Friday, February 26, 2010


I"m pretty excited about a winning streak that I have been on lately.

Velogear had a "Brush with cycling greatness" contest.  Here is what I wrote:

Stephen Janes Tour de GA 2007. Brasstown Bald Stage. I was 4 miles from the finish, at the top of a long grunt climb. Past me there was a short downhill with a flat, enough to recover before hitting the climb up to Brasstown Bald. The leaders came through together, then falling off the back cam Levi, and a teamate. They were standing up but had that look on their faces, the one where you could tell they didn't think they could hang on. I started yelling for them to get back on with the group, I told them about the downhill and the flat, I told them that if they could get on, there would be a little time for recovery....they mashed the pedals and got back on......Levi took the stage!!!!

The grand prize was a Pearl Izumi Pro Jacket, which I did not win.  I did, however win this poster:
It is a full size print and will look really cool hanging in my office.  Thanks Velogear.

Next, I get e-mails from telling me about all of the great deals they have, and they do have great deals, I just don't tend to have the money or need for the products.  ( I would use them, just don't absolutely need them).   Yesterday, as I was in my snow storm enduced funk, and sinking more and more into despair, due to my evening MTB ride being canceled,  I got an e-mail with this header:

Re: Newsflash: Coolmax Socks Cure Winter Blues!!!

Nifty, I thought to myself.  You know what would cure my winter blues?  Free socks,  free wool socks.  That would cure my winter blues.  So, I replied to the e-mail and that is what I told them.  I never expected to hear back from them, much less never expected to get anything for free.  Later, I got an e-mail telling me to send a picture of my favorite ride and would send me a pair of wool socks.  

And finally, there is a contest that is currently going on,  I don't want to give the story until I have all the details, but at this point I am in the top 50.  I got a prize for getting there, and we are being narrowed to the top 10.  The top 10 will be posted and voted on for the grand prize winner.  The top 10 are supposed to be posted today, so check back.  If I make the top 10, I will need help, and lots of it, to vote for me!!  It's gonna be great!!.

Have a great day! 

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I have been using the Ergon GX2 for almost a year when I started to wonder if I might be better suited for a standard round grip.  The GX2 was great in that it offers a wider platform for my palm to rest on.  I have never had wrist problems so it is difficult for me to say if these help in that area,  but with the bar ends, the grip definitely offers several different hand placement options.

The issues I have is that i could not rotate my hands on the grips like I need to, and I could not fully wrap all four fingers around the grip.

On downhills, in the aggressive position, I never felt comfortable, due to not being able to get my hands in the same position that my body was in. 

I figured I would try the GA1.  I called Ergon to find out if they were compatible with the bar ends.  I was told that they are not at all compatible.  I received the grips and promptly got appendicitis. The grips sat in the box for 4 weeks, until I was able to install them.   After the first ride, I realized how much I like the hand placement options offer by adding bar ends.  I took the bar ends off of the GX2 and installed them with the GA1.  It took a little bit of creativity, and remember, this is not at all endorsed by Ergon, and I am sure I have voided all warranty etc.,  but I gotta do what I gotta do.

After having ridden on these grips several times over the past 8 weeks, I am feeling quite a bit more comfortable on the downhill techy terrain.  I am able to completely wrap my fingers around the grip and I feel "Volle Kontrolle" (full control).  I have checked the grips and the bars after use, and everything appears to be fine even though I added the bar end. 

I have not yet ridden over 3 hours on these grips, but I have no doubt that my hands will be just as happy!

Have a great day

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


The above picture is from yesterday's morning commute.  Warm, partly cloudy, 40 degrees.  Much different that a week ago when it was 25 degrees.  I had a great ride, going at a medium pace and enjoying the scenery.  That is one of the things I love about riding my bike to work.  I get to look around, soak it all in....then do it again on the way home.  When I drive, I get to look around some, but it all goes by so fast.

After work I headed up Bee Tree Road to do some hill cruise intervals.  These hurt but it is actually fun, because I get to go fast and push the pace and heart rate.  The skies were cloudy and the wind was blowing cold.  It was 10 degrees colder than in the morning and I was slightly underdressed.   By the time I got home it was dark and my fingertips felt like they were being crushed.  I was glad the fire was raging and there was spaghetti with homemade sauce!!!

This week has been really crazy.  Some really cool and totally unexpected things have happened.   One big one, I will share the details on Friday:  I made the top fifty in a contest, and if I make the top 10, I'll need to rally all my friends and their friends to vote for me.  The one who gets the most votes wins.  So, check back on Friday,  I might need your help!!

I'm excited to be bringing several movies to Asheville this spring, all fundraisers for World Bicycle Relief.  I'll announce those as soon as I get the dates set!!! 

And lastly,  it looks like I'll be getting a John Henry , which I am very excited about.  If you are interested in a handbuilt steel frame, let me know and I'll arrange a demo!!  Good stuff. 

Well,  off to get ready to ride in the winter storm advisory! 

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


  A friend of mine is putting this on.  It should be a lot of fun!  Don't miss out.

First event of its kind in WNC. Whether you are a novice or an expert, there will be something here for you. Local experts in various fields of bicycling, including fit experts, mechanic and technical experts will provide information on how to buy and maintain your bike along with tips on personal training. Local cyclists will provide valuable information on where to ride your bike, whether mountain, road, commuting, cycling routes through town, or just for fun. Participating local bicycle businesses will be onsite to answer any questions about their products and services. We live in a paradise for cyclists, so whatever your inclination you will leave the Expo with all sorts of information about how to take advantage of it!
To add to the fun and excitement, door prizes await you, as well as screenings of two favorite cycling movies, Breaking Away and the beautiful Triplets of Belleville.
Date: Saturday, March 27th
Time: 8:30 am - 12 Noon
Location: Blue Ridge Conference Hall
Cost: Admission is free compliments of the sponsors
To Register: click here
Planned events for the expo are as follows:
  •  RIDING VENUES SEMINARS: for both road and mountain, and just for fun around town, We'll have maps, local tour leaders and experts who know our area best on hand to deliver the best places to ride.
  •  MECHANICAL SEMINAR: just the basics, here, to make sure your bike is ready to ride. Tips and tricks will be  shown, as well as some road side (or trail side) survival tactics.
  •  FIT SEMINAR: how do you know if a bike will fit properly? Examples will be shown of good and bad fit, how to know the differences, and how fit can impact your cycling and your body.
  • COMMUTING SEMINAR: thinking about using your car less and riding to work? All the answers to your questions about how to do it safely, enjoyably, and within budget!
  • BIKES AND ACCESSORIES ON DISPLAY: Participating local bicycle businesses will be on hand to answer any questions about their products and services.
EVENT SPONSORS: Blue Ridge Community College, Blue Ridge Innovation Network ,and Appalachian Bicycle Institute.

Have a great day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend Rides

  There is no dirt in WNC, only mud and snow/ice.  
I drove down to Bent Creek on Saturday and was disappointed to see so much traffic out there: cars, bikes, people.  Hopefully everybody was stay on the roads and off of the trails. 
Saturday, I was planning to ride the rollers for an hour before Rhonda got home from work, then do a 3 hr ride outside.  I set up in front of the tv and watched the Olympics with Jubal while I rode.   An hour passed, Rhonda got home, and I took a shower, then took my family out to eat: Papas and Beer to celebrate Rhonda's birthday. 

Sunday I headed out with the one and only Nolan Lavoie, UNCA's Outdoor Program Director.   We headed south on the parkway up to the first tunnel and back.   Once again, he had to make me look bad and rode from his house to mine, logging an extra 20 miles before riding another 20 with me.  He probably went home and rode his trainer for another hour too.   That's ok, I have some secret training plans too......

The Siren cruising up the parkway!! 

Some snow has melted, but there is still lots in the valleys and shadows where the sun doesn't shine.  The temps are supposed to cool down again this week so, up high will probably not melt off for quite a while.  We were out until 6pm in 50-60 degree weather.  It was great to get out and not worry about freezing! 

The Appenglow on the hilltops as the sun was setting.  It was a welcome sight after not seeing sunshine for so long.
It looks like we will not be heading down for the downhill race at Clemson this weekend.  Funds and time are a hindrance.  Maybe another time. 

The highlight of the weekend:  kicking the soccer ball around with Jubal at the park,  wearing shorts and no shirts!!!  Bring on the sunshine!!

Have a great day.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Wednesday Rhonda's parents came into town to celebrate her birthday.  Rhonda chose Red Lobster and I was guardedly excited.  I love seafood, but this is Asheville and it would be a pleasant surprise to find good seafood in this town.  Having spent 6 yrs in the Caribbean I know what fresh fish and lobster tastes like.

I ordered a wood grilled lobster and shrimp combo. It came with rice pilaf (whatever that is, and what did they peel it off of?), and mashed potatoes.  When I got the plate is was smothered in some kind of sauce.  Why you would smother shrimp and lobster in some  kind of sauce, I don't know.  I ate it, and it tasted fine,  not fresh, but somewhat tasty.  Later, when I got home, I started to feel queasy.

After waking up, i was still feeling funny, but I had a dr's appointment that I needed to get to.  I felt bad until around 3pm when I was finally able to eat something.  I was frustrated because I really wanted to ride my bike but I didn't feel good, and the trails are still icy/snow covered. Fortunately, as time progressed, I started to feel better.

When I drove home and realized that I might be able to get out for about an hour, instead of riding the rollers, I was pumped.  I gathered my layers, even though it was 30 degrees it felt warm, got some food and drink attached the lights  and headed out. 

I headed to the parkway figuring I could do an out and back ride.  And the climbs are perfect on this section for the workout I needed today.  Thankful that I was feeling better,  I breathed in the fresh air, and savored the sunset.

The air was clear and the traffic was low. The sides of the parkway are covered in snow, I followed the ribbon of gray pavement up and down through the woods.

The sunset on the way out told me that I would get home after dark.
I made it down to 191, crossed the river then turned around to head back.  Climbing up from the river to the Interstate is a longish steady climb.   As I was climbing in the dark, I looked back and above me the moon caught my eye.  The tips are pointing up, indicating that there will  be no precipitation for several days.

Look closely, you can see the moon to the left of my head:
I made it back home with a time of 1hr 8 minutes,  satisfied.

The highs this weekend are going to be up around 50, so I'm hoping to squeeze in a gravel road ride!!  We'll see what happens.

Have a great day. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010


The only reason that I rode my bike to work yesterday is that I had to drop my truck off at the shop to have some work done on it.   I could not think of a more efficient way to get to and from work, so I loaded my bike and drove to the shop.  It usually takes them all day to get to it, so I generally leave it and come back to pick it up after work.

The mechanic is really friendly and impressed with cyclists, so we chatted a bit before I headed out into the cold.  He live on Town Mtn and has had ice up there for over 3 weeks.

I got on my bike and headed out.  It was cold, but I was prepared.  Then an interesting thing happened.  My fingers started to get really cold.  I had purchased some new gloves a couple of weeks ago and they had kept my hands toasty at 25 degrees.  Now it was around 22 and my fingers were freezing.  As I was riding along, having flashbacks of my "near death" experience from a couple of weeks ago,  I tried to figure out what was going on.

I figured out that the only thing that I did differently was add some polypro glove liners.  I stopped to take them off.  5 minutes later my hands and fingers were toasty again.  Hmmm.  These are the liners that I use when I run/hike and they keep me toasty, but combined with a bigger glove on the bike,  I guess they constrict blood flow.

30 minutes later, I got a phone call, but waited until I got to the office to answer it.  It turned out to be  the mechanic; the truck was ready.  I guess I could have waited but I got 2 hrs of riding for the day, so I can't complain.

The rest of the ride to and from work was pretty chill.  It was snowing and it snowed all day, again.  I'm not quite as excited as I was about the snow and riding in it anymore.  But it's cool, it's part of winter.  Nothing to do but push through it.

On the ride home I had a headwind which gave my face some nice windburn,  looked like sunburn but was not!!

Have  a great day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Women of Dirt has partnered with World Bicycle Relief to bring you "Awesome Land: Women of Dirt".

March 18th,  Asheville Pizza and Brewing Co, ( Merrimon Ave.)


$3 per person

This is a benefit for World Bicycle Relief.  100% of ticket sales goes to WBR.  Come out and support the women of mountain biking!!!

If you can't make it, but still want to make a difference, you can still donate by clicking here
Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I've been thinking about tweaking my schedule a little bit and finding something different to do with my time this year.  Some that would be a challenge, but more than that be fun. Something where I would not feel the need to push myself to the limit.  I wasn't sure exactly what that would look like, but I knew that it would come out of the blue and be just the right thing.

Then I found this:

Downhill?  Aren't you slow going downhill?  Yes, I am, but from what I understand, there is one short uphill somewhere in the middle of the course, and I'm pretty sure I'm way faster that the downhillers on the little grunt climb.  So, that pretty much puts us on an even playing field. 

You have been warned!!!

Have a great day.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I was able to get a 3 hr ride on saturday. I had to be creative in order to do that though.  

I headed up to the parkway on my mtn bike and towards Bent Creek.  The 4 inches of powder offered enough traction that I could get a steady pace.  The wind was blowing hard and it would be difficult to stay warm if I stopped.  That is why I didn't take any pictures. 

The normally black pavement with a double yellow line down the middle, was a carpet of white.  There were a couple sets of mtn bike tracks, lots of footprints and a couple of cross country ski tracks.  I imagined what it would be like if the Asheville area had a place like this year round.  5 miles of pavement to walk, run, skate ride etc.  Or if the economy got so bad that part of the parkway was closed to motor vehicles.  hmmmm.

I rode on past the intersection of 191 and decided to climb up the parkway instead of going into the Arboretum and up Hardtimes rd.

I spotted another mtn biker up the hill and set a steady but not too hard of a pace.  I caught him where the road bent around the mountain and the snow had drifted deeper.  He was single speeding and had to walk.  I shifted into my easiest gear and spun through it. 

Once I got to the Hardtimes rd intersection, I decided to turn around and head back.  The gravel road had about 6-8 inches of crunchy snow that was unrideable. 

So, I backtracked.  I held a steady pace and enjoyed being outside, in the sunshine.  By the time I crossed Hwy 25,  the road had been plowed.  Combined with the suns rays, the leftover powder had melted and mixed with the "salt" that had been spread.  I'm not sure what is in that stuff, but I kept my mouth closed and tried to stay out of it.  

I figured I could ride to the Folk Art Center and back and get another hour.  But I was getting cold, and I ride that way a lot, and don't want to get tired of riding that section.  I opted to head home, with 2 hrs 15 mins.  Not quite what I wanted.  But as I pulled up to my house, I decided to get on the rollers for 45 minutes to round out 3 hrs. 

So, I got a decent ride in on Sat.  Then on Sunday I  got cross training in the way of cutting and chopping firewood.  

Have a great day.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I got to get on some dirt and ride last night.  It was such a good feeling.  A friend took me on an urban assault and showed me a part of Asheville that I have never seen.  (all legal trails in case you are wondering).

The sun had been shining all day, the air was a bit warmer, and I was hoping that I would not be overdressed.  As soon as we pulled out of his driveway and into the headwind, I was sure that I was not overdressed.

The cool thing about this ride is that all I did was follow his wheel.  When I ride alone, I decide where to go.  Last night, being in new territory, I didn't have to decide at all.  I just tried to hang onto the wheel in front of me. 

The route consisted of pavement and single track.  Amazingly the majority of the single track was in good shape.  Snow does not seem to soak the ground like a solid downpour does. 

The terrain fit my scheduled workout perfectly, and I was able to push myself harder than I have this year.  It felt good, but at the same time, I really wanted to go home and fall asleep.  Strange. 

So we rode around the woods and streets for  2 hrs before calling it a day.  A fun laid back ride on a cold day.  

Have a great day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


After checking the weather online again several times after I posted yesterday morning, I decided not to ride my bike to work.  Instead I got on the rollers and rode for an hour while watching "The Two Towers".  Time went by really fast. 

As I drove to work, it started snowing and then later, the National Weather Service declared "Blizzard Conditions".  Interesting.   With the winds gusting up to 70mph, and snow blowing sideways, I guess our area met the criteria for a blizzard.  Cool.

So, I sat at work all day, listening to the wind howl and watching the snow blowing sideways outside my window, and was glad that I had not ridden my bike. 

Today, I head back to the dentist to get my permanent crown installed.  This involves then yanking out the temporary crown, which I don't look forward to at all....

Schools are closed again today.  It is a heated topic right now, but this area is simply not equipped to handle this type of weather.  The bus drivers don't have the skills,  the buses don't have snow tires,  the schools are not well insulated etc.  You gotta do what you gotta do. 

I hope to get out and ride at some point today,  hopefully tomorrow will be more interesting.  In the meantime,  I want to answer your questions: What do you want to know about me?

Have a great day!!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Another winter storm rages outside this morning. No precip this time, just high wind advisory...I hope it's a tailwind.

I had my first piece of equipment failure that could have been catastrophic, but fortunately I found the problem before it was a problem.

As you can see in the picture, that is a crack in the clamp on the stem. I'm not sure how that happened, but it did. I sent Thomson an e-mail with the picture attached, and they said to send them the clamp, and they will send me a new one. Easy!

Training is coming along well. I have been fortunate enough to get my riding in. Getting snow and ice, instead of rain has made that possible. I'm in a stage of training that I really enjoy. Lot's of pushing big gears and climbing hills, and some tempo. It hurts, but if it doesn't kill me it'll make me faster!

We have less than 6 weeks to go until spring. I have been enjoying the snowy, wintry weather, but I am looking forward to feeling the sun warming my skin.

This post represents my life right now. Not a lot going on.

Last night was nice, I got home and it was light outside until 6:15pm. I stayed outside and worked around the yard. I'm really looking forward to some long bike rides again. And looking forward to some races with friends! I missed out on Snake Creek Gap TT this year, but at this point, I'm not bummed as much. The first 2 races were extremely cold and I have heard several stories of numbness, frostbite and the early stages of hypothermia. I'll pass!

I'm working on bringing some movies to town to benefit World Bicycle Relief. Stay tuned!!

Have a great day.

Monday, February 08, 2010


After getting stuck in Bent Creek in 4 inches of snow a couple of weeks ago, combined with getting stranded on the Interstate behind giant tractor trailers, in a snowstorm a couple of months ago. I decided to buy some insurance that would help prevent similar situations in the future. The funny thing is that we might never have to use this insurance, now that we have it. But I guess that is how it goes.
I purchased snow chains for our vehicles. We had chains for our cars when we live in Colorado and since we only had two wheel drive vehicles, they were a huge asset.
Saturday was the day to test them out on the truck. We headed out to Bent Creek and up Bent Creek Gap road, until the road went up and we started to lose traction. The snow was about 8 inches deep and there were ruts of compacted snow/slush/mud; a perfect testing ground.
I got out and put the chains on, which took about 5 minutes. As we started moving forward again we were excited to find that we actually had traction...until we came to a sharp right turn that was heavily cambered, to accommodate water run off. The tires spun and the rear of the truck started to slip towards the edge of the drop off. I backed up and tried again a couple of times to no avail.
We backed down the road, defeated, until we found a turn around spot. Not wanting to give up, we looked around for dead weight that we could put in the back. I was figuring that that is why we had failed. After finding a small stack of water soaked pine logs, and throwing them in, we headed back up.
We got to the same spot, and slipped again, although not as much as before. I backed up and took a little bit wider turn, giving the chains some bite outside of the ruts and we eased through the turn! Success. We continue up the road another mile. Up into the trees that were still covered with ice. It was a different quiet world up there.
Confident that we could keep going and make it to the top, I opted to turn around and head back down. I had had my fun, and now it was time to have kid fun.

We headed back down the hill to the creek, where we proceed to throw snowballs at each other, into puddles and into the creek until it was time to head out!

Rear wheel drive in the snow? Not ideal but definitely possible:

The reason it is possible: ( the chains and the co-pilot)

Hopefully, we will have a couple more whopping snow storms and I will get to put my insurance to good use before the warmth of spring returns!!

Have a great day!!!

Friday, February 05, 2010


Another winter storm is in full affect for Western NC. I'm having a blast with this weather. It's something new and different and we have to adapt to the weather. The weather is not going to adapt to us. You can quote me on that if you want to.

Fortunately for me this is a rest week and I only need minimal riding. I got in a good work ride yesterday. It was one of those days that felt kind of odd, and the things that I saw confirmed that.

On the way to work, riding along the Parkway, I saw this creature:
This thing was about 4 feet tall, looking towards the northbound lane of the interstate. If it had been dark , I would have been startled! Pretty cool.

This next picture is not odd in and of itself, but it is an example of the lighting that was present all day long. It never really got light, just different shades of dim:

On one of my routes, I pass Asheville Christian Academy. Everyday, some kid volunteer (or are predestined.....) to put up the American flag. This morning I had to do a double take:
Had the school been taken over and renamed the Anarchy Christian Academy? I don't know, but the flag is definitely upside down. There were two kids putting up the flag. When they realized their mistake, they tried to lower the flag; one lowering and one catching, but it was too big for the one little boy to catch.

I thought about going down to help, but was far enough away, that I figured with all of the adults, walking/driving by, someone would stop to help and my help would not be needed by the time I got there. Sadly, the adults who passed within 10-20 feet did not even bother to help.

Suddenly, the catcher, took off running towards the building. He had run off, deserted his buddy holding the ropes. Left him to take the heat. 30 seconds later, the door of the building where the catcher had run, burst open. Now, 6 little kids came running out of the building, full tilt towards the flag pole. I waited for a trumpet to blow or someone to yell "Charge" but it never happened.

It was cool to see these kids so dedicated, figuring out what to do and doing something about it. It was not cool to see the adults walking and driving by, either oblivious or ignoring the opportunity to lend a hand. Go ahead, take the time today to lend a hand.

I made it to work safely, did my thing and then it was time to go home. ( 8 hrs later).

I suited up and made my way out the door. 3 miles into my ride, it started to sleet and I rode in "wintry mix" all the way home, which was fine with me.

And to top off the weird things I saw today? Ducks, crossing the road. I have never seen ducks crossing the road on my ride, but here they were, in the middle of a snow storm, crossing the road....

So, I made it home as the winter storm began to rage. This morning the temps are hovering right around freezing. I woke up to hear 2 inches of slushy snow being washed off the metal roof by some heavy rain. I'm not sure what today holds!!!

Have a great day.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


These are some guys who inspired me to go faster, to fly higher, to reach farther; Elvis, Patun, Tonky. Some inspiration from my past, and now they inspire me again:

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


I fell into it, I let myself get sucked in. I was fooled and lied to. I was told that it was awesome and wonderful. That it would rock my world, and I would never see things the same.....etc.

No, not drugs and prostitution, LOST, the TV show. But somehow I still feel dirty.

So, we started the series late and watched the first season on DVD, without commercials.

We watched as they crashed on the island, how they bonded and fought. They stuck together, split up and got together again, only to split up again.

They wandered around, shot things, people animals. They ran from things, people and animals.

They went home, then they went back.

I'm even too confused to give a decent description of what is going on.

Up until last night's show, I was hopeful that the series would end rather well. After last night's show, I am not at all impressed. The writers had a two hour block in which they could give us some direction, some glimpse of what to come. What happened instead? People died.

I posted that on some one's Facebook page yesterday, just joking of course, that they all die.

And you know what? I think I am right. As a writer, when you get stumped, and you cannot figure out a suitable story line for a person....the only logical out is death.

So, my prediction is that the main characters will all die..... oh wait, they already have. But that's ok, its the island ( not " My island" like in Braveheart, which was time better spent) but the supposed magical island. The island where the lame can walk, and the dead are not dead, and the lovers can make babies.

Some people call it brilliant, I call it desperate.

I will continue watching it, but my hopes are not high for a solid ending.

At least it does not interfere with my training schedule.

Have a LOST day!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Saturday, I was scheduled to go for a 4 hr ride. That would be the longest this year so far, and I was really looking forward to it. But, with the approximate 1 foot of snow that fell and accumulated, I knew that I was not going to get that much time on the bike. Maybe an hour on the rollers which I would be thankful for, but I really wanted to get outside.

I decided to go for a hike. There is a route that leads to the Mtns to Sea trail which leads past Starbucks. I have always wanted to hike this but did not know how far it was or how long it would take. Today seemed to be the day to find out.

I filled my pack with water, food, an extra layer and set off. The roads were pretty dicey, but the walking was fine. About 10 yrs ago, I picked up a set of aluminum ski poles at a thrift store to use as hiking poles. This was when I was doing an up and back hike on Mt. Mitchell. The first hike using the hiking poles, I took 45 minutes off of my total time, on the 12 mile trail.

As I hit the grade to the Mtn to Sea Trail, (MST) I was hoping to be the first one out. But soon enough I saw a fresh set of footprints in the snow. It was nice because now the trail was broken and I was able to walk faster.

It was quiet out there. No cars, birds or squirrels. Just the steady crunch of snow under my boots. It was peaceful. The skies were filled with grey clouds, which let loose an occasional flurry of sleet or snow. There was a stiff wind blowing, but where I was down in the valley, it softened into a slight breeze.

As much as I would have rather been riding my bike, I was thankful I had this option, so close to my house, and did not have to drive anywhere.

After about 1.5 hrs of walking, I found myself at the Starbucks parking lot. I had brought a thermos with me so I could bring some hot Chai home to Rhonda. Unfortunately, they were closed. The Harris Teeter was open though so I stopped in. The deli had some pre-made Brie and Ham sandwiches that look to good to pass up. The cashier and store staff looked at me oddly as I made my way around the store, decked out in hiking gear. I went outside and sat on the sidewalk to eat before making my way home. Kona Kola nuun paired with ham and Brie sandwich was perfect.

Satisfied, I made my way back home. I got in 3.5 hrs of hiking and my legs were heavy and tired. It was good to be so tired, and I hoped that this trip had only made me stronger. It was definitely fun.

Have a great day!