Fried chicken and Bud--is there really a better source of energy over the course of a six-hour riding binge? We think not. Plus, fried chicken comes in handy Ziploc baggies here...Sweet!

And so it begins...four of us stumbled off of airplanes in Asheville, North Carolina, loaded up the Chevy Silverado, and headed for the nearest pitcher of Negra Modelo and pile of beans and rice (which turned out to be Cielito Lindo, in Brevard).

Welcome to the Bible; Bike magazine's less-than-reverently-named annual Gear Guide. The premise is simple: a gear guide isn't worth its weight in spit if the products on its pages haven't been put to the test. Thus, we've amassed an insanely large pile of bikes and gear, which we subject to serious trail time. The first year we went to Whistler. Last year it was Bellingham, Washington. This year? Brevard, North Carolina: ground zero for some of the best riding in the nation.

For the next two weeks, the cycle will go like this: get up at seven, gather the empties from the night before, tune up the bikes and head out for a day of riding some of the best trails in the country. Twenty four bikes, eight forks, six wheelset, six sets of brakes, four dropper posts, scores of tires...all of them will be put to the test over the course of the next month.

We've been scouting test loops (in Pisgah National and DuPont State forrests), riding a ton, and, as of Tuesday, testing bikes in as systematic and thorough a fashion as possible, which also amounts to riding the piss out of bikes on amazing trails, so yeah, it's not exactly a Trail of Tears endeavor. Lots of pain. Lots of fun.

Over the course of the next two weeks, we'll be posting daily from Brevard. Stay tuned.

Tester and associate editor Ryan ''Squirrel'' LaBar. He's not only fashion-forward and devious; he also fits tidily into the wheel well of a pick up truck. So handy.