Friday, April 10, 2009

Sunny Ride Closes Out Day

Thursday, April 8th, came to a very pleasant end as I was able to get in a nice post work ride through some beautiful country. The day lived up to its forecasted promise as sunny skies and temperatures in the 70’s caressed me on my walk back to my office from lunch. This served to whet my appetite for the planned end-of-day ride. If there were still such a thing as a clock with hands in my office, I’m sure it would have seemed that the movement of the sweeping bars appeared to be moving through Jell-O.

I started my ride at the intersection of NC 209 and Lake Junaluska and proceeded north as I have been doing recently. The wider gutter of NC 209 lets me ride reasonably secure while the folks headed home shoot by me at significantly faster speeds. Rather than continuing on NC 209 this ride, I turned west onto Coleman Mountain Road. I’ve been trying to work more climbs into my rides in order to build up some climbing strength and Coleman Mountain offered that option.

I rode to my friends’ driveway at Jack Pine Dr., which is a little over half way up the mountain before my heart rate threatened to shut me down. The driveway offered a couple of opportunities. One was to go visit my friends and probably get a cold drink and the other was to stick to the plan and keep riding. Option one would almost certainly have meant the end of the day’s ride. As my heart rate was dropping, I realized I was in a place to get a nice rural picture. I broke out my Gorillapod tripod and attached my wife’s Canon Powershot to it in order to grab a picture. The Gorillapod and Powershot combination are small enough to pack along for rides without significantly adding weight. The Gorillapod will allow you to mount your camera to just about anything in order to get the desired shot.

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For this shot, I had the Gorillapod wrapped around a street sign with one leg acting as a stabilizer on the sign mounting bracket. This image is looking east-southeast from Jack Pine Drive on Coleman Mountain Road.


Once my heart rate dropped back to a more normal training range, I remounted and rode to the top of the mountain, which overlooks I-40. I squeezed off another couple of shots on the Canon. This image is of the upcoming long descent toward Jonathan Creek and US 276. Ride040809 002

The descent lasts for a couple of miles and terminates at Jonathan Creek. From here, I could have continued on down to Rabbit Skin Road and had a significant climb before dropping back to the Pigeon River and Riverside Drive, which I’ve previously written about. However, the sun was getting lower in the sky and I was riding solo so I decided that perhaps better judgment would dictate that I simply reverse direction and head back to my point of origin.

Ride040809 003 As you all know, that wonderful descent’s “other side of the coin” was an ascent of equal length but considerably more difficult challenge. The grade of the climb wasn’t nearly as steep as coming up from the NC 209 side but the length was quite a bit longer. I managed to cross under I-40 though and make it back to the top of Coleman Mountain. Interestingly, looking east didn’t result in a much different view!

A very nice descent with only a small climb back up to US 209 led back to Lake Junaluska and a “cool down” ride across the wooden bridge spanning the dam and onto the final short climb of the day up Lambuth Inn hill. At the top of this climb is the Cross that overlooks the Junaluska Methodist Assembly. I took a short break to enjoy the dying light the day and grab one more image from the day’s ride. The Cross is lit at night and the automatic switch had just illuminated it. I propped the Fuji CCR3 on the foundation of the Cross and shot this image:

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I closed out this very nice ride by spinning on out to US 19 along the recently completed greenway and then back to my point of origin via South Lakeshore Drive. While on that leg of the trip, I met Big Ben and 4 or 5 other local cyclists as they were traversing the lake property on their weekly group ride. They had a pretty good pace going and were quickly by me and on the way to their ultimate destination.

I finally returned to my truck and headed home for the day being aware of  my very tired body but also having a very nice sense of serenity that was a result of enjoying the beauty of the rural scenery, the solitude of my brief stops, and of being alive now in this time and in this place…


Until later,


-- Zeke

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