Saturday, August 05, 2017

Yancey Ridge S240

Wow,  it has bee an while since I posted an adventure.  A lot has been going on and I'm excited to share.  This adventure has been about more than  just riding a bike on a route.  This adventure has been a test of my mind and soul.   Over the past 2 years  I have had some unsuccessful trips and wondered if I was even capable of bikepacking any more.

One obvious thing I allowed myself to admit is that  I'm not in the same kind of shape I was back when I did the Allegheny Mountains Loop, 4 yrs ago.  I did 400 miles in 4 days!  I still think back fondly on that trip and hope to get in that kind of riding shape again!

The other thing holding me back is realizing that I have some  level of separation anxiety.  It turns out that this condition is recognized in children but while being fairly common among adults, it  is not acknowledged, talked about or dealt  with.

The week leading up to an adventure, I would stay stressed out and look for any and every reason  to cancel the  trip.  I love bikepacking, but so many excuses  come to mind  and failure of many sorts  ensued.

Once I figured out what was going on, I did a bunch of research and the symptoms matched.  I talked with the wife about it and she found ways that she could be  more supportive.  More about this in  another post.

On to the route: The Yancey Ridge S240 from 

I made a to do list over the summer.  Realizing that I can't ride 80 miles a day back to back right now, and admitting that although I love an epic ride, I needed to start  small,  I started with the shorted  local route I could find.

Free overnight parking at  the Wilson Creek Visitor Center.  I parked and headed out around 2pm.

 I was feeling good and enjoyed the ride immensely.  I was feeling like I had started  to conquer something and was enjoying a new found freedom.  In addition, I have been off the bike for 4 months and was so glad to be able to ride again! 
 The route grinds up some  beautiful, mostly shady gravel roads.  I opted not to visit  the Lost Cove Cliffs, but plan on stopping there next time. 
                                        Turk's Cap Lilies: native flower and somewhat rare. 


 After about 3.5 hrs of climbing  gravel, I made it up into the highlands  south of Boone. 

  I went off route to camp at a campground.  I usually carry all of my camping gear and  end up trying to find a motel or  something to sleep in.  This time, I had made a commitment to myself to camp out, no matter what.  Fortunately, the weather was amazing and I wasn't even tempted  to find indoor lodging.  I had made a reservation at The Down By The River Campground and fulfilled that reservation.  I do enjoy  some comforts  while camping, and a hot shower and clothes dryer  are  a nice  touch.  

 After getting camp set up, my next dilemma was deciding if I should eat freeze dried, Mexican or Italian...  I opted  for Italian and ate some pizza!   Stuffed, I headed back to the campground and enjoyed being bored for once.  It seemed like I had a pretty good  handle on my emotions  at the moment, and embraced where I was, relaxing and enjoying  my trip.  Small victories.  

 I did not sleep great but got up and packed the next  morning, excited to see what the  day had in store.     Being in the area,  I could not miss getting breakfast  at  Christa's Country Corner.   Homemade  yeast rolls with bacon, egg and cheese, one  for now, one to go:  without the egg.
 Feeling a litte  stuffed,   I set out for  what  I assumed would be a chill day descending back into the valley. 
 There was nothing chill about the day, but is  was the  most fun I have had on a bike in a long time!

 I turned off of the pavement on to the next 8miles  of single track and experienced all of the best trails  in  Pisgah, packed into  one. 

 Amazing, decent, with some punchy climbs, techy, hike  a bike, to smooth buff flowy.  So nice.
 Glad to be  almost back, out of  water, but no worries,  because half a mile  to...
 Hot dog, Cheetos and Coke.  Life does not get much better  than  this!
Wrapping my time up in the woods, it was great  to face a challenge, face  the trauma from  my past and move forward  once again.  We all have things  in life holding us back and  it is not until we realize these things, not until we figure out positive coping skills that we can face the issues and move beyond them.   Who knows the  limit of our capabilities?  One day, I might even spend the night, in the middle of Pisgah, alone...

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