When I first moved down here, the Laurel/Pilot route was one of my first rides in Pisgah. At that time I was riding my rigid, SS Karate Monkey and between finishing law school, studying for and taking the bar, and then moving to Brevard, my fitness level was dreadful. Now, I would say my fitness level has risen to the level of "poor," so I thought it was time to hit this route again on the Lazer Cat. Only, by the time I decided to ride up Laurel, I had already put in 15 miles in Pisgah, which is roughly equivalent to 127 miles on any trail system in Cincinnati.
The ride up Laurel started off much better than last time, and I think a lot of the reason was the addition of gears. Laurel has some pretty technical sections, and I still couldn't clear most of them, but did better. On my way up, there was a group of three riders that passed me in the other direction, easily clearing a section that I wouldn't even attempt. Not too long later, they passed me in the other direction. There really are some amazing riders around here.
Anyway, I eventually made it to Pilot, and wussed my way down switchback hell and through the rock garden. I ended up doing 36 miles, and felt pretty rough by the end. My fitness is really improving, but I need to work on feeding myself better on long rides. A Cliff bar just isn't going to cut it. For anyone interested, my route for the day was 477>Clawhammer>Buckhorn Gap>S. Mills River>476(?)>1206>Laurel>Pilot>1206>276>477.
A few pics: