Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Roan and Beech

 Friday we drove up the Little Switzerland to spend the weekend with Mike and his wife Rhonda.  (yes, we both have wives named Rhonda).  We were planning on a social paced ride with 100 or so other friends at the Roan Moan.  We chose the metric century route so that we would have something left to climb Beech on Sunday.

The gun went off and we were towards the back with some sketchy riders,  weaving, hitting brakes etc.  I decided this wasn't for me and I started threading my way through the cyclists, making sure Mike was on my wheel.  After a few minutes, we were at the front of the group, and I was pushing the pace a little bit.   I caught a glimpse of a group of 12 ahead, and then as the road turned I lost them.  As we crested a small climb, Mike sighed.  Having ridden with Mike quite a bit, I knew that this sigh meant we were going to fast at this point.

Without looking back, I clicked a few gears and upped the pace some more,  then I was alone, in no man's land.  I was looking forward to the Iron Mtn Climb and made it my mission to be the first to the top.   I slowly reeled the group of 12 in and greeted each person before holding my pace and cruising by.  I got a small gap and held it for a while until Jim (from Asheville ) bridged up.  After chatting, we slowed the pace and let the group catch us just at the bottom of the climb.  I rested for a couple of minutes, a couple of guys going off the front, and then set a pace that I hoped I could hold to the top.  I wanted to test myself and push my limits.

As far as I know, I was the first to the top of the climb,  I pulled over and waited for Mike. 
 We rolled through the course, chatting, meeting new friends, seeing old ones,  we passed Sibyl who was pulling a group of guys.  Up the Doe River Gorge and then through Roan Mtn State park.  We made a short stop at the rest stop at the bottom of the climb and then headed up.

The climb up Roan is one of my favorites.  After getting up the steeper bottom miles, the climb levels out to about 5 % avg and the views are amazing.  I rolled to the top,  staying just ahead of a group of 3 that was trying desperately to real me in.  I held the gap to the top and greeted them when I sat up and they passed me.  They ignored me....

We got some Coke and headed down the hill back to the start for a shower and a meal.  Awesome day and I was cooked. 
Sunday we had to choose if we wanted to ride to Asheville or to Beech.  The day was a little cooler and we chose Beech.  Mike had been studying the map and found some backroads that we tried out.   It turns out that Hickory Nut Gap Rd is a hidden gem and was well worth the trip.  Tight, not too steep winding mountain road with almost no traffic....perfect. 

And then a picnic on top of Beech with our families.

Another great weekend!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Where Are My Glasses?

I wandered around the house looking for my glasses.  I had just filled my bottles and then cleaned them but could not find them anywhere.  I kitted up and looked around while the wife and kid watched me wander helplessly, looking for what I could not find.  The wife asked what I was looking for and informed me that they were on my helmet....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I have been accused recently of being a roadie.   I can understand.  Someone mentioned that it boils down to percentage of time spent on the road bike vs the mountain bike.   I disagree.  I do spend a lot of time on my Foundry Ratchet,  and I do that with purpose.  I don't have the time and resources at this point to get out in the woods a lot.  In fact, except for the Trips For Kids WNC rides this summer, I rarely get to spend time in the woods on knobby tires.  The Foundry is a "tool, not a trophy" and I treat it as such.  I roll out the front door and get a ride in, and hopefully come back stronger,  and when the time is right,  I get to take my mountain steed to the woods for a run! 

I might ride the road a lot, but I would consider myself to be a mountain biker at heart....but in the end, really, who cares?  We are all out there enjoying the ride!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Okie Dokies Smokehouse

I would ride my bike through a rain storm to eat some of the best pulled pork in the southeast!!   I didn't stop to eat this time though, but I did snap this quick pic.  I was out for a 25 miler and it was raining.  It felt great..... and the food smelled great, but I decided to move on.  The restaurant was packed and I had a ride to finish.

I'll be back!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Outrunning the Storm

The green blob on the weather radar split in half and faded.  It was time to head out the door.  There was another green blob on the horizon headed my way but I figured that if I kept a steady pace, and didn't have a flat, I could out run it and make it back home before it moved in. 

It was hot but not as hot as it has been.  The humidity was high, as evidenced by the sweat dripping off of my body.  I wound my way up Elk Mountain, following the strip of pavement, spinning the pedals, shifting the gears.  As I push, I realized that it had happened.  The moment when rider and bike become one.  Everything felt right,  no discomfort.  Just the smooth, stiff, responsive ride of a carbon frame and DT Swiss wheels.  

I gazed down the hill, into a yard, and noticed something large, black and furry.  A huge black bear lumbering down someone's driveway.  I had time to snap a photo, but it was too far away, and would not turn out well. 

Continuing up the mountain, I relaxed but stayed attentive,  watching and listening for the impending storm.  Cresting the ridge and flowing down the other side and onto the Parkway, the rain started to fall, but not hard. 

As I rounded the last turn homeward, the rain let up and the sky cleared,  no storm in sight.

I had outrun the storm that never was....

Monday, July 09, 2012

Weekend Fun

 After spending the day Saturday at the Hillcrest apartments helping with a kid's bike safety rodeo,  and then the evening and night at Shindig on the Green,  I was tired on Sunday morning.  But I pried myself away from watching the mountain stage of the Tour De France and went on  a ride of my own.  The temps were already climbing, and the humidity was high.  I coaxed my legs to keep spinning and gradually got up higher into cooler temps.  At the Craggy Gardens VC it was 72 degrees, windy and fog was pouring over the gap.  Perfect.  I refilled my bottles and headed back down the mountain.  Tired, I soft pedaled home. 
 After lunch and a nap,  I loaded the wife and kid and we headed back up the mountain to find some coolness.  We stopped at a creek, built a dam, and I sat in it until my legs were nearly numb and I was shivering... it felt great!  Crawdads, and salamanders were found, boats were made and fun  was had.
Back at home we raided the blackberry patch across the street in the vacant lot.  The wife made some awesome cobbler......

Another fun filled weekend.

Friday, July 06, 2012


The kid and I decided it was time to build a fort.  We had to do this on a budget though.  So once we got the frame built we collected some pallets to finish it off.  The result was pretty cool.  Then we had some leftover pieces, and my brain went to work.  The skids pushed the idea over the edge, so I used the saw to carve out the backs and sanded them down,  voila,  handhold.  I screwed the skids all the way across the bottom of the fort and up the outside.  Voila,  a bouldering cave!!  A couple of 2x 4's across the bottom of the cave for foot holds and we were climbing. 

The kid is stoked to be doing something other than ride bikes.  I am stoked to be sharing this sport with him.   I am also stoked to be climbing again.  Having climbed for about 10 yrs from high school on,  climbing played a big roll in my life, learning how to face challenges and persevere. 

The callouses are a bit lacking but I was pleased that after at least 10 years since my last climb, the  balance is still there. 
The kid took to it naturally.

Out of the cave and up the side.
A crag in my own back yard.   It doesn't get much better than this..... unless we had a halfpipe!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Busy summer.  I'm finding times to squeeze in some riding and family time though.  We are getting lots of kids out on mountain bike outings to, so that rocks. 

It looks like I am starting another project which has been a dream for a long time.  I'm very excited about this.  Details as soon as some things get nailed down.

Go ride!!