Sunday, December 27, 2009


What may have been my last ride of the calendar year for 2009 managed to get me to my personal mileage goal of 1000 miles. Yesterday morning, December 26th, I perused the extended weather forecasts for the rest of the calendar year and determined, based upon what I read, that yesterday was likely to be the best remaining riding day of the calendar year. While I was ready to hope for more, I didn’t want to miss out on a chance to get in that last ride needed to get to my personal goal of having ridden 1000 miles this year. Given that I am recently returned to riding a bike of the self-powered type after a 27 year absence, I realize that I’m still building my cycling “chops” and that 1000 miles is a mere drop in the bucket to so many seasoned riders.

I returned to cycling in the spring of 2008 and totaled 520 miles for the remainder of that year. My condition was so poor those first rides that I could barely do 3 miles. In fact, on my first ride from my office to my LBS (RollsRite), I had to stop during the roughly 1 mile ride in order to catch my breath and let my heart rate drop. Fortunately, conditioning returned fairly quickly and I was doing much better by mid-summer of 2008.

I felt like I really reached another level of cycling beginning in July 2009 when I topped 100 miles in the month for the first time. Since then, I’ve been pleased to continue increased mileage and having found some climbing legs somewhere along the line. I managed to ascend a number of climbs in my local area that I would never have believed I could do. With some good guidance and encouragement from the “Wood-man”, “Big Ben”, “Cross-country Stan” and “Bro Dave”, I found new joy in climbing.

So, what will the mileage goal be for 2010? Should I go for double again, which would be 2000 miles in 2010 or shoot for 3000 miles. That would only be an average of 60 miles a week for roughly 50 weeks. Seems doable…

The goal reaching ride…

I left for my office in town mid-day yesterday to get my bike and start the final ride. I was looking forward to trying out my new Navara Stratos jacket. I layered up nicely (Under Armour turtle neck for a base layer topped by my Pearl Izumi winter weight bibbed riding pants, followed by a Pearl Izumi winter weight cycling jersey, and the Stratos. I also had on a Harley Davidson fleece neck wrap and a Pearl Izumi skull cap. On my hands were Pearl Izumi winter gloves.) I started out from my office avoiding the remaining snow clumps and discovered in about .2 miles that I didn’t have on a helmet! I had so much other stuff on I hadn’t even noticed the missing lid. So, I turned around and headed back to the office for said helmet.

After that little disruption, I headed out again only to discover that my bike computer wasn’t working properly. I wasn’t registering any mileage or speed data. So…. I pull over to the side of the road in a bank parking lot, removed my gloves, and started resetting my bike computer. Finally, I seemed to have everything working and was able to hit the road again. My primary goal was to get in enough miles to meet my 1000 threshold. I wasn’t particularly interested in climbing or finding new things to climb. Given a starting temperature of 42 degrees, it took just a bit longer to warm up than usual.

Once warmed though, I headed out of town to NC 209 hoping that the roads were clear enough for both me and normal traffic. I quickly discovered that the road salt and grime was coating me and my Fuji CCR3. Normally, I ride the gutter along NC 209 but not this day. It was full of snow/ice chunks and gravel that had been spread by the NC DOT as they made the roads passable. So, I shared the actual lane of travel with trucks and cars alike. I was even forced to ride somewhat closer to the middle than normal because of the impediments to travel along the roadside.

Upon reaching Hyder Mountain Road, I left NC 209 behind and began a more leisurely run along the Pigeon River. It was running at full capacity given the recent heavy rains and ongoing snow melt. I stopped for a couple of pictures along the way.

Dec26_PigeonRiv01(The snow has melted nicely in places touched by the sun.) 

Following Hyder Mountain Road into Clyde and then just beyond town brought me to a turnout alongside a large pasture. Remnants of the recent snowfall were still very much in evidence.


(No kickstand needed!)









(Snow covered field looking north from Clyde, NC)

While returning to NC 209 via Old Clyde Highway, I was passed by multiple Haywood County Sheriff’s and eventually ended up with a N.C. State Trooper riding, at a safe distance, on my rear wheel. He had multiple opportunities to pass me in straight sections of the road and I was riding as far to the right as was possible. When I came to an intersection, I pulled off to let him by and discovered that he had been holding back about 4 other vehicles. I let them all pass before resuming my return trip.

At Lake Junaluska, I came across the coldest and snowiest portions of the ride. The road on South Lakeshore Drive has a northern exposure and doesn’t see the sun this time of year. Snow that had been scraped to the side remained there and snow that hadn’t been scraped remained on the road. The temperatures here were in the mid-30’s.


(South Lakeshore Drive, Lake Junaluska, NC)


(Zeke in cold weather riding attire)

Once back in the sun, I warmed up and made it back to my office in fine fashion  having accomplished one of several goals for this calendar year. 1000 miles was now under my belt. I celebrated by giving my bike a quick “bath” in the office bathtub to get all of the road salt and grime off of sensitive places. I figured “she” had taken care of me this year so I’d better return the favor!

Until later,

- Zeke

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