Sunday, May 2, 2010


Our weekend riding schedule with Cycling Experiences Jim Artis is now in the bag. The final planned ride is over although the planned ride didn’t occur. We were treated to some much needed moisture overnight and when we arose this morning, the skies were still heavy with clouds. There were enough times where the sun broke through to bolster our spirits and we met as planned at the Bethel Middle School at 10:30 a.m. …And that’s when the plan changed.

May02_BethelMeetGreet(David and Marcia Tate meet Jim Artis) 

One look up the Pigeon River Valley revealed ominous looking skies and falling rain. With all of our riders gathered, we brilliantly put our brains together with the amassed years of wisdom (somewhere north of 250 total years) and said, “hey, let’s not ride into that!”

May02_StormLkeLogan(Storm coming down the Pigeon River Valley) 

After a short discussion, we determined to ride away from the storm with the hopes that we wouldn’t simply be riding back into it later. Down NC 215 we went to the intersection of Stamey Cove Road. At this point, we were riding part of the old Bele Cher race route that used to be held in Haywood County. The road begins at river elevation and has a steady but relatively gentle ascent until about .5 mile before the gap. The grade jumps up significantly at that point.


(Artis and David Tate in the gap!)


(Champion cyclist George Ivey tops the gap in fine form)



 (Zeke and Jim in the gap!)

After descending Stamey Cove through a series of “S” curves, we “enjoyed” one more climb before dropping down into the town of Clyde. This final climb was the first of many “uh, yeah, Jim – there’s only one more hill climb left.” (As became quite apparent to our riding partners, I was “woody-izing” Jim.

May02_JimMarciaGap(Jim and Marcia reaching that “next to the last” mountain gap) 

We crossed over Broad Street in Clyde and headed east on Thickety Road toward Canton. It was along this stretch of the ride that we were treated to a visit by “Slipstream Sallie”. Sallie caressed us with her gentle touch and moved us right along the road with seemingly no energy expenditure. This beautiful 2 lane road runs alongside the Pigeon River and is pleasantly shaded for the most part. It was an excellent chance to recover from the earlier climbs – just in time for one “final climb” (yeah, sure….).

May02_JimThick01 (Artis summiting “just one more hill” on Thickety Road)

The Turnback Begins…

After a couple more short climbs by area churches, we arrived at the intersection of Thickety Road and Champion Drive in Canton. This was our turning point to begin the 9 mile run back up the river to our starting destination.

May02_CrewChampDr01(l-r, Jim, Marcia, David, and George taking a short break at intersection)

Headwind Harry”, in an apparent jealous fit of the attention we received from “Slipstream Sallie”, decided to make himself known. As we attempted to descend into Canton along Champion Drive, “Harry” blew full force into our faces whipping up dirt and debris filling my eyes to the point it was difficult to avoid the manhole covers along the way. I’m sure “Harry’s” nefarious planning to disrupt our flow took into account the morale damaging effects of riding full steam downhill and seemingly making no progress. As we turned onto the bridge at Fiberville to cross the Pigeon, “Harry” threw up another massive gust but came at us from the side this time. I swear my bike jumped 6” to the right!

After crossing the bridge, we had to climb a short knoll. At this point, “Harry” was back full in our face. I was running 4.5 mph and trying to stay upright while mashing hard on my gears. It was one of the hardest trips over that little knoll I’ve ever had.

May02_JimPaperMill01 (Artis heading up the knoll by Evergreen Paper Plant in Canton)

After a brief break to suck down some energy and fluids, we said our goodbyes to George, who needed to head home to visiting family. The Tates, Artis, and myself covered the final 6 miles along NC 215 to our starting point and successfully ended our 3 days of training. For more details on this ride, visit Cycling Experiences to see the metrics.

(Author’s note: “Woody-izing” is a training technique used many times on Zeke by his friend and cycling mentor the “Wood-man.” The specifics of the technique and proper applications are proprietary, however, I can sum it by stating that you essentially “encourage” the trainee to continue on by lying to them about what is upcoming. It has proven to be a very effective technique to be used on Zeke. Time will tell if it had any merit for the application to Artis…)

In Days to Come…

As this weekend comes to a close and we go back to our normal routines of work and as my “best half” and I prep for our upcoming trip to California to visit Bro Dave and apparently mow his lawn, I’m very aware that some time in reflection on our past 3 days will find its way to these pages. Today, I’m very clear that I owe appreciation to Jim Artis for making his trip to my beloved mountains, to Kathy, my “best half”, for all of her support in making this weekend happen and happen smoothly, and to my fellow cycling and non-cycling friends, who made Jim welcome in our community! I close with a heart heavy with happiness!

Until later,

- Zeke

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