Monday, August 24, 2015

Chris King's Gourmet Century

 What do you get when you combine the beauty of Western North Carolina's mountain roads and some delicious locally sourced food and beverage?  A nice ride.  But,  add to those ingredients an amazing staff and on top of that 150 laid back people on bikes,  you wind up with Chris King's Gourmet Century
 We started the day meeting at Taylor Ranch off of Cane Creek Rd.  Secretly hidden behind the ridge, once leaving the chaos of Cane Creek, one finds a peaceful ranch sprawling across the valley.  Longhorn grazing, turtles gently surfacing in the pond, and breakfast.

 An amazing spread of tofu scramble, grits,  coffee and my all time favorite, biscuits and gravy.  After a leisurely breakfast, small groups gathered and headed to the parking lot to change and roll out.  I joined up with Cameron, Tom, Mike and Lauren.   We ended up riding together for most of the day which turned out to be a lot of fun. 
 We rolled out under overcast skies, a hint of a cool breeze and the typical humidity that hangs in the hollers this time of year.  Pedaling along, from one valley to the next, following the winding, twisting ribbon of pavement.   

The first rest stop at mile 12 offered the awesome Ally's Bar,  a sweet potato based bar that you have to try.  We stopped briefly and continued on our relaxed journey.  Chatting and cracking jokes.  At mile 24, we stopped at the local fire department for lunch. 

Macaroni salad and a choice of turkey, ham or veggie sub on a fresh roll hit the spot. 

 We wound our way around and into Fairview, up the 74A climb to the divide, then down through Gerton for another rest stop.  This one featured tofu tacos and beer.  I just filled up with water, because on the climb up to the divide, someone had upped the pace, and the turkey sandwich now sat as a large lump in my stomach. 

I added some nuun to the water and sipped on it. 

Down towards Lake Lure, right on hwy 64, the another right to take us up through Edneyville and back to the ranch.  At the last rest stop, around mile 48,  I decided to continue on solo and finish the ride.  I wanted to get home to get a shower and spend some time with the family before we headed back to dinner.   A cat nap on the couch was a bonus!

 Dinner time rolled around and we mingled, chatting and enjoying the views. 

Delicious smoked pork right out of the smoker with some rice and Pisgah Pale hit the spot.  We enjoyed the meal and I sat back and relaxed. 

 This ride was about community.  About spending time with good people.  About enjoying the scenery and stopping to smell the roses. 

I wondered at the beginning how it would pan out.   By the time I got home after dinner, I had a warm glow in my soul,  knowing that I had shared  a very special day with a lot of people. 

It was definitely a great change of pace from the typical life of a cyclist who is trying to get fit and stay fast. 

 This is a ride that you don't want to miss out on next year.  I'm already making plans!

Thanks Kris Bedsaul, Chris King and crew.  Thanks for the challenge, the food and the community! See you next year.

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