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I felt like 2016 was a hectic year. Looking back through my rides and photos, I realized that it was indeed. While I didn’t log nearly as many skymiles as, say, Greg, I spent plenty of time riding in new places, meeting passionate riders, and even exploring close to home. Below are the highlights from my year behind bars!

January – 260 miles

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Don’t try this at home

I got 2016 started on the right foot with a New Year’s Day ride at the Green River Game Lands in Saluda, NC. My friends Kurt and Gwyn had recently completed their mountain house and invited a bunch of us up to christen the place. Considering the amount of beer, whiskey, wine, and champagne consumed on New Year’s Eve, it’s surprising any of us made it to the trail the following day.

Kurt takes the way inside line on a tricky switchback.

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While there isn’t a ton of trail at the Green River Game Lands, it’s legit Pisgah riding. Be sure to hike down to the river to check out the rapids, too.

February – 372 miles

February is always a tough one. Even those that love winter are getting pretty sick of it by the time this month rolls around. Most of my February was spent indoors on a trainer, but I did venture out a couple times. Early in the month, I returned to Western North Carolina to ride the rowdy – but often overlooked – Heartbreak Ridge. I followed that up by racing the 50-mile version of the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial the next weekend.

Heartbreak Ridge seen from afar

Heartbreak Ridge in the middleground, seen from afar

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Fifty frigid miles of the Pinhoti trail

March – 500 miles

As my training plan ramped up, I again spent many hours riding nowhere on the trainer. To get a break from the grind, I visited Charlotte, NC, for the Faster Mustache Tour de Charlotte. Half race, half rolling party, the Tour had us riding random bits of urban singletrack spread across the city.

Nothing like rolling around the city with 150 other mountain bikers

Nothing like rolling around the city with 150 other mountain bikers

I also had the pleasure of introducing our contributor Helena Kotala to some of Georgia’s finest singletrack.

Helena finishing up the Pinhoti 2 descent

Helena finishing up the Pinhoti 2 descent

April – 400 miles

Springtime in the Southeast is hard to beat – warm days, cool nights, and everything in bloom. With the Maxxis Appalachian Summit, Sea Otter, the #BrutalLoop, and a buddy’s bachelor party, April was action-packed!

Riding in Ellijay, GA, at the Maxxis Appalachian Summit (photo: John Watson / theradavist.com)

Riding in Ellijay, GA, at the Maxxis Appalachian Summit (photo: John Watson / theradavist.com)

After 10 miles of climbing it's time for a whiskey break

After 10 miles of climbing it’s time for a whiskey break

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The reward for all that climbing is the Mountaintown Creek descent!

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Riding at Jake Mountain outside Dahlonega, GA

Getting to stay across the street from the Pacific is just one of the reasons Sea Otter is my favorite show each year

Getting to stay across the street from the Pacific is just one of the reasons Sea Otter is my favorite show each year

May – 460 miles

More great times were had in May. A number of our contributors joined us in Pisgah, NC, for a long weekend of bikes, beers, and chilling. And, with spring in full-swing, I ditched the trainer for the open roads and trails. With the Trans-Sylvania Epic just around the corner, I did some local races to get warmed up.

Our guide Megan taking us down Pilot Rock in Pisgah

Our guide Megan taking us down Pilot Rock in Pisgah

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Obligatory group photo at Pilot Cove

Almost stepped on these two timber rattlers that were sunning themselves on the granite

Almost stepped on these two timber rattlers that were sunning themselves on the granite

June – 370 miles

TSEpic time! The Trans-Sylvania Epic is a 5-day stage race held in Central Pennsylvania each summer. After mixed results in 2015, I wanted to come back with a vengeance – hence the training plan. I surpassed my expectations, claiming two 3rd place finishes along with 4th overall for the week. At the end of the month, I spent a few days checking out Santa Rosa, CA, and all the town has to offer.

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Trying not to eat shit on Wildcat (photo: TSEpic Media Team)

Washing grit out of my eyes on Stage 4 (photo: TSEpic Media Team)

Washing grit out of my eyes on Stage 4 (photo: TSEpic Media Team)

Rich "Dicky" Dillen soaked through on the final day of the TSEpic

Rich “Dicky” Dillen soaked through on the final day of the TSEpic

Annadel State Park

Annadel State Park

High above Santa Rosa with a local guide

High above Santa Rosa with a local guide

Riding at Lake Sonoma

Riding at Lake Sonoma

Oh, and I got a new road bike too!

Oh, and I got a new road bike too!

July – 460 miles

I’m not one to let the oppressive heat of summer keep me off my bike. Much of the month was spent getting prepped for the Off-Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell. I started the race strong – too strong – and ended up bonking in spectacular fashion on the 10-mile climb up Curtis Creek Road. In a world of hurt, I laid in a ditch until a kind stranger gave me a ride back to town.

Riding a rails-to-trails path through soybean fields in Mississippi

Riding a rails-to-trails path through soybean fields in Mississippi

ORAMM, before shit hit the fan

ORAMM, before shit hit the fan

August – 360 miles

With ORAMM behind me, my race season was finished. Time for some fun rides! I kicked things off by touring Industry Nine’s and Cane Creek’s offices near Asheville, NC, and riding their local trails. Later in the month, I headed up to Snowshoe, WV, to ride their bike park and check out the backcountry singletrack. I went in skeptical, but left enamored. Snowshoe is rad and I’ll be going back.

An Industry Nine hub shell on a lathe

An Industry Nine hub shell on a lathe

The shock assembly area at Cane Creek

The shock assembly area at Cane Creek

Riding Squirrell Gap before it started pouring

Riding Squirrel Gap before it started pouring

Riding in Snowshoe

Riding in Snowshoe

The Tea Creek trails in Slatyfork, WV

The Tea Creek trails in Slaty Fork, WV

Should you visit Snowshoe, be sure to climb up the 100' fire tower for 360-degree views

Should you visit Snowshoe, be sure to climb up the 100′ fire tower for 360-degree views

September – 320 miles

Apart from the yearly trip to Las Vegas for Interbike, September was a chill month. Most of my rides were on local trails or on the road. The highlight of the month, however, had nothing to do with bikes. Thanks to a gift from my lovely girlfriend, I got to drive a NASCAR race car around the Atlanta Motor Speedway!

The Atlanta skyline

The Atlanta skyline

Want a real thrill? Drive a race car

Want a real thrill? Drive a race car

Testing bikes at Bootleg Canyon

Testing bikes at Bootleg Canyon (photo: Jeff Barber)

October – 250 miles

Usually, October is the best month to ride in Georgia – it’s cool and dry. Well this year, summer ran a bit long. Much of the month was above 80 degrees and the region was in a drought, which baked the trails rock-hard. It was the same story in Charlotte when Jeff and I visited Interbike’s new East Coast event, titled Fall Cyclofest.

The Ibis Mojo 3 is the best plus bike I've ridden to date

The Ibis Mojo 3 is the best plus bike I’ve ridden to date

Jeff giving an Eleven fat bike a go

Jeff giving an Eleven fat bike a go

November – 415 miles

By November, it was finally starting to feel like fall. After taking it easy for a couple months, I packed on some good miles. On the day after Thanksgiving, my buddy Christopher and I tackled Farlow Gap in Pisgah. It’s the most technical trail in the Forest, and that’s saying something. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures as I was just trying to make it down in one piece. But, I did get some good shots out at Coldwater Mountain in Alabama.

Ed takes on the log ride at Coldwater

Ed takes on the log ride at Coldwater

Taking on the chunky Gazza trail at Coldwater

Taking on the chunky Gazza trail at Coldwater

December – 200 miles

With the holidays – and all that goes along with them – December is a notoriously tough month to get rides in. The fact that it’s cold, damp, and dark when I get out of work doesn’t help either. Doing trail work has been a good change of pace. My Faster Mustache teammates and I cleared some trail for an urban mountain bike race, and my buddy Chris and I have resurrected an old local trail that had fallen into disrepair. Night rides are the name of the game now, although they’re more about goofing off and camaraderie than racking up the miles.

Faster Mustache: Wheels to the Farm 2016

Faster Mustache: Wheels to the Farm 2016

We made the racers climb this terrible hill cause we're jerks like that

We made the racers climb this terrible hill ’cause we’re jerks like that

Gimme a blower, some gas, and earplugs, and I'll keep myself entertained for hours

Gimme a blower, some gas, and earplugs, and I’ll keep myself entertained for hours

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Winter night rides are for goofing around

Looking ahead, planning for 2017 is going well. I – along with the rest of the Singletracks team – will have plenty of bike-based adventures to share with you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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