Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Downtown Erwin, TN

 After sleeping well and stuffing ourselves on homemade bread, muffins, eggs Florentine, coffee and juice,  we kitted up and headed out of town.  There was a 50% chance of showers but the sky was clear and the sun shining bright.  As we rode, we talked about different things that mattered and joked about other things.

The highlight of the day was a climb up Roan mtn.  Since I was in middle school, and up until a few years ago, my family had a tradition of coming up to this area for vacation time.  One of the highlights was bringing Rhonda with us the first time.  Good memories!  

When we first started coming, we would shuttle our bikes to the top of Carver's Gap, just below Roan Mt, and ride down.  As time went by, we got more ambitious an started riding from the bottom up the 7 mile climb to the top, then back down.  After that became less challenging, we started riding from the vacation lodges that we were staying at, for a 26 mile out and back.   Then to top it off,  the last time I was there, I rode a 40 mile loop around the area, that included a climbing up and over Roan,  before riding back to eat Thanksgiving dinner.   And the rides keep getting bigger...

 I really like the climb up,  a couple of steep pitches, with some moderate, steady grades and breathtaking views.  Within a couple of miles, the flora changes from pristine forests to gnarled stunted trees and shrubbery. 
Into the Cherokee National Forest
As we climbed higher, I said to Mike," The only thing that would be better at this point, is if we were riding on dirt!"
Roan Mtn in the distance, Carvers Gap in the center
 About a mile from the top, I needed to stretch my legs, so I upped the pace.  I was feeling rather good after a 100 mile day yesterday.  At the top, we stopped for lunch.  I pulled out the pimento cheese sandwich and coke that I had picked up at the store in the town of Roan Mtn.  It was delish.  One thing I did right on this trip was feed myself properly.  The only time I was hungry on the bike was yesterday, towards the end of the day. 
 The Appalachian Trail crossed the road here.  When we stopped we noticed a guy eating lunch as well so we went to talk to him.  Greenlight is his trailname and he was eating a tub of peanut butter sprinkled with raisins and crumbled granola bar.  We gave him some of our extra food which he was happy to see.
Greenlight and Mike
 After chatting for a few minutes, I watched the storm clouds rolling in and suggested that we hit the road. 
Elevation = fresh air
 We flew down the other side of the mountain into the valley,  a couple more climbs and we came into Bakersville. We stopped at Dot's where Mike had some Chili and a cookie, I had a danish and a coffee.  We decided to take the quickest road to Little Switzerland, where we  would stay for the night. 

About 2 miles out of Bakersville we were riding towards some ominous looking storm clouds.  The  wind kicked up and we got splattered with a few rain drops.  I chuckled when Mike frantically started to pedal faster, then pointed to a barn across a field: "  Should we go in that barn?" he yelled.  I pointed to the right, just off the road, and suggested we simply pull into the carport of a roadside house.  We did, and mr. technology whipped out his phone to check the weather map.   Mike wanted to stay put, I fancy myself as being able to read storms and the direction they are headed and told Mike that if we left now, we would ride in between the passing storm and the next cell that was creeping up.  Mike conceded and within minutes, we were riding in sunshine. 
The last tun
We were at our destination within an hour, and recovery treats ensued.  70 miles today, and two big grins of accomplishment.  After getting cleaned up and eating dinner, we watched the huge thunderstorm roll by from the relative safety of the deck, then we watched Ride The Divide,  Mike had never seen it. 

Tomorrow:  Little Switzerland to Asheville

1 comment:

Greenlite said...

Well this is weird. Today I decided to search my trail name and I see a photo that I remember being taken four years ago. The food was fantastic as I recall and you both were all too kind. Thank you for taking the time to sit with me for a while. Tell Mike I said Hello.