Dec 7th, 2022
Aero Tech in Appalachia
By: Nate Lavalla
Maybe you’ve noticed Aero Tech’s social media has been full of stuff from the Asheville region recently and that seems a little strange. Don’t worry we aren’t leaving Pittsburgh! Our newest member of the Aero Tech Designs marketing team now calls that region home. Nathan (@lavalla1985) has just moved there and will be working to grow our brand in one of the biggest cycling hubs in America!
Nate is one of those people constantly looking for new adventures, new people, and interesting places. We are very excited to have an adventure-addict like him on our team and can’t wait to see the places and adventures he finds in the biggest mountains east of the Mississippi. You’ll be able to follow along his journey exploring the mountains and towns of Appalachia right here on the Aero Tech Designs website, Instagram, and Facebook pages.
My new local trails, Dupont State Forest
Have you ever seen The Hunger Games movies or The Last of The Mohicans? If so, you have seen Dupont State forest! This 12,500 acre tract of land preserves some of the most beautiful wilderness in the country. There are 80+ miles of trails and gravel access roads to explore, 13 waterfalls, a big red covered bridge, countless mountaintop views, creek crossings, and places to just sit and meditate. I don’t think I could have landed in a better spot to live the next chapter of my life. And to think, if it weren't for massive efforts from local, state, and national preservation groups this place wouldn’t exist for public use but rather would have been an upscale gated community restricting access to three famous waterfalls; those same waterfalls you saw in the movies!
As recently as the year 2000 this area was slated for development of private vacation homes. Through shady dealings and ambiguously worded contracts a developer was on his way to privatizing and exploiting this natural wonder. But thanks to the work done by conservation groups and concerned citizens in the region, that never became a reality. You can read all about the dramatic history on the Friends of Dupont webpage here https://www.dupontforest.com/about/history/
"A flow-trail measuring 1 ½ miles with 430’ of elevation loss doesn’t seem like much on paper but the design quality makes this one of, if not THE, most joy-inducing trails I have ever ridden."
I’ve been exploring the trail system here for a few weeks now and I still haven’t touched all of it. Every ride is something different and that’s what is so great. These aren’t the biggest mountains in the area and it’s not even close to the biggest trail system either. Head to Pisgah and Nantahala National Forest for those big big big adventure rides. But the variation of ecosystems, terrain, and trail types is nearly unmatched anywhere. The southernmost area of the park boasts huge granite slickrock “balds” that require a very challenging ride up and down to access but are worth every bit of effort for the epic views and the undeniable stoke you get riding though all the boulders on the way. The highest mountain in the park is Stone Mountain standing over 1,300 ft above the river valley (3,600 ft above sea level) where you can catch 180 degree views and see all the way to Mt. Mitchell in the north. Make sure you catch a super fun ride down the Rocky Ridge trail on your way back from the peak. That trail has become part of most every ride I do there. A little closer to the center of the forest is the crown jewel of the trail system, Ridgeline. If there ever was a perfect combination of nature and trail sculpting this is it. A flow-trail measuring 1 ½ miles with 430’ of elevation loss doesn’t seem like much on paper but the design quality makes this one of, if not THE, most joy-inducing trails I have ever ridden. It’s as if mother nature herself designed the hillside for that trail. Around every twist and turn is another perfectly picturesque naturescape. The trail is so thoughtful and sits so seamlessly in the forest it’s easy to get distracted by its grace and beauty. However, it’s so perfectly designed that gaining massive speed is inevitable. With plenty of wall-rides, big berms and strategic rollers and doubles, Ridgeline can have anyone feeling like they are literally flying though the forest. This is what mountain biking is all about. Enjoy yourself in nature. Take the time and put in the effort to climb that mountain. Earn it. Breathe the pure air that only forests like this can produce. Feeling exhausted at the top is worth it when the air tastes this fresh. And when you’ve finally wrapped your head around the beauty of this place (and your heart rate is back to normal), point that wheel downhill and find your flow.
Cranksgiving MTB Race
This is Nate with Aero Tech Designs. Thanks for reading. I plan on writing as much as I can about my adventures on two wheels. I’ll be stationed here in NC but will be making trips to the desert out west and mountains to the north as much as possible. Hopefully I can find some cool adventures to write about everywhere I go. If you know of any cool spots that need some publicity let me know! I’m always open to exploring new places.
Written by Nate Lavalla