Sunday, April 24, 2011


One picture.  That's the only one I took.  It doesn't say much,  just proof that Carey was out in the woods.  I didn't even get a picture of Zeke who was out there too.  Bummer,  it was an awesome day to be out in the woods....mainly because my old pack rendered the camera inaccessible. 

Carey sent me a message a couple of weeks ago asking if I would guide her through Pisgah.  She had never been to Trace and wanted to check it out, recon for the upcoming PMBAR.  I was excited to do it, and excited because she wanted to spend at least 6 hrs on the bike.

I realized today that this is why I continue training, even though I am not actively racing:  so that I can go on a 6 hr ride, in Pisgah,  at the drop of a hat.

We had planned on riding Friday, but rain moved in so we changed the date to Saturday.  We met up at 9 at Davidson River area and were on the bikes before 9:30am.  We headed past the horse stables and up Clawhammer,  Zeke taking off through the woods, manhandling his single speed.  We took a chill pace up the climb before finally reaching Buckhorn Gap.  I took the opp to pick Carey's brain a little about training and pace.

Up and over the gap,  down into the valley on the other side, we cruised down the single track.  Taking a right on S Mills River we grinned all the way down to the bridge.  Walking over the slicker that snot bridge, we took a left on Squirrel. 

I had not ridden Squirrel since the trail work had been done and cannot really complain.  I felt like the work was needed, although I can understand how some of the veteran Pisgah riders miss some of the more techy features.

I was absorbed by the beauty of the forest and vowed to get out here more often once the wife finished nursing school, in 13 months...

At the intersection of Horse Cove, we took the quick down hill on Laurel Creek to the river crossing that brought us to the intersection of Bradley Creek or the forest service road that lead up to Yellow Gap.  Feeling adventuresome,  and never having ridden Bradley Creek,  we chose the new trail.  We each took a guess at how many river crossings we would experience and pushed on.   Stopped at one of the river crossings, a 3 inch long bug landed on my leg, and I admit, I squealed a little bit.  I simply don't like things crawling around on my body uninvited. 

After 10 river crossings, ( I won the guessing game) we reached Yellow Gap Road: 1206.  Zeke was ready to head back, and Carey wanted to continue on to Trace Ridge.  Knowing what was coming, I longed to ride with Zeke, but held true to my commitment and went with Carey.  

The temps were rising and I was concerned about overheating.  The pace we were holding was perfect for me.  I was glad to find that North Mills River Campground was open and we could fill up on water.  I had been conserving a little bit too much.

At the water stop, Carey pulled out a Coke....note to self: next time bring a Coke,  and a PB and J.

After filling up on cold water, we headed up the pavement on Wash Creek Road, up to Spencer Branch.  The steep grunt past the gate up to the single track was a kicker, with the sun beating down on us.   When we finally hit the downhill on Trace Ridge, I was spent and digging deep for the will to continue.  I was closer to home at this point that I was to my truck in Brevard.

We hit the Trace Ridge parking lot and Carey was so pumped that she wanted to go again.  If I had been game, I really was convinced that she would go again.  But at this point, I was close to overheating and needed to head back.  Fortunately,  she didn't push the issue. I would have waited in the parking lot and taken a nap if she had though!

On down lower Trace, which I had never ridden was a blast.   Then came the 1206 gravel grinder section back to Hwy 276.  We ground the gravel, chatted a bit, but mostly ground away.  We were both tired and hot and ready to be finished. 

As we rounded a bend we saw Sam and Trish with the kids and stopped for a couple of minutes to chat.  It was good to see them out in the woods. 

We continued our push to the pavement and after several disappointing turns to find only more gravel, we came to the pavement.  We barely paused before ducking down into time trial positions and hammering out the last couple of miles.  Rolling back into the parking lot with smiles on our faces, each having accomplished our personal goals for the day: 6.5 hrs riding and 61 miles we greeted Zeke, and took a quick soak in the Davidson River.

It was a great day to be in the woods with great friends!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


CYMBL: Carolina Youth Moutain Bike League
Race #1
Falling Creek Camp. 

The kid's first race was last Sunday.  We had planned on trying to camp out the night before, but with temps dipping close to freezing in some areas, we opted to stay home and stay warm.  

In the truck on the way out, he would not stop talking.  He was so excited that this day was all about him. 

We arrived at the low stress venue and got checked in.  I wished that I had bought a CYMBL T-shirt for him,  I could do that at the next race.  We were to spend the morning monitoring the "Skinnies Comp".  After a while no one showed up, so we went out and walked some of the course.  I misread the map and we walked a lot of gravel road.

When race time came, the kids lined up with the dads grouped behind. 

The gun went off and the 7-8 yr olds took off like little greased lightnings.  200 yrds into the course was a steep gravel road that switch backed a couple of time.  The kid rode as far as he could before jumping off and alternating between running and walking to the top. 

Breathing heavily, he got on the bike and got some momentum.  Turning onto some singletrack, we realized that we had not walked the correct route.  What can you do? 

The kid was raging single track like I had never seen him do before.  Neither one of us were mentally prepared for the technical (for a kid his age) singletrack, but he was attacking it and riding rock gardens and switchbacks with confidence.

And then he crashed.  Slamming his already skinned elbow, from a previous high speed crash, into the trail.  He had a long sleeved shirt on but it still hurt like mad.  The tears started to flow, but with a little encouragement he go back on the bike.

He pushed hard for 25 minutes, and wound up in 7th place out of 9 kids.  (hmmm,  that looks a lot like my results).  He is at the bottom of his age group though, so as he grows,  so might his results. 

I'm so proud of my little mtn bike racer!!

The best part is he loves it and looks forward to doing it again!!

The next race will be held at Jackson Park: May 22.

2011 Race Dates:

  • April 17, 2011 - Falling Creek Camp - Tuxedo, NC

  • May 22, 2011 - Jackson Park - Hendersonville, NC

  • August 28, 2011 - Camp Carolina - Brevard, NC

  • September 18, 2011 - Christ School - Arden, NC

  • October 23, 2011 - Championship at Falling Creek - Tuxedo, NC

Monday, April 18, 2011


I just wrapped up my most memorable and fun spring break ever.  The wife and kid both had spring break scheduled at the same time and I took advantage of it by making sure we all had fun.  Movie at the theatre, bike rides, camping, fishing, visiting with friends, some Okie Dokies BBQ,  Healthy Kids Day bike rodeo, the Carolina Youth Mountain Bike League Races and topping it off with a bike ride of my

The Kid, before his race.  He killed it.
 Parents were allowed to ride along with the kids during the race for safety and to encourage.  The field got spread out pretty quickly after the start as there was a 100 yard hike a bike up a gravel road.  The kid is at the bottom of his age group in the 7/8 yr olds.  He is still 6 but they group the kids by age at the end of this year.  He took off and hiked up the road, running some and walking some.  Hitting the single track he road most of it and crashed once hard.  He saddled back up and rode on.  I was behind him encouraging him, coaching him and pumping him up.  Halfway through the race, I got really annoyed....with myself.  Realizing I was talking too much, I asked him if I was.  He said "yes".  So, I cut back and let him race his race.  And guess what?  He did great without me!   
waterfall in the woods

Covered Bridge
 After getting home I had time to get out for a ride.  I rolled down the Parkway to Bent Creek.  A couple of miles into the ride, I got passed by 3 roadies....who didn't say a word.   Why?  Why don't people out riding bikes, doing the exact same thing at least greet with a hello?

I jumped up to the trio and got in the slip stream.  Nothing like a free ride on a long stretch of pavement.  A couple of minutes of drafting later and the guy in back said to the guy in front," Hey Jeff,  this guy on the mtn bike says he wants you to go faster".  Jeff picked the pace up a little bit, but they could not shake me.   A long downhill then the long steep climb to the I-26 overpass.   Jeff could not keep the pace and rotated around, I sat on the back still.  Then guy #2 and the girl, picked up the pace and got a gap.  I sat behind Jeff for a second and should have gone around. I watched as the girl stood up and put a couple of bike lengths between herself and guy #2.   I could not let that happen, so I went around Jeff, then around guy #2.  It took a little while, but by the top of the climb, I had reeled in the girl and tucked in behind her.   I hope they greet me next time, I'll take it easy on them! 
The bike, the woods, the sunshine

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The view from the deck
 After some severe thunderstorm action Saturday night we woke to a beautiful day on Sunday.  The clouds hung low in the valley for most of the day, giving us the illusion of flying high above.  We ate some homemade cinnamon rolls and hit the road around 9am. 

 We were moving slow, enjoying the warmth and letting the blood flow to our legs.  I was feeling good,  ready to pound out some miles.  The big question was whether or not the parkway was closed from Mitchell to Bull Gap.  If it was closed with a no bikes sign, we would have to backtrack, giving us 20 extra miles for the day.  That would be truly epic.  
Mr Technology make a phone call
 After calling the parkway recording, we road on, trusting that the recording and not the sign was correct.  I asked Mike 3 times if he wanted to take the alternate route, but he declined...hardcore. 

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  Simply grinding along at a touring pace, enjoying the scenery and chatting it up.  A quick refill at a spring on the side of the mountain, a few more climbs and we were at the Craggy Visitors Center
two tunnels

Green Knob Fire Tower in the distance

Entrance to Mt Mitchell

Craggy Garden VC
 After the long downhill and a few more uphills, we parted ways. It was warm and we were successful.  220 miles over 3 days,  roughly 17,000 ft of climbing made for a good training block.  I felt stronger as the days went by and my confidence in my fitness is good.
parting shot from and epic ride...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Downtown Erwin, TN

 After sleeping well and stuffing ourselves on homemade bread, muffins, eggs Florentine, coffee and juice,  we kitted up and headed out of town.  There was a 50% chance of showers but the sky was clear and the sun shining bright.  As we rode, we talked about different things that mattered and joked about other things.

The highlight of the day was a climb up Roan mtn.  Since I was in middle school, and up until a few years ago, my family had a tradition of coming up to this area for vacation time.  One of the highlights was bringing Rhonda with us the first time.  Good memories!  

When we first started coming, we would shuttle our bikes to the top of Carver's Gap, just below Roan Mt, and ride down.  As time went by, we got more ambitious an started riding from the bottom up the 7 mile climb to the top, then back down.  After that became less challenging, we started riding from the vacation lodges that we were staying at, for a 26 mile out and back.   Then to top it off,  the last time I was there, I rode a 40 mile loop around the area, that included a climbing up and over Roan,  before riding back to eat Thanksgiving dinner.   And the rides keep getting bigger...

 I really like the climb up,  a couple of steep pitches, with some moderate, steady grades and breathtaking views.  Within a couple of miles, the flora changes from pristine forests to gnarled stunted trees and shrubbery. 
Into the Cherokee National Forest
As we climbed higher, I said to Mike," The only thing that would be better at this point, is if we were riding on dirt!"
Roan Mtn in the distance, Carvers Gap in the center
 About a mile from the top, I needed to stretch my legs, so I upped the pace.  I was feeling rather good after a 100 mile day yesterday.  At the top, we stopped for lunch.  I pulled out the pimento cheese sandwich and coke that I had picked up at the store in the town of Roan Mtn.  It was delish.  One thing I did right on this trip was feed myself properly.  The only time I was hungry on the bike was yesterday, towards the end of the day. 
 The Appalachian Trail crossed the road here.  When we stopped we noticed a guy eating lunch as well so we went to talk to him.  Greenlight is his trailname and he was eating a tub of peanut butter sprinkled with raisins and crumbled granola bar.  We gave him some of our extra food which he was happy to see.
Greenlight and Mike
 After chatting for a few minutes, I watched the storm clouds rolling in and suggested that we hit the road. 
Elevation = fresh air
 We flew down the other side of the mountain into the valley,  a couple more climbs and we came into Bakersville. We stopped at Dot's where Mike had some Chili and a cookie, I had a danish and a coffee.  We decided to take the quickest road to Little Switzerland, where we  would stay for the night. 

About 2 miles out of Bakersville we were riding towards some ominous looking storm clouds.  The  wind kicked up and we got splattered with a few rain drops.  I chuckled when Mike frantically started to pedal faster, then pointed to a barn across a field: "  Should we go in that barn?" he yelled.  I pointed to the right, just off the road, and suggested we simply pull into the carport of a roadside house.  We did, and mr. technology whipped out his phone to check the weather map.   Mike wanted to stay put, I fancy myself as being able to read storms and the direction they are headed and told Mike that if we left now, we would ride in between the passing storm and the next cell that was creeping up.  Mike conceded and within minutes, we were riding in sunshine. 
The last tun
We were at our destination within an hour, and recovery treats ensued.  70 miles today, and two big grins of accomplishment.  After getting cleaned up and eating dinner, we watched the huge thunderstorm roll by from the relative safety of the deck, then we watched Ride The Divide,  Mike had never seen it. 

Tomorrow:  Little Switzerland to Asheville

Monday, April 11, 2011


Day 1 of a 3 day tour:

packed and ready to roll
 Mike Keeley has been talking about doing a road tour for a while.  He also like to use the word epic a lot.  So put together a route that could have easily turned epic if conditions degenerated.  

We headed down the river from Asheville with Erwin TN as our goal.  Mike does not camp so he took care of the lodging,  a bed and breakfast.   I had sketched a map on some paper, in the spirit of exploration and adventure and willing to make some wrong turns.  I figured our route would cover about 86 miles on day 1.
Marshall, NC city limits
 We arrived in Marshall after a late start, 9ish and it was time to eat, as we would not be passing through any more towns that I knew of for a while.  I told Mike that we should eat, and after a bit of surprise and reasoning, he agreed,  we both had bacon, egg and cheese bagels at Zuma coffee shop.  The service was great and the food fresh.  We sat outside watching the small town traffic and chatting with Alfie, who knew he had lived in Rutherfordton for 3 yrs, but did not know which road he lived on.  He did tell us that in Rutherfordton when an ambulance goes by, everybody goes out to the street to watch it. 
grinding up to TN
 We headed out of Marshall, and spent some time on 25/70 which was not so fun due to traffic.  About 30 minutes later though we were on a quiet back road, riding along a creek and telling stories.  The weather was perfect and we were feeling good.  We rode along at a touring pace and were excited about the trip.  At one point, we came to an intersection that was not marked on my map.  I was pretty sure of the right direction.  At this point in the trip, I relinquished my navigational duties to Mike, who pulled out his cell phone and promptly found out exact location on a GPS map.  So much for adventure! 

At the NC-TN state line we stopped for some photos and then headed down the other side.
Mike is a speck in the distance, headed into TN
After the decent into TN we plodded up and down rolling hills for a few minutes.  When we crossed a large river, something told me we had missed the turn that we wanted.  I recommended we pull over to figure it out and Mike again pulled out his pocket sized atlas of the world.  He started poking and rubbing the phone until the magic genie, gave him directions.  So we backtracked for about 1 mile and then spent the next several hours zig-zagging through some very pretty country side on back roads, rather than fighting traffic on 107. 

As I checked the time and odometer, our mileage grew.  The new route had added mileage which was cool with me.  If I had arrived at Erwin with 86 miles,  I was determined to ride another 14, being so close to 100.  We rolled up to a stop sign after a long fast stint and the sign said Erwin:7.  I looked at the Odometer and it said 97 miles.  Sweet.  We stopped for a snack,  Mike had a Yoohoo, and I had a Coke with some Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles.
The B&B
 We finally rolled into Erwin.  I felt good and Mike was whipped.  I felt like I could keep going which is a good feeling.  After showering, finding out rooms and getting cleaned up, we decided to have Mexican food for dinner.  We stopped to pick up some chocolate ice cream before heading back.  When we walked in the hostess had made fresh brownies.  Awesomeness:  fresh brownies chopped up and mixed with chocolate ice cream.
part of what I ate on today's ride
 I have not done a road century since my trip to Roanoke last Thanksgiving.  I made sure I ate and stayed hydrated.  Riding time was just over 6 hrs.  Cool.
the hostess
We spent the rest of the evening relaxing on the couch, chatting and reading before heading to bed.

2 more days to go with the big climb over Roan Mt tomorrow....

Thursday, April 07, 2011


You had to be there
 After a morning of bike safety rodeos, and afternoon of errands, then taking the Erwin Middle Bike Club on a ride, it was time to ride alone.  I was parked at the Arboretum so got the kids loaded on the bus, and rolled back out onto the trails. 

I have been a little frustrated about my legs not feeling it recently when I realized that for the past 4 yrs, at this time of the year, I have had several specific race goals in mind.  This year I don't and my training has not had the intensity of years past, so naturally I don't have the same fitness. 

For this ride, I decided to focus on technique, keeping it smooth,  something I could control and see immediate results.  During the ride, it dawned on me that I have been mashing the pedals in an attempt to replicate that sensation of feeling good, grinding over the tops of hills and hammering down the other side.  I realized that I have been trying too hard and I need to relax and focus on other things as well. 
The French Broad River Valley
It turned out to be a good ride, in fact what ride is not good when one happens across David Maida? 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Friday, April 01, 2011


Well,  I have wanted to do this for a long time now and we finally figured out how to swing it.  We sold the house and bought a Harley.  We were able to find a decent moblie home to live in for low rent which is really awesome.  We are so excited about taking some longer road trips on this machine.

It looks like the Blue Ridge Parkway is first on the list of places to go!!