with undulating lines that allow riders to power their bikes through without pedaling. Because of their compact shape, they are often places where people watch and learn from each other.

Where the tires meet the dirt

ryan pump trackWe are fundraising to build a pump track/skills area that Rocky Knob deserves. We have saved an area adjacent to the parking lot for this area. Named the Sunset Skills Area, the pump track’s location in the parking lot provides walk-up access and one of the best sunset views in Watauga County.

Your donation will create a legacy for all riders, especially young riders, to grow in their skill, increase their fitness, and develop more connections in their community.

Make Your Mark on Rocky Knob Park

Help create a legacy by clicking here. Your Gift will be a tax-deductable donation to the Boone Area Cyclists who will oversee the construction of the pump track.

We are $3525 into our $6000 goal to be raised by June 30. (Any money raised beyond $6000 will go directly to improving Rocky Knob Trails.)

Sponsor Levels (to be named on the pump track sign):

Double Black Diamond Corporate Sponsor: $500 and up (This level of giving places your company’s logo prominently on the sign.)

Single Black Diamond: $100-$499 (This level of giving places your personal name on the sign.)

Flat Shovel Level: $25-$99 (This level of giving places your personal name on the sign.) In the spirit of pump-tracks, every little bit matters: Individuals shaping dirt with Flat Shovels are the foundation of every pump tracks. Every gift will help us complete this project.

Current pledges to date at the Double Black Diamond Level:

 Ray’s Weather Center

Cole’s Lawn Care

Bald Guy Brew

Coyote Kitchen

Destination By Design

Boone Area Cyclists

Single Black Diamond:

Barry D. Greenblatt

Flat Shovels:

Eliza Bennett

Amelia Bennett

Joshua J. McMann

Paul A. Stahlschmidt

Chad Eppley

Ricardo Ceppi

Steve White

Spring Fever 2013

Trail Head (1 of 1)Blue skies, warm temps, and flowing trails: we’re almost there in the High Country.

Work continues in finalize the parking lot area at Rocky Knob. Also, several crews of volunteers have been busy with McLeods, rakes, and shovels readying the trails for riding.

We anticipate opening the trails very soon. Stay tuned.

Winter Update 1/30/13

Melting snow, rain, freezing temps, wind, and more snow are keeping the trails closed. Please do the park and your bike a favor and stay off the trails until the weather turns more stable. Riding them now will cause much more work for volunteers. That work would be much better spent building new features. We will post updates here.
Thanks for your cooperation.

Rocky Knob Fest: The Place Where Recreation Comes Together

The future Sunset Skills Area

Rocky Knob Fest is fast approaching. Join us this Saturday, Oct 27th at 1:00 to enjoy the incredible fall conditions at the park. Magic Cycles will be on hand with Giant Demos (2012 Reign’s will be sold at a special price). ASU Cycling team members will lead group rides starting at 2:00. BBQ and burritos will be available all afternoon ($7/plate including 1 raffle ticket; additional raffle tickets f0r $1 each). Bald Guy is roasting a special “Rocky Knob Double Black Diamond Brew” and we will have a raffle featuring local goods to benefit the Boone Area Cyclists and the ASU Recreation Management Association’s student scholarship. Stay at the Marriott in Boone for a special Rocky Knob Fest rate and enjoy the Boonetown Throwdown on Sunday.

“Karate Monkey” Ryan Puckett going full rigid on the PBJ.

2012 Giant Reigns will go for $1900 tax included.

Bald Guy contemplating the Double Black Diamond Roast.

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Christopher Patino deep in a PBJ berm.Appalachian State University Recreation Management ProgramCole'sLawnCare.jpg

Going Big Starts Small

Going Big Starts Small

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The trails at Rocky Knob are not easy. Rocks, roots, leaves, more rocks, climbs, and downhills are some of the challenges riders face. And that’s just on the first trail. Most regulars at Rocky Knob will attest that riding here will make you a better rider. Imagine growing up riding at two wheels at Rocky Knob? What kind of talent might emerge? One of the visions of Rocky Knob Park is to create a place where riders could progress their skills (what ever their skill level) on authentic challenges. International events like yesterday’s Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day remind us that going big starts small.

Rocky Knob joined countless other trail systems across the world in playing host to over 13,000 kids riding bikes on trails. Some of the skills we worked on yesterday with our young rippers were patience and decision making, along with braking and shifting.  Getting more kids at younger ages on bikes has many beneficial ripple effects: riders develop a sense of fitness and health, they make connections between people and our natural environment, and as IMBA believes, “Today’s riders are tomorrow’s land managers.” So when you get a chance, take a kid mountain biking.

Special thanks to Eric Marland, Jay Womack, Ryan Puckett, John Goldbaum, DeFeet Socks, IMBA, Specialized, Magic Cycles, Boone Bike and Touring, and the Boone Area Cyclists for making this event come together.