Races/Tours that I am following:
It has been a long work week with lots of end of fiscal year stuff going on and planning for a new work site for our company. Our hot temperatures over the last several days with late afternoon thunderstorms have been followed by a nice cooling spell with much clearer skies so the decision yesterday was “to weed-eat or to ride?”
Given the growth from the warm temps and heavy rains, our backyard grass, particularly the area where our dogs are confined, is now butt-high on the Labs Zeke and Orla and their Golden Retriever “cousin” Mattie Ann. It really needs weed-eating, chopping down, lowering in some manner. They hesitate to go out at night to do their “bizness”. I should stay home and do some weed-eating…
Yesterday was a gorgeous late afternoon and my plans to ride from Bethel Middle School as far up the mountain to the Blue Ridge Parkway as possible got changed last weekend. I needed to test myself. One of my summer 2010 goals is to continue improving my climbing skills. Hmm, weed-eat or ride?
Well, sorry dogs but riding won out! It is 18 miles from Bethel Grocery Store on NC 215 to the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’ve ridden only part of it before even though it is in my backyard. I knew that I was getting a late start (5:30 p.m. EDT) but wanted to see how far up the mountain I could go.
The climb up to the BRP starts at 2862’ elevation and peaks at 5327’ where NC 215 and the BRP intersect. My planned ride for the day would not go that far. I wanted to make it at least as far as a beautiful waterfall where the West Fork of the Pigeon crosses under NC 215. This should be around the 16 mile point at an elevation of around 4448’ feet above sea level.
The initial several miles up NC 215 is at very slight grade until you get just below Lake Logan dam. Then there is a moderate to hard climb above the lake and followed by a descent back to lake level. The late afternoon sun and skies with pretty white clouds made for some very attractive scenery on this section of the ride.
(West Fork of the Pigeon River feeding Lake Logan)
(Looking north toward dam of Lake Logan)
From Lake Logan, a water impoundment built by Champion Papers to maintain sufficient water flow for making paper, I continued with a nice easy spin up to Sunburst Campground, which is a small campground at a former logging community. There is a decent swimming hole in the Pigeon here and it is always busy. Even late in the day yesterday, there was plenty of splashing and swimming going on. There was also numerous fly fisherman around although I don’t see how they could possibly catch any trout with all the ruckus from the swimmers.
The more serious climb starts at this point of the ride I was on the eastern side of the mountain with forests of rhododendron and mountain laurel above me. The sun had long since gone behind the mountain. Traffic was almost non-existent from this point on. Only one or two vehicles passed me as they were coming down the mountain.
Along the way, I noticed the dead bodies of several small rodents that must have tried to cross at busier times. There were also more than a couple of snakes that had been run over. Unfortunately, I did not see any live animals at all on this ride. I kept a steady pace and was approaching one hour of having been climbing. I still had not reached my goal of climbing to the waterfall. I extended my self-imposed one hour deadline to get there because I was sure it was just around the next curve, then the next curve, and well, yeah this next upcoming curve…
Finally, at the 1:15 minute mark, I came around a curve and spotted a vehicle on the side of the road at a turnout and I saw guard rails. I also knew that the creek was very close to me as I was climbing along. I had passed numerous small creeks feeding off the mountain into the Pigeon. One good consequence of our rainy season has been lots of running water!
I had arrived at my destination and met a father and son, who were enjoying the serenity of the rushing water as it crossed under the road. It turned out the gentleman worked at the local Hardees as a shift supervisor. He and his son were out enjoying the outdoors. I asked him to take a picture of me and his son with the waterfall in the background. He did so graciously but, unfortunately, didn’t get the images in focus so I can’t show you how much Jeremy (his son) and I were enjoying the moment. In reality, I think I enjoyed it more than his young teen son. I don’t think he knew what to do with this old bald headed man riding a bicycle up the mountain!
I snapped a few images of the scene after they departed for home. By the way, Jeremy’s dad highly recommends the Red Burrito now being served at Hardees! I’ll have to get by there this weekend and give it a shot…
(Water pooling below waterfall on West Fork of Pigeon River off NC 215)
(Water cascade along NC 215 near Blue Ridge Parkway)
(Close-up of small waterfall)
Time was short and the sunlight was even shorter. I had managed to stay hydrated and fueled on PowerBars on my ride up. My climb of 1586’ in elevation had worn my legs out and I stayed too long at the falls. My legs and back stiffened up as I started the descent back to my starting point. I failed to have a light jacket with me and paid for that mistake as I tried to loosen back up.
All in all, I came away quiet pleased with the ride on this gorgeous day. I answered one of my own questions as to whether I could reach the BRP or not. I’m confident that I could have made the summit had there been more time and daylight. I’ll save the final climb for another day when I can start earlier.
Race/Tour updates below:
Kent “Mountain Turtle” Peterson has been dealing with brake pads sullied by the muddy conditions and colder than normal temperatures. He reports falling asleep to the sound of rain hitting the tarp at the Old Empire mine site where he spent the night. According to his latest SPOT track at 4:55 p.m. EDT, he is in Butte-Silver Bow County in Montana. His most recent tweat indicated he was enjoying a pork chop sandwich at Johns in Butte after having loaded up on groceries at the local Safeway.
Jim Artis of Cycling Experiences has continued to resolve mechanical issues on Fargo. Today has been declared a rest and maintenance day and he hopes to hit the road tomorrow morning. Check out his most recent post at Cycling Experiences.
Raphael Giraldo has made progress getting on down the road today. He has been riding a little over 7 hours now and appears to be in Kennebunk, ME. If I recall the schedule correctly, he has a TV appearance planned for tomorrow a.m. Raphael’s postings of day-to-day experiences are available at the TOD: Ride for the Republic site.
BMC rider Marcus Burghardt, winner of stage 5 of the Tour de Swisse, took today’s stage 7 as he crossed the finish line 55 seconds in front of the nearest group of riders. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) held the overall GC leader spot. Team Radio Shack rider Lance Armstrong is currently in 7th place overall at 55 seconds back.
Team Bent Up Cycles was in West Virginia and tweating about the beauty of the roads. Having just been there, I can whole heartedly agree with their sentiments. I hope they are finding less rain than we just experienced near Greenbrier. The team is still in 3rd place behind Doc2doc. The teams should have already checked in at TS # 49 in Hancock, MD where they will have only 179.94 miles to race to the finish. Male, under 50 solo leader Jure Robic is closing in on the finish line. He has passed TS #52 and appears to be less than 50 miles from the finish. His next closest competitor has not reached TS #50 as yet. Robic would appear to be the winner of this category barring any unforeseen accidents in the last few miles to Annapolis.
That’s it for today’s wrap up and ride reports! Thanks to all those who have been following along this week! Please keep coming back for more! Stay safe and “keep the rubber side down!”