A little cultural history on Bent Creek,Episode 2
writen by: Ben Blitch
Click here for Episode 1
In the 80’s mountain biking was occurring in the bowls of the WNC woods in the form of local long haired hippies like Art Schuster roaming the woods on their 24” BMX cruisers. Liberty Bikes was located down in Arden next to Long Shoals Rd. and there was a BMX track behind the shop. Road riding ruled the roost and the roost was packed! We had all the pro teams coming through for races at Biltmore Estate. Yeah, the cross in Asheville race won’t be anything new to the old timers! Road racing in the Asheville area carried most of the talent pool, but then a little west coast “invention” made its way to the dirt of Appalachia and mountain biking got its start. Gravel roads in Pisgah, the moto trails in the woods near Lake Powatan, read: Bent Creek, and even on some of the Jeep roads around Chimney Rock. It became an open slate free for the adventurous picking. Suddenly there were these hippies ripping through the woods on knobby freedom and somebody had to put a stop to it. The years of the mid 80s are shady in how the Pisgah District started limiting uses and “managing” these new users. In BC we had just lost the ability to ride motos on the spaghetti bowl of trails in the area but now mountain bikes had a huge network of flowy, buffed out trails and all the roadies in the area took heed. The trails were so fun even people like Andy and Bill Grabowski were coming up out of Greenville, SC to get some dirt in on those hot Summer days in the Upstate.
When the 90’s came around it seemed you could feel the growth starting to happen in the area, it was palpable, and the restrictions started coming fast and furious. Areas of the forest were only open to us in the cold muddy fall months when people weren’t really hiking the trails anyway and the entire Bent Creek system had to be “documented”. This was when I started living at the “Bent Creek House” on Pole Creasman Rd. and the undiscovered became discovered. An accurate map of all the trails in Bent Creek, approved and non-approved, was created. We had one of the only copies in our house, I wonder what ever happened to that map? Our lives in the woods were now regulated, so someone had to step forward. Enter the AMAZING Claudia Nix, she realized action needed to be taken so us riders had a voice. Blue Ridge Bicycle Club came forward and offered to be the voice. A little upstart company out in Boulder was just starting to get advocacy and maintenance going and they disseminated some info to people around here and we started clipping back limbs and clearing drains from the trails. This remained the case for many years and life was all good until about 2004 when Mother Nature decided to stir the pot.