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Mountain Range


Jason Vance (6)


As is the case of my first Triple Crown attempt back in 2021, riding these routes on consecutive days is simply time-management. It’s difficult to make 3 separate trips up to Tennessee from Charleston, SC (on top of coming up for the Three Rivers Way), so scheduling a visit to ride them all in one shot makes sense to me. It’s still a bad idea, but I like bad ideas. And I like to share my bad ideas, so I drug Matt along with me.

Matt brought a back-up bike for this trip, but after considering the logistics, he opts to sit out the D130. It’s a 26’er, but Matt didn’t pack any spare tubes for that wheel size. I agree with his hesitance, as bail-outs on this route require a bit more planning than the limited cell-service might allow, and I predict he would probably snap that bike in two, too. There’s mutual disappointment in the air; planning to take several days off away from work and family is a sacrifice for these trivial endeavors. But, we selfishly justify these sacrifices when the opportunity and challenge for adventure seems too valuable to miss. Matt’s broken frame yesterday stole his chance to ride out the Triplecrown on consecutive days -a feat in its own right; and now he’s missing out on one of the sweetest and most-rewarding gravel routes in the Southeast.

This is my 6th ride of the Dirty 130. I credit this route with opening the doors of the Southeast gravel, ultra-racing and bikepacking communities to me. Prior to my first D130 in 2018, my interests were pointed towards the dying 12/24-hour MTB race format; and, while challenging in their own right, I now realize that riding laps all night just exorcises the demons…it doesn’t deliver the variety of terrain; the views and vistas; the sounds of the rivers and wildlife; the logistical challenges of finding food and water when a pit area isn’t a lap away; the highs that come with the rewarding beauty of the route after you’ve climbed for 5 miles, 8 miles, 12 miles; the humbling lows that come with pitches so steep you can’t turn the pedals over, or mis-managing your nutrition and bonking yourself into a stupor; being so tired you find yourself snapping awake as you’re falling forward or riding towards a ditch (or into a bush), and where a 30-minute nap in the dirt beside the trail feels better than any night of sleep you’ve had that month. And, while the D130 isn’t all of these packed into one ride, it was the gateway to the CFiTTs, Huracans, Mountain 420s, Pisgah 36/99s, RockStars, TNGAs and Fried Clays that would follow, that I would spectacularly fail, or that I would improbably finish.

And, although I wish Matt was there to enjoy it with me, the solo ride delivered 16 hours of much-needed meditation. All I’m going to say is I had a great day; I love this route.

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