Sunday, April 18th, was my first ride to Asheville of the year. Along with the Wood-Man, I enjoyed a fine afternoon in the saddle as we covered the 38 miles from our starting point to Tripps Restaurant in Asheville. It is Dogwood Winter here in the mountains of Western North Carolina, which means that the Dogwoods are in full bloom and the temps have dropped to cooler ranges. We’ve had frost warnings for the last couple of nights and even a freeze warning one time. Fortunately, the days warm up nicely and that was the case yesterday as we climbed and descended our way into the “big” city.
We took a route along Old Clyde Highway from Lake Junaluska to Canton. If you can picture 3 roads running pretty much parallel, Old Clyde Highway would be the middle road. Part of the time, you’re running along the Pigeon River and the rest of the route is agricultural-to-residential in nature.
After passing around and through Canton, we headed up Newfound Road. Newfound is the longest and steepest of the climbs on this route topping out at 9% grade. I was really feeling my Saturday “work day” of cutting firewood and mowing grass. My legs and lower back felt tight as rubber bands stretched to their limit and I struggled to maintain contact with the Wood-Mans’s rear wheel. I lost about an 1/8th of a mile to him as we crested Newfound Gap and dropped into Buncombe County.
As always, what goes up must come down and I caught back up with him on the descent side of the mountain. From there it was a run across the valley floor where we were occasionally accompanied by the dastardly Headwind Harry, who I suspect was hiding in amongst the pretty white clouds. He seemed to make his presence known mostly on climbs, which of course is his standard mode of operation.
At the 2 hour mark, we took a brief break at the intersection of Newfound Road and Leicester Highway (pronounced Lester Highway by us locals). The short break did my back good but my quads tightened up. We called our “better halves” and gave them the meeting time at Tripps. They were heavily involved in their favorite form of exercise – aerobic shopping!
(Suttles Quick Mart – site of much needed rest)
After a very short run on the dual lane Leicester Highway, we were running along a ridge that provided a wonderful panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north of Asheville. After dropping down into the Erwin Hills Community, we had a series of climbs that just about drained the rest of my leg power. Mercifully, the climbs ended and we crossed the French Broad River north of Asheville. From here, it was a 6 mile run along the river using some of Asheville’s bike lanes. Normally, I can hang on Wood-Man’s wheel here but that was not the case on Sunday. I struggled to keep him in sight as I started bonking. At this point, I had serious doubts that I would be able to make the final climb up from the river to Pack Square. I did persevere and make it.This brought us to Tripps where I re-discovered the term “rubber legs.”
I was very pleased that the ride was not an “out and back” exercise! I would have given my kingdom, if I had a kingdom, for a hot tub last night!
A point of interest:
I’ve written often about riding the Pigeon River Valley above Canton. Last week, our local paper featured an article about one of the most famous “residents” of the PRV – The Osborne Family Oak. I have a deep appreciation for this tree and the history of our county that time has seen fit to pass under its spreading limbs. I share this story as a further point of interest for those readers, who have noted my writing of the area.
Osborne Boundary Oak to be evaluated for restorative care
The Osborne Boundary Oak, a historic tree on the Department of Transportation right of way, will be evaluated for immediate restorative care and recommendations for continued care by Lloyd Anderson, an experienced knowledgeable tree specialist, Southern Tree Care, at 1:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, at the site of the tree on NC 110 at the junction of Wells (1869) and Jeffrey Lane with Pisgah (NC 110). Observers are welcome.
“The Osborne Boundary Oak was in existence in the days before white man settled Bethel Community,” said Doris Hammett.
According to documentation, an Indian council existed near this tree. When General Griffith Rutherford and his men pressed against the Native American villages in Western North Carolina in 1776, they marched by the tree and forded the Pigeon River.
Positive Response from NC DOT:
(Fairly wide, relatively clean gutter - pre-cleaning.)
(Example of gutters closing down – sweeper machine just passes over it.)
(Gutter almost completely gone!)
A couple of week’s ago, I wrote an email to the local NC DOT Engineer regarding the condition of the shoulders/gutters along NC 110 and NC 209. I explained that I wanted to be proactive this spring and highlight a couple of areas that might need some additional attention as they did their routine “spring cleaning”. Today, I received back a very nice reply indicating that the local DOT Maintenance Engineer had been to the sites and made a preliminary review of the work needed. I was informed that the work is scheduled to start in 3 weeks. I very much appreciated the kind response that I received and look forward to the widened gutters as I ride these roads! THANKS DOT!