Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A RETURN TO SOLO STATUS

Today’s standing Tuesday ride turned out to be the first solo event I’ve had in awhile. Everyone was busy with other pursuits so it fell to me to motivate myself to get out and ride. Truthfully, it wasn’t terribly hard to motivate myself. I had more trouble deciding where to ride than if to ride.

According to the weather forecasters, this was the last good day of the week to get in a ride. They are predicting a return to rain and much cooler weather for the next several days. Today was actually pretty nice with the sun making an appearance and the temps reaching the low 70’s before tailing off near the end of the day.

Before I get to today’s ride though, I thought I’d recap our past weekend of camping. Since this is a cycling blog, I’ll say that many of the vehicles coming into the campground had various brands of mountain bikes on carriers and in truck beds. That is where they stayed…

Our drive up the mountain was beautiful in the fall colors on this last weekend of camping at our favorite place. Thirty minutes later – BAM!  a cloud fell on the mountain top.

BalsamMtn1009_TonyAppearsCamp Host Tony Sells appears out of the fog…

The clouds stayed and stayed and stayed with us. On Friday, we were basking in the balmy 57 degree weather of the fog when only 18 miles and 2000’ lower elevation, our friends were enjoying 80 degree weather under mostly cloudless skies. With the weather limiting visibility to a matter of feet, most of our time was spent reading and enjoying the campfire when it wasn’t raining. I managed to get in some good cycling reading in the absence of actually being able to cycle.

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Our Hobbi kept us dry and warm as the weather managed to stay about the same until 30 minutes before our departure on Sunday. I did take the opportunity to continue honing my coffee making skills. I’ve recently made the move to a French Coffee Press due to ongoing electrical problems with the inverter in our camper. I’ve relearned that “a watched pot never boils.”. It seems like it took forever to get the water up to a boiling point so we could steep the coffee.

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(Coffee from my favorite roaster Smoky Mountain Roasters)

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(The coffee making setup. Note the ongoing fog…)

We did catch a few brief moments when the fog lifted on Saturday and managed to snap a few images of the fall colors.

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(Lots of yellows on this side of the mountain.)

 

 

 

 

 

(A few maples and more conifers near the top.)

 

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(Flathead Creek Trail leads to the Heintooga picnic area.)

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(Look close to see some real turkeys!)

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(Finally, our favorite camping wildlife – Zeke and Orla!)

Sunday morning saw a lifting of the fog and lessening in the density of the cloud cover so more light actually reached us on the ground. While enjoying our last cup of coffee before beginning to pack, two pick up trucks passed the campground fully loaded with mountain bikes. A few minutes later, the mountain bikers were cycling through the campground checking it out and looking for information on a 28 mile one way unimproved road that goes from the end of the paved section of road down into the Cherokee Boundary. This road is a favorite of cyclists, hikers, and drivers alike as it affords some great views into the Great Smoky Mountains. After a few words with Ranger Jack Campbell and after corralling some of their wayward brethren, the cyclists headed down the mountain. These were the only cyclists we actually saw riding all weekend.

BACK TO THE SOLO RIDE…

As I was beginning my ride yesterday, the skies were already beginning to fill with clouds and darken so I decided that staying in and around town might be a wise move. As I was riding solo, I had only myself to consult with. After a brief meeting of the mind I(we) determined a circuitous route that included some town streets and rural roads circling the Town of Waynesville.

I departed my office and headed east on Business 19/23 or North Main St. as it is signed. After a short spin to one of the town’s two roundabouts, I had a smooth ride in end-of-workday traffic along Raccoon Creek Road to its intersection with US 276 on the southeast side of town. I took an immediate left onto Crymes Cove Road, which was the only climb of any significance in the day’s ride. 

Crymes Cove Road runs .75 miles from its intersection with US 276 to the top of the climb before dropping down into the Ninevah section of Waynesville. The elevation gain is 273’ and has an average grade of 6.89%. However, the last 4/10th of a mile to the top sees a dramatic incline and has an average grade of 10.78%.

From the top of Crymes Cove, it was a nice and easy descent with a watchful eye for gravel in the road. I made my way back to South Main St. via Auburn Park and then on to the Waynesville Commons area, which is the site of the new Super Wal-Mart in town. From there, a short run up Hyatt Creek led to a crossover to Plott Creek and then back to the Village of Hazelwood, a small former town now fully encompassed by Waynesville. This connected to Brown Ave., which is one segment of our suggested bike pathway through Waynesville. After cruising down Main St., I returned to my office for what turned out to be a short 12 mile ride after work.

I was struck with how long I “thought” I had ridden and how few miles I had actually logged in circumnavigating Waynesville. The conversation I normally have with a riding partner was missing this day and I was aware of how time passes more quickly when you are conversing as you ride.  Still, I had not ridden solo in at least 2 months and it was pleasant to get out and just cruise around town. Here’s looking forward to a return to sunshine in 3 or 4 days…

Until later,

- Zeke

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