Monday, March 19, 2007

Weekender to North Carolina

For the last two years I've been trying to hook up with the March team training ride to Asheville, NC, but a few minor things always seem to get crop up, like my son Landon being born. The stories always seem epic and the riding is so good one of my teammates moved there 2 years ago. This year Connie & I made it a must and took friday off and made the 9 hour drive, met up at Bruce's house and settled into the weekend of riding bliss.

Saturday - Pisgah

Picture of tunnel trail at Bent Creek, part of Pisgah National Forest. This is where we started our ride saturday morning. Then we rode our bikes over to Pisgah and hit some monster climbs and ass flos'n decents.
I was going to write up more about Pisgah, truely an unbelievable place to ride, but Bob already has that covered with a sweat review of that day...check it out here on our team website.
On a side note, 1/2 way on the drive down to NC, Connie asks me if I packed her shoes and helmet? She ended up with Bob's size 10's with 3 pairs of socks and newspapers stuffed in the toes. We adjusted the cleats all the way back, Bruce lent her an extra "orange" helmet and she was good to go!

Sunday -
Tres Amigos 18 Degree assault of Mount Mitchell

Sunday we woke up before sunrise to climb Mount Mitchell. This mountain rises more than a mile high and is surrounded by the gentle mist of low-hanging clouds. Mount Mitchell is the Highest Mountain in eastern America and soars 6,684 feet into the cold misty haze. The game plan, get everyone packed and into the vehicles and meet Ken and Ray at the Folk Art Center at sunrise. Oh ya...last night was Saint Patty's day. Fat chance in hell - impossible, but Dang we were close, only a half hour off with all the gear we had to load, for we where heading home as soon as we uncliped from the pedals. We all knew Ken & Ray would be on the bikes when we got there, so it actually gave for a quick start pace and chase down. Toss a carrot as strong as Ken and Ray in front of these hungry rabbits and its game on!

As we were climbing, I realized Mount Mitchell State Park is an extraordinary place. For a moment I forgot how flipping cold I was - when I looked out over the horizon I got a feast for my eyes—breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rolling ridges and lush valleys. Another tranquil moment to add to the slideshow in my mind. The peaks where glazed with ice and rocky cliffs sparkled with icicles which then snapped and exploded, crashing to the road as we ascended. I'd go in and out of my happy place as the ice brought me back into reality. Ross, Todd and I were the only one's stupid enough to ascend to the top. When I checked the meters at the weather station up top it was 18 degrees. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, soaked up the scenery and made the mental preperations for the decent. We easily hit 30+ miles per hour on the way down, the wind chill had to be way below zero. We all stopped after the first 4 miles, jumped off our bikes and started running and dancing around, trying to get the feeling back in our burning fingers and toes. We could not talk, only make tribal sounds as our faces were numb and frozen. After a few minutes of this we finally could strike up a conversation and we decided to slow down a bit and stay in the sun when possible. As we made the hours long journey back it warmed up a few degrees. I forgot to mention, our entire route was gated off, it was nice having 30+ miles of road all to yourselves. I have not yanked the stats off my computer yet, but I'm hearing it was a round trip of 60 miles give or take. Sign me up for next year, there is so much more down there to explore!

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