Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Double 8's

I took advantage of my last day as a bachelor and headed out for  a long ride.  I am loving the Foundry Ratchet and I'm sure my mtn bike is jealous but her time will come.  The temps were forcasted to be 80 plus with a good chance of rain or thunderstorms.  Packing my jacket, arm warmers, Honey  Stinger foods and cell phone (not sure who I would call if I needed help), and a few other items, I rolled out around 8:30.  I had gotten wind of some old dudes doing the same loop that I had planned and was hoping to catch them and roll through the stretch from Old Fort to Marion together.  
It was a hot and steamy ride already, and sweat was pouring off of my body.  I kept a steady rythym and considered a stop at Dynamite Roasting, but chose not to.  Through Black Mountain, past Ridgecrest and finally into the woods.   The Point Lookout trail is a great trail but it is sketchy going fast as it gets pretty slippery.  I would find out later that two of the guys had gone down, sliding out on  a slick spot.  Parts of the trail don't see the sun during the summer and get a build up of slipperyness.

 I ended up catching the guys just past the Old Fort Picnic area.   It was great to be in the presence of local cycling gurus such as Wes Garby and Robbie Sweetser.  Super nice guys to boot.  We chatted away, pulling off the road occcasionally to allow the truckers to go by, commenting that you really do not want to make them mad!  We stopped briefly at the Coastal station for a refill.  I got a 360 cal honey bun and filled up with water. 
 Taking a left on hwy 80, I started to get antsy.  The group was planning on heading up to the top of Mt Mitchell and eating at the restaurant.  I had considered doing the same but decided to save it for another day. 

As we passed the lake and the road started to lift up, I bid farewell and picked up the pace.   I wasn't flying but I was holding a steady and it felt good.  I have been able to get some miles in lately and my legs were feeling heavy but my mind was compensating.   The mountains were awesome today.  Deep greens of old growth shrouded in light green of new growth.  The cooler mountain air, mixed with the heat from the sun.  Giant puffy clounds skimming the ridge as they were blown eastward.   I periodically sat up trying to absorb it all. 

I climbed then climbed some more. For once my mind more focused on spinning circles than on struggling with life issues,  it was a good change.   I am at one of those places in life where it seems things are stable,  its a good feeling. 

 The miles ticked by and I ignored the time,  I knew I was keeping a decent pace and so I focused on form.  When I'm tired, I focus on form,  it gets me through and saves energy.  Its amazing how much better I feel when I focus on a full circle, than when I simply mash the pedals. 

 As the last climb to Craggy appeared, I got that good feeling, knowing that I had some left to cruise the long decent into Asheville.  After a quick stop at the Craggy Visitors Center, and a chat with some preachers on Harleys,   I pedaled into the pavement covered wave.   Carving down,  swooping around the wide turns,  grinning......

And then it was over.  2 small climbs left,  through the woods and down the hill.  I was beat but happy.  88 miles, 6.5 hrs,  it was a good day.  

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