Thursday, August 29, 2013

 Well, I think I am recovered from my death march at Dupont last weekend.  Dupont is no joke and it put me in my place.  It is more like rolling hills than the longer extended climbs of Greater Pisgah.  One good thing about the ride last saturday was that I spent 40 miles working on skills, body position on the bike and pedaling technique,  thanks to WN Precision. 

This week is a rest and recovery week, so I've been spending time at Bent Creek, riding around at a super easy pace for less than 2 hrs and working on my skills some more.  Floating over rocks and roots is a big one that I am working on.  And of course, riding down hill with less braking is another. 

I'm feeling really comfortable on the bike,  with the fork freshly serviced at Suspension Experts,  the Siren 55 is running smooth.  

Less than 3 weeks until the Pisgah MTB Stage Race!
The kid decided he wanted to ride to school on Tuesday, and we have ridden 3 days in a row.  I didn't push him or recommend in any way, which was really cool for me.  He's only 9 and has the rest of his life to ride, so I figure he will enjoy it more if we ride when he wants to!  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Save The Trails Challenge 2013

I signed up for the epic and was relieved to find out that it had been shortened to 40 ish miles due to a trail closure.  I had to be back in Asheville by 4pm.  If something went wrong then I would be late.  There was about an hour where things went wrong.....I had doubts about making it back on time, or at all.

The day started with the fog lifting nicely, a cool breeze and a bunch of fun people.  I wasn't there to have fun though, I was there to test my race fitness and try something a little different.  Ok,  I was there to have fun too. 

I decided that since this is a supported ride with rest stops, I would try to ride without a Camelbak.  I would carry two bottles on the bike and a smaller one as a back up in my jersey pocket.

After the raffle we rolled out.  The group of juniors rolled off the front and I settled into my pace.  I rode with Patrick for a little while then Joe and Chris.  Chris and I passed each other the rest of the day.  We had very similar pacing.

I don't know the names of all the trails out at dupont, but I do know that after a big loop somewhere, we rode down Ridgeline, then up Jim Branch.  After that, everything is a blur.

The first hour and I was eating and drinking fine and feeling great.   The temps were not high but the humidity was.  I was pushing my pace a little bit to see what I could sustain over time.   This sport is about trial and error but it in endurance events,  you don't realize the error until 3 hrs into the ride.  It is difficult to find what works and what doesn't for that reason. 

The first hour and 12 miles rolled by.  I was cruising.  We had not yet done a lot of climbing though.  At the start of the second hour, I realized I wasn't having much fun.  I thought about the 20 folks wearing tutus, taking their time.  If I didn't have somewhere to be, I would have stopped and waited for them.  Climbing up the gravel rd and turning onto the airstrip, I realized that I should have emptied at least one bottle by now.  I had only taken in about half of one and not nearly enough of the second.  I chugged most of the water out of one bottle and I'm pretty sure that messed up my system for the rest of the day.

I grabbed a sandwich, refilled the bottle and kept pedaling.   Lots of tight, twisty single track,  up and over  a  mountain and I was at aid station 2.   2 hrs had come and gone and I was not feeling great.  Not terrible, just not great.   I was able to keep the pedals spinning, but my heartrate was low, I had a headache and the glare of the sun was annoying.  2 out of 3 negative symptoms.

I continued on,  around the loop and back through the I-9 rest stop.  I grabbed a little cup of trail mix to eat as I rode.  200 yrds later, with a mouth full of half chewed trailmix causing me to gag, I had flash backs to the Alleghany Mountains Loop trip I did about a month ago.  I knew at that point that the goal for the rest of the day would be to minimize damage and make it out alive.....

Only 20 miles left to go, I can do it.  I prayed for strength and wisdom.  I sipped,  and ate some gels.  Grinding my way to the 3rd aid station I greeted Karen and the Neuberts.  I estimated that I had 10-15 miles left.  I felt ok, and was able to eat some more sandwich.  I had been snacking on my Fritos (which I accidentally dopped and a local photog got a great picture of)  but they were not bringing me back as they had done in the past.

Chris N was trying to get in position to snap a photo, but I didn't have the patience at the time to wait for him.  Sorry, Chris.

The farther I rode, the more of a blur the ride was.  I was riding down an awesome trail that should have been a blast but it wasn't.   I was feeling ok, then suddenly bouncing down the trail around a switchback, nauseousness hit with a fury.  I stopped, took some deep breathes and managed not to puke.  There was a small creek running across the trail and I sat in it.  Dousing my arms, legs torso and dripping some onto my head.  I sat for just a couple of minutes and started shivering almost uncontrollably.   I wanted to lay there and fall asleep, but knowing that I could send myself into shock fairly quickly, I got back on the bike and continued on.

Riding down the rest of the hill, I was shivering but it felt so good.

A couple more climbs, a stream crossing or two, I can't remember and then to forest opened up into the Guion Farms parking lot.  What a relief.  No sprint finish, just a grind up to the pavilion to tell Jon Cartwright thanks, grab a half cold Coke and then on to the truck to change and head back home. 

4.5 hrs, 39.5 miles  ( I skipped the Poplar Trl Loop) 

Another good day on the bike, another lesson learned.  

Thanks Pisgah Area Sorba for helping us keep our trails open!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

14 Reason Why You Should Ride The Save The Trails Challenge

  1. Fun
  2. Fun
  3. Fun
  4. Fun
  5. Fun
  6. Fun
  7. Fun
  8. Fun
  9. Fun
  10. Fun
  11. Fun
  12. Fun
  13. Fun
  14. Fun

Friday, August 23, 2013

Thursday Night Ride

 Riding through Biltmore Forest on the way to Liberty Bikes, I caught up with Anthony.  He was commuting home from work.  It was good to catch up with him and finally ride together.  Cool guy with a cool family. 

I decided that since I am warming up for the Pisgah MTB Stage Race, it would be a good idea
to try to hang with the A group and get some speed in my legs. 

We set out at a steady pace and I found myself on the front already with Gen.  We cruised down the parkway until the first climb.  It seemed that it would be a mellow fast pace tonight.  Not a lot of chatting, but no one pushing the pace.  I thought I might be able to hang on. 

Up and over the first climb, onto 191 left turn, left turn, right turn, then the pace picked up a little bit.  Some guys punch the pace, I stay steady,  counting how many guys pass me on the first kicker.  I figure if I stay somewhere in the middle, I'll be able to have people to ride with when the pace heats up. 

We stayed mostly together, and then a left on Pennsylvania and the pace gradually increased.  Between the fields, up the incline that gets steeper and the suddenly kicks up.  I found myself second in line behind Taylor.  He always kicks it up several notches here and I can't hang.  I flick my elbow and shake my head.  A little gap forms and then its on,  I hold steady up and over as several guys pass,  the groups splinters and the rest of the road is a bunch of guys in little groups trying to catch the next little group.  Fun times.

 The rest of the ride was mellow but fast,  it was a little warmer than it has been the past couple of weeks and Wednesday night was the last ring of fire so some of the guys were a little beat. 
some serious conversation about how cool this ride is.
 Halfway up Mills Gap Rd, Chris Brown asked who wanted to ride Merrils Cove to Pinners to add some climbing.  I said, " I do, but I won't be able to go hard".  Chris said,"  oh, we won't go hard".   All I gotta say, as I gave it all I had,  that was hard.  I managed to keep them in sight,  except around the sharp bends,  I'm not sure if they were pushing the pace,  Eric White and Chris up front,  that's how it goes,  but I definitely was at my limit. 

They kindly waited at the top before bombing down the other side.  That is probably the fastest I have ridden that climb, ever.  I'm thinking we should add that to the loop though,  its a great workout!
It was dark by the time I got home,   probably will need to change the start time soon.  Then I plan on riding my mountain bike on Thursday nights through the winter. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I tend to get in a coffee rut.  I find something I like, has good flavor, as local as I can find and I stick with it.  Not only to support local, but also because there are some bad coffees out there, and I don't like to waste my money, much less waste my morning coffee time.  My disclaimer is that I don't know the lingo, the dynamics, the particulars to what constitutes a good cup of coffee,  I just know if it tastes good it makes me happy, and if it tastes bad, it makes me sad.

I found Dynamite Roasting 6 yrs ago when I was working out near Black Mountain.  I tried it and I really liked it.  They have several different roasts, and while I prefer a good solid dark roast, I tried their lighter roasts as well, and enjoyed every single one. 

Up to that point, I had been drinking Kinetic Koffee: "Organic Coffee Roaster", based in Arcata, California.  Excellent coffee, and Mark, the owner is a cyclist and super nice guy,  even helping me out in pursuing my own cycling goals.  It was hard to stop ordering from him,  but with Dynamite Roasting a short bike ride away,  I had to make the switch. 
I have known Marshall Hance, for a long time.  I moved here 9 years ago,  and I cannot remember where I first met him.  I do remember him working on my bike at Youngblood Bicycles, but we seemed to meet at random times,  on the trails or at races.  And then one day,  he opened Mountain Air Roasting: " The Best Cup of Coffee You Have Ever Had Every Morning".

I stopped by Greenlife one day and noticed that they had his  coffee brewed.  I purchased a cup to go and left.  I started sipping on in it with high hopes but those hopes were dashed.   The coffee was not very hot and I realized that I must have gotten the very bottom of the pot, and that the post at that point was not very fresh.    I wrote the coffee off until recently when I decided to purchase some beans, grind them fresh and brew it myself at home.  I was pleasantly surprised with a great cup of coffee.  And super excited to have another local brand to choose from. 

I recommend all three of the above coffees.  I can't really pick one over the other,  they are all different but great roasts!  

Enjoy your coffee!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Trail Work

I met up with a group of guys for some Laurel Mountain Trailwork.  Our goal was to cut all trees off the trail and trim back the growth overhanging the trail.  And if there was time and opportunity,  clear some drains. We worked hard and ended up walking 8 miles,  with tools.  The weather started with little sprinkles but the rain held off,  even a little sunshine showing through.  Of course the humidity was high,  jungle like! 

Sitting here typing this, my calves feel like rocks,  not in a good way,  tight and hard to walk.  Part of the reason is simply not used to hiking,   but mostly because my $60 work boots aren't cut out for that type of activity.  I'll have to figure out what to do about that. 

photo cred: Greg Leister

photo cred: Greg Leister

photo cred: Greg Leister
 Chuck Ramsey's synopsis: (and pics)

Three of us were shuttled to the Mt Pisgah end of the trail (actually to Buck Springs Trail, which connects with Laurel) and worked our way downhill with a chainsaw, loppers, etc. A second group (five PAS volunteers) worked their way up from Forest Service Rd 1206. The two groups met in Good Enough Gap, having removed brush, deadfalls, and trail-side debris from the entire length of trail. We walked out to 1206; everyone had around 8 hours work and 8 miles distance to his credit. Here's a set of before and after shots; this tree was in the 30" diameter range. We were able to leave the tree in play, yet provide an easy ride-around. With Justin PM, Chris Strout, David Knupp, Stephen Janes, Greg Leister, Mark whose last name I missed, and Ryan Donovan

photo cred: Greg Leister
As Chuck said, we were out for about 8 hours,  it feels good to get out and care for something that so many people use.  Feels really good.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Puzzle

It was a little bit foggy on the ride last night.  I finished up the daylight hours spinning around the gravel loop at Bent Creek.  Everything was wet.  Trees dripping, road soaked,  creeks raging.  It was good to get out.

As I rode, I thought about the ups and downs of life.   Riding my bike doesn't help.  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like without bikes in my life.  One of the highlights of my day,  I often come home feeling great, get showered and fed, only to wind up wishing I were still out there.  Still out there pedaling, gliding downhill,  grinding uphill,  flying free.

It is always the act of returning to society, to daily responsibility that sometimes brings me down.  But then I start to think what it would be like without the other awesome things in my life:  wife, kid,  project house, Trips For Kids WNC,  our dog, garden, annoying neighbor kids,  friends in the community, etc.  

It is that moment, that I realize how cycling is just one piece of the puzzle.  All of the pieces fit together to enhance my life and give me opportunities that I would not have otherwise.

I have lots of stuff, stuff that contributes to bring happiness and excitement and sometimes frustration to my life.  But beyond material things, that break,  I am blessed.  Not because I am financially stable ( what does that even mean?)  or because of who I know or what I do.  I am blessed because I am cared for by a higher power.  One who created me for a purpose.  The purpose is not always clear, but is most definitely linked to the act loving my neighbor as I love myself. 

Living this life is not about elevating myself.  I am a mere piece of the puzzle, fitting into the larger puzzle that makes up the neighborhood, country..... makes up the world community.

And then I sit back, sip some coffee,  listen to the birds,  take a deep breathe and contentedly look forward to the next ride.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fun Family Weekend

 We had a fun filled weekend that saw us spending lots of time together.  No long, solo mountain bike rides in the woods, but I could not be more happy.  I love my family and they love me!   We started out with a trip to the Hendersonville Bike Park.  The kid and I had gotten skunked earlier in the week with some bad intel, so we were excited to see the sun out. 

The park is nothing less than rad.  There were kids from 2 yrs old to 40 yrs old out there trying new stuff, working on skills and having a blast.  I recommend it for anyone of any skill level.

After riding we were hungry so we stopped by Harry's and Piggy's for some BBQ and corn nuggets.  I went with the special of the day and had enough left over to take some home,  hmmm, lunch today!
 Of course we had to take some photos by all of the crazy statues!
 I got out for into the woods for a little while, and found some really cool wildlife tracks.  Two different species enjoying the same woods!
 And picked up a hitchhiker...
 Sunday was the big day.  The kid had made plans to head to the grandparent's for a whole week.  Pretty awesome.  We went for a little hike/run together before heading out. I was hoping for a little bit of time together before he left and was happy to have some fun with him. Such a cool kid. 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Thursday Night

half of the A group,  looks like Justin Bieber on the left.... ;)
 It looked like it was going to be a dry ride until we rolled out and the sky go dark with some thick gray rain clouds.

I rode into Liberty a little early and felt like my saddle was too low.  I quickly measured and found that according to that measurment, the saddle appeared to have slipped 2 cm.  I made the adjustment and headed out with the group.  I knew right away that the saddle was now way too high.  I could not figure out what was going on.  I ended up stopping several times during the ride to lower it a little bit, but could not get it right.  Close to the end of the ride, my legs gave out from being overstreched for 2 hours,  I crawled back home.

Once I got home I measured again and found that it was still 1 cm high.  That's when it dawned on me that my tape measure starts at the tip and the one I borrow has a blank space before the the start,  about 2 cm of blank space....
Where is Kevin Hessler?

The A and B groups split up pretty good tonight.  Kevin rolled off with the A and then waited for us at the first stoplight,  letting the A's go on to hammer.   I'm gonna ride with the A's at least once this summer....
We had several strong riders, new to this group ride, who did not have experience riding in a group/paceline.  It was cool to be able to share the skill and practice some.  The guys seemed to catch on pretty quick and we were able to pull off a rotating paceline several times.

A couple of folks got separated at different points during the ride.  We stopped to wait and even road backwards to look for them.  Sorry we lost you,  I hope you made it home in time for dinner!

And to top off another great day,  I got another piece of blue for the John Henry.  Next on the list, blue Salsa quick releases. !  And then quite possibly some blue hubs?  This is after all, my main adventure bike.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Siren John Henry

I'm having a blast on my Siren John Henry.   I knew that when I made the purchase I was getting a quality, hand built in the USA product.   What I didn't know is how versatile this bike would end up being.  If you are looking for a dedicated steep frame mountain bike, with the option of going geared or single speed,  this is it.  If you are looking for a bike that can be a dedicated touring/bikepacking bike,  this is it.  Do you want a commuter/ gravel road grinder?  Put some semi slicks on it and this is your bike. 

I bought the bike with the intention of loading my bags on it and using it as my bikepacking bike.  But after recently riding the 400 ish mile Alleghany Mountains Loop,  I took the bags off and am using it as another training bike.  I have it set up exactly like my race bike so training on this bike should transfer quite well. 

The bike is stable and smooth.  Carving around the gravel turns in Bent Creek, the bike glides around and works with me rather than working me. 
Brendan did an excellent job on the build and I look forward to riding this for a long time.  The bike is simply fun.  Stiff enough to get up and go, but flexy enough that I don't feel beat up at the end of the ride. In fact, I usually want to keep riding. 

I upgraded to 2x9 and look forward to going up to 2x10 asap.  

I'm considering a front 80mm shock to help with really rough terrain,  but am undecided. 

The bottom line is the ride makes me smile, and if you are looking for a sweet, versatile, handbuilt in the USA,  I recommend this one!

Click here for more details

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Big Day

My kid rocks!
 For the first time ever, in  my history of home ownership,  someone else cut my grass!  The kid asked and I obliged.  He did a great job too,  pushing the crappy old heavy lawnmower around.  Possible incentive to get a newer one that might be  a little lighter.  He asked when he could use the weed eater...

 We got an invite to join Avery  Creek Elementary Bike Club for their monthly Tuesday ride.  I had met with Avery about 1 yr ago to talk about the possibilities of starting the club.  I gave her all the info I had and basically told her to go for it.  She and her husband had 40 kids turn up for their first club.  I am so proud of them for committing to the club and getting it done.  So many kid's lives will be affected in so many ways!
The kids loved the Bookwalters!
We were surprised with a visit from Jamie and Brent Bookwalter.  A super down to earth couple that took time out of a busy schedule to ride with kids.   Much respect! In fact, I respect anyone who take time out of their schedule to help improve a kid's life.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Night Ride

I headed out after the wife got home from work.  A giant rain storm was building to the west, so I figured I would ride west.  100ft from my house, I realized the bottom bracket on my Siren JH was shot, so I went back and picked up the single speed cx bike.

I reached the parkway and it started raining.  I figured if I road far enough, I would punch through the other side of the storm.  That's exactly what happened and I got to see the views from the Haw Creek Overlook.  Pedaling on up the hill, I decided to turn around at the top.  I had originally planned to ride to the next overlook past Craven Gap,  but didn't. 

Turning to bomb back down, I turned my lights on.  The darkness closed in fairly quickly and I soaked in the night sounds.  Bugs chirping loudly, the wind blowing past,  the smell of fresh rain on the grass.  This was fun and I need to alter my rut and get out more at night.  Even if it is a quick loop around my neighborhood,  there is something exciting about gliding through the darkness.

Getting to my turn and ducking through the woods, I was content.  1 hr of hard climbs make my legs tired but happy. 

I wonder where I can get a blue bottom bracket....

Monday, August 05, 2013

Fun Filled Weekend

 Saturday Mike Keeley came up from Shelby and wanted to ride some gravel on his brand new carbon fiber cx bike.  I posted an invite on Facebook and Andrew McKinney joined us for a social paced ride around Bent Creek.  Mike is considering Monster Cross and I think he should go for it. 

We rolled around the big gravel loop chatting about life and such just enjoying the easy pace and the company. 
 As we were crossing the French Broad River on the way back to Starbucks,  I rode through some glass shattered on the road. Sure enough, about a mile later Andrew commented that my rear tire looked flat.  About the same time I could feel the sag.   I borrowed Mike's pump and pumped it up, hoping it was a slow enough leak that I could make it the 3 miles.  I made it to about 1 mile out, and stopped to put a little more air in.  I had picked the pace up a little and it hurt.
  Rounding the clover leaf to enter Hendersonville Rd,  it was pretty low again, and by the time I road through the parking lot, it was done.   Thanks Liberty Bikes for getting me set up with a new tube! 

Bearwallow Mountain
 Sunday, we took a family hike and lunch up to Bearwallow Mtn.  We had never been there before and plan on going back.  Fairly close to home and a short 1 mile hike up a rugged trail, trees open up on top to a huge bald, complete with cattle, (I don't think they were lowing). 

We hike up.  So lush in the woods, ferns and all kinds of other plants that I can't name.   The kid did some rock jumping.  We hung out on top not wanting to leave, but eventually, nap time called and the wife needed to get home.  So we headed down. 
Cool tree
 At one point, the kid started running down the trail.  I had just asked him a couple of days ago if he wanted to do some trail running together.  At the time he was not so sure what that involved and was not too keen on the idea.  But today,  I cinched up the backpack and took off after him.  We laughed and ran  As we rounded the last switchback with me in the lead, he jumped across the last little bit to cut me off and took the win.  Breakthrough moment.  He said he wants to do some more trail running.  Love it!!
Let's run!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Day 4: Lewisburg WVA to Blacksburg VA

 Day 4 rolled around and with just under 100 miles to go, guess what?  It was raining.  A quick check on the hotel computer showed that it would be clearing in about an hour with another green blob headed my way.  One item I packed and I was glad that I did were my yellow rain pants.  Back in 2001, I purchased these pants for my ride across America  and I used them once on that trip for about 15 minutes.  I kept them and have not used them since... until this trip. 
 The first hour of day 4 was rainy, but then cleared up.  I peeled off the rain layers, packed them away for good, and continued to enjoy the ride.  The skies cleared up, the temps rose, the roads dried and so did my chain.  I was disheartened this morning, when I got halfway through lubing my chain with Pro Gold and ran out.  It was barely enough.  But with the hour long rain shower, and the rain all day yesterday, it was not quite enough.  I thought about calling Bruce Dickman, but didn't think he could get there soon enough.  As I listened to my chain grinding,  I pushed forward and looked for a solution.   Also, as my riding clothes dried from the morning showers,  assorted chafing started to make itself apparent.  I was tensing my body to try to aleve the pain, but could not.  I finally stopped to apply some Chamois Buttr, and thought about applying some to my chain.  Then it dawned on me.  Mosquito repellant has an oily substance to it.  I had a little travel tube of the stuff and sprayed it on.  I ended up running out of that too, but it was enough to quiet the chain.  After about 5 miles, I didn't think about that again.  Good to know!
 Today's route was pretty simple,  climb a lot, enjoy the views and make it to the start/finish by 5pm.  The roads were narrow, the climbs steep, and I kept a steady pace.  After yesterday's 100 plus mile ride, the spark was gone from my legs.  There was no pep, no get up and go, just the steady turning of the cranks in the granny gear. 
 I wanted to pick up the pace, but knew that doing so would dig a hole deeper than I could get out of.  If I kept my current pace, I would finish and be fine.   I noticed early on, that I was also hungrier than the past 3 days.  It seems that my metabolism was in high gear and needing fuel.  I came to the town of Gap Mills, which the maps said had a grocery store, only to find everything shut down.  It was Sunday morning, and I don't think that I saw a grocery store. 
 The whole section between Moncove Lake Rd and Waiteville was a bit tedious, as there were signs missing, and some of the road names did not match the map.  If I had been traveling in the dark, I would have had a very difficult time finding the way.  During the broad daylight, I relied on my gut and a little bit of luck.

The climb up and over the mountain to Waitsville was steep and long. Picture Curtis Creek Road paved over and there you have it.  
 Right turn at Waitsville,  then a left on FR 613 for the Mountain Lake Cut Off, and a gravel road climb of I don't know how long, but it went on forever. 
 And then I came around the bend and the road tilted up.
 And then I came around another bend and the road tilted up,  some more.
 And finally, I reached the ridge line and crossed the AT.  I ate a giant Oatmeal Creme Pie in two bites while a startled day hiker watched in awe.  When I could speak, I said " I'm hungry".  Even though this is the ridge, it is not all down hill from here.  It is several miles of punchy rolling hills until reaching the Mountain Lake Resort,  then after a mile or so of pavement,  there is a long fast decent.
The miles ticked slowly by and the temps warmed up.  More cars, buildings, pavement than 2 days ago, combined with lower elevation and the humidity was higher as well.  20 miles to go,  in 1 mile I would take the left turn on Goodwins Ferry that would lead me on the final 19 mile stretch to Blacksburg.  I bombed down a hill, enjoying the wind in my face and soaking up the scenery.  Up and over a couple of rolling hills,  2-3 miles went by.  I crossed the river and kept pedaling.  The road should be bringing me parallel to the river, but it was taking me away from the river.  I stopped and tried to figure out where I was on the map,  but once again, the heat, the fatigue, battle against my thought patterns.

I waved to a passing motorist, but she did not stop. I waved to a second one, who stopped to help.  It took her a minute to get her bearings and figure the map out so that made me feel a little better.  We finally got our location and direction sorted out.  She told me that her great, great, great, great grandfather was the founder of Blacksburg.  
signs like this don't help.
 And then I was mentally done as well.  Nothing left to do but pedal back up the long climb I had just come down.  It was a grind.  I made it to the missed turned and down to the river.  There was no cruising left in me.  One pedal stroke after the last,  turning the cranks,  thankful for the pedaling techniques I had learned.  I was getting really hungry and kept eating what I had.  Fritos,  trail mix,  the last bits of pineapple.  Then The New River Junction Campground appeared.  I pulled in to use the rest room and get some water.  And then I saw the Coke machine.  I walked over and bought one 12oz can,  and went to the snack shop.  When I asked if they had ice cream, they said they did but there was not much left.  I opened the freezer to find only Popsicles.  Nothing creamy and chocolatey about that.  I didn't have the energy to be disappointed, so I bought some salt and vinegar potato chips.  Walking back outside, I went to the Coke machine and bought another Coke.  I filled up my bottle, drank the rest out of the can and ate some chips while watching the flooded river.  It had rained a lot!

 Sipping Coke and grinding up the hills, I knew that I would make the finish by 5pm if I could keep rolling at a steady survival pace. 

The Flooded New River

And suddenly I saw buildings, traffic, streelights, and stop lights.   I had less than a mile to go.  I was elated deep down, but still rolling at a snail's pace. It was almost over, 400 miles in 4 days. I'm not sure of my actual mileage because of getting lost and back tracking.  I'll go back and add up the miles soon.  It was  a big goal for me, and a huge confidence booster to complete the loop. 
I rolled back onto the VA Tech campus and immediately got lost again.  The road names on the map did not match the road signs.   I got off route but found the memorial and called it a day.  The fam was already there waiting for me. 
We took some quick pictures and loaded up the van to make the drive home.  That 3.5 hr drive was more painful than the last 4 days on the bike!
And that's my story.  I recommend this loop to anyone who wants to log some miles through some beautiful country.  I had a great experience and definitely plan on going back one day.  I still need to work out Trans North GA.  An adventurer at heart,  the current adventure is barely complete and I'm already thinking about the next one.

Update: Approximate Daily Mileage ( my cyclo computer stopped working so these are not exact but close)
Day 1 106.5 miles
Day 2 110.5 miles
Day 3 127  miles
Day 4 75 miles

A personal record of 3 back to back centuries.